Our i2i workshop series follows SugarCRM’s recent announcement about a “reimagined” vision of CRM, one that fuses Customer Journey Mapping with CRM.

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Picture this: you are interested in a product from a particular company. You look at that company’s website and register for a special offer. Then, you contact a sales or call center representative from that same company. But – the representative has no idea that you’ve already looked at the website, and that you’ve registered digitally for the special offer.
This is an example of a disconnected customer experience, where digital interactions (like web or email marketing) are disconnected from human interactions with sales or service people. Unfortunately, this results in an inconsistent customer experience for the prospect, and represents missed opportunity to increase return on marketing investment and to increase lead-to-cash efficiency for the company.

SugarCRM, an IBM global strategic business partner, is working together with IBM ExperienceOne to address these issues and to provide optimized customer experiences across marketing, sales and service; and spanning digital and human touch points.

At IBM Amplify 2015, there will be many opportunities for you to learn more about the exciting combination of SugarCRM and IBM ExperienceOne:
– On Tuesday May 12, from 2:45-3:45pm in Room 33c, listen to a panel discussion featuring Chris Wong, IBM VP ExperienceOne products and strategy; Clint Oram, SugarCRM CTO and co-founder; and customers and partners including Rodobens, a diversified financial services and automotive company, and Triscal, an IBM and SugarCRM business partner. You’ll hear Chris and Clint’s views on the intersection of marketing and sales automation. Listen to Rodobens and Triscal describe how they are providing a consistent customer experience across their disparate lines of business, with IBM Campaign, IBM Silverpop, and SugarCRM (session MHT-1286A).
– Also on Tuesday May 12, from 11am-12pm in Room 29A, you’ll get an exclusive preview from Dale Price, Senior Product Manager with IBM Silverpop, and Laurence Leong, Senior Director Strategic Alliances with SugarCRM, about the new Silverpop for SugarCRM integrated solution (session MEE-1283A).
– You can also visit the SugarCRM booth 606 to see and learn about these solutions yourselves.

Not going to Amplify? Learn more, and get a copy of the solution sheet, at sugarcrm.com/ibm/experienceone

expLast week SugarCRM was the lead sponsor of the Conference Board’s 11th Annual Customer Experience Conference held in downtown NYC. The conference brought together hundreds of cross-functional executives and thinkers responsible for the customer experience at organizations of all shapes and sizes.

In addition to some great keynotes from former Sprint CEO Dan Hesse and Overstock.com president Stormy Simon, SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin explained to the captive crowd the importance of using a modern CRM as the tool to unify the customer experience across both digital and human touch points.

Overall, the importance of focusing on the “human element,” especially when thinking about optimizing customer experience was a theme that ran throughout the event. During a panel I moderated with executives from Citi, Constant Contact and Sparks Grove – the overarching message was to think of the people at the heart of the equations: the individual customers and the employees trying to help them along their customer journey.

The event was a great way to talk to some business and individuals in various stages of a customer experience transformation. And the fact that so many businesses are considering CRM as a major lynch pin to the success of their customer experience initiatives was great to see.

So, a big “thank you” to the Conference Board for putting on such an exceptional event, and a huge thank you to all the attendees, for all the great interactions and conversations!

SugarCon is just around the corner – and that means it is also time for another round of the SugarCon App Throwdown! The App Throwdown – always an attendee favorite – is a showcase of some of the coolest, most useful, and most innovative extensions of the Sugar platform. The fun, sometimes manic, atmosphere of the final judging session at SugarCon not only promises to entertain, but also give Sugar users some great tools to advance their own CRM initiatives.

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While App Throwdown is always a blast – we wanted to make it even better this year. How? Well, for starters, we’ve opened up the submission eligibility to EVERYONE! That’s right – anyone who wants to submit an extension, connector, custom app integrated to Sugar, etc. can apply. Simply fill out this ONLINE FORM to be part of the processes.

Submissions will be accepted until March 27! So get your submission ready – all you need is a cool app/connector/customization, a short video of your app in action, and a completed form to enter!

Also, we have created some categories to help guide your submissions, and the category winners will be the ones to battle it out for “Best in Show” on the main SugarCon stage in April.

