The SugarCRM alliances team is coming off a very productive few days in Orlando, Florida last week as part of our participation at IBM Connect 2014. Among the highlights of the week, SugarCRM was named as a finalist for IBM’s 2014 Collaboration Solutions Award in the “Best of Show and Chief Technology Officer (CTO)” category during the event.

The combined Best of Show/CTO Award recognizes visionary IBM business partners who use cross-IBM Software Group (SWG) capabilities in innovative, customer-focused ways. SugarCRM was named a top award contender after demonstrating how the Sugar-IBM solution helps customers maximize and improve social business efforts and increase bottom-line results.

The SugarCRM-IBM solution includes SugarCRM’s integrations to IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, IBM Notes and IBM Connections. In addition, SugarCRM’s integrations to IBM Campaign and IBM Interact further extends the IBM Smarter Commerce solution and brings the power of IBM Enterprise Marketing Management to customer-facing sales, support and marketing individuals. SugarCRM also runs on IBM DB2, IBM SmartCloud, IBM SoftLayer, IBM PureSystems and IBM PowerLinux.

The good news is, customers benefit the most from the SugarCRM-IBM connection. For example, SugarCRM customer Tollpost Globe, one of the Nordic region’s leading logistic companies, needed a platform that would increase internal efficiency as well as customer satisfaction. Since implementing SugarCRM and IBM Collaboration, Tollpost Globe has already seen a 70 percent increase in sales, a 40 percent increase boost in sales efficiency and a 30 percent rise in customer satisfaction numbers.

We are in a new era of CRM – one that is more intuitive, personalized and social, and our partnership with IBM underscores SugarCRM’s commitment to delivering solutions that enable our customers to engage in highly innovative social selling.  The SugarCRM and IBM relationship is gaining impressive momentum and underscores our commitment to further extending our social business solutions to new markets, products and customers around the globe. This recognition by IBM is an exciting and telling testament to that fact.

To learn more about how you can harness the power of Sugar and IBM technology visit sugarcrm.com/ibm

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Welcome to our roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. We’ll be hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

Opportunities in the Democratization of CRM
“If you don’t use it, you don’t pay for it. But, since we all want to be successful, those that build a competitive capability here will pay more, and the consultants who introduce this capability will share in those successes.” – Mike Boysen

Mike Boysen further iterates the concept of “democratizing” or unbundling of CRM from a ‘pay-for-what-you-want’ viewpoint. His sentiment is that as certain components of CRM become commodities, we will be likely to see new services built on top of them that were previously only available through high-paid consulting engagements prior.
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Digital Disruption Replaces Brand Relationship With Digital Customer Relationship
Customers are looking to build deep digital relationships with brands, bringing them closer to the content they want, with a more efficient way to consume it. James McQuivey makes it clear that if you’re not working on building that “digital bridge” between you and your customer, somebody else out there is replacing you in creating the “ultimate customer relationship”.

“If you continue to focus on building a wonderful brand relationship with your customer, you will one day awake to find that someone else has taken your place in your customer’s life. Not with a more compelling brand relationship, but with a more compelling digital customer relationship.” – James McQuivey, Ph.D.
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To Win Against Increasing Competition, Equip your Salespeople with a Deeper Understanding of your Buyers
“Your only true differentiation comes from how your reps interact with your buyers” – Mark Lindwall, Senior Analyst at Forrester

Mark Lindwall drives the point home that in order to gain a competitive advantage in the sales environment, you must equip your salespeople to have a deep understanding of the buyer — a concept Forrester calls “buyer empathy”.
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Registration for SugarCon 2014 is Now Open!
SugarCon is the premier event for SugarCRM customers, users, and partners to experience a rare glimpse of CRM’s future while witnessing the intersection of innovation and technology with a renewed customer experience.
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Got ideas for other great articles we should include in future CRM Roundup posts? Let us know in the comments below!

CRM_Roundup_Banner_V4
Welcome to our all-new roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. We’ll be hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

Your IT Group is at The Center of Your Customer Experience (and Your Business)
“Inside companies of all sizes, the issue of ‘silos’ – where walls have been erected between groups, divisions and departments – are both a common pain point and a significant cause of unmet customer expectations.” – Michael Hinshaw

As digital touch points increase and become more intelligent, the socially-savvy consumer will have an increased expectation of communication in these channels. This article proposes a shift in thinking, suggesting that IT as an organization needs to look at a business from the outside-in.
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Developing a Response Model in 5 Easy Steps
In an evolving digital landscape, the number of channels where customers interact with a brand continue to increase. How quickly do you respond in these channels? Do you have a response model? Every channel has its own audience — define that audience, and then find your voice there.
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The many benefits of integrating customer support into CRM
“While many organizations run some sort of customer help-desk or advice line, it’s surprising how often this function is supported by standalone technology rather than being part of the main CRM application.” – Richard Boardman

Implementing a system that spans sales, marketing, and support embraces a more open flow of information between all customer-facing employees.
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This is “How i CRM” – Redglaze Group 
Employees at Redglaze Group share their story about how they align teams across eight different companies to run seamlessly as a cohesive organization.

Aligning eight businesses is not for the faint-of-heart. By encouraging adoption to 74% of employees across CRM-deployed companies, Redglaze increases efficiency in all departments, streamlines resource-sharing, and increases consistency in all customer interactions across the company.
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Got other great articles we should include in future CRM Roundup posts? Let us know in the comments!

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.

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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…