Archives For Cloud Computing

The following is a guest post from Jeremy Cox, Principal Analyst, CRM, Ovum.  ext Jeremy Cox

It is always reassuring  when a firm takes its own medicine and uses some of the same portfolio of products that it recommends to its customers. I refer of course to IBM’s global deployment of Sugar, integrated with many of IBM’s Smarter Commerce applications, to support a 45,000+ strong sales force. IBM’s Smarter Commerce portfolio, provides  customers with the tools to create a fully integrated all-channel,  informed and joined up customer experience.  Sugar works together with the Smarter Commerce portfolio and provides the user-centered  interface into all relevant customer information to provide what Ovum calls smart, connected interactions.

The Smarter Commerce story is relevant to multiple industries, both B2B and B2C or combinations. Irrespective of industry there are several common attributes that have to be orchestrated in a coherent manner if firms are to gain advantage from the Smarter Commerce portfolio including Sugar. Every industry is under intense competitive pressure in the face of rising customer expectations, globalization and the impact of social and mobile on customer behaviors and preferences.  The ability to be persistently relevant to customers by providing them with rewarding experiences across any and all channels through which they want to interact with a firm is a massive challenge facing all industries. Some like retail are particularly exposed to disruption as Amazon extends its reach and capacity, or lower cost competitors reach out to customers with more compelling offerings.

The old certainties and ways of doing business call for much deeper thinking and a more coherent approach to omni-channel commerce.

Ovum has identified 8 attributes successful firms orchestrate to gain this level of coherence. These are:

  1. Visionary leadership that seeks to put the customer at the center and orchestrates the firm’s capabilities and improvement initiatives in a coherent, connected way in support of a common goal – creating value for customers. Without this silos will flourish and impede the customer experience.
  2. Visionary leadership is also responsible for an engaged workforce, the second attribute. A workforce imbued with a set of values that builds trust with customers as well as internally with colleagues and the ecosystem of suppliers and partners is a powerful force for fostering great customer experiences. It is not just front line employees that provide moments of truth, but back office, finance, supply and distribution personnel, etc. All can have an impact. IBM’s Smarter Commerce helps connect people and Sugar’s user interface that puts the individual at the heart of the design supports greater workforce engagement and as a result a great customer experience.
  3. The ability to collaborate across and beyond the organization  in the pursuit of value creation and delivery, for customers. IBM Connections together with Sugar helps leverage this critical attribute.
  4. Acute sensing capabilities that drive real time insight and predictive foresight helps everyone in touch with the customer to have meaningful and relevant interactions. It also helps customers who prefer to serve themselves to find what they are seeking with minimal fuss and maximum convenience. The combination of IBM Cognos ,IBM Interact which provides realtime recommendations, IBM Tealeaf and Sugar ensures the right contextual information reaches the right people at the right time and in an intuitive consumable form, irrespective of the device used.
  5. A seamless and integrated customer experience across any channel with no loss of information  provides the true 360 degree  contextual view of the customer. SugarCRM has long advocated a deeper integration with the organization to deliver this. This contrasts with the typical triumvirate view of CRM being – sales, marketing and service (often in that order). That ‘typical view’ adds little value and belongs to the old command-and-control industrial era of the 20th century.
  6. The ability to innovate continuously and refresh the value that customers receive is the other essential ingredient for persistent customer relevance . Firms which succeed at this draw on ideas well beyond the traditional product development team; from customers, partners and the entire workforce. But innovation is not just about new products. It is also about developing new ways of engaging with customers that add greater value and magic moments that turn them into raging fans.
  7. Lean, simplified and connected processes across the value chain or network. The omni channel experience absolutely requires deeper thinking and a more horizontal view of how value is created and streamed across the organization and its ecosystem of suppliers and partners. Simply grafting on new digital channels will lead to failure and frustrate customers.
  8. An adaptive enterprise architecture that provides a coherent visualization of how the organization works as a system to deliver its customer centric vision and goals, is also an important attribute. Tweaking existing business models is unlikely to be sufficient and old legacy systems and legacy thinking will impede progress.