This years categories include:

Category Description
Mobile Help your customers see i2i, wherever they are. This category will be judged on the best mobile customization, or mobile extension of Sugar in marketing, field sales, field service or other customer-facing scenarios.
Best Seamless Integration Sugar provides virtually limitless ways of integrating with virtually limitless apps and data sources. This category will focus on applications that follow the best practices of our UI/UX and show creative use of the Intelligence Panel, Dashlets, Activity Streams, and other key areas of the Sugar UX best in class user interface.
Data, Information, & Analytics Getting the right information at the right time is a critical part of creating extraordinary customer relationships. Understanding business insights is an important tool for optimizing your selling and go-to-market strategy. Entries in this category will be judged on how they help Sugar users make better decisions and execute faster based on having better information at their fingertips.
Customer Experience and Engagement This category will look at integrations and customizations that optimize the customer experience and increase levels of engagement. These can include workflow-based customizations and extensions to better align with the customer journey; embedded call center or other real-time employee-to-customer communications; or tools to help agents close more deals or resolve more cases faster.
Beyond CRM The openness of the Sugar platform means that developers and users’ only limits are their imaginations.  Entries in this category will focus on the “edge cases” of CRM. So, if your application interfaces with the real world through the “Internet of Things”, or you’ve added game mechanics to motivate the right behavior, or tied into today’s powerful social tools, this category is for you!

The judging process this year will be a bit different as well. An all-star panel of SugarCRM staff and some special industry influencers and observers will judge all submissions to determine the category winners. These will be announced here on the blog in early April.

At SugarCon, the category winners will compete on stage for the “Best in Show” award – in front of an expert panel of SugarCRM executives including CEO Larry Augustin, and some guest industry influencers. But as in past years – the audience will vote on the category winner they think deserves to be Best in Show!

So, all you Sugar partners, developers, tech-savvy customers with a cool custom module or integration – we invite you to submit ASAP and join us in making the 2015 App Throwdown the best yet!

More and more, the B2B world is talking about the “customer journey” – and how companies must re-focus on the customer. CRM can play a vital role as the technology that enables this transformation. It can give all customer-facing employees a comprehensive understanding of the customer, and coordinate all the complex interactions between many key customer and supplier stakeholders.

Integral to this increasing focus on the customer is making CRM work for the individuals who serve and interact with customers. SugarCRM is committed to delivering a completely transformed, individualized customer experience that is intelligent, immersive, engaging and affordable. We are at the center of this universal shift in CRM, the shift towards connecting individual to individual – i2i.

So, how can you be a part of this shift and enable extraordinary customer experiences?

You can start by attending SugarCon 2015

This April, a record number of attendees will gather at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square for SugarCon 2015, to share best practices for next-generation customer experience and business optimization. There’s no better place to discover the rich community of SugarCRM customers, developers and partners who are transforming business by using SugarCRM to build extraordinary customer relationships.

HERE ARE THE TOP 5 REASONS TO ATTEND SUGARCON 2015:

1) LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

Insightful keynotes, informative general sessions and interactive panels from the world’s leading experts on business transformation and CRM will offer great opportunities to learn how to drive dramatic improvements in business performance.

2) FIND THE ANSWERS YOU NEED

Multiple breakout session options allow you to customize your schedule to fit your needs. Topics range from best practices and proven success stories to product updates, training, emerging trends… and more!

3) EXPAND YOUR PROFESSIONAL NETWORK

Share best practices with industry colleagues, thought leaders, partners and trend spotters from around the world.

4) TRAIN WITH THE PROS

Learn how to optimize the Sugar products you’re already using, test-drive demos of our other solutions and get an exclusive sneak peak of upcoming enhancements.

5) HELP US HELP YOU

Meet with SugarCRM executives and product development teams and provide feedback to help shape product and service direction.

SugarCon is the premier event for SugarCRM customers, users and partners to experience a glimpse into the future of CRM and witness the universal shift in CRM, the shift towards connecting individual to individual – i2i.

If you are looking to excel at creating extraordinary customer relationships and connecting with your customers through the entire customer lifecycle, then look no more. SugarCon 2015 will be three full days dedicated to helping you do just that.

