Accounting software firm the Sage Group plc is making it easier for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to manage their workforce.

This week the company released Sage People, a cloud-based human capital management (HCM) solution optimized for what it calls “the specific workforce challenges” faced by midsize enterprises, allowing “growing and global organizations” to speed up and streamline every aspect of their workforce management cycle.

In a Jan. 25 press release, company representatives called Sage People and the artificial intelligence (AI)-driven services that accompanied its release the first step in what it called a “cloud-enabled AI revolution” that it said would culminate in an “invisible accounting” service by 2020.

“Because entrepreneurs don’t go into business to manage taxes and admin, our vision is to create a business environment for entrepreneurs where these tasks are invisible by 2020, freeing up business builders to follow their dreams,” Sage CTO Klaus Michael Vogelberg said in a statement, while Sage’s vice president of bots and AI, Kriti Sharma, said the company’s vision “is to empower entrepreneurs and business owners to spend less time on administration and more time on what they love doing.”

Not only does Sage People cover the usual gamut of SMB HR needs, including payroll, compensation, benefits and time management, talent acquisition, and talent management, it also includes features such as self-service portals, automated processing, global support, and a series of planning tools.

And like the company’s signature cloud-based offering, Sage Live, Sage People runs on the Salesforce App Cloud platform.

It’s worth noting that Sage only released Sage Live, in partnership with Salesforce, in 2015. Since then more than one million new customers have followed Sage to the cloud, the company says, resulting in a 46 percent subscriber increase.

“In 2016, less than half of accounting software users were in the cloud – a number we expect to increase this year,” Nancy Harris, executive vice president of Sage North America, said in a statement.

The company has also conducted internal research which found that around half of small businesses are ready to run their companies using AI, including bots, and that 64 per cent would welcome invisible accounting.

In the U.S., Sage People’s release accompanied the reveal of Pegg, a cloud-based accounting platform with chatbot integration that is expected to be available in additional countries, including Canada, later in 2017.

In addition to Sage People and Pegg, Sage released five new accounting cloud solutions across seven global markets this week, and added more than 100 new independent software vendors (ISVs) to the Sage Marketplace, including the fruits of new global partnerships with Salesforce, Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., and Slack Technologies Inc.

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