Sage is perhaps best-known for its accounting software that has been assisting finance departments to carry out their tasks for decades.
The company, a market leader in cloud business management solutions, has supported businesses across the region with strong support in a range of verticals including the banking sector.
Earlier this year, it announced a partnership agreement with RAKBANK. This saw RAKBANK, one of the largest SME lenders in the UAE, offer Sage accounting software to support its business banking customers of all sizes, across all industries.
Sage accounting solutions will enable the bank’s customers to more easily manage their businesses in compliance with recently introduced Value-Added Tax (VAT) regulations. Earlier this year five of Sage’s VAT accounting products were accredited by the UAE Federal Tax Authority and were placed on the Approved Accounting Software List.
Intelligent CIO caught up with Sam Tayan, Managing Director of Sage Middle East, to find out more about the company’s activities in the region.
Can you give me a quick overview of the company and what you’re doing at GITEX?
Sage is the market leader for business management technology that helps companies of all sizes manage everything from people to money and for all stages of the business life cycle – whether entry-level businesses to high-end global organisations. We do this through the Sage Business Cloud, a one-stop shop for all business management needs with purpose-built solutions and a whole ecosystem of applications.
One of the largest investments we’ve ever made is at GITEX Technology Week, where we have set up several demo stations to showcase the complete portfolio of Sage products that range in cost from US$ 10 per month on a subscription basis all the way through to US $10 million. In addition, we’ve got a corner for Sage Marketplace, where we are presenting third-party solutions that run on our platform.
How has Sage been enabling Digital Transformation?
Many businesses are turning to us because they want to put software in place that allows them to manage finance, HR and other functions while providing transparency of data and operations, enabling them to see what’s going on, what’s profitable and what’s not, and offering insight into changes that need to be made. It’s all part of a transformation from a paper-based environment with a high degree of intervention to a fully transparent end-to-end process in terms of improvement and profitability.
What sort of businesses are your customers?
We have a diverse base of clients from the private sector, including small businesses, mid-market and enterprise organisations. They come from a variety of industries, spanning from agriculture to finance and banking.
Do you have customers across all verticals?
Yes. Our customers span the full spectrum of private sector companies. For instance, we have several manufacturers and agri-businesses, a car rental, an airline and a dairy company that we signed on a month ago.
When an enterprise signs up with you, how do they learn to use the software?
We offer training and learning services in the Middle East. To a large degree, once the employees have been trained, the solutions are very intuitive and user-friendly. As you can see from the screens around our GITEX stand, we focus on browser-based products that offer the level of intuitiveness that the internet generation – or, if you like, the Facebook generation – is used to.
How important is the Middle East for your business?
It’s incredibly important, as we have made a significant investment in the region. We have been very fortunate, and have seen a great amount of interest in our solutions from across the region.
How have you managed to double the sales?
I think it’s due to a renewed focus, in addition to the fact that our customers have realised that they need not only cutting-edge HR, payroll and accounting solutions, but also value for money. I think every era brings different priorities, and affordability is at the top of the list right now. That’s where our focus on great return on investment comes in.
How have you been able to help companies in the Middle East become VAT-compliant?
Our solutions are VAT-compliant and certified as such in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and that’s part of the appeal. We offer affordable accounting solutions that help businesses easily manage their VAT returns, reporting, adjustments, payments and refunds.
Have your customers found the introduction of VAT an upheaval?
As part of the UAE Vision 2021, the introduction of VAT has brought diversity to the country’s economic revenue streams, and also encouraged greater transparency for businesses.
The new VAT regime has the biggest impact on business’ accounting and reporting processes. The stringent reporting and record-keeping requirements, as set by the UAE Federal Tax Authority (FTA), suggests that proper accounting processes are needed for compliance.
I wouldn’t use the word upheaval, but obviously, it’s a change. Sage offers five solutions that have been accredited by the FTA that makes the transition a lot easier and turns the journey into an opportunity for transparency and business optimisation.
What about GDPR?
GDPR is another area of compliance that Sage solutions address. Our solutions in this domain are instrumental to businesses here that do business with EU citizens or do business with organisations in countries of the European Union.
GDPR is designed to give more protection for personal data of individuals in the European Union. But GDPR also applies to non-EU companies that offer goods or services to individuals in the EU. So, it means that anyone and every company who do business with EU citizens must adhere to these new rules and regulations.
Is there any particular country in the Middle East that’s your biggest market?
We have many key growth markets in the region, but the UAE and Saudi Arabia are for now our focus markets.
What is the next year looking like for Sage?
We are hoping for a year of continued growth. We aim to take on board more colleagues, increase the number of locations and introduce additional solutions in the region.