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In case you haven’t heard, the old school thinking that customers are a commodity that can be managed is long passed its expiration date.

Nowadays, customers have the power. The rise of mobile and social networking means they are always connected and can find (and distribute) information in seconds.

As we discussed in a recent podcast, customer engagement is the new normal. To keep up in this new world, the most successful businesses focus on customer engagement by providing consistent, personalized experiences that reach customers just as they need them.  

In layman’s terms, customer engagement means you have the eyes and ears of the customer. And, the customer is interested in interacting with you. Whether it be a proactive email reminding a customer about a renewal, or a text message promoting a special offer, customer engagement takes many forms.

One of the biggest obstacles to the customer engagement process is departmental silos.  Too often, different departments engage with the customer with different tools. The marketing department might use marketing automation, the sales team a CRM, and customer support…well, a customer support tool. While these tools are critical, the result is that the data created and used in these systems simply stays in these systems. Other departments either never get access to this data, or get it in a format or at a time that does not help them when dealing directly with a customer. A recent case study about Sugar customer Bancvue by analyst firm Nucleus Research takes a closer look at the benefits of moving from multiple data sources to the Sugar increased productivity, visibility, and customer data accuracy.

A solid CRM platform functions as the engine that harnesses customer data and drives and orchestrates customer engagement. Through its advanced workflows and ability to break down departmental silos, Sugar enables every employee in the organization to engage with the customer. By orchestrating conversations between employees and customers across the company, every employee understands where a customer is in their engagement with the company. From there, the individual can engage in a consistent, valuable and personalized way to provide an extraordinary experience for the customer.

With Sugar, organizations tie together the sales, marketing and post-sales support interactions to help break down silos of information and process, to better engage with the customer.

The theme of last month’s SugarCon2015 was “Connecting i2i,” and I have to say, it was really inspiring to see all the attendees taking advantage of the rich assortment of keynotes, panel discussions and technical sessions presented by industry leaders and Sugar users, partners and developers.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking that the end of the conference meant the end of “connecting.”

Just this week we uploaded SugarCon2015 session videos and PPTs to, a microsite devoted entirely to nurturing the collaboration and learning that happens at every one of our Sugar conferences. We hope you’ll turn to the site again and again and see it as a valuable resource for information that can help you improve customer relationships and ultimately, transform your business. When you visit, you’ll find that features a broad range of keynotes and presentations.


These SugarCon2015 keynotes contain powerful insights to help you deliver the personal, meaningful customer experiences now essential for revenue growth:

  • Stop the Excuses and Get Started – Transforming Your CX Ecosystem: Rick Parrish, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research
  • Data Inspired Relationships: Unleash Insights and Create Growth: Matt Collins, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, Dun & Bradstreet
  • Thriving in Today’s Customer-Driven World: Bryan Brown, VP of Product Strategy, Silverpop, an IBM Company
  • Doing Business from the Customer’s Perspective: Phil Winters, Customer Perspective Champion, CIAgenda
  • Putting Customers First – Again: Larry Augustin, CEO, SugarCRM
  • Fusing CX to CRM: Customer Journey Mapping: Jennifer Stagnaro, CMO, SugarCRM
  • Reimagining CRM: The Customer Perspective: Clint Oram, CTO, SugarCRM

SugarCon KeynoteConnecting i2i at Smarties Bar in Sponsor Pavilion


We’ve downloaded 29 presentations in all, and they cover a variety of today’s hottest customer engagement topics. Here’s a small sampling:

  • Sales is from Mars & Marketing is from Venus
  • The Modern CRM – A Forrester Perspective
  • Integrating Marketing, Sales and Service for Exceptional Customer Experiences
  • Optimizing the Sales Experience – Stories and Sales Models from the Road
  • No Coding Required: Configure Sugar for Enhanced Sales

Are you ready to “re-connect i2i?” Please join us at , and of course, we look forward to seeing everyone next year at SugarCon 2016, June 13-16 in San Francisco!

Want to check out SugarCon 2015 photos? You can view them and tag yourself on our Facebook page.

Session AttendeesPanel at SugarCon

Our i2i workshop series follows SugarCRM’s recent announcement about a “reimagined” vision of CRM, one that fuses Customer Journey Mapping with CRM.

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Picture this: you are interested in a product from a particular company. You look at that company’s website and register for a special offer. Then, you contact a sales or call center representative from that same company. But – the representative has no idea that you’ve already looked at the website, and that you’ve registered digitally for the special offer.
This is an example of a disconnected customer experience, where digital interactions (like web or email marketing) are disconnected from human interactions with sales or service people. Unfortunately, this results in an inconsistent customer experience for the prospect, and represents missed opportunity to increase return on marketing investment and to increase lead-to-cash efficiency for the company.