What are you waiting for? Check out the agenda here and register today.

channel-cheifs-2015-400.jpgAnyone familiar with CRN’s “50 Most Influential Channel Chiefs” list knows it’s a distinction of honor. So when the announcement came this week that my name was among the most highly accomplished channel executives, I was proud beyond measure for both our channels team and our channel partners. We have a top-notch channel program at SugarCRM and the success our partners are enjoying illustrates how well that program is working.

SugarCRM has a long history of being a channel publisher (that’s “inside baseball” jargon for being a company that sells through channel partners). We started the company 10 years ago and within days of releasing our first version of Sugar in July 2004, a CRM consulting firm named Synolia in France reached out to ask about our channel program. That was the beginning of a very powerful set of partnerships between SugarCRM and over 200 CRM consulting and reselling companies around the world.

Over the course of the last two year years, I and my team have worked diligently to up-level the channel program and add significant new structure to enhance it. We brought our value added resellers (VARs), system integrators (SIs), original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and independent software vendors (ISVs) under one department and executive leader. This means every partner who represents SugarCRM, embeds Sugar in their own products or integrates with Sugar is now managed by one, fully integrated department. In that time we have also rolled out partner scorecards so each partner can continuously measure their success, established an OEM program and team to work with other software companies that want to embed Sugar in their products, and launched a revamped reseller program with program tiers based on training certification minimums and sales attainment. We also moved our channel partner program up-market, focusing on larger customers and larger partners.

The results speak for themselves. Now, over 60 percent of SugarCRM’s recurring revenue comes from our global channel partners and almost every customer leverages one of our partners, whether a reseller, SI, ISV or OEM partner. We have more than 200 VARs in over 30 countries around the world. We have expanded our channel program to include an OEM partner offering for regional- and vertical-specific solutions with partners like Project Pipeline. And, we’re on track to grow our channel partner program even more this year.

For me, the Channel Chiefs title is validation that the SugarCRM ecosystem of partners continues to be a significant component of the company’s success and our customer’s CRM success.. The implications are just as important for the CRM marketplace itself. Of course, SugarCRM has already proven its mettle as a disruptive player in the CRM market by virtue of its focus on the individual as key in creating extraordinary customer relationships. But just as important, every company that uses CRM must look closely at what differentiates them and implement the right CRM solution that enhances and illustrates those differentiators to their customers. That’s what our partners do for our customers.

From starting the company in 2004 to driving CRM success through our partner ecosystem today, I love every day here at SugarCRM. From the product to the people, SugarCRM is in a league of its own, bucking yesterday’s technology and setting new standards in the industry. This Channel Chiefs accolade is indeed testament to the great success the SugarCRM team and our channel have achieved due to perseverance, innovative thinking and a singular focus on highlighting the customer experience as what’s really important in CRM. I’m proud to share my title of “Influential Channel Chief” with the entire team at SugarCRM and our channel partners, and look forward to our continued success.

As today’s marketplace becomes more and more competitive, it becomes harder and harder to compete based on the old standards: price and product features. Customers today simply have more choices, and are more knowledgeable than ever thanks to the web and social media. The best way to stand out in business today is by offering a superior experience for every prospect and customer.

But, how can you ensure you are providing the best possible customer experience? One method is to align your internal business operations with the typical lifecycle of your customers. This can be done through what is called a “customer journey exercise.”

By mapping the customer journey, any organization can identify how a customer typically goes about making a purchase decision with the company. And, these exercises can help identify internal gaps where the organization is not meeting the expectations of the customer. But how do you turn your customer journey map into the actions that will transform your business?

Join us on February 18th for an informative webinar from SugarCRM and Phil Winters, the head of CIAgenda and a “Customer Perspective Champion,” and “Data Whisperer” with decades of experience helping hundreds of organizations better align their operations with the customers’ perspective in mind.

In this webinar, Phil and SugarCRM Vice President of Product Marketing Karen Hsu will outline the reasons why mapping the customer journey can have a huge impact, illustrate some basic steps to get started, and provide some success stories of organizations which have effectively mapped their customers’ typical journeys.

If your organization has customers, and it has yet to undergo a customer journey exercise – don’t miss this opportunity to learn from the experts! To join the webinar, simply click HERE to register.