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Wow…that’s about all I can say. As I gather my bearings after what can only be called a whirlwind week on the east coast, I am reflecting on all the great moments with SugarCRM customers, industry influencers and media.

In all, we met with dozens of reporters, analysts and customers – and all of them were excited about our vision for where we see the CRM market going in the next year and beyond. We announced great news about our $40m funding from Goldman Sachs, which followed continued strong momentum.

Early in the week, both SugarCRM Clint Oram and CEO Larry Augustin presented on our vision for the call center and CRM in general, respectively, at the CRM Evolution conference in NYC. I also sat on a panel discussing “best practices for global CRM deployments” at the event. The incredible global adoption of Sugar and the global deployments performed by SugarCRM and our partners gave me great fodder for the event.

After the event, we yo-yoed up and down New England for some great meetings. And of course, in true Sugar fashion, we always like to make our presence known:

As news of our funding broke, major media outlets covered the story, including Fox Business News:

All told, between the CRM Evolution event, all of the great news coverage, and simply having our message validated by nearly all of the leading CRM influencers during our analyst tour, it has been an amazing week to be part of what we are trying to do here at SugarCRM. We are changing the CRM landscape, for the better in my opinion. And even with all this great momentum and validation, we are only just getting started.

CRM as a concept has been around for decades. The technology has changed with the times, and we have learned valuablel&l lessons from the successes and failures of past deployments. Today for example, cloud-based and mobile software developments have sped the time to deploy CRM, and lowered the cost to entry. On the user front, more intuitive, user-focused tools have made CRM initiatives increasingly more successful.

But it doesn’t stop there. There are many ways SugarCRM users can benefit from the lessons learned from previous CRM adopters.

Want to learn more about pitfalls to avoid with your CRM initiative? Are you in the SF bay area? Then join SugarCRM and Gold Partner Faye Business Systems for a live lunch-and-learn session at SugarCRM headquarters in Cupertino on Tuesday July 30.

We will talk about some common reasons for CRM failures, and how to avoid them in creating customized, cost-effective CRM your users will love.

We hope you can join us. Register today HERE as space is limited!

I had a great talk this week with the always enlightening Esteban Kolsky. I was briefing him about Sugar’s latest and greatest,101007_curve_sign and our evolving messaging, and he brought up a really nice point: SugarCRM acts as a “change agent” inside our customer companies.

So, what does this mean?

To explain, let’s assume that the majority of organizations out there have constant goals: acquiring customers, supporting customers, retaining customers, driving revenue, controlling costs, etc.  However, the path to those goals changes constantly. Macro-level trends, such as the economy, the explosion of social as a channel, the emergence of mobile as a preferred communication channel, etc. affect how your organization reaches its goals. On a more micro-level, executive management changes, enhancements to internal processes, reactions to customer demands, etc. also force change inside your organization.

The question becomes, then, how do we remain focused on our goals and work towards meeting them – without being either bewildered or bogged down amidst such rapid change at all levels? Many organizations rely on internal “change agents” to help see the proverbial curve in the upcoming road. These individuals are visionaries and usually go above and beyond in helping companies adapt to changes.

But – can a change agent be a thing, and not a person?

Esteban and I outlined how SugarCRM has been a change agent for a lot of our customers. Their goals, as stated above, were constant and solid. But the method for attaining them became more and more difficult. However, rather than get “stuck” trying to achieve their sales, marketing and support goals, many were able to adapt because their CRM technology was forward thinking, “future proof,” or in other words ultimately flexible.

Now, other products might offer “modern” CRM tools (think: social, mobile, cloud) – but very few offer the strategic advantage of being so deeply flexible and channel-agnostic that companies can adapt to the changing tide BEFORE the vendor releases packaged features to address these issues. Our customers, in a lot of areas, are adapting faster than our roadmap – because that’s the luxury deploying Sugar affords them.

And when you combine that flexibility with the kind of strong TCO Sugar provides – the combination makes Sugar an even more attractive change agent. Sure, many products can be customized or altered to fit changing needs, but at what cost? And on whose terms? Adapting to change is one thing, doing so in a strategic and cost-effective manner is another.

So, when thinking about deploying or upgrading your CRM, think about the state of change. And think about how you can adapt to changes with the tools you have, or are thinking to deploy. Again, goals stay the same, the path constantly changes. Is your CRM going to be a change agent seeing the curves far ahead in the road, or a road block on the path to CRM success?