SugarCRM, an IBM global strategic business partner, is working together with IBM ExperienceOne to address these issues and to provide optimized customer experiences across marketing, sales and service; and spanning digital and human touch points.

At IBM Amplify 2015, there will be many opportunities for you to learn more about the exciting combination of SugarCRM and IBM ExperienceOne:
– On Tuesday May 12, from 2:45-3:45pm in Room 33c, listen to a panel discussion featuring Chris Wong, IBM VP ExperienceOne products and strategy; Clint Oram, SugarCRM CTO and co-founder; and customers and partners including Rodobens, a diversified financial services and automotive company, and Triscal, an IBM and SugarCRM business partner. You’ll hear Chris and Clint’s views on the intersection of marketing and sales automation. Listen to Rodobens and Triscal describe how they are providing a consistent customer experience across their disparate lines of business, with IBM Campaign, IBM Silverpop, and SugarCRM (session MHT-1286A).
– Also on Tuesday May 12, from 11am-12pm in Room 29A, you’ll get an exclusive preview from Dale Price, Senior Product Manager with IBM Silverpop, and Laurence Leong, Senior Director Strategic Alliances with SugarCRM, about the new Silverpop for SugarCRM integrated solution (session MEE-1283A).
– You can also visit the SugarCRM booth 606 to see and learn about these solutions yourselves.

Not going to Amplify? Learn more, and get a copy of the solution sheet, at

SugarCon is just around the corner – and that means it is also time for another round of the SugarCon App Throwdown! The App Throwdown – always an attendee favorite – is a showcase of some of the coolest, most useful, and most innovative extensions of the Sugar platform. The fun, sometimes manic, atmosphere of the final judging session at SugarCon not only promises to entertain, but also give Sugar users some great tools to advance their own CRM initiatives.


While App Throwdown is always a blast – we wanted to make it even better this year. How? Well, for starters, we’ve opened up the submission eligibility to EVERYONE! That’s right – anyone who wants to submit an extension, connector, custom app integrated to Sugar, etc. can apply. Simply fill out this ONLINE FORM to be part of the processes.

Submissions will be accepted until March 27! So get your submission ready – all you need is a cool app/connector/customization, a short video of your app in action, and a completed form to enter!

Also, we have created some categories to help guide your submissions, and the category winners will be the ones to battle it out for “Best in Show” on the main SugarCon stage in April.

This years categories include:

Category Description
Mobile Help your customers see i2i, wherever they are. This category will be judged on the best mobile customization, or mobile extension of Sugar in marketing, field sales, field service or other customer-facing scenarios.
Best Seamless Integration Sugar provides virtually limitless ways of integrating with virtually limitless apps and data sources. This category will focus on applications that follow the best practices of our UI/UX and show creative use of the Intelligence Panel, Dashlets, Activity Streams, and other key areas of the Sugar UX best in class user interface.
Data, Information, & Analytics Getting the right information at the right time is a critical part of creating extraordinary customer relationships. Understanding business insights is an important tool for optimizing your selling and go-to-market strategy. Entries in this category will be judged on how they help Sugar users make better decisions and execute faster based on having better information at their fingertips.
Customer Experience and Engagement This category will look at integrations and customizations that optimize the customer experience and increase levels of engagement. These can include workflow-based customizations and extensions to better align with the customer journey; embedded call center or other real-time employee-to-customer communications; or tools to help agents close more deals or resolve more cases faster.
Beyond CRM The openness of the Sugar platform means that developers and users’ only limits are their imaginations.  Entries in this category will focus on the “edge cases” of CRM. So, if your application interfaces with the real world through the “Internet of Things”, or you’ve added game mechanics to motivate the right behavior, or tied into today’s powerful social tools, this category is for you!

The judging process this year will be a bit different as well. An all-star panel of SugarCRM staff and some special industry influencers and observers will judge all submissions to determine the category winners. These will be announced here on the blog in early April.

At SugarCon, the category winners will compete on stage for the “Best in Show” award – in front of an expert panel of SugarCRM executives including CEO Larry Augustin, and some guest industry influencers. But as in past years – the audience will vote on the category winner they think deserves to be Best in Show!

So, all you Sugar partners, developers, tech-savvy customers with a cool custom module or integration – we invite you to submit ASAP and join us in making the 2015 App Throwdown the best yet!

More and more, the B2B world is talking about the “customer journey” – and how companies must re-focus on the customer. CRM can play a vital role as the technology that enables this transformation. It can give all customer-facing employees a comprehensive understanding of the customer, and coordinate all the complex interactions between many key customer and supplier stakeholders.

Integral to this increasing focus on the customer is making CRM work for the individuals who serve and interact with customers. SugarCRM is committed to delivering a completely transformed, individualized customer experience that is intelligent, immersive, engaging and affordable. We are at the center of this universal shift in CRM, the shift towards connecting individual to individual – i2i.

