Sage Software's product release dates and marketing and sales initiatives were all on the agenda Tuesday morning during one of two divisional keynotes given during the business management software provider's annual partner confab, Insights 2008.

Nina Smith, president of Sage's Business Management Division, gave a general overview of the past year and expectations for the near future.

"It's been quite an incredible year for all of us," she said. "I've been with Sage for seven years, and this past year has been extremely rewarding."

Smith touched upon her experience meeting with partners during January's Fresh Talk Tour. She and her team "felt a little like rock stars," she said, traveling to 10 cities in 10 days.

She pointed to market trends such as ease of use, simplicity, mobility and globalization as characteristics marking the new work environment.

"We must have the right solution and the right products on the market," she said. "We have to have the right relationships and the right presence culminating in the right experience for our customers."

Product release schedules for both the value business unit and the strategic business unit were disclosed, in general terms. In the strategic portfolio, Sage Accpac, Sage MAS 500, Sage MAS 90 and Sage MAS 200 are scheduled for rollout, while products in the value business unit such as DacEasy, Sage Pro, Timeslips and Sage BusinessWorks are set for new releases as well. At the conference, Sage also announced the release of Peachtree by Sage - Quantum 2009.

A new Extended Enterprise approach includes a vision of total-office integration through new suite offerings in Sage MAS 90 and 200.

"It's not just about the front office and back office," Smith said. "It's about linking people and how work flows in and out of the organization."

A Partner Advocacy Program was unveiled to create segmentation among partners, so partners are treated in accordance with their needs and relationships with the company. Smith also said that the company's prestigious President's Circle, a ranking of the revenue that partners earn, will now include three more slots. A customer awards program is also being introduced in July. Twelve customers in the categories of small business accounting, mid-market, and enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management will be rewarded for their efforts in various categories.

Himanshu Palsule, executive vice president of the division's strategic business unit, described the extended enterprise suites introduced for small and midsized businesses through MAS 90 and MAS 200. "We've been delivering suites for many years," he said. "What customers have been telling us is they expect publishers to do more. They want us to solve day-to-day problems. I don't think it's enough to sell suites anymore."

Sam Hunter, senior vice president and general manager of the division's value business unit, talked about an increased focus on seven products and an internal reorganization that includes better migration to other Sage products.

Paul Johnson, executive vice president of sales, said that his group is looking at better handling leads - since only 4 percent of leads within the company actually resulted in sales. A new Web site has been introduced,, with a single sign-in point, for certified Sage consultants in an effort to simplify those involved in the Sage Partner Advantage Program, an initiative that helps partners grow their businesses.

Sage Software won't be advertising on television, as some competitors do, according to Dennis Frahmann, executive vice president of marketing. The company's focus instead is increasing its presence on the Web. "That's where people are going first," he said. "We want to be there."

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