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If last year’s Sony hack reminded everyone that not securing your own data can be embarrassing, the recent Ashley Madison fiasco proved that failing to secure your customers’ data can be a whole lot worse.

The frequent headlines about cyber security breaches and hacking, along with concerns about data snooping by governments around the world, have caused many to inquire just how secure the data inside their CRM solution might be. They are right to ask. With so much customer data at stake, there is a lot to think about with CRM security.

Let’s look at what can go wrong:

Earlier this year, the FCC fined AT&T $25 million for data security and privacy violations that exposed about 280,000 U.S. customers’ names and full or partial Social Security numbers. The breaches occurred when employees at call centers used by AT&T in Mexico, Colombia and the Philippines accessed sensitive customer data without adequate authorization. According to the FCC, the employees took payment from third parties who were looking to use customer names and Social Security numbers to unlock stolen cell phones for sale on secondary markets.

More than 68,000 accounts were accessed without authorization, and more than 290,000 unlock requests were submitted by third parties through an AT&T online portal. The FCC also discovered that roughly 40 company employees in the Philippines and Colombia had accessed about 211,000 customer accounts for the same illicit purposes.

The $25 million fine is just the beginning of trouble. Even more painful and costly are the remediation and communication efforts with affected customers, and lost business that results when breaches are disclosed.

Hosting customer data in someone else’s cloud raises justifiable concerns about security. Customers need to know what levels of security the host is providing and need to address some critical questions:

  • What protection mechanisms are in place to prevent someone from hacking into the host?
  • Is there 24/7 monitoring to make sure that employees are not accessing data that should be off limits to them?

Deploying SugarCRM via the SaaS model (Sugar On-Demand) means multiple layers of protection and security. The Sugar application is hosted in Tier 1 data center facilities around the world. These data centers are protected by powerful physical security mechanisms such as 24/7 secured access with motion sensors, video surveillance, and security breach alarms. SugarCRM security and infrastructure components include: firewalls, robust encryption and sophisticated user authentication layers.

SugarCRM understands that data is a critical component of the daily business operations of its customers and that it is essential to ensure the privacy and protection of data regardless of where it resides. SugarCRM takes a holistic, layered and systematic approach to safeguarding that data and is constantly evaluating, evolving and improving the privacy and security measures it has in place. SugarCRM also offers customers the option to deploy Sugar on-premise, as well as in hosted and hybrid configurations, flexing to meet the broadest range of security and regulatory requirements.

For more information about our security related policies, please click here.

The Safe Harbor Framework that permits the transfer of data between the United States and Europe is in jeopardy.

Last week, the Advocate General, a legal advisor to the European Court of Justice (the European Union’s top court), released his opinion on the EU-US the Safe Harbor framework, which he said is invalid. He said the agreement does not do enough to protect EU citizens’ personal information when it reaches the United States.

The Safe Harbor agreement has been around since the year 2000. More than 4,400 companies are Safe Harbor certified. U.S. and European companies rely on the EU–US Safe Harbor framework to permit the lawful transfer of personal data from the EU to the U.S.

The ruling is not yet final, and the EU court’s judges will issue a final ruling in the coming months.  If they follow the Advocate General’s recommendation, which they often do, this will cause significant headaches for U.S. companies that serve customers in the EU.

A reflection of increased digital privacy concerns in wake of the NSA scandal and Edward Snowden leaks, the ruling has the potential to impact thousands of U.S. and European companies. It presents serious challenges for U.S. SaaS providers who have built their businesses under the framework of the Safe Harbor agreement.

Without the Safe Harbor agreement in place, data that originates in Europe may need to stay strictly in Europe. This includes everything from payroll to customer data. Some large enterprises have tried to stay ahead of the issue by investing in data centers in Europe.  However it should be noted the local data centers don’t fully solve the issue.

While this ruling does present challenges for SugarCRM, the company is better equipped than “SaaS only” solutions that lack local or on-premise deployment options. SugarCRM offers multiple deployment options and can continue to provide viable alternatives for EU customers, including:

  • Local hosting through various partners including “in country” hosting by T-Systems
  • On-site deployment options that require simple instance migration, meaning customers do not need to transfer their data to Sugar

Other SaaS/premise mix providers may be hard pressed to keep their customers, as SugarCRM is one of the only multiple deployment CRM providers offering a single code base across all deployment options.

SugarCRM has customers in more than 120 countries. We realize companies around the world are subject to many different laws and regulations. Legal requirements in one country may be inconsistent with legal requirements applicable elsewhere. Hence, we offer a multi-tenant cloud service, a private instance in the cloud, and also allow customers to deploy on their own internal clouds. A flexible deployment approach allows our customers to more easily comply with international data security and privacy laws.

