Fame, Flowers and a flourishing Sage

Sage Summit - Gyneth Paltrow

SME inspiration from global business leaders: Sage Summit 2016

It doesn’t seem a minute since I was anticipating the arrival of the Sage Summit in Chicago just over a month ago and as the largest gathering of small and medium-sized businesses in the world (around 15,000 of them), the buzz was very real.

There was so much to enthuse entrepreneurs and growing, upcoming companies, from the celebrity speakers to the innovative, leading edge technology solutions in the Sage Village, including our own global HR and people management system which attracted plenty of interest from forward-looking and ambitious businesses. Cloud capability, the speed of delivery, and the ability to adapt and scale were some of our top attractors for this audience.

First off then, the fame. Having seen business legend Richard Branson last year at HR Tech World Congress and been largely underwhelmed, I was prepared to hear his philosophy – “Screw it, let’s do it!” – and tales of Virgin Galactic once again. I’ve always been disappointed with his lack of practical business advice in person but you certainly can’t deny Sir Richard his place in the entrepreneurship hall of fame. He’s pioneered workforce policies such as unlimited vacation and greater paternity rights and irrespective of my cynicism, it was warming to see the admiration many of the audience had for him.

The celeb count continued high on day two, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Zooey Deschanel sharing their business success in building communities for women and girls and this is where I did leave feeling inspired. I liked what Gwyneth, in particular, had to say about the value of people and partnerships in business, especially in light of Sage People’s collaboration with Sage. Although her GOOP website courts controversy for its sometimes outré recommendations, her words on connectivity resonated with me: she said it’s not just about having a connection in place, but making it feel important, communicating with people in a meaningful and consistent way. That’s exactly what Sage People strives for, as we support businesses to manage their global workforces and deliver exceptional experiences.

Moving onto the Flowers, well Brandon Flowers, lead singer of The Killers and special guests at the Sage Celebration on the shores of Lake Michigan. Flowers opted to change a key lyric for the occasion singing “Are we human or are we software?”, drawing a huge cheer from the dancing crowd. Both, I think is the answer, as the latest tech solutions we saw at Sage Summit so clearly augment the personal experience of the people they serve.

In fact, the Sage Village highlighted the very best of software with hundreds of tech businesses, presenting bold and pioneering products to help SMEs do business better, faster and more efficiently. It was great to see sophisticated and ground-breaking technology made accessible and affordable to smaller organizations. That’s why I enjoyed Ashton Kutcher’s remarks about successful businesses challenging the status quo and accepted beliefs: “I mean, who would let a complete stranger rent a room in their home? It’s crazy!” he said, on the subject of global success story AirBnB. Disruption is clearly alive and well.

Lastly, the dynamism and energy of Sage Summit was very familiar to those a part of the Salesforce ecosystem and by virtue, attendee of Dreamforce – the largest software conference in the world. Sage has clearly embraced and adopted the successful format of Salesforce’s annual event and put their own, green coloured stamp on it. It’s great to see increasing synergy between the two: and with our ever closer partnership, Sage is set to play a significant role in our future development, just as Salesforce does. Both companies are doing great things to support creativity, innovation and success in the SME market and we’re proud to be associated with them.

Speaking of Dreamforce, we’ll be there in October too. More to come on that soon!

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