Earlier this month, I was joined by Aberdeen Group’s Peter Ostrow for a discussion around “Amplifying the R in CRM.” Peter discussed how best-in-class sales & marketing organizations leveraged CRM and related technologies to create stickier customer relationships.

We discussed some best practices, outlined some of the ancillary tools and integrations that augment a core CRM deployment, and went over SugarCRM’s vision for helping organizations better market to, sell to and support customers and prospects.

Specifically, Peter and I outlined:

  • What Best-in-Class companies do differently
  • Pitfalls they avoid
  • Why they achieve greater success
  • Technologies and services they leverage to succeed

The webcast was one of the most highly attended we’ve ever done. If you missed it, or would like to hear the discussion again – Click Here.

A few things got me thinking this morning about how we at SugarCRM define ourselves, and how we fit in the broader market in general. Yesterday analyst and all around instigator Esteban Kolsky made some interesting points in scrutinizing a leading analyst firm’s increasingly broad definition of what vendors fit into the CRM landscape.

In my days an an analyst I covered call center tools, sales automation software, marketing and demand generation technology, analytics, e-commerce and even ERP – all in the name of “customer facing/touching technology.” And these are, in all fairness, all part of a customer acquisition or retention strategy.

But while some companies offer a lot of these components (and I am sure a few might argue they offer them all) – no single PRODUCT covers all of these bases in a seamless and unified manner. They just don’t.

And this is a good thing. More and more, consumers of these technology components are taking a “best of breed” approach, in order to get the best features, benefits and the most attractive return on invested dollars. On the vendor side, a diverse market of providers fosters innovation and healthy competition that benefits the customer.

So, where does SugarCRM fit in? Well, for one we believe in the best of breed approach to CRM and the adjacent technologies that support a successful CRM initiative. For example, we work with lots of great demand generation providers like Act-On, Hubspot and Marketo to enable seamless lead flow into our core CRM system. Second, all we focus on is that “core CRM” and not infrastructure or business intelligence or other technology. In a world where M&A and other drivers has made nearly every CRM player also a seller of other IT stuff – we remain the CRM specialists. These may be valuable tools (and lucrative to sell) but they are not our focus.

Our focus, then, is what I’ve been calling the “Nexus of Engagement:” that point where an internal person/employee/user, etc. interacts with a customer/lead/partner, etc. (Akin to what I talked about a while back in bringing the “R” back into CRM.) We are the system that supports the user in delivering the right information, at the right time. We help sales, marketing and support professionals see the “next best step” in a process, or the best person to interact with next. We are the home base, as it were – supporting the process of turing “CRM users” into “Customer Experts.”

Don’t get me wrong – we don’t do it alone. Like I noted above in the demand generation ecosystem we support – there are lots of potential data inputs, integrated tools, apps, widgets, etc. – that make for the most successful creations of this “Nexus of Engagement.” But I would argue that the unlimited flexibility of Sugar’s architecture, it’s easily customized user-first design, and the broad pre-existing technology and data ecosystem around Sugar – makes us unique in our ability to support any user in becoming a customer expert.

A Case for cRm.

Martin Schneider —  June 6, 2013 — 3 Comments

The technology that supports the interactions between a customer and a business have gone through all sorts of changes over r-blogthe past several decades. Advancements in technology, buyer behavior, high-level phenomenon like social media, etc. have all left their mark on CRM technology.

One could argue that in different phases of its evolution, each of the three initials of C-R-M have been the focus. For example, when application software was a nascent market, the simple fact of managing the data around a sales person’s activities (the”M” in CRM) was the focus. Prior to early CRM systems, pen and paper, and early unwieldy databases were the status quo. In short, there was very little focus on the customer and the relationship – just managing and trying to standardize processes and capturing actions. And to keep the “management” conceit going, most early CRM systems benefitted managers more than actual users. Users were forced to enter data, which benefitted management reports around company performance, rather than actually helping users do their jobs better.

As the web, service oriented architectures, the cloud and social media became commonplace, CRM started to become more about customer data. The addition of “the customer” (or the “C” in CRM) sounds ironic, but it was a novel change. Most CRM systems, as noted above, focused on the sales or support agent’s activities and workflow process management, management-level reports, etc. – NOT on optimizing the insights around customer histories to create meaningful experiences at every touch point. Adding the C is a great evolutionary step.

