Archives For Social CRM

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.

When I read GigaOM’s Mike Jones’s great contribution to the growing discussions on the future of SaaS, one thought kept going through my mind. Who’s taking the customer side in this discussion? So far the SaaS vs. XaaS discussion is mostly a technical and infrastructure discussion. “Acronyms as a Service” is a great idea, but really, shouldn’t it come down to giving customers choices?

It’s not up to our industry to dictate what solution customers should use. It’s up to us to create the solutions that enable customers to choose the right deployment model that meets their specific requirements. For some customers that will be SaaS, for others that will be IaaS or PaaS.

So to add to the discussion and focus it a bit more on CRM, what customers need is choice:

  • The choice to freely move their data between different clouds;
  • The choice to where they want to deploy their CRM instance;
  • The choice to integrate with any open social platform;
  • The choice to access their CRM solution from any mobile platform;
  • The choice to change their CRM when they run against the limitations that come with legacy CRM solutions; both on-premise as well as SaaS.

And for that CRM needs to be open. Today, SugarCRM is the only solution in the market that is open and built for the cloud. This flexibility offers customers choice.

SugarCon 2011 (#scon11) is here and it is the place to be.  If you couldn’t make the annual pilgrimage to San Francisco, I’d like to share with you the ideas and direction the Sugar team is discussing this week with our fantastic community of users, customers and partners.  This series of blog posts over the week of SugarCon will give you insight into the ideas shaping our product roadmap, community focus and the direction we are taking the SugarCRM business.

If there is one thing that has become abundantly clear past year, getting business done as we know it today is going through a transformational, “once in a generation” shift.  Powered by open source software and brought to the forefront of our daily lives by social collaboration tools like Twitter and Facebook, we are living through, right now, profound changes in the way companies and customers interact with each other.

We call this the social business, an “always on” dialogue taking place with and around a company using every social collaboration tool imaginable from social network providers like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, Yelp, IBM LotusLive and more.  This social dialogue about your business covers every topic possible.  Your new customers are comparing notes with other customers.  Your prospects are asking existing customers why they should buy from you and not your competitor.  Your employees are discussing with customers on how to improve your business.  And of course, your customers are letting you know in no uncertain terms what they think of you and your business.

Paul Greenberg, a luminary in the world of customer relationship management and the author of CRM At the Speed of Light, describes the impact of this very public and very transparent dialogue as putting the customer finally in full control of their relationship with you, their vendor of choice.  Remember, you no longer control the customer experience.  Your customers control the customer experience.  The Internet is their stage and everybody is their audience.  Social collaboration tools make social business happen.

With the evolution of the social business, we at SugarCRM clearly see a massive opportunity in front of us to put the focus of the social business on building productive, meaningful relationships that help your customers solve their business problems.  Communication and trust are the foundation of a relationship.

Social collaboration tools deliver the communication part of that foundation.  But how do you build that trust?  That will be the focus of the next article in this blog series.

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 of you may have taken part, or at least seen the results of our recent Social Media Survey.

Some of the highlights of the survey were interesting, but not all that surprising.  Among them, these points stand out to me:

  • Only 26 percent of respondents said they currently integrate their customers’ social networking information with their existing CRM data.
  • 72 percent of respondents said they plan to integrate their customers’ social networking information into their existing CRM data within the next year.

When you put these two together – it would seem that ideally EVERYONE would be undergoing social CRM initiatives in the coming months. That is a huge opportunity, but also a bit scary. There is an amazing propensity for people to overpay “gurus” and point vendors with no real solution in place, and thus not see results because they did not properly align business goals with the IT work underneath. (Really, there is not much difference between the potential social CRM miscues we could see and the high-level “CRM failures” of the Siebel era.)

The plus side?  A lot of the tools needed to “get social” can be accessed (albeit in a more ad hoc or manual manner) for free. This certainly lessens a lot of the financial risk associated with a new IT initiative.

I had an online chat with InformationWeek’s Dana Blankenhorn and he gets it. In his write up on the survey, Dana points out that this need not be an expensive undertaking.

Overall, I think we can safely say that Social is here to stay…now, the real question is – how will you leverage social in your organization to better your business in 2011?

I have always told prospects that it pays to deploy and open, flexible CRM solution…

Now, for businesses in Singapore it really PAYS!

The country has a long history of fostering the creation of well-run small businesses. The latest installment of Singapore’s benevolent attitude towards growing local businesses: SugarCRM is now listed as a certified solution under iSPRINT (Packaged Solutions).

So – what does this mean?

Simply put – any Singapore business that deploys SugarCRM is eligible for a credit of up to 50 percent of the qualifying costs, capped at S$10,000 of an initial subscription of a listed solution. So, that means deploying a best-in-class CRM system at half the cost. That is, seriously, pretty darn cool.

Imagine adding the ability to better manage your contacts, opportunities, activities etc. across your sales, marketing and support teams. Imagine having access to a full reporting suite to guide your business and gain predictability. Imagine empowering sales and support agents with their critical data on the go with mobile CRM access. Imagine identifying, converting and delighting more customers with social CRM tools.

Oh yeah, and all that comes at half the normal cost.

To take advantage of this insanely awesome offer – contact SugarCRM APAC partner iZeno today.