IBM’s Smarter Commerce with SugarCRM supports these attributes either directly or indirectly.  IBM’s Interactive Experience practice can help firms design and think through the detail required to deliver positive and memorable customer experiences across any and all channels. SugarCRM’s services team works in partnership with IBM to help firms take advantage of the highly elastic capabilities of Sugar.

About the Author

Jeremy Cox is principal analyst in Ovum’s global Customer Engagement Practice. Jeremy joined Ovum in July 2012, and quickly established the broader customer-adaptive enterprise context identifying 8 core attributes that organizations need if they are to be persistently relevant to their customers: leadership, an engaged workforce, collaborative, sensing capabilities to generate insight and foresight, a superior customer experience, continuous innovation, connected and frictionless processes and an adaptive enterprise architecture.

@jeremycoxcrm

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jeremycox/

 

Leading organizations are increasing their use of digital mechanisms for the business processes of buying, marketing, selling, and servicing. To do this, many organizations are turning to IBM’s Smarter Commerce and IBM Enterprise Marketing Management. Marketing automation tools like IBM Campaign and Interact, along with Silverpop, are great for defining multi touch campaigns, cross-channel marketing across digital channels, and real time personalizations for customers on electronic store fronts.

But what happens when a customer – who may have received an offer driven from IBM Campaign – calls into a customer service center? Does the customer service agent who answers the phone – let’s say it’s John -  have a history of that customer’s past interactions, and have the right information to answer that customer’s questions? Even better, can the customer service agent reinforce an offer that may have already been presented to the customer via IBM marketing automation offerings?

What happens if a sales person – let’s say it’s Sally – is about to call on that customer? Sally could be an inside sales rep, or an insurance agent, or a personal shopper in retail. Does Sally know everything about her customer including the fact that that customer might have received an offer through email that was generated by a campaign management tool? To take that a step further – if a campaign management tool generates 1000 leads, does Sally know that seven of those leads are her customers, and does she know exactly what to do with those seven leads?

We know that IBM Campaign can precisely target a specific set of customers. But imagine if Sally, upon signing in for her work day, sees seven specific new leads that are assigned to her from that campaign, along with specific actionable information for those leads. Imagine if John, our customer service agent, was able to pull up a complete view of the customer as he was helping resolve that customer’s issues; and could even upsell the customer based on a real-time offer appearing in his customer service dashboard.

SugarCRM, an IBM Global Alliance partner, can help. Sugar is an innovative CRM system designed for every individual who engages with customers: sellers, marketers, customer support agents, receptionists, and executives.

r4_smarter_commerce.jpgSugar has integrations into IBM Campaign to surface campaign information into sellers’ daily tools, whether that be Sugar itself or IBM Notes or Connections. Sugar also has integrations to IBM Interact to present real-time offers to sellers and customer service agents. Sugar is the first major CRM solution to be validated for the IBM Ready for Smarter Commerce mark. DiGi Telecommunications is one customer using IBM Campaign integrated to SugarCRM to provide consistency across digital marketing programs and human sales and service representatives.

Organizations that integrate SugarCRM and IBM experience faster campaign-to-cash times,  more efficient marketing and sales processes, and higher customer satisfaction and value.

For more information, see sugarcrm.com/ibm, or come visit us at SugarCon, April 28-May 1 in San Francisco, or the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit 2014 in Tampa, Florida May 12-15.

SugarCRM has been garnering a lot of press attention recently. Here are the headlines (with a brief summary) of the three stories that received the most attention last week…

ZDNet: SugarCRM CEO hints at IPO for 2013

Rachel King, who also did a profile Q&A with CEO Larry Augustin in October, discusses a possible public offering from SugarCRM in 2013 noting, “If SugarCRM plays its cards right, then an IPO within the next year seems reasonable. After all, tech companies focusing on the enterprise customer base appear to be hot commodities in the financial markets right now.”

