SOURCE : FORBES.COM
I interviewed Stephen Kelly, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Sage Group, a company that works hand-in-hand with small and medium business owners alike. They are helping make their businesses accessible in their store, and on the go which allows companies to manage their finances right from the palm of their hand. Mr. Kelly has had 30 years of leadership experience and worked with a variety of small, medium, and large businesses in the past. His expertise shows dynamically during the interview, he very clearly knows what Sage Group SGPYY +% needs moving forward, helping to make it happen through careful business planning and close contact with their customers. When did you start thinking about building the ecosystem of your company? And how did you start that change from when you first started in bookkeeping? Tell me about that transition as a CEO. When I joined Sage 8 months ago there was a previous strategy in place that talked about the technology disruption, and it talked about the kind of golden charm in accounting services to payroll. All of this was about movement of money between small and medium businesses and we sought to really accelerate that process dramatically. The absolute essence of Sage is two things really; first it is small and medium business domain knowledge, and second is technology. We are very clear about our core confidences. When you use technology like this, there is massive disruption, and we believe that it will run right across all of the other businesses models. Guys like you will want to run your businesses and your personal life from the palm of your hand. So that is pretty much what we invented, a totally re-imagined business. There are businesses out there screaming for our technology, so we need a rich ecosystem. For example, say you go to San Francisco and you’re looking for a hotel reservation. Boom! Pop onto the Sage app Store. There is a third party reservation system that is integrated into your account. Just like you have customized your device to suit you, we are going to see small businesses in construction, hospitality, reservation, or whatever business they might be in, will be doing the same customization, and Sage is going to be leading that charge. There are a lot of businesses out there who are trying to do the same thing with creating an ecosystem, what is going to make you guys different? As an entrepreneur there is an opportunity in that platform, so what it going to make the Sage platform stand out? I think there are a couple of things that make Sage’s platform stand out. First there is the community; like the bookkeepers, accountants, partners, business partners, they are all fundamental. The other aspect of it involves us being massively differentiated. We are probably the only guys in the world who really have this depth of understanding for small and medium businesses; their regulations, business taxes, and all of the different things in the USA. We understand the complete fabric of what glues countries and states together in terms of small and medium businesses domain knowledge, and that is something unique. When we can crystalize that in amazing technology and put that into the ecosystem I think it gives us a massive advantage. How are you seeing companies best integrate and leverage that opportunity? I am talking about from an entrepreneur point of view. Where customers are running is to an integrated movement of money, say someone comes on to our website and orders something, it goes through to Sage Pay and it is all taken care of in an automated fashion. We are looking at something that is done in real time now, real time accounting, real time front and back office. Now if you are a partner that gives you a platform to implement solutions and they are able to build these third party apps within the Sage app store. So there is two angles and we bring them together, and that is where the magic happens. Where do you see the next disruption in your industry?