So that brings us to the “R” in CRM. As an industry we have mastered the management of data, and have gotten much better at including rich customer insights into processes and interactions. Evolving further, I think we are starting to actually focus better on the relationships customer have with businesses. That means more of a focus on the point of engagement, not on post-call data entry, or on batch-level rollup reports that tell us nothing in true detail.

Focusing on the relationship benefits both the customer and the actual front line users of a CRM system. The customer benefits because we have the previous addition of their data in the equation, and a focus on solving their problems and generally better meeting their needs right at the point of any engagement, across any channel. That’s good stuff. And by empowering users with the tools they need to better provide that level of service not later, not through 17 screens – but in a single, intuitive user panel that is accessible on any device – sales, marketing and support professionals can do their jobs better and with less stress and manual efforts. Also good stuff.

So, I argue that we are in the era of cRm: focusing on the Relationship aspect of customer interactions. Wether it is a one-time interaction, or a lifelong bond between a buyer and a brand – SugarCRM is looking to help organizations of all sizes optimize those relationships, wherever and whenever.

To learn more about how you can enhance relationships with CRM and related tools, join us for a webinar with Aberdeen Research’s Peter Ostrow titled Amplify the “R” in your CRM on Thursday, June 13th.

UPDATED 2013-06-19: Webinar moved to June 25th. Sorry for the inconvenience.

As many of you know, SugarCRM has run the App of the Month program for the past several years. Going forward, sugarcrm-aotm-sugaroutfittersSugarOutfitters and SugarCRM will be working together to feature the best apps every month. We’re really excited to work with SugarCRM on this program as finding the best apps in the SugarCRM ecosystem is already a big part of what we do!

Without further ado, DetectID Cloud for is the June 2013 SugarCRM App of the Month. The DetectID Cloud for SugarCRM helps ensure your SugarCRM SugarCRM data is safe and secure. They will give a live demo at the SugarCRM Community Webinar on June 25th at 11am EDT. To try out DetectID Cloud for SugarCRM, simply start a free trial today.

profile_DI_juneappofmonthYour name, title and brief bio?

Daniel Ingevaldson, CTO of Easy Solutions, Inc. I’m responsible for the overall technology strategy for Easy Solutions.

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

Easy Solutions has been a market-leader in building security and anti-fraud technology for banks and other financial institutions for many years. We have helped our clients protect their systems and account holders from constant and deliberate attacks from highly skilled adversaries. One primary technology that banks rely upon to protect their users is “multi-factor authentication” (MFA), which basically means that users need something beyond a simple password to access their accounts. The use of MFA protects users from simple “phishing” attacks which are designed to trick users into supplying their username and password.

These problems don’t just affect big banks. There were almost 1,500 breaches of customer data publicly reported last year, and probably hundreds more that went unreported. In each of these events, personal information, account names, emails and/or passwords were stolen. Studies show that most users commonly reuse the same password for nearly every web site registration and many users are registered for hundreds. With the constant drumbeat of high-profile breaches, the circulation of hundreds of thousands of usernames and passwords in the online underground and the pervasive problem of extensive password reuse, nearly all cloud-based data is at risk.

Our goal with SugarCRM is to provide enabling technology for easy-to-use MFA for SugarCRM. The same technology that supports our financial services customers has been leveraged to provide SugarCRM users the extra security needed, without the extra hassle. With DetectID Cloud for SugarCRM, even if the user’s password has been stolen, it is not possible to access SugarCRM data.

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

DetectID Cloud for SugarCRM supports two types of MFA. The first is “device authentication”, which detects and fingerprints the user’s computer during the first login. After the device is enrolled and associated with a specific user account, every login thereafter will trigger a check to see if the enrolled computer is behind the login. If not, it will not be possible to login. The second approach is called “mobile one-time-password”, or mobile OTP. Mobile OTP allows users to login normally with a username or password and to enter a one-time-password from the Easy Solutions DetectID OTP iPhone or Android app. Mobile OTP turns any mobile device into a second factor. In both cases, if a password is stolen, account access is not allowed without the second factor.