Pulse2: SugarCRM Plans to Go Public Next Year

Pulse2

Amit Chowdhry briefly recaps the interview Larry Augustin gave to Bloomberg hinting at plans for a possible IPO in 2013.

eWeek: Resellers Discovering They Have Place in Cloud Software Sales Channel

Last week, Larry Augustine was a panelist at the Cloud Channel Summit, held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Robert Mullins of eWeek found that resellers are discovering they have a place in the cloud application market, and Larry had a chance to talk about SugarCRM’s strong channel program.

 

At SugarCRM, we have embraced an open culture since day one. The reason why we chose to build Sugar as an open source product was because we fundamentally believe in the ideals of the open source way. Openness allows companies to more readily connect and build a relationship with their customers. While building a killer app may put the gleam in our developers’ eyes, solving our customers’ problems is what keeps the people at SugarCRM focused and driven.

After all, the purpose of a company is to create customers. And companies do this by connecting people with problems (customers) to people with solutions (employees). And our employees (we call them Sugas) really like to solve customer relationship problems.

So how does openness help build a better CRM solution? In three simple ways.

1) Focus on Users First. From the beginning, we designed the Sugar app first for the end users of the application. CRM applications have a long history of failed implementations due to a lack of adoption by the end users. Why is this? Because legacy CRM applications like Siebel and Salesforce.com have been traditionally designed for the buyer first, i.e. sales management. By embracing an open dialogue with our end users through the Sugar Forums, the SugarCRM development team is tightly connected with our end users and able to focus on solving their business problems. Our first design use case is around a customer representative getting ready to contact a customer and needing to prepare for the call, meeting or tweet. By ensuring the Sugar application is highly useful and useable, sales managers can then rely on the forecast, pipeline and issue resolution insight coming out of their Sugar application.

2) Built for the Open Cloud. The Open Cloud Manifesto is dedicated to the belief that the cloud should be open. The core tenets of the Open Cloud are that open standards and portability of applications across cloud platforms gives customers control and choice. Our customers demand control of their mission critical applications and data and require choice of their cloud platforms. From Sugar On Demand, a fully managed Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application to running Sugar on Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud platforms like IBM SmartCloud Enterprise and Amazon AWS, organizations in over 80 countries around the world choose SugarCRM for the flexibility of deployment options. Control and choice means all companies can design a CRM strategy without having to make any compromises in their IT strategy.

3) Leveraging an Open Ecosystem. Today’s most vibrant technology companies are those that get the power of ecosystems. The amplification effect of a large ecosystem of partners gives companies like SugarCRM, Google, Apple, Amazon and others a massive boost in delivering value to customers. However, we are seeing two types of ecosystems emerging: closed ecosystems and open ecosystems. The mobile phone market is a perfect example of this. Apple has built a “walled garden” ecosystem with iOS. Google however has built an open ecosystem with Android. You will find a similar duality in the CRM world with Salesforce.com creating a closed ecosystem and SugarCRM creating an open ecosystem. With an open ecosystem, our customers have more choices. From a wider and more varied choice of implementation partners to the power of SugarForge.org, the largest collection of open source CRM solutions on the Web, SugarCRM customers enjoy the benefits of choice and control not only in their cloud options but also in their ecosystem options.

A culture of openness here at SugarCRM has led to better CRM solutions, solutions better aligned to your needs and better aligned to driving your CRM success.

–Clint

Are you thinking about where technology is going next?  We are.  Every day.  Name the top trends in technology today.  Go ahead, list them out.  They are all over the Web these days.  Every journalist and analyst is writing about them in some way.  Our customers are deploying them.  Technology companies are either leading the discussion about them or working hard to catch up.

Those technology trends are:  Mobile, Social, Cloud & Big Data

But wait a minute.  What about Open Source?  How come that isn’t in the list?  Is Open Source even relevant in today’s technology discussion?

You bet it is.  Open Source is more relevant than ever.  Let’s look at these top four technology trends in more detail.

Mobile is powered by Open Source
Mobile phones and tablets are changing the way we live.  From mapping your next route on Google Maps to friends poking you on Facebook to becoming mayor of your favorite restaurant on Foursquare to conference calls with others around the world, your smart phone has become your 24×7 link to everybody.  Between the iPhone and Android, the giants in smart phone technology are driving one of the most profound changes in how we connect.