We all know the importance of customer experience. Watermark Consulting published a great study on this showing that customer experience leaders outperform the S&P 500 by 35 points, and customer experience laggards post a return 45 points lower than the S&P 500.

Yet, many organizations struggle with providing a consistent and optimized experience for their customers because of:

– internal siloes between sales, marketing and service teams

– disconnects between digital touchpoints, such as digital marketing initiatives, and human touchpoints, such as sales, service, and call center people

How many times can you think of cases where a prospect received an email or web offer, but then followed up with a salesperson who had no knowledge of that offer?

That’s why, SugarCRM is very excited to be working with IBM on the new IBM Marketing Cloud for SugarCRM. Multiple customers, including Rodobens in Brazil, and Henry Wurst Inc., have already chosen to deploy the newly released offering, which integrates Sugar for customer relationship management, and IBM Marketing Cloud built on Silverpop Engage, for marketing automation.

“We’re pleased to see how well this solution is being received by our customers,” said Larry Augustin, SugarCRM CEO. “IBM Marketing Cloud and Sugar have immediately resonated with clients who are looking to improve customer engagement and business performance. Together, Sugar and IBM Marketing Cloud enhance customer relationships while making marketing more efficient, sales more productive and service more satisfying.”

IBM Marketing Cloud and SugarCRM empower the delivery of exceptional experiences for customers across the buyer journey by leveraging customer data, providing analytical insights and automating relevant cross-channel interactions.

Integration with Sugar customer relationship management software provides:

  • Automatic Customer Data Sync: Automatic data synchronization between Sugar and IBM Marketing Cloud delivers a complete view of customer activity across all departments and functions, and eliminates data duplication and inconsistencies.
  • Customized Alerts: Alerts can be set to inform key stakeholders in any department when a customer reaches a certain score or rank. Scoring models can be built based on a broad range of behaviors.
  • Contact Insight: Enables users across Sales, Marketing and Service to open and track all interactions with customers and prospects. Sales personnel can add contacts in the CRM system and trigger automatic inclusion in marketing programs.
  • IBM Marketing Cloud emails sent directly from Sugar: Sales teams can customize pre-configured email templates and use them to communicate personally with their customers and prospects.

“At IBM, we’re committed to delivering exceptional experiences for customers across the entire buyer journey,” said John Mesberg, General Manager, Offering Management and Strategy, IBM Commerce. “Our integration with Sugar enables us to tap a rich store of customer data that includes all touchpoints – both human and digital. This comprehensive view makes for better decisions and more meaningful interactions at every step. We’re very pleased at the added value this integration delivers to our users.”

Learn more or register for a demo at the SugarCRM page here, the Sugar Exchange entry here, or the Silverpop page here. Or, come see it in person at any of the following upcoming events:

For the most up-to-date list of events, please refer to the SugarCRM events calendar here!

While we often lump sales & marketing together – the truth is that all too often there are significant gaps in terms of how companies manage the process of turning a B2B prospect into a qualified lead, and passing that lead successfully to the right sales rep. Many factors can come into play that can cause sales and marketing disconnects – however, the good news is that by following a few simple rules, organizations can get sales & marketing teams in sync and keep them that way.

So, here are a few sure fire methods for driving more alignment in your sales & marketing organizations as well as driving more revenue out of every qualified lead:

Agree on Terminology

It seems basic – but without mutually agreed upon definitions of what is – and what is not – a qualified lead, sales can suffer. Many marketing organizations are measured on metrics like lead volume, not lead quality. But by understanding that quality leads are what matters most – sales and marketing staff can come to common terms around lead status (such as a marketing qualified lead versus a sales qualified lead) and adjust marketing activity and expectations accordingly.

Use Data from Sales to Improve Lead Quality

Many times marketing is seen as a one-way street. The marketing team generates leads, throws them “over the wall” to sales, and that’s it. However, it is important to for marketing to both capture post-conversion behavior in addition to demographic and other telling data points. By creating a rich set of data after the lead is qualified, marketing can learn even more about what makes some leads more likely to close, and refine and re-tune marketing efforts to increase effectiveness and reduce overall spend, driving ROI and revenue.

Integrate Marketing and Sales Tools

When performing CRM deployments at even the largest and most sophisticated organizations, we’re often surprised at the lack of cohesion between the tools generating leads and the software sales reps use every day to close those leads. Fortunately, today integration technologies and the design of modern software tools make it easier than ever to create tight-knit, bi-directional integration. This allows marketing to better nurture and re-nurture leads that take time to close, and gives sales better insights into the behavior and information gathering lead go through before engaging in a sales interaction.

Deeply integrated marketing and sales tools, as seen here with data from IBM Silverpop seamlessly embedded into Sugar’s SFA UI, can build bridges between sales and marketing to drive enhanced conversion and close rates.

