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As concepts like social media, mobile and big data add more and more information into the marketing mix, it is important for sales and marketing Summit Graphicprofessionals to embrace the concepts behind data-driven marketing. In today’s world, those taking advantage of the mountains of information available around our customers are the ones who will not only survive, but thrive and bat the competition.

To help marketers gain more insight around data-driven marketing, AgileOne is holding a FREE online conference all day on May 9th. As part of the event, SugarCRM co-founder and CTO Clint Oram will be speaking about how SugarCRM allows its users to delight today’s social customer.

The entire online conference is filled with great presenters and topics. Click here to register for free and join the conversation!

We here at SugarCRM are coming off an AMAZING week. In addition to gathering in San Francisco with our customer and partners at SugarCon, we sugarcrm-dashboardalso celebrated our tenth anniversary as a company. All throughout SugarCon, we talked about the Power of “i” and what it means in terms of empowering more individuals in the organizations we serve to be more effective every time they engage with a customer, and to simply perform their jobs better. A huge part of empowering companies to harness the power of “i” comes from the innovative user experience found in Sugar 7. We designed Sugar 7 with the individual in mind – aiming at offering a unique UI that gives users more actionable insight on every screen, as well as a more collaborative approach to CRM. In short, giving users what is most relevant to the tasks at hand – nothing more, nothing less.

Just before SugarCon, analysis firm Software Advice rated their Top 5 Favorite SFA Software User Interfaces, and I can say I am not surprised that Sugar 7 made the list. Here is what the author of the report told SugarCRM he was looking for when making their evaluations:

“When we were evaluating SFA user interfaces (UIs), we looked for designs that included intuitive, unobtrusive navigation systems; clear, aesthetically pleasing reports; and sensible layouts that make smart use of space to emphasize important information. Our favorites combine all these elements (and others) to make using the software both painless for the uninitiated and lightning-fast for SFA veterans,” says Jay Ivey, Managing Editor at Software Advice.

And while Ivey and Software Advice were not necessarily keen to our Power of “i” concept before writing the report, his description of why Sugar 7 made the cut speaks directly to the vision we hold around empowering individual users:

“We chose SugarCRM as one of our favorite interfaces for a lot of reasons, but we especially liked how easy it is for users to customize every aspect of their experience. With a wide range of drag-and-drop dashlets (which are basically widgets containing elements such as opportunity forecasts or contact information), it’s easy to make dashboards your own,” says Ivey. “Once you curate and arrange information to best suit your particular needs, you’ll find yourself wasting less time clicking through multiple screens to access what you’re looking for.”

The validation from Software Advice is not simply a nice kudos to a well designed product. Instead, it is a deeper validation of SugarCRM’s innovative vision in a marketplace that for many years has remained somewhat static. In my opinion, our refreshing approach to user enablement sets us apart, and it is great to see third parties agreeing as well.

The following is a guest post by Ginger Tulley, Senior Director of Marketing, Strategic Alliances at Dun and Bradstreet

Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) has been in the data business for 170 years. And in that time, the market for data hasn’t changed all that much. Until now.d&b_logo - no tagline.jpg

We have entered a whole new age of data. One in which streams of information can be delivered as services over the web, and appear as part of an application’s interface, with no action needed on the user’s part. Where new business models are built around data marketplaces, so anyone can subscribe to content and integrate it into workflows in ways never considered before. The world is opening up, and every day people are looking to do things better.

That’s just what SugarCRM has done, on behalf of its users. It’s taken a wonderful step to make it easier for sales, marketing and customer service teams to be more effective in their work by streaming data directly into their CRM. End users who have struggled to keep the prospect and customer information in their CRMs current and accurate no longer have to manually enter data or buy static lists.

They can just use D&B for Sugar, the service we’ve jointly announced today.

Sugar users can enrich their prospect or customer records with a single click.

Sugar users can enrich their prospect or customer records with a single click.

 

After working in the software industry for longer than I care to admit, one thing has become clear to me: Software needs to be easier to use. It should support the way people want to work, and not force them to plug in values because the software demands it. CRM systems are getting smarter, faster and more intuitive – and SugarCRM is one company leading the way.

Want to read more about today’s announcement? Check out SugarCRM Evangelist Martin Schneider’s guest blog post on our Partner blog, or visit the D&B for Sugar product page.

