One of the classic arguments around SaaS and Cloud-based CRM is the issue of who owns the customer data. This is an artifact of the difficulty some had in making the mental leap between data you own (in the legal sense that you are the owner) and data you have (on-site, in your own machines, managed by your company) early in the SaaS era. But there are real concerns about data possession – for example, can you easily retrieve your data in a usable format from a cloud-based vendor? And is this kind of built-in difficulty something the vendor is doing as a way to lock its customers in by making it painful for the customer to take possession of their own data?
Bob Greenlees, director of operations at Shuttlecloud, a cloud data portability platform, wrote about this topic on the website CloudTweaks this week, and briefly discusses CRM vendors, touching on Salesforce, SugarCRM, and Insightly. When it comes to data, Sugar fares well:
“The export process in particular is very easy to use in order to import data into another tool or store it locally. While there are options for high degrees of customization with SugarCRM, additional modifications are not necessary for customers who want to move services. This type of data portability allows customers to focus on features, and not vendor lock-in, when considering a CRM tool.”
Expecting CRM customers to trust you to house their data and then making it available only in difficult to use formats is a bit tacky. It’s done for the vendor’s benefit, not for the customer – and thus, it’s the very antithesis of the idea of building customer relationships. SugarCRM’s take on this is that the data is your own and you should be free to use it as you fit – to integrate it with other applications, to draw from it through customizations and personalizations of your choosing, or to migrate it to another CRM application if you should so choose.
It’s your data – don’t allow people that you’re paying to store it make it harder to use. Think of this like you’d think of a bank, and your data is your money. Would you use a bank that would only allow you to close out you account by giving you your money in nickels?