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One of the most popular events at SugarCon is back this year: the App Throwdown presented by SugarOutfitters – Cultivated Add-ons, Unrivaled Support. It’s the one event where you can see the best and brightest solutions out there in the Sugar ecosystem, with a focus on how it can help you as a customer facing professional have more meaningful connections with each of your customers.

This year we broke another record with the high number of entrants, and after spending lots of time going thru each of them we’ve come up with a great lineup of exciting finalists. Without further ado, here they are…

Callinize

Callinize bridges your **existing** phone system and SugarCRM in 5 minutes.  Users will make 30% more calls with click to dial, build better relationships with screen pops, and get more organized with post call action items.  Managers get the call analytics/metrics they’ve always wanted. If you’ve looked at CTI in the past, this is different.  It’s dead simple and affordable.

Endeavor

How can you streamline a distributor and reseller network with an easy tool for them to build quotes for products in an engaging and uniform way? See how Endeavor’s Mobile CPQ fits this bill, while at the same time automatically flowing the data back into your SugarCRM system.

Epicom

Using a portal frontend to your SugarCRM system better enables data flow and increases the value of the data insights gained from your customers. See how Epicom’s new portal solution leverages the data and structure already present in your SugarCRM system to boost customer engagement and revenue.

Riva CRM Integration

Many sales, marketing and support professionals live in their email client – whether it’s on their desktop, phone, or tablet. See how Riva CRM Integration delivers a seamless sales and support experience for Outlook, Mac, and mobile users.  Learn how Riva keeps Sugar and your email system in sync to provide maximum flexibility, increased productivity, and improved Sugar adoption.

SugarChimp

MailChimp is a great solution for easily reaching an audience with little friction. But how can you start to leverage the communication insights MailChimp provides to better communicate with your audience? See how SugarChimp brings the data insights from MailChimp into SugarCRM to enable better customer and prospect insight with ease.

Zapier

Many companies steer away from bringing systems of engagement and record together, as costs and complexity get in the way. But what if you could do simple integration workflows in minutes? See how Zapier can automate an SMB companies lead-to-cash workflow without any need for custom coding.

Come see each of them going head to head in front of a live audience with great lineup of expert commentators on Wednesday, April 30th at the closing general session at SugarCon.

 

We’re excited to announce TOM. The Sale Closer. as the August 2013 SugarOutfitters App of the Month. TOM is a unique iPad app that uses advanced Constraint Management methods to help you to close your sales opportunities from SugarCRM in the most effective way. Join us for a live demo August 21st on the next Sugar Community Webinar.

Name, title and brief bio?

Simon is director of TOMfor BV and Partner & co-founder of BPI-Group BV.

BPI-Group BV is a management-consulting group specialized in strategy development and program management for complex (client related) business environments for Industry, ICT, Healthcare and Pharma. TOMfor BV is developer of the TOM APP combining the experience, processes and know-how of many years of sales and sales process engineering in software tools for all customer related processes. Simon is specialized in Sales and Business Management, process engineering based on TOC, LEAN and SixSigma.

When you designed and built this app, what problems were you looking to solve for SugarCRM users and how does TOM solve those problems?

We have seen that many Sales People have problems focusing on and eliminating the most important constraints in their sales campaigns. A lot of time is spent on issues, which are less important and at the end a major constraint is blocking their deal. A waste of precious sales effort and time, which cannot be spent on attractive business one can win.

This is why we created TOM. Our sales APPs combine professional Opportunity Management with TOC (Theory of Constraints from Dr Eli Goldratt, author of the Goal). They support Sales to identify and eliminate their sales Constraints. We implemented that in such a way that Sales and Business Managers get a view on their most frequent opportunity constraints. We help Sales focusing on winning their business and give management access to real time information to analyze the Constraints and eliminate the Root-Cause. This will add substantial value for both Sales and Business Management.

What unique or interesting ways does TOM make it easy for users to use?

We believe that CRM is necessary but not sufficient for a company to be successful in the future. CRM provides critical data for executives to manage their business. But Sales, one of the most important sources of this information doesn’t get much value from their CRM systems. Our objective is to add value to Sales make them benefit from and use CRM. We want to make it as easy as possible for sales to reach their goal, which means “Meet or exceed their sales target”. TOM will help sales with constraint based opportunity management navigating to the order and provides Executives with information they need to have to support sales in closing the most attractive business deals. This is why we believe TOM creates a breakthrough is Sales and Business management.

What attracted you to being a part of the SugarCRM ecosystem?

I’ve worked most of my corporate career for Hewlett-Packard in the period that HP endorsed open systems and focused on partners for creating value for customers. SugarCRM being an Open Source company does have the same philosophy and is easy to get access to. Beside that SugarCRM is one of the fastest growing companies with a large installed base.