Not surprising to anybody, open source plays a big role in the mobile world. The open source vs proprietary lines have been clearly drawn.  Apple has their proprietary iOS and Google has their open source Android operating system.  Both have built impressively large ecosystems.  One open.  One a “walled garden”.   One clearly open source.  One clearly not.

Or is it?

What you may not know is that every Apple iPhone runs open source.  Go ahead, take a look at the open source libraries included in iOS.  In fact, Apple has their own Apple Public Source License because, like every other major software company today, they too create open source software.

No matter how you look at it, the top mobile technologies are powered by open source.

Social is powered by Open Source
With Facebook and Twitter causing thumbs to fly non-stop across mobile keyboards, social technology is quickly becoming the glue of our modern Web 2.0 society.  Humans are social animals. We like to talk. We like to know what’s going on.  We like to stay connected.  Whether its social networking, social media or social CRM, highly interactive and hyper-colalborative social technology is connecting us in ways that only Sci-Fi authors could have thought of just 10 years back.

But what is powering social technology?  You guessed it.  Open Source.

  • Facebook creates and uses open source in their software. That’s 800 million users using open source everyday to stay connected.
  • Twitter creates and uses open source in their software.  They have 450 million users.
  • LinkedIn creates and uses open source.  Another 150 million users.

Cloud is powered by Open Source
If mobile and social are changing the way people connect, the cloud is how software companies are delivering that change.  And like mobile, two types of cloud ecosystems are developing.  A proprietary ecosystem in Amazon AWS and open source ecosystems in OpenStack, Eucalyptus and CloudStack.  Again, one side open source.  The other side proprietary.

Or is it?

If you’ve looked under the covers of Amazon AWS, you know that open source powers AWS.  Amazon RDS is powered by MySQL, an open source database.  The Amazon Linux AMI is one of the most commonly deployed virtual machines on Amazon.  And of course SugarCRM runs on Amazon AWS.

Big Data is powered by Open Source
Big Data brings a big promise.  It enables data warehousing, data mining, data analytics and much more at a significantly reduced cost.  In a world where storing terabytes is no big deal, Big Data is how you find answers in a sea of data.  Whether you look at the commercial open source Big Data vendors like Cloudera or Neo Technology or the open source projects behind Big Data like Hadoop and MongoDB, open source is powering Big Data in a big way.

So is Open Source still relevant?  You bet it is.

For those of you who follow the CRM space, last week provided for some real drama. Here’s a quick recap courtesy of TechCrunch

Oct 4: Larry Ellison Cancels Marc Benioff’s Keynote at Oracle’s OpenWorld
Oct 5: After A Cancelled Keynote, Benioff Strikes Back; Talks Future Of The Cloud
Oct 6: Ellison Reveals Oracle’s Public Cloud; Calls Salesforce The ‘Roach Motel’ Of Cloud Services

I don’t want to dwell on this cloud spat, but the one thing I do want to talk about is one of the points that Larry Ellison raises.  He warned customers: “Beware of false clouds“, and further goes on to state that salesforce.com “is a proprietary cloud, the ultimate vendor lock-in”.  It really delights me to see that Larry Ellison is now saying what we’ve been saying all along.  Salesforce.com is not cloud computing.  Salesforce.com is a 10 year old multi-tenant hosting technology.

True cloud computing allows customers to freely move their data between different clouds;
True cloud computing gives customers the choice where they want to deploy their CRM instance;
True cloud computing is open;
SugarCRM is the only CRM solution in the market today that is truly build for the cloud.

On Oct 12, we announced added support for IBM SmartCloud Enterprise to the set of public clouds that customers can deploy Sugar on.  In addition to the IBM SmartCloud, Sugar runs on Amazon EC2, Rackspace Cloud and Windows Azure.  Customers can also choose to deploy Sugar in the Sugar Cloud, in one of our partner clouds or in their own private cloud.  To learn more about the benefits of REAL cloud computing, take a look at the following:

The Oracle of San Francisco has spoken.  The Cloud is Passé.  The Cloud is Dead.  All hail to the Oracle.

