Back to the Future — Time travel by way of Sage X3

We have just arrived at October 21, 2015. Join me as I travel around on my hoverboard, drinking my Pepsi Perfect, while waiting for the Cubs to win the World Series.

Back to the Future Day

While we’re at it, where’s my hoverboard?!

As you’ve probably figured out by now (especially if you’ve looked at Facebook anytime in the past week), today’s the day that Marty McFly traveled to in the movie “Back to the Future Part II.” (I know, I know … the Cubs actually winning the World Series gave it away as fiction, right?*) It’s a bit of a curse when an author writes about the future when the future they’re writing about can actually happen in the lifetime of the original audience. This is especially true when there are people who make a hobby of pointing out flaws or errors in movies.

Take “The Jetsons” for an example. Set 100 years past the cartoon’s debut in 1962, we can already delight in the fact that we can read our newspaper from a tablet or have a video telephone call. But for the adult audience the original show was directed at, they’ll never know if we will have personal spaceships to drive to work in 2062. They can still enjoy that dream and not have to worry about the truth.

Conversely, when you’re talking about time travel in the other direction, you get a chance to see outdated technology that seemed like a miracle in the past and maybe even how some of our modern customs seem rather ridiculous. (In 1955, you wouldn’t be caught dead with someone else’s name on something as private as your boxers. “I’m going to the dance with Calvin Klein!”)

Top 7 Enhancements to Sage X3 through the years

I was already thinking about time travel today when I came across this flier while looking up something at Sage City: Sage ERP X3: Top seven enhancements (Versions 4 to 7). As you can already tell, this PDF is already a relic of the not-too-distant past since the software is now called Sage X3, and Version 7 was released in May of last year.

Sage ERP X3 v7

If the people of 2007 could see Sage ERP X3 Version 7, they may think it as futuristic as the Jetson’s 3D TV.

 

This chart not only gives a concise update history for Sage X3, but also it gives a look into the history of how technology has changed over the years in general. All you have to do is put the timeline of these Sage X3 releases up against a technology timeline to see how much has changed of the past 11 years.

Technically, this timeline begins so far in the past that it predates Sage bringing X3 into the fold by a full year. The Version 4 that’s referenced in the chart was called Adonix X3 v140 when it was released in October 2004. (And it seemed to take me 11 years just to track down that part of the timeline!)

The highlight of Sage ERP X3 Version 7 when it was released was its web-native platform. The entire program could now be accessed through any device with a web browser. An entire ERP system was now in your pocket anywhere you traveled, not just sitting stationary on your desktop computer.

iPhone

This is what the iPhone first looked like in 2007.

Think about this: When Sage ERP Version 4 was released, there was no such thing as a smartphone. You’d have to wait three years for the first iPhone to launch, and a bit longer for the first Android-based phone. Speaking of Apple, you weren’t discussing the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking Super Bowl ad for Macintosh computers on social media that year, because Facebook had just launched in February, and it was still only open to college students.

Look at the comparison of the No. 1 enhancement between those two Sage X3 releases as well. For Version 4, it was announcing full Unicode compliance, meaning the software fully capable of displaying all of the world’s writing systems. Although that may seem incredibly simplistic for a top feature, it was a major improvement for an ERP system with multi-language and multi-legislative functionality. It’s also extremely important in countries like Canada, where bilingual legislation mandates that both English and French have equal status in government business and strongly encourages the same access in the private sector. Even in the same company, one user can have their language set to English while the person in the next cubical can have theirs set to French.

The No. 1 enhancement listed for Sage ERP X3 Version 7 was the introduction of mobile web apps for functions like inventory, expense management, and purchase approval. These apps and more come standard with the system; or, users can build their own apps using the code provided with the software. This required some forethought by Sage, because they could have just left the web-native platform stand on its own. But as everyone who has used a web browser on a smartphone knows, it can be a pain to navigate a web page on a field that’s just a bit bigger than a credit card. Using an app on a smartphone with the same access as the full browser-based client is extremely beneficial.

What will the past look like for Sage X3?

We already know the immediate future of Sage X3: Version 8 was launched back in July at Sage Summit with a bold pronouncement: the term Enterprise Resource Planning is a thing of the past. (Hold your horses … that doesn’t mean they’re not selling business systems anymore.) But the concept of large-scale, on-site software implementations soon may be in our rear-view mirror. The cost-effectiveness of implementing a cloud-based business system is starting to turn heads in the business world.

That’s why several Sage products had the name ERP dropped from them: Sage X3 and Sage 100. (By the way, that’s the one that was formerly MAS 90 and MAS 200, not the one formerly known as Sage Master Builder. That product is still Sage 100 Contractor. I saw one website that already made that mistake.)

So when we look back in time from 2045, we could potentially look back and see 2015 as the year Sage correctly predicted the beginning of the end of large-scale implementations for ERP systems. We may be looking back and laughing at the “antiquated” smartphone apps introduced in Sage ERP X3 Version 7, like we look back at rotary phones or even clunky first-generation car phones.

Or to play devil’s advocate, Sage may be predicting the hoverboard. Only time will tell.

* As I write this, the Cubs may be swept out of the NLCS tonight. If they come back and end up winning the World Series, then Back to the Future Part II may go down as the greatest “called shot” in the history of sports.

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