For someone who wants to create their own SugarCRM apps, what resources would you recommend that helped you?

My recommendation would be to work with SugarCRM regional management and the SugarCRM partners and position the APP in line with the SugarCRM strategy to leverage on their marketing and messaging. In our case we did focus on adding value to the SugarCRM user by providing them with the necessary opportunity management and tracking tools.

What is your vision for TOM? What can we expect to see in the future?

We introduced the first version of TOM. We are planning to add extensions for Key Account Management and Product & Program Management in the near future.

Want to learn more?

Check out TOM. The Sale Closer. Available at a special discounted price for SugarCRM users at SugarOutfitters.

GetSatisfaction for SugarCRM is the July 2013 SugarCRM App of the Month. This plugin is about more than simply putting more data into your CRM. It is about integrating these special customer and potential customer interactions into the company’s systems and business processes. See for yourself at the live demo on the SugarCRM Community Webinar on July 17th at 11am EDT. To learn more about the GetSatisfaction SugarCRM plugin, you may contact DRI directly.

Name, title and brief bio?

Mitch Lieberman, Managing Partner DRI, USA

Mitch has successfully helped businesses of all sizes to understand the importance of technology and culture; it is about balance. The focus needs to remain on the problem, appropriate solutions, and getting jobs done. Mitch takes a modern, unique, but practical view of customer strategy, process improvement, and technology optimization achieved by creating tight alignment between business strategy, goals and objectives.

His own personal balance is that of a practical view on today, as well as, a strong belief on where we are headed, and how this applies to many different types of businesses, cultures, and geographies.

When you designed and built this app, what problems were you looking to solve for SugarCRM users and how does the GetSatisfaction plugin solve those problems?

Communities should be used to bridge the gap from social media conversation to digital interactions with a purpose. Today many organizations are trying to figure out how to leverage social conversations and these new connections to deliver a better customer experience. Customer communities are great way to accomplish this goal. As much as we would like to do it, taking the online conversations people are having about your company in Facebook and Twitter and dumping them into a CRM system without a considered process, just does not provide a whole lot of value. As you have learned with forums, your customers really do want to connect with you and while the basics have not changed, customers expect more as does your business.

What unique or interesting ways does the GetSatisfaction plugin make it easy for users to use?

Users do not think about the fact that it is being used, it feels like a natural extension to SugarCRM and the CRM process. Does a user think about the Internet connection when they log into the application? It just works and makes their lives easier. In this case, the user of the plug-in itself is the business and not only does it bridge the gap, technically, among service, sales and marketing it brings the organization to together to discuss more important topics like customer experience and customer satisfaction.

What attracted you to being a part of the SugarCRM ecosystem?

I have been a part of the SugarCRM ecosystem longer than most; I have been part of the system (same login to SugarCRM.com ) for over 9 years. DRI has been a gold partner since 2005. I have taken a few breaks, but I keep coming back!

Are there any other apps you’d like to mention that you have either used or been involved with in the SugarCRM ecosystem?

We are actually seeing a lot of traction, in different regions with Act-On.

For someone who wants to create their own SugarCRM apps, what resources would you recommend that helped you?

Build the business case and bounce that off of business users. Technology is the easy part, once the business case is understood.

What is your vision for the GetSatisfaction plugin? What can we expect to see from DRI in the future?

A customer community allows you to collect and analyze data, derive insights about your customers that will then allow you to provide them with relevant, appropriate information at key points along the journey. Today’s forums, or customer communities, can be strongly linked to social networks in order to maximize insight, streamline campaigns, and drive organizational shift to bring your company into the social age. What you can expect from DRI is to focus on the whole customer experience, not just the sale, not just service, nor marketing – but how all the pieces connect, relate and solve the bigger questions of loyalty and satisfaction.

We rolled out our new messaging platform back at SugarCon this year, with the “Every Customer, Every User, Every Time” message ringing loud and clear as a call to the CRM world. It’s pretty clear message, especially with end-users who have had to fight against the fails of technology for years and years. But how does this same question resonate in developer circles? Are they too far abstracted away from the user for the message to add value?

I had the privilege of being at the php|tek 2013 conference in Chicago two weeks ago, which is one of the prominent gatherings of the PHP community that we’ve sponsored for the last three years, and heard a great keynote from Andrew Nacin. As lead developer of the WordPress web publishing platform which is being used by millons of people worldwide, he’s observed front and center the challenges of building a self-hosted tool that needs to be as easy as possible to get up and running. There were some great themes that came up…

It speaks loud and clear to the developer world; making users fight against your application, especially in the first experiences the user has with it, is detrimental to adoption. Making the user need to go thru multiple confusing steps to get it up and running, having to install all sort of dependencies, or even needing to do non-trivial maintenance on the application, is way out of their realm; they don’t want to have to learn the internals of an application to be a successful user of it.