Or maybe Marc Benioff is so eager to move away from the cloud and on to the next hot thing because he knows that Salesforce.com, as a first generation SaaS application, has become a “legacy application” in the new era of the cloud.” According to Mark Vizard, author of SaaS is Dead, Long Live the Cloud, we’re now in a new era “that is defined by an elasticity that gives IT organizations maximum flexibility in terms of choosing to deploy software on premise, in the cloud or both.”

According to Vizard, “one of the fundamental tenets of software-as-a-service (SaaS) is that the application is supposed to run as a single instance on top of a multi-tenant IT infrastructure. With Salesforce.com, for example, every customer has specific rights and privileges to a shared customer relationship management (CRM) application running on database servers managed by Salesforce.com. Given that model, there is no ‘software’ from the perspective of the end customer. The Salesforce.com business model, combined with the fact that the application was designed from the ground up to run on a specific multi-tenant architecture, means customers can’t run a version of the Salesforce application on their premise.”

In another article, Vizard makes the case that cloud computing “will stand in sharp contrast to the way Salesforce.com operates. In the case of Salesforce.com, there is only one source for the company’s software that runs on a couple of data centers managed by Salesforce.com.”  He adds that “software-as-a-service (SaaS) as we think about it today is moribund in the age of the cloud.”  Vizard makes the case that cloud-based CRM solutions like SugarCRM “are going to let customers run their software on premise or in any data center they choose, as opposed to requiring them to run their CRM software on a data center managed by a software vendor.”

I don’t believe that the cloud is dead.  From where I sit, I see customers very eager to board the cloud train.  Customers really believe in the promise that cloud computing is giving them choice – a choice to deploy their software applications where it makes sense for them: in their private cloud, in the vendor’s cloud, or in a public cloud.  And knowing that they have the option to change their deployment based on their changing market requirements.

Today at JasperWorld in San Francisco, SugarCRM and Jaspersoft are announcing an enhanced alliance that will help bring even greater business intelligence (BI) solutions to our customers around the world.

From a technology perspective, this makes a lot of sense. CRM data is some of the most critical information in any enterprise. Adding the ability to perform even deeper analysis of CRM data, and to couple that data with other business data – is a no-brainer in terms of the insight and predictability it can give a business.

But I think it is important to note how well SugarCRM and Jaspersoft are aligned in terms of how we see the business technology world evolving. I had the chance to listen to Jaspersoft CEP Brian Gentile this morning as he kicked off the JasperWorld 2011 conference. Brian outlined four basic tenets of how technology solutions at the top of the stack are evolving. He noted that modern business tools need to have the following attributes (I am paraphrasing here):

  • Ubiquitous Access
  • A Pleasing, Simple User Experience
  • Powerful Customization
  • User-Generated Collaboration

When I heard this, all of the work we put in to enhancing our partnership made even more sense. While SugarCRM is focusing on the sales, marketing, support etc. side of business users and Jaspersoft focuses on the more generic data analysis side of things – we could not be in deeper agreement or more aligned in our vision.

First off, when it comes to ubiquitous access – Sugar is all over that. With the iPhone app and upcoming tools for other mobile platforms, it is now easier to access CRM data and analysis anytime, anywhere.

I think the amazing work the Sugar engineering team put into making Sugar 6 the most intuitive and modern user interface on the market speaks volumes about the importance we place on user experience.

Also, when it comes to powerful yet simple customization and personalization – no other CRM tool comes close to matching Sugar. From powerful yet simple UI changes, to building custom purpose-built applications with Module Builder and Sugar logic – there is no better platform for application customization than Sugar.

Finally, user-generated collaboration can mean a lot of things. Sugar has worked hard to foster a collaborative environment for our users. Between the Sugar feeds, integrations with web 2.0 tools like Box.net Twitter and LinkedIn, and our new IBM Lotus Live integration that powers online meetings and real-time document sharing, Sugar users can collaborate internally and externally in ways no other CRM can accommodate.