SugarCRM is the first CRM provider to be named “Ready for IBM Smarter Commerce,” which means the Sugar platform r4_smarter_commerce.jpgsupports and inter-operates seamlessly with core IBM Smarter Commerce components, including IBM Campaign and Interact, IBM Websphere Commerce, and IBM Sterling Commerce. As the current state of business, fueled by advancements in social, mobile and cloud technologies changes the way companies market and sell, IBM’s Smarter Commerce portfolio combined with Sugar can help enterprises of all sizes better meet these current and future challenges.

IBM Smarter Commerce turns customer insight into action, enabling new business processes that help companies buy, market, sell and service their products and services to today’s modern customer. With deep integrations into key Smart Commerce offerings, SugarCRM puts the “i” in Smarter Commerce.

What does it mean to put the “i” in Smarter Commerce? It means that SugarCRM extends IBM Smarter Commerce to customer-facing individuals such as sales and service representatives. For example, with IBM and SugarCRM, campaign management programs can be driven down to specific, actionable, in-context leads placed in the daily activity stream of individual sellers. Or, individual customer care agents can view the entire history of a given customer’s interactions, and can see targeted real-time recommendations right from within their call center application.

The result: faster campaign-to-cash, more efficient marketing and sales processes, and higher customer satisfaction and value.

For more information on how SugarCRM complements IBM Smarter Commerce and other IBM products and services, see sugarcrm.com/ibm

maglassWhen talking about the CRM market, a lot of numbers are thrown around. Analyst firms like Gartner and IDC do amazing jobs of calculating the annual spend in the market, which will be more than $30bn in a few years. There are lots of huge companies selling CRM software (usually among other technology pieces), and the space gets a lot of news coverage.

But while these numbers and the continual buzz in CRM seems impressive…is it really?

SugarCRM co-founder and CTO Clint Oram and I have had an ongoing dialog for nearly a year now, about how the CRM industry has – in a lot of ways – utterly failed to live up to its potential over the past two decades.

“Failed?” You ask?

Yes, a big #Fail.

What we have been talking about internally is that the CRM industry now serves roughly 20-25m end users (you can take a composite of all research and it usually ends up around this number give or take a few million users). Now, while this seems like a big number, let’s look at some other “relationship management” tools out there and their user counts:

LinkedIn (professional relationship management): 200m+ Users

Facebook (personal relationship management): 1bn+ Users.

When we stack CRM up against similar (yet admittedly consumer oriented) concepts, CRM falls down in comparison in terms of seeding its total addressable market. Clint calls this, “The Case of the Missing Zero.” And I agree, why aren’t we asking the bigger questions about CRM, namely: Why is this a 20m user market and not a 200m market today?

I think the answer lies both in looking at the success of companies like Facebook and LinkedIn, and also in the history of business technology. In short, CRM originated in a time before such life-changing trends as: the internet, social media, cloud, mobile…pick your buzzword. Early CRM was expensive, difficult to deploy, and benefitted management and not the actual front-line users of CRM – those who deal with prospects and customers. And a lot of expensive, traditional CRM deployments are now in place, lack the modernity expected by today’s workforce, which only exacerbates the issue. And, what’s more, nearly every traditional CRM providers’ offerings were built in this pre-web/social/mobile/cloud era and are thus ill equipped to meet the needs of the individual user.

But…there is hope. If we as an industry start focusing more on the actual users of CRM, and build tools that help them do their jobs, not simply capture data, we can bridge this huge adoption gap.These tools should be simple to use, mobile friendly, and not only make sense of the mounds of structured and unstructured data about every customer – but provide fast and valuable insight around this data to every user at every turn.

And by creating pricing that actually works with companies to put the software in more users’ hands – we can start seeing the true promise of CRM. This isn’t about selling more software (well, in some ways it is), but rather empowering more people in the organization who touch the customer. It’s not about having to make hard decisions about who does and who does not get to use the tools designed to improve the lifeblood of your business – your customers – it’s about giving everyone access to the information they need to provide better service, make more informed decisions, and simply promote better customer relationships.

We are making headway in this area, and made some significant announcements this morning to that effect. While it is early in what I feel is a transformative time in CRM, I am excited. By bringing innovation back into this industry in a big way, empowering more individuals in every company we serve, and simply helping make great customer experiences happen, I hope to see this industry find that missing zero (yes, everyone not just SugarCRM) and show what a difference great CRM can really make.

The folks at Software Advice are performing an in-depth survey to better understand how individual users of CRM surveysystems interact with the software: what works, what could be improved, etc.

