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Connect 2017: event round-up

Thursday 22nd June saw Datel once again hosting our biannual Connect event, and we’re delighted to report that Connect 2017 was a huge success! As the biggest event organised by any Sage Business Partner in the UK, Connect definitely delivered on all accounts and proved to be an exciting and inspiring day for those who attended.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, it’s been a really good day; I’ve learned a lot and found a lot of things that can enhance our business and our use of Sage 200.”

Craig Spence, Financial Controller, Orchard Care Homes

Overview: View highlights of our Connect 2017 event on 22nd June 2017.

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Arriving at the Chesford Grange Hotel

The anticipation to get Connect 2017 underway was apparent right from the get-go, with over two hundred delegates descending on the Chesford Grange Hotel on a particularly sunny morning in Warwickshire – some particularly eager delegates even showed up for early entry!

It wasn’t long before everyone was checked into the event and the Exhibition areas were packed full of delegates, grabbing a cup of tea or coffee and striking up conversations with representatives from Sage, Datel’s partners and, of course, Datel’s team.

People from all across Datel were out in full force for the event: Account Managers, Pre-Sales Consultants, Software Developers, Support Consultants and the Directors were all on-hand to greet attendees and have a chat.

Moving into the keynotes

Shortly after morning drinks, the proceedings were officially kicked off in the Keynote Theatre by Alan Simpson, Datel’s Executive Chairman – and not forgetting Alexa, Alan’s personal chatbot assistant for the day!

Alan gave an overview of what delegates could expect during the day, with insight into how the evolving world of technology and its relevance to the ERP community had shaped many of the topics chosen for discussion in the upcoming Tech Talks and breakout sessions.

We also heard from Nick Goode, the EVP of Product Management at Sage. Nick gave delegates a full Product Portfolio Update from Sage, including details on what’s to come and how Sage’s product roadmap and approach to business is changing with the times, saying: “Sage was being too British for too long... now, we're going to start shouting about ourselves."

Reinforcing the over-arching theme of ‘inspiring’ for this year’s event, delegates then heard from Alan Clark from Sage People, who recounted the story of how a business he started in his own home would spark a revolution in people management – and eventually catch the eye of Sage.

Such an inspirational story was a great note on which to end the keynotes, and kick-start a day full of food for thought.

Getting techy

Following a networking coffee break, delegates attended their first insightful session of the day: one of four Tech Talks, hosted by experts from Datel and two of our trusted complementary software suppliers. These half-hour sessions offered a taster into the worlds of bots, AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), Business Intelligence, mobile technology and more hot topics emerging in the ERP world.

“Each workshop I thought was really informative and it’s good to see all the different add-ons you can actually potentially purchase from Datel.”

Lloyd Philips, Co-Managing Director, Resapol

Time for lunch

A jam-packed morning of food-for-thought and networking had definitely stimulated delegates’ appetites, so by 12:30pm it was time for some well-deserved lunch!

The Chesford Grange Hotel were fantastic hosts and put on a great spread; attendees chose from a wide selection of food, took up a pew, and continued to mingle and exchange experiences as they enjoyed their lunch.

It was also a great opportunity for delegates to visit the Exhibition area, which seemed to only get busier as the day went on! The Exhibition was very diverse and had something for everyone: the Sage Connect Hub, R&D Connect Lounge and Partner Connect Zones each offered something different to delegates, depending on their interests and the stage they were currently at in their business software journey.

Many delegates took the chance to find out more and ask their questions about Sage 1000, Sage 200, Sage X3 and all-things tech, as well as meet software authors and vendors from our ten exhibiting partners to discover more about their products.

“We have enjoyed the company, people are nice, and this is my very first conference so I’m excited about everything that I see.”

Gabi Pecovska, Planning Controller, Pecan Deluxe Candy (EU) Ltd

Breakout sessions and Sage People demo

Primed and ready for the afternoon, delegates made their way to their first chosen breakout session. Delegates had six sessions to choose from, covering new product versions of Sage, advice on starting your ERP project, and various other stimulating topics – not an easy decision to make!

The breakout sessions were each 45 minutes in length, giving attendees plenty of opportunities to immerse themselves in the subject matter and ask the session hosts any questions they may have had.

This was followed by a Sage People demo, which covered in more detail how Sage’s new flagship people management solution can be used to manage and develop their workforce with more productivity and engagement than ever before.

Attendees enjoyed a moment of relaxation with a cup of tea or coffee and had the opportunity to network in the Exhibition area, before heading to their second and third breakout sessions of the day. With a further twelve sessions available to attend, delegates were spoilt for choice between IT security, the latest from Datel’s Fusion range, finding the right software solution for your business, and many, many more.

“What’s been especially useful to me is finding out that I’m not actually using the system as much as I should be.”

Sue Chatburn, Accounts Manager, Redwood TTM Limited

Drinks and canapes

The ending of breakout session three marked the closure of the day event, with most of the delegates choosing to join Datel’s staff, Sage representatives and some of the exhibitors for drinks and canapes. It was a great chance for delegates to network with other businesses, catch-up with their Account Managers and have one final look at the various products and services available from the technology experts exhibiting throughout the day.

We took the chance to chat to some of the delegates and ask them if they had found value in attending Connect 2017. The general consensus was that it had been a particularly thought-provoking day, with plenty of ideas to take back to head office!

Inspiring Business Awards Dinner

Later in the evening, many delegates came back to the Keynote Theatre to join us for the Inspiring Business Awards Dinner. The room was seamlessly transformed from a conference hall and into a venue fit for a banquet, with a lovely three-course meal followed by flowing drinks, buzzing conversations and building excitement for our after-dinner speaker and the Awards ceremony.

England Rugby League player Kyran Bracken took to the stage to deliver a fantastic speech that had the audience in stitches.

The laughter no doubt helped to relax the nerves of the Awards nominees, who were all poised and ready in the audience for David Preston, Datel’s Managing Director, to reveal the winners across the four categories: Inspiring New Customer, Embracing New Technology, Expanding the World of Sage, and Inspiring Established Customer.

Want to find out who the big winners were at the Inspiring Business Awards? You can watch videos of the winning businesses from the night here.

What’s next? Connect 2017 Online

If you would like to find out more about the topics and products covered at Connect 2017, you can access all of the presentation slides, videos and other content from the day here on our website. Visit our Connect 2017 Online Portal to get started.

Over the next few weeks, you also have the opportunity to attend free product demonstrations from the partners and speakers at the event, from Datel’s head office in Warrington.