Ideas become successes at Sage Summit 2016

How many times have you had an idea and never told anyone for fear of it being laughed at or ridiculed? Maybe it was an idea for something brand new, or an idea of how to make something better.

So earlier this week I found the perfect example of why you should always speak up:

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Why didn’t I think of that idea?

Let’s face it: “Sharknado” was a bad idea. It’s an awful made-for-TV movie with a ridiculous plot, terrible acting, and horrible CG visuals. But this recipe for disaster turned into an instant cult classic.

Why? (Or, maybe some of you are saying, “Why, God, why?!?!?”) The answer’s simple: Sometimes, people just want to laugh at something silly and have a good time. And thanks to social media, Sharknado not only became a joke with the person sitting next to you, but also with a bunch of other people watching it at the same time.

The idea of B-grade movies isn’t new. Movie theaters and drive-ins used to be filled with bad movies where you could see the zipper on the monster costume or the strings on the flying bats. But people flocked to them because they just wanted to forget about real life for a while, and laughter has a way of doing that.

Sage Summit 2016 would have been a whole lot different if people didn’t continue to share their ideas with Sage about how to improve the annual event. Some of the new ideas for this year were some of the most popular spots during Sage Summit.

Ideas for Dev Zone, Sage City Roundtables hit the mark

There were two new features to Sage Summit this year I blogged about that I was really pulling for to succeed: the Dev Zone and the Sage City Roundtables. From what I saw and heard from the people I spoke with, these two fresh ideas turned into big hits.

The Dev Zone was everything that was promised and more. The idea was to have an area at Sage Summit that was free of marketing or demo people. It was for tech people, by tech people. And I knew our customers had been begging for more parts of Sage Summit that were geared toward the inner workings of their Sage products instead of selling them a product.

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The idea for a mini-hack area in the Dev Zone was incredibly successful.

I got a chance to talk with David Kim, who came up with the idea to bring the Dev Zone to Sage Summit, and you could tell he was floored by how popular it was. He had that wide-eyed, dazed look like a first-time father in the delivery room who couldn’t believe that he helped make something so amazing.

He told me that people were sitting in the mini-hacks section for hours, lost in the joy of learning new technology. And others were regularly coming up to the tech experts for the Sage products represented there. And I’m sure there were many non-tech people who came up to experience the virtual reality exhibit just because it’s such a cool experience.

I was pleasantly surprised that there was more content in the Dev Zone than just the Sage cloud projects that were originally planned. On a chance meeting with a representative from TUG, I found out that she had given a lecture in the Dev Zone the day before. This was wonderful news to me because Sage has so many different products that deserve to be talked about.

I also had a chance to see the Sage City Roundtables up close and personal. Jennifer Ferrell, the Sheriff of Sage City (no really, she had the badge and everything), gave me a few minutes while she was keeping the peace in her town.

When I arrived, one of the roundtable discussions was overflowing with participants. They wanted to keep the discussions small, but things don’t always go according to plan. However, one of the participants had an idea: she could lead the same discussion at the one empty roundtable station.

Only a few people went with her, but this volunteer spirit is exactly the same thing you’d find on Sage City Online. It’s people helping people, customers helping each other, Sage representatives helping partners and so on.

I also know that on Tuesday, one of our customers said they couldn’t hear the people at their own roundtables because the stations were too close together. She must have told her idea to someone, because when I saw the area on Wednesday, each station had its own microphone and speakers.

A couple of ideas at Sage Summit were a bit off the mark

Sometimes an idea really looks good on paper, but when it gets put into action, it turns out it wasn’t as good as planned. To be fair, there were a couple of ideas at Sage Summit 2016 that didn’t seem to pan out.

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The idea of having a concert at a park was great, but getting there was a huge problem.

We heard from several of our customers who were disappointed that there was no breakfast served this year. I can see where Sage was going with this idea, especially since many of the hotels were quite a distance away from the convention center by the shuttle bus. However, many of our customers can help justify the cost of the trip by showing that two meals a day are included in the price of admission.

We had a really good time at the concert starring The Killers and Houndmouth (great band … go check them out!). The venue was pretty nice, too, but someone should have had the idea to check to see if there was anything going on at Soldier Field next door at the same time. The International Champions Cup match between Bayern Munich and AC Milan turned a 6-mile bus trip to Northerly Island into an hour-long journey and we missed most of the opening act. And not finding out there would be no dinner served until people got to the venue forced people to buy some pretty overpriced concessions.

Want to improve Sage Summit? Keep the ideas coming

For years, I’ve been telling our customers to speak up and let Sage know when they don’t like something or if something goes wrong. And, to their credit, Sage has always responded to try to make things right.

But the interesting thing is that most people only speak up when something’s wrong. People also need to speak up when something’s going right. What if Sage got the idea of skipping breakfast this year because nobody said how valuable it was to them? It suddenly allows you to play devil’s advocate about Sage’s decision to cancel it this year.

And what if David Kim didn’t have the courage to speak up as a brand-new employee at Sage to suggest the Dev Zone as an addition to Sage Summit? His idea may become a fixture of Sage Summit for years to come.

But when things do go wrong, it’s also important to share your ideas on how to make improvements.

When we had our annual Sage Summit wrap-up edition of our Tuesdays with Practical user group meeting today, the consensus was they felt ignored and there wasn’t enough content for them. So I told them: Give me some ideas for sessions you’d like to see at Sage Summit. Here’s what they came up with:

  • A “tips and tricks” session where users can discuss helpful hints
  • A session on customization and reporting views
  • A roundtable discussion on Alerts and Workflows and how its being utilized by users
  • A discussion on different modules for Sage 500 and how they can be used effectively

So remember to fill out surveys and give your feedback to Sage about Sage Summit 2016. (They are now available on the Sage Summit 2016 app for individual sessions.) And don’t just give negative feedback, even though that’s important. Don’t forget to also give suggestions on how to make future Sage Summits even better.

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