As a precursor to their annual Salesforce Automation (SFA) Magic Quadrant, several Gartner analysts ran a survey polling key decision makers at enterprises around the world about what they look for in an ideal SFA/CRM system. The results were published on Gartner’s site (note: subscription required) this week, and the results are not surprising.

Well, not surprising to us over here at SugarCRM. That is because the key areas that IT decision makers saw as important focus areas are the exact areas where we have built out the Sugar product and platform the most over the past few years.

So, according to the survey, what is most valued by IT leaders?

  • Intuitive Mobile Solutions
  • Mastery of Core Functionality
  • Ease of Integration

On the topic of mobility – I think we as an industry are finally coming to understand that mobile CRM does not mean “shrinking a CRM system down to a phone screen UI.” Rather, we are building more device and purpose-driven applications of CRM – and it is great that IT Decision makers also get this, meaning they are looking to optimize the real-life mobile usage scenarios customer-facing employees require every day. I am excited about the direction our mobile team is going, and we will have lots of cool announcements as 2016 unfolds.

When it comes to “core functionality” – we at SugarCRM have seen more and more companies select Sugar not by our “latest and greatest” or “edge functionality” but rather by Sugar providing absolutely mature and intuitive core SFA features on top of the most solid, extensible and scalable platform. In today’s world, IT leaders know they can develop and build features on a platform, but a solid and well-designed user experience must be there in order to start off on the right foot.

While Integration has certainly come a long way in the age of the cloud, we often forget than many of the large enterprises out there are still stifled by legacy applications. These products have older, proprietary back ends – making integration challenging. Sugar offers a wider range of integration options making it easier to integrate legacy enterprise applications with Sugar than with other CRM systems out there. And as integration becomes easier and easier, we are seeing even more innovative combinations of enterprise and Web data merged with Sugar data to create more highly informed users.

Again, these survey results are not surprising when you consider where we are at in terms of CRM trends. Large enterprises are moving away from legacy systems and the large giant incumbent software vendors, and midsize companies are entering the “strategic” phase of their CRM journeys. It all combines for what we see as an exciting era in CRM history, one that bodes very well for SugarCRM and our vision for the market.

SugarCRM is thrilled to be the recipient of an IBM Beacon Award in the Outstanding Commerce solution category.

Winners in the IBM Beacon Awards, a part of IBM’s business partner recognition program, are selected by a panel of expert judges consisting of IBM executives, industry analysts and members of the press. IBM’s Beacon Awards recognize Business Partners who have demonstrated business excellence in delivering IBM-based solutions to clients around the world to drive transformation and business growth.

SugarCRM won for the integrated “IBM Marketing Cloud and SugarCRM” solution. This solution empowers the delivery of exceptional experiences for customers across the buyer journey by leveraging customer data, providing analytical insights and automating relevant cross-channel interactions. The solution 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.

Multiple customers, including Rodobens in Brazil, and Henry Wurst Inc., have already chosen to deploy this solution. You can read more about their usage here

To learn more about the solution, see sugarcrm.com/ibm/marketing-solutions

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(Editor’s note: The following blog post originally appeared on IBM’s commerce blog on February 4, 2016)

In the digital world, customer journeys have become much more complicated than they used to be. Customers may research a product or service online or via social media, visit the vendor website, or react to paid or owned media. They may talk to a vendor and/or its competitors at a tradeshow, or they might get around to talking to a vendor’s sales or call center reps. Many of these touchpoints in the complex journey involve separate technology solutions: a web personalization tool, a social media tool, a campaign management tool, or a CRM system being used by sales and call centers.

CRM can be an invaluable tool for designing, optimizing and coordinating the entire customer experience across all of these touchpoints. Although, what’s needed is a way to more easily tie together all the events across the journey, regardless of the systems and technologies that drive the interactions. IBM’s Universal Behavior Exchange (UBX) facilitates seamless connectivity of customer identities and events across channels, apps, and data sources to make this integration far easier.