So, how can you be a part of this shift and enable extraordinary customer experiences?

You can start by attending SugarCon 2015

This April, a record number of attendees will gather at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square for SugarCon 2015, to share best practices for next-generation customer experience and business optimization. There’s no better place to discover the rich community of SugarCRM customers, developers and partners who are transforming business by using SugarCRM to build extraordinary customer relationships.



Insightful keynotes, informative general sessions and interactive panels from the world’s leading experts on business transformation and CRM will offer great opportunities to learn how to drive dramatic improvements in business performance.


Multiple breakout session options allow you to customize your schedule to fit your needs. Topics range from best practices and proven success stories to product updates, training, emerging trends… and more!


Share best practices with industry colleagues, thought leaders, partners and trend spotters from around the world.


Learn how to optimize the Sugar products you’re already using, test-drive demos of our other solutions and get an exclusive sneak peak of upcoming enhancements.


Meet with SugarCRM executives and product development teams and provide feedback to help shape product and service direction.

SugarCon is the premier event for SugarCRM customers, users and partners to experience a glimpse into the future of CRM and witness the universal shift in CRM, the shift towards connecting individual to individual – i2i.

If you are looking to excel at creating extraordinary customer relationships and connecting with your customers through the entire customer lifecycle, then look no more. SugarCon 2015 will be three full days dedicated to helping you do just that.

What are you waiting for? Check out the agenda here and register today.

How should marketing automation and sales automation come together in the future? What is the difference between CRM, marketing automation, sales automation, and customer experience management?

Find out by listening to this exciting podcast series with

  • Clint Oram, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, SugarCRM
  • Chris Wong, Vice President, Strategy and Product Management, IBM ExperienceOne
  • moderated by Laurence Leong, Senior Director, IBM Alliance from SugarCRM

Clint_Oram_HR Chris Wong pictureBio Picture

In parts 1 & 2 of this podcast series, Chris talked about the SugarCRM and IBM partnership, and how IBM is not only a partner but also a customer. Chris also talked about how he deployed and managed the marketing automation system within IBM, and his views on how to use the marketing automation and CRM system to build relationships with customers. Clint discussed the evolution of the CRM market and how it has grown to be not only sales force automation, but also include marketing automation and all technologies that interface with customers in all stages of their sales cycle.

In part 3, the discussion turns to how marketing and sales can come together more cohesively – not just limited to marketing passing leads to sales, but how sales can leverage the marketing department through the entire process of selling to an individual prospect. Tune in to learn how companies can improve productivity for their sales teams and also be more relevant to the customer. You’ll also hear about some of the integrations available today with Sugar and IBM ExperienceOne.

Here are a few highlights (edited for clarity):

Chris Wong:

  • “It’s now about sales-driven-marketing vs marketing simply passing leads to sales: how do marketing and sales come together more cohesively?”
  • “There is an opportunity to improve productivity for the sales team and also to be more relevant to the customer. Nothing trumps the data more than a sales person sitting down with a customer and understanding what their needs are. What marketing needs is to bring that intelligence back into the marketing systems to make sure that it’s putting the right next content in front of that customer. Done properly – that can help both improve productivity and actually shorten the sales cycle.”

Clint Oram:

  • “Organizations want tighter integration with marketing automation software so the sales person can leverage the marketing department through the process of selling to an individual prospect.”
  • “Sugar is an application for sales people as well as customer service agents that sits in front of literally tens of thousands of customer service agents. Sugar can integrate with IBM ExperienceOne and make real time recommendations to put the right next content in front of the customer.”

Click here to listen to part 3.

In part 4, you’ll hear how technology can be a catalyst for a different relationship that a company can have with their customer and that inside sales reps can have with their marketers. You’ll hear about the rise of the Chief Customer Officer. Finally, you’ll hear how this applies to drive lifetime value of a customer- not just a single customer transaction.

Clint Oram:

  • “The prevalence of Chief Customer Officer / Chief Customer Experience Officer roles is growing. Analyst firms are talking about how the idea of a Chief Customer Officer is now in vogue and is the new way thinking about managing your business and engaging with your customers. What’s driving the rise of the Chief Customer Officer is the move to a digital way of doing business and is why people need to look at that role now.”

Chris Wong:

  • “Technology is a catalyst for a different relationship that a company can have with their customer, and that inside sales can have with the marketer. Many companies are still putting in marketing automation systems for the marketers and sales automation systems for the sales teams. Companies need to step back and look at the whole relationship management process across the organizations.”

Click here to listen to part 4.

How do you see marketing and sales automation coming together? Add your comments below and share your views on twitter by referencing @SugarIBM.