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

The ecosystem. SugarCRM has a fantastic community of integrators, hosting providers and app developers. SugarCRM customers are attracted to the platform because it gives them the power to tune their instance to their specific requirements. Easy Solutions is interested in providing MFA technology to all enterprise applications because they are all equally vulnerable to these basic attack types.

What is your vision for DetectID Cloud for SugarCRM? What can we expect to see from DetectID in the future?

DetectID Cloud is built upon robust enterprise-class technology that supports authentication for millions of online users. Our vision for DetectID Cloud is to continue to expand the capabilities of the solution to provide customers with additional types of MFA and additional flexibility to deploy the right combination and security and convenience that is right for their users.

Are your sales reps hitting quota above or below the level of top performing teams? Are you retaining as many customers as the best in the business? Want to learn how to get on the right track towards being a best-in-class sales and marketing organization?

Join us Thursday June 13th for a discussion with Aberdeen Research’s Peter Ostrow. Ostrow recently led an insightful survey and is publishing the results around how best-in-class sales and marketing organizations leverage CRM and related technologies to gain their competitive edge. All attendees of this informative webinar will receive a free copy of the report.

We will discuss just how much more productive these leading organizations are, and some of the secrets to their success.

You will learn:

  • What Best-in-Class companies do differently
  • Pitfalls they avoid
  • Why they achieve greater success
  • Technologies and services they leverage to succeed

Register for the event HERE. We hope you can join us for what promises to be an insightful session!

Next week, SugarCRM will be sponsoring and exhibiting at the IBM Smarter Commerce event in Nashville May 21-23. The event is a great ibmsmartercommercegathering of business leaders from around the world, with a focus on improving customer-facing processes and technologies to enhance the buying experience.

SugarCRM supports the core Smarter Commerce business processes of Buy, Market, Sell, Service, including integrations with IBM’s Cross-channel campaign management solutions, Cognos and Connections, all of which enhance you organization’s effectiveness and improve your sales cycle.

SugarCRM and IBM have similar views on enabling customer centricity inside our clients’ organizations, as evidenced by our well-aligned messages during SugarCon in April.

To learn more about how SugarCRM supports IBM Smarter Commerce, or if you’re attending the event and would like to schedule time with SugarCRM executives on site, stop by Booth E-18 or visit HERE.

We hope to see you in Nashville!

I think most of us here at SugarCRM are still catching our breaths after an amazing week in NYC. SugarCon 2013 was an awesome four days of great keynotes, discussions, customer stories, training sessions, evening events…simply put – it was our best event to date, and we are already dreaming scon13up ways to make SugarCon 2014 even better.

While there were tons of highlights, great moments, sound bites, press coverage, etc. coming out of the event, one trend became clear. SugarCRM has aligned with some innovative and insightful partners – all of us with similar visions of helping create more customer-centric organizations. Perhaps one of the most profoundly aligned companies in our ecosystem is IBM.

Our aligned visions took center stage on Tuesday April 9, as Larry outlined our vision for “Every Customer, Every User, Every Time” and how our product and services are working towards making that a reality for every Sugar customer. Then, following behind Larry’s message, Steve Laughlin, Vice President for Smarter Commerce for IBM’s Global Business Services unit, talked about the empowered customer era and told the 1000+ attendees how IBM is helping to make enterprises more adept at personalizing interactions and the customer lifecycle in general.

And then, on Tuesday, Tamara Duncan, client advocacy executive at IBM, talked about the importance of customer centricity on a panel led by Terry Jones, founder and former CEO of Travelocity. In addition to the main stage, IBM executives also presented two standing-room only sessions: one on social selling by Christopher Lamb, IBM Program Direct, Social CRM, and another on modern marketing tips by Chris Benedetto, Product Marketing Leader, Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM). In addition, SugarCRM solutions architect Charles Hicks presented an integration overview between SugarCRM and IBM Cognos BI to a packed house. It was refreshing to see two seemingly different companies in strong agreement when it comes to creating great customer experiences.

That alignment in culture and vision is already paying off. During the event, SugarCRM announced a key customer win with Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG, a leading supplier of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Sennheiser made the decision to go with Sugar due to the usability of Sugar and product flexibility, but also due to Sugar’s deep integration with IBM technology and products.

Coming away from such an amazing event, we are reminded of how strong an ecosystem we have, anchored by some heavy hitters like IBM. What’s more, it is even more invigorating knowing our vision for our customers’ success are so well aligned.