SugarCRM enables businesses to create extraordinary customer relationships with an innovative, flexible and affordable CRM solution. SugarCRM’s integration into IBM UBX makes it easier to connect with all the systems and applications that drive digital interactions with customers, keeping sales and service reps fully informed about other activities and events that their customer has experienced. With SugarCRM and the IBM UBX ecosystem, organizations can more easily manage customer experiences across the entire customer journey, regardless of which tools are used to manage individual touchpoints.

Learn more about SugarCRM and IBM Marketing Solutions.

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SugarCRM’s integration with IBM UBX makes it easier to understand and coordinate interactions across the entire customer journey.

 

I just read a recent blog post on Cloud CRM deployments by Gartner’s Michael Maoz and I think he hits on a very important point – while also missing a very important point.

Michael is absolutely correct that many of what he calls enterprise “cloud CRM” deploymeappsorangsnts have failed to handle the kind of complexity that even the Siebel Systems-era, on-premise deployments managed. However, I think he is not using the right terminology here. When he says “cloud CRM” in terms of these limited scope deployments – I believe a better term is “SaaS CRM.”

To be clear, when I talk about “SaaS CRM,” I mean a CRM tool or set of apps delivered ONLY via the Internet. And, that app is being hosted ONLY by the vendor that develops that software. Now, “cloud CRM” means a set of CRM tools or a platform that can be run in multiple cloud permutations: hosted and managed by the user on a public cloud like Amazon, hosted by a reseller or VAR partner, managed by the user on a private cloud stack, etc. In short, “cloud CRM” has a far more flexible definition – and provides the user far greater levels of ownership and power of choice.

A truly cloud-based deployment can, and does, offer the kind of flexibility and ownership of code and runtime that allows for the management of complex problems a la Siebel circa 2000. However, limited multi-tenant SaaS products (and even some SaaS platforms) must, by nature, limit individual deployments to insure performance and availability for the masses.

Every day, we see more companies with complex, cross departmental process-oriented approaches to CRM look at us because we offer that level of ownership, flexibility, scale, etc. – while also being “in the cloud.” When you look at large organizations like IBM, or even mid-market companies like Sennheiser – they are not simply using Sugar for case or opportunity management, they are looking to transform their business, their approach to IT and and their application development. We are helping companies take on agile, and devOps IT models. This is a concept that is limited with the SaaS model where the vendor absolutely owns the delivery of software.

Michael asked people to prove him wrong, but I think it is less about being wrong in his assumptions, and instead more accurate in his description of the types of CRM deployments and the level of complexity each deployment offers.

Today, SugarCRM announced 23 of its worldwide channel partners have achieved Elite partner status for 2016. This year’s class represents the top 10 percent of all organizations in SugarCRM’s worldwide channel program. 16 different countries are represented, including for the first time, partners from Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Canada and Brazil, showing the significant momentum SugarCRM is enjoying around the world.

Additionally, our Elite partners delivered a solid 36% year-to-year increase in annually recurring subscription revenue in 2015, and added more than 350 new SugarCRM customers in total.

SugarCRM Elite partners have attained the highest level of recognition in the company’s channel partner program by building large-scale, growing businesses that provide consulting, implementation, integration, training and development services for Sugar; meeting or exceeding standards for technical proficiency and professional certification in Sugar products; and demonstrating consistent success implementing Sugar in hosted, on-premises, and private cloud environments.

This year’s Elite Partners are:

  • Bhea Technologies (Singapore & USA)
  • BrainSell Technologies (USA)
  • BrixCRM (Netherlands)
  • CloudTech (New Zealand)
  • DataSync Corp. (USA)
  • DRI-Nordic (Denmark & Germany)
  • Enable Technologies (UK)
  • Epicom (USA)
  • Faye Business Systems Group (USA)
  • GrowIT (Argentina & Chile)
  • iNet Process (France & USA)
  • Insignio CRM GmbH (Germany)
  • Levementum, LLC (USA)
  • Merx Business Performance (Mexico)
  • OpenSymbol (Italy)
  • Plus Consulting (USA & Australia)
  • Provident CRM (Ireland)
  • REDK (Spain)
  • Sinergis (Brazil)
  • Solutions Metrix (Canada)
  • Synolia (France)
  • Technology Advisors Inc. (USA)
  • W-Systems Corp. (USA)

Congrats to all of our Elite partners.