Since we here at SugarCRM are always looking to learn more about the industry, but especially looking to learn more about what individual users are looking to get out of the system, we wanted to help spread thew word.

Want to have your voice heard? Want to help shape the future of CRM? Take the survey HERE.

Forbes contributing writer Dan Woods recently caught up with SugarCRM’s CEO Larry Augustin for lunch in San Francisco for a discussion about the state of the customer journey.

florbes

Larry shared SugarCRM’s grander vision for Customer Relationship Management (CRM). “Instead of sales force automation,
CRM should live up to its name and start helping every single person who interacts with customers do a better job of serving them.”

As technology trends like social media and mobile both break down internal silos and help individuals better connect and interact with companies – the bounds of CRM must grow. For organizations to truly foster deeper, more effective and personalized relationships with their customers – they need to expand CRM beyond traditional sales and support professionals.

As Larry goes on to state in the article:

“It is ridiculous to limit CRM to sales. In my view, every clerk walking the floor of a store, every customer service rep, every repair technician, receptionists – essentially everyone that interacts with a customer should have a view of the customer provided by CRM.”

Well said, Larry.

To read the article in full, please click here.

SugarCRM is participating in the BoxWorks conference this week in San Francisco, the Imageannual event for collaboration and cloud file storage provider Box. During CEO Aaron Levie’s keynote – he cited some impressive growth numbers for the company. Box now has 180,000 companies using its offerings, with about 20 million individuals in that mix.

20 million. Think about that.

A lot of very successful business software providers, and I mean BIG companies with billions in revenue, only serve about 3-5 million users, tops.

Why is that?

The answer, in my opinion, is that tradition business software providers – the old guard of CRM, ERP, etc. – have typically been either too inflexible, too expensive, or a combination of both, which restricts the amount of employees in a company that can actually use the software.

Think about it. If you really map out a customer-facing process in a CRM usage scenario, for example, there are all kinds of potential touch points internally that get locked out of a typical CRM deployment. Product experts, fulfillment personnel, receptionists…anyone who might either interact with a customer, or have information that can help enhance the customer experience. But instead, CRM deployments are usually limited to quota carrying sales reps, managers, and support agents – in short, a limited set.

I believe Box is painting a picture of how businesses should be looking at technology and how they empower their employees to do their jobs better, and in turn serve customer better. And Box is showing how technology providers should be looking at their business models in fresh new angles. For users, Box’s technology both promotes collaboration and is super simple to use. On the business side, Box used freemium and openness to quickly get entrenched inside the largest and smallest companies – it did not rely only on expensive and inefficient enterprise sales models. Box’s technology quickly and easily proved its value to the USER, and management’s buy-in naturally followed.

We are in a new era of user empowerment in business software in my opinion. Powered by the convergence of consumer technology experiences, evolved distribution and business models, and an overall approach (hopefully) that favors getting the software into the hands of users versus simply “selling the expensive seat license” to decision-makers. The future is bright, and Box is proving that the right technology, with the right approach to distribution, can lead to great things…

SugarCRM is all over the news these days. We have seen lots of great coverage of our strong momentum and our recent financing news. The great news has resulted in SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin appearing on Fox Business News, telling the story of how SugarCRM creates customer experts and is changing the CRM industry for the better.

Larry is beginning to be a cable news fixture, it seems. Following on the Fox appearance, Larry appeared today on Money Moves on Bloomberg TV. Larry talked about our recent funding from Goldman Sachs and how our customers across multiple industries are leveraging Sugar to improve their customer relationships. He also explained how SugarCRM is more nimble and agile in reacting to the changing needs of our customers versus all of the other rigid and non-innovative providers of CRM software in the market.

In case you missed it, here’s the clip.

We just hope Larry continues to focus on continuing to expand SugarCRM’s global business and not on a new television career.

Using social collaboration tools? Want your opinions heard? Then take a few minutes to take a new survey by Aberdeen 500px-Collaboration-handsGroup  focused on social collaboration.

The enterprise social collaboration concept has been around for a few years, evolving from IM and other chat tools into activity streams, document sharing, web meeting, and other combined technologies to better enable cooperation in all kinds of workplaces.

We’d like to hear how Sugar users are connecting distributed workers, and those in the same campus, via enterprise collaboration tools. The more we learn, the more we can shape our product and integration strategy to best fit the true needs of the Sugar user.

Take the survey HERE.