For example, telling every user that you need to be using the latest build of Chrome is a requirement, but that doesn’t help the user that is locked by corporate policy into using IE. Or saying that you need to install some specific library in order to install your application, which locks out the person trying to get it up and going on a shared host that doesn’t allow that. Dictating terms like that draws a clear line in the sand, which immediately ostracizes folks who don’t care about these details and just want “something that works”.

Where’s the lesson here? While trying to use the latest whiz-bang-hip thing is great, in the end if it’s not making a tangible different to your user then it doesn’t matter. Users want abstracted from technology, not having to be experts in it. Write every line of code with this thought in mind “Am I helping my user be productive and get the task done, every time?”.

Editor’s Note: As we get closer to SugarCon, we wanted to introduce all of the contestants to this year’s App Throwdown, sponsored by SugarOutfitters. Over the next 2 weeks, we’ll have interviews from each of them on what they are showing for the Throwdown, helping you learn a bit more about it.

Bio ( Yours and the Organization you are representing ):

Jeff Bickart provides the architectural, technical direction and delivery for the solutions being developed for NEPO Systems. Prior to joining NEPO, Mr. Bickart was the Director of the Advanced Technology Group for TerreStar Networks, Inc., providing advanced application prototypes and proof of concepts for their services. His responsibilities included the Web 2.0 software development both for browser based solutions and mobile solutions. Mr. Bickart previously was the Director of Engineering for Visitar, Inc., a provider of SugarCRM and telecommunications solutions hosted in a SaaS environment. He has also held various engineering positions with Sun Microsystems. Mr. Bickart holds a B.S. in computer science from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.B.A. from George Mason University. You can read his blog at sugarcrm-dev.blogspot.com

NEPO Systems is a SugarCRM Gold Partner that provides premium hosting, support and module development for SugarCRM. Supporting commercial and Federal clients across the globe, NEPO Systems helps our customers with strategic Sugar consultation, implementation and maintenance that are aligned with the unique requirements and business objectives of each of our clients. We deliver high-quality, integrated solutions for traditional Sales Force Automation, Marketing Automation and Customer Support, as well as a variety of custom solutions utilizing the powerful SugarCRM framework.

What are you presenting at the App Throwdown?

Based on an initial client request, NEPO developed an integration with a popular SaaS time tracking application (Harvest), which has since been deployed in multiple Sugar instances (including our own). This simple, yet powerful integration can help professional service organizations more effectively track their employees time, manage billing and ensure that contractual obligations and SLA’s are being met. Our demonstration will show how companies can keep track of an employee’s time and generate invoices for their customers without ever leaving the Sugar environment.

What about your application do you feel brings something unique or different to the Sugar ecosystem?

Our application isn’t designed to demonstrate a specific uniqueness in its function, but rather to show off the flexibility and ease of the Sugar framework and the power of a real business application. This integration was developed within a couple days time and demonstrates the power that can be obtained by integrating two cloud-based applications.  This application is a powerful tool whose business is to provide professional services to its customers by helping companies to better manage time, costs, service contracts & SLA’s and billing, all directly from within Sugar.

What is the biggest takeaway you hope the audience takes away from your presentation?

The takeaway should be twofold. First, that companies who manage professional services organizations and need the ability to more effectively manage their employees time (for whatever reason), recognize that there is a best-of-breed integration that exists in the market today. And second, that Sugar should be viewed as a flexible platform that can be leveraged well-beyond the traditional CRM functions (e.g., “this is not your fathers CRM”).

What is the most exciting aspect of being a part of the Sugar App Throwdown?

We believe that this is a great venue for showcasing what a powerful tool SugarCRM can be for all different types of companies and users. Hopefully these brief 3-minute “demos” will help other Sugar users spark some creativity on how of how they can improve their own business processes and more deeply embed Sugar within their organizations.

Looking at the other App Throwdown submissions, which one looks the most interesting and why?

We are looking forward seeing the Callinize application and its direct integration into a smartphone is a killer concept.

Editor’s Note: As we get closer to SugarCon, we wanted to introduce all of the contestants to this year’s App Throwdown, sponsored by SugarOutfitters. Over the next 2 weeks, we’ll have interviews from each of them on what they are showing for the Throwdown, helping you learn a bit more about it.

