Amalgam Insights recently attended Sage Intacct Advantage. In the past, Intacct got AI’s attention for its strong technology foundation that positions it well for a future of predictive analytics, ease of integration, and machine learning while maintaining the core financial responsibilities associated with being a nominative mid-market ERP solution.
Sage has traditionally been known as a more traditional application company with an established customer base and geographic footprint, which left industry observers with questions of whether there would be significant conflict within cultures and whether observer favorite Intacct would be absorbed into a Sage organization that has traditionally been quiet in its interactions with industry analysts.
During a discussion with analysts, Sage Intacct EVP Rob Reid explained the key business reason for the acquisition. Intacct had been considering an IPO that would have likely resulted in roughly $100 million being raised to support Intacct’s subsequent international expansion. Although this would have been a strong monetization event for all stockholders, the work needed to build a footprint in a variety of new countries would have been both significant and challenging. In contrast, being acquired by Sage for $850 million allowed Intacct investors and stockholders to monetize shares and to access Sage’s significant global footprint.
In speaking with Sage Intacct’s executive team, both Reid and Sage President Blair Crump emphasized that Sage Intacct would be left as an independent organization from a product development perspective. AI believes this is especially important in allowing Sage Intacct to further expand its cloud-based capabilities for core verticals of SaaS, non-profit, and professional services and to accelerate time-to-value for new Sage Intacct capabilities.
With Sage’s acquisition of Intacct in July and the renaming of Intacct to Sage Intacct, AI was curious to see how Sage Intacct differed from the previous Intacct in four areas:
- Executive Commitment
- Partner relationships
- Customer for Life Initiatives
Since Sage Intacct initially got AI analysts’ attention for its pace of innovation and solution flexibility relative to its competitors, AI was interested in seeing how the software provider sought to maintain its innovation post-acquisition.
At the event, Sage Intacct announced enhancements across key verticals to support board meetings in nonprofit organizations, project management for professional services, and contract management for SaaS organizations. The nonprofit Board Book, in particular, was differentiated for its integration with GuideStar to provide benchmark and best practice metrics for nonprofit finance and operations tracking.
Sage Intacct Pursues AI with Pacioli
In addition, Sage Intacct also announced its pursuit of Artificial Intelligence in Pacioli, named after the inventor of double-entry accounting. (Amalgam believes this is the second most inspired name for an AI behind only Infor’s Coleman named after Katherine Coleman Johnson.)
CTO Aaron Harris stated that Pacioli is intended to be a “the first digital assistant designed for CFOs” including a bot built to support the CFO with the ability to self-learn and to provide relevant context for revenue and financial anomalies. Although it’s too early to see how successful Sage Intacct will be in developing Pacioli, Amalgam believes that Sage Intacct’s strong focus on supporting dimensionality and related metadata across its entire product will accelerate development. In addition, Harris revealed that Sage had already been working on AI that will be brought into the Pacioli development process in projects such as the Pegg Chatbot. Between the announcements by Intacct and Infor and the work done by Salesforce, IBM, and Oracle, it has been a big year for bringing AI into the world of enterprise applications.
Amalgam notes that with the integration of AI, the user interface for applications is going to go through a sea-change that will make the rise of mobility look trivial in comparison. AI provides the opportunity to enhance expert judgment, develop individualized interfaces based on personality and work habit preferences, and to serve as a true assistant to the employee rather than a complex system that has to be continually re-configured and interfaced to provide repeatable business outputs. Based on the AI projects announced in 2017, Amalgam sees that 2018 and 2019 will be as important to the infancy of true enterprise AI as the late 2000s were for the early establishment of the app development, security, governance, and management of mobile apps.
It is not uncommon to see executives leave an organization either after IPO or acquisition. One of the most interesting moments at the industry analyst portion of the event was when Rob Reid called out his entire management team to show that they were all committed to the organization. Although nothing in life is guaranteed, it seemed that key Sage Intacct executives had incentive to stay on board for the next two-three years, meaning that there should be no immediate changes either to roadmap or executive commitments to the Sage Intacct community.
With the acquisition by Sage, it was valid for Sage Intacct customers to wonder whether Sage products would replace the ecosystem of partners that Sage Intacct had previously developed. To answer this question, at least in part, Sage Intacct invited ADP to the product roadmap portion of the Analyst event to show continued support of this relationship even as Sage provides Sage People based on the Fairsail acquisition earlier this year.
Amalgam looks forward to seeing this continued openness with partners such as ADP, Adaptive Insights, and FloQast as the integration capabilities of Sage Intacct in supporting best-in-breed mid-market solutions is an important aspect of Sage Intacct’s strength as a cloud solution. With this acquisition, it makes sense for Sage Intacct to support the use of Sage One if a potential client is not ready for Intacct and for Sage People when appropriate. If anything, Amalgam believes that Sage must be patient in allowing Sage Intacct customers to choose their own technology portfolios.
Customer for Life Initiatives
Amalgam tracks Customer for Life programs as part of its coverage of SaaS management and the changing role of the CIO office in managing technology as a set of strategic alliances. Amalgam has been analyzing Sage Intacct’s Customer for Life program and is currently working on a document regarding this specific approach as a result of the unusually successful renewal and broad-based approach that this software provider takes.
When questioned by Amalgam about the current stage of the Customer for Life program, Kathy Lord replied that the Sage Intacct program has not been affected by the acquisition and that the Sage Intacct approach is actually seen as a standard to be pursued across Sage. Amalgam looks forward to seeing whether this results in increased customer success investment or a perceived change in sales or service from Sage in general and looks forward to both briefings and public filings that make mention of any changes in this regard.
Overall, Amalgam believes that Intacct continued to show its leadership as a mid-market ERP solution and, more important to AI, as a cloud vendor that is providing leadership in building the next-generation of app platforms. Amalgam is bullish on Sage Intacct, but believes that it is integral for Sage to allow Intacct to continue on its own business path while providing the developmental and organization resources needed for Sage Intacct to maintain its growth.