Deeply integrated marketing and sales tools, as seen here with data from IBM Silverpop seamlessly embedded into Sugar’s SFA UI, can build bridges between sales and marketing to drive enhanced conversion and close rates.

So, these are just three tips and tricks any organization can make in order to better align sales & marketing teams. Ultimately, shared goals and well thought out approaches to process can lead to success, aided by the proper use of technology of course. To see even more tips on driving even more sales from your marketing efforts, check out our free eBook by clicking HERE.

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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channel-cheifs-2015-400.jpgAnyone familiar with CRN’s “50 Most Influential Channel Chiefs” list knows it’s a distinction of honor. So when the announcement came this week that my name was among the most highly accomplished channel executives, I was proud beyond measure for both our channels team and our channel partners. We have a top-notch channel program at SugarCRM and the success our partners are enjoying illustrates how well that program is working.

SugarCRM has a long history of being a channel publisher (that’s “inside baseball” jargon for being a company that sells through channel partners). We started the company 10 years ago and within days of releasing our first version of Sugar in July 2004, a CRM consulting firm named Synolia in France reached out to ask about our channel program. That was the beginning of a very powerful set of partnerships between SugarCRM and over 200 CRM consulting and reselling companies around the world.

Over the course of the last two year years, I and my team have worked diligently to up-level the channel program and add significant new structure to enhance it. We brought our value added resellers (VARs), system integrators (SIs), original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and independent software vendors (ISVs) under one department and executive leader. This means every partner who represents SugarCRM, embeds Sugar in their own products or integrates with Sugar is now managed by one, fully integrated department. In that time we have also rolled out partner scorecards so each partner can continuously measure their success, established an OEM program and team to work with other software companies that want to embed Sugar in their products, and launched a revamped reseller program with program tiers based on training certification minimums and sales attainment. We also moved our channel partner program up-market, focusing on larger customers and larger partners.

The results speak for themselves. Now, over 60 percent of SugarCRM’s recurring revenue comes from our global channel partners and almost every customer leverages one of our partners, whether a reseller, SI, ISV or OEM partner. We have more than 200 VARs in over 30 countries around the world. We have expanded our channel program to include an OEM partner offering for regional- and vertical-specific solutions with partners like Project Pipeline. And, we’re on track to grow our channel partner program even more this year.

For me, the Channel Chiefs title is validation that the SugarCRM ecosystem of partners continues to be a significant component of the company’s success and our customer’s CRM success.. The implications are just as important for the CRM marketplace itself. Of course, SugarCRM has already proven its mettle as a disruptive player in the CRM market by virtue of its focus on the individual as key in creating extraordinary customer relationships. But just as important, every company that uses CRM must look closely at what differentiates them and implement the right CRM solution that enhances and illustrates those differentiators to their customers. That’s what our partners do for our customers.

From starting the company in 2004 to driving CRM success through our partner ecosystem today, I love every day here at SugarCRM. From the product to the people, SugarCRM is in a league of its own, bucking yesterday’s technology and setting new standards in the industry. This Channel Chiefs accolade is indeed testament to the great success the SugarCRM team and our channel have achieved due to perseverance, innovative thinking and a singular focus on highlighting the customer experience as what’s really important in CRM. I’m proud to share my title of “Influential Channel Chief” with the entire team at SugarCRM and our channel partners, and look forward to our continued success.

As today’s marketplace becomes more and more competitive, it becomes harder and harder to compete based on the old standards: price and product features. Customers today simply have more choices, and are more knowledgeable than ever thanks to the web and social media. The best way to stand out in business today is by offering a superior experience for every prospect and customer.

But, how can you ensure you are providing the best possible customer experience? One method is to align your internal business operations with the typical lifecycle of your customers. This can be done through what is called a “customer journey exercise.”

By mapping the customer journey, any organization can identify how a customer typically goes about making a purchase decision with the company. And, these exercises can help identify internal gaps where the organization is not meeting the expectations of the customer. But how do you turn your customer journey map into the actions that will transform your business?

Join us on February 18th for an informative webinar from SugarCRM and Phil Winters, the head of CIAgenda and a “Customer Perspective Champion,” and “Data Whisperer” with decades of experience helping hundreds of organizations better align their operations with the customers’ perspective in mind.

In this webinar, Phil and SugarCRM Vice President of Product Marketing Karen Hsu will outline the reasons why mapping the customer journey can have a huge impact, illustrate some basic steps to get started, and provide some success stories of organizations which have effectively mapped their customers’ typical journeys.

If your organization has customers, and it has yet to undergo a customer journey exercise – don’t miss this opportunity to learn from the experts! To join the webinar, simply click HERE to register.