It is great to see that there are technology providers out there that really “get it” when it comes to the knowledge worker of tomorrow. For a generation that grew up online, the tools they use at work need to be powerful yet intuitive, connected and collaborative. We are proud to be able to offer not only that ability in Sugar but also in combined solutions with some great partners.

There has been a lot of buzz around the announcement this past week that SugarCRM will now feature a tight integration to IBM’s LotusLive product series.

The integration makes so much sense on a lot of levels, and is a great way to kick off SugarCRM joining IBM’s Global Alliance Portfolio as a cloud services provider. As one of the most scalable, flexible, open (oh, and one of the few truly cloud-based CRM platforms) – we are excited to work together with IBM to bring “smarter” CRM to enterprises around the world.

The first step? Making CRM even more fluid, social and a benefit for end users. We are so far past the days where CRM was a hinderance in the eyes of sales, marketing and support professionals. Now, we truly are an enabling tool – not just a way for management to keep tabs on employees or a point of entry for simple data dumps.

The possibilities with the SugarCRM and LotusLive integration are myriad: sales reps can launch meetings to better explain a product offering, while leveraging document sharing to negotiate contract terms in real time. Support professionals can get closer to the customer, sharing screens to solve problems. Marketing can launch personalized web meetings to the hottest prospects. Companies leveraging the power, flexibility and intuitiveness of IBM and Sugar are limited only by their imaginations. Really.

Interested in making your CRM more social?  Looking to connect in more meaningful ways with prospects and customers? Looking to add even more value and user-benefits into your CRM? Then check out the free trial of the Sugar and LotusLive integration HERE.

This is just the beginning of IBM and SugarCRM working together to make CRM smarter.

Many have probably seen that Salesforce.com has acquired web conferencing tools provider DimDim for $31m. (The rumors of this deal had been percolating since before Dreamforce so for many this was no surprise at all.)

The deal pits Salesforce.com in many ways against some big companies and very popular products – Citrix’s GoToMeeting and Cisco’s Webex, in addition to IBM’s Lotus Live set of offerings. With its recent platform buy in Heroku, and this new move, it is funny to see Salesforce continue to add competitive concerns and look to enter in large markets where it has no clout, rather than look to live above the competition in one market where it already does well. Confident move?  Yes. Smart move?  Well, we’ll just have to wait…

And while the DimDim acquisition clearly places SFDC in competition with the likes of WebEx and GoToMeeting, Salesforce would like to look at this differently. Salesforce instead sees this as a pocket acquisition to bolster its Chatter functionality – a tool it is already basically just giving away to gain some stickiness for its actual paid apps. So, if SFDC does not really see much future for DimDim save for part of what is now a free add-on, then the $31m price was not a huge price to pay to make a cool new collaboration feature a little more robust.

But again, if Chatter is basically free at this point, why buy DimDim? The product was open source under the GPL. Couldn’t SFDC simply create an integration to the free tool and offer up that integration along with a simple installer to add video and screen sharing tools to Chatter?

I think the answer here is two-fold. One, I have not yet seen SFDC do anything that resembles open source. Yes, they have opened up their toolkits and platforms for developers, but everyone does that. There is just not that type of culture alive at SFDC in my opinion. This is a company steeped in the grand history of proprietary software.

The second reason (which is definitely intertwined with the first) is that due to SFDC’s multi-tenant model, adding DimDim-like resources without wholly owning the code would be problematic. As we know, in order for SFDC to really have a tight handle on anything its users touch, it has to run on its monolithic platform. This makes upgrades and other things easy, but does set limitations on how SFDC can go to market with technology it doesn’t own.

It will be interesting to see if the nature of a GPL licensed piece of software sitting inside a huge multi-tenant database has any effect on the way in which Chatter users are empowered to make, own and redistribute changes.

All in all, this is chump change for SFDC, and while it plots them theoretically against big names like Webex, I can’t see Salesforce actually making any huge headway into standalone video conferencing with the DimDim technology – most likely Salesforce.com will only relegate the functionality as a nice add-on to Chatter.