Bio ( Yours and the Organization you are representing ):

Blake Robertson is an avid member of the SugarCRM Developer community.   Blake Robertson started developing SugarCRM addons for the needs of his company Alertus Technologies for which Blake is the CTO and cofounder.  When he’s not developing next generation mass notification hardware/software, he enjoys working on open source projects. Most notably, he maintains YAAI an open source telephony integration between SugarCRM and Asterisk. Blake presented YAAI at the 2012 SugarCon AppThrowdown.  Since then, it’s become SugarCRM’s most widely deployed Telephony integration.

Callinize integrates your phone system and your CRM revolutionizing the way you’ll make and take calls.  Know exactly who’s calling before you pick up the phone.  Make calls without typing in digits and leave call notes without having to first search for the contact.  Where most CTI solutions are designed for Call Centers, Callinize is designed for SMBs.  Features such as our google chat inspired call note taker and smartphone apps bring the power of a call center to everyone..

What are you presenting at the App Throwdown?

I’m going to be presenting the most exciting and novel features of Callinize.

How often do you receive a call and have NO idea who it is? We all have. Callinize solves this problem. Callinize is an app that connects to your company’s CRM, pulls important customer information, and displays this information for all incoming calls on your mobile phone. During the call you can launch into our app that displays more actionable information and the ability to save notes.

What about your application do you feel brings something unique or different to the Sugar ecosystem? 

It’s the first CRM Telephony integration which works on a mobile phone.   CRM Telephony integrations have been primarily utilized by “Call Centers” or forward thinking companies that want to improve company productivity.  One of the biggest limitations of traditional telephony integrations is you had to be tethered to your desk / in front of your computer.  People just don’t work that way anymore! We’ve traded being tethered to our desk to being tethered to our mobile phone. Fortunately, the power of a call center now fits in the convenience of your pocket.

What is the biggest takeaway you hope the audience takes away from your presentation?

I hope that next time they get a call on their mobile phone and don’t recognize the number they’ll think of Callinize.  We bring the abundance of information in your CRM to your finger tips wherever you are.

And for those struggling to get CRM adoption throughout their company… if you provide your employees with tools like Callinize which take the chore out of getting information into and out of the system, your adoption will happen much more naturally.

What is the most exciting aspect of being a part of the Sugar App Throwdown?

Last year I presented yaai, the open source telephony integration, which is the foundation of Callinize.  The AppThrowdown really launched yaai’s userbase which in turn has attracted a community of developers from around the world.  Most notably, I met Callinize’s co founder, Patrick Hogan, right after my presentation at sugarcon.  We’ve been working together ever since and we wouldn’t be in this years AppThrowdown if it wasn’t for him. Looking forward to meeting other people to collaborate with and launching Callinize!

Looking at the other App Throwdown submissions, which one looks the most interesting and why?

I’m definitely interested in the harvest integration the campaign improvements!  Campaigns continue to be a pain point in my company.  It’s too hard for a sales person to use.

Editor’s Note: As we get closer to SugarCon, we wanted to introduce all of the contestants to this year’s App Throwdown, sponsored by SugarOutfitters. Over the next 2 weeks, we’ll have interviews from each of them on what they are showing for the Throwdown, helping you learn a bit more about it.

Bio ( Yours and the Organization you are representing ):

Endeavor:  Sugar’s only CPQ (Configure Price Quote) Partner.  We help companies sell more products and services by making the quote to order process fast, easy and accurate.  Formed in 2000 and located in Dallas Texas.

Sean Myers:  CoFounder & CEO

Vince Puente:  Sales Executive

What are you presenting at the App Throwdown?

Endeavor is presenting a CPQ process highlighting Mobility, Integration and Cloud.  In order to compete and win, sales people must respond quickly in all areas of the sales cycle.  With EndeavorCPQ, Sugar customers can be assured that their sales people and partners will deliver perfect quotes, no matter how complex, within 5 minutes of getting the request.   Because EndeavorCPQ is integrated with Sugar, Opportunities are updated and Forecasting is on demand and accurate.

What about your application do you feel brings something unique or different to the Sugar ecosystem?

Endeavor is the only CPQ company that has a direct integration with Sugar.  With its cloud based offerings and mobile delivery, Sugar customers can now provide all sales agents, resellers and partners a quoting portal that they need to sell more stuff.

What is the biggest takeaway you hope the audience takes away from your presentation?

EndeavorCPQ will help you Sell More Stuff by becoming easier to do business with.

What is the most exciting aspect of being a part of the Sugar App Throwdown?

The opportunity to compete with other vendors to demonstrate what is possible with Sugar to drive more business value.  Also, the format of the Throwdown fosters a fun environment at the end of a great week.

Looking at the other App Throwdown submissions, which one looks the most interesting and why?

Colosa – EndeavorCPQ automates the quote to order process for companies producing significant ROI with revenue and productivity gains.  Colosa has two Process Management products that we can’t wait to learn more about and we envision working with them.