It’s that time again. In addition to shopping for gifts and attending holiday parties, December is also prediction season. Here are five CRM predictions that we think we’ll see in 2016.

Do you have a prediction of your own? We’d love to hear it. Please post in the comments section below.

1. UX will be big in 2016: Companies that focus on differentiating themselves by providing a fantastic customer experience will thrive. While the “improving customer experience” concept has been a major initiative in the CRM space for some time, what really drives great customer experiences is customer-facing employees having the right information and tools to best serve the customer at exactly the right time. Traditional CRM has fallen short in this area. In 2016, CRM users will have access to enhanced, modern interfaces that incorporate social and mobile customer data to empower the employee to drive extraordinary customer relationships. A fantastic user experience will mean more intelligent CRM practices, which will make it much easier to execute a seamless customer journey from awareness and purchase to retention and advocacy.

2. Personalized Analytics: Predictive analytics will be the next big data trend, and soon salespeople and marketers will use predictive analytics to forecast the impact of their activity and provide more personalized pitches or content to individual customers. Modern CRM applications are beginning to provide greater analytics for the individual user. Nimble, and consumable tools will be embedded into CRM and provide sales, marketing and support professionals with customer preferences and history, helping them engage throughout the customer journey. CRM is moving toward “systems of engagement” that use predictive analytics to cut through the big data noise to uncover actionable customer insights.

3. Data Privacy Concerns will Affect SaaS CRM Deployments: Today’s online privacy concerns and dispersed data landscape have sparked legislation mandating how and where companies store customer data. A well-designed and tightly-integrated CRM is imperative to any organization’s security and compliance efforts. However, the “cookie cutter” model of multi-tenant, proprietary public cloud offerings is not always sufficient for global business. Companies in highly regulated industries, and those who operate globally must address data privacy laws and mandates. In 2016, more companies will opt to deploy CRM with cloud agility, meaning they can maintain security and control of customer data, choose the best public, private or hybrid cloud deployment model (as well as on-premise) for their business, and ensure regulatory compliance. The good news with modern CRM is there are many options for those that are feeling the effects of these changing regulations around the world.

4. Mobile CRM will get even better: Mobile is, and will continue to be a rising focus for the CRM space. One of the great benefits of CRM is that it allows businesses to organize themselves more effectively. However, as the workforce is dispersed and people spend time out of the office, a mobile CRM app is crucial so those valuable interactions while on the road aren’t left behind. In the past, many mobile CRM apps have had limited functionality. As we move forward, mobile platforms will become more powerful. You’ll see smart phones display the latest analytics and dashlets via their CRM.  In addition, users will be able to better customize their mobile experience to get the data they want and transform that data into actionable tasks to address customer needs in real-time.

5. CRM and IoT will become intertwined: Smart companies want to stay a step ahead of their customers so they can provide information before the customer even knows they need it. Smart devices can offer new ways to deliver on that promise. The potential of harnessing the data of billions of connected devices and integrating that data within the CRM to create extraordinary customer relationships is very exciting. CRM platforms will evolve to work with the data that is being generated, make sense of that data and communicate to the people who can benefit from the analysis so they can perform real actions to help the customer. Many innovative organizations have already embraced the potential of smart devices to deepen all types of relationships. Check out our Vetadvisor case study to learn how the organization has integrated Fitbit bands into its SugarCRM deployment.

In part one of this blog series, we talked about the need to align the sales and marketing departments in the age of the empowered customer.

Along those lines, as prospects are converted to customers, organizations will try to retain each customer for the long term and sell additional goods or services. To accomplish this, it is vital to have a total customer view. This means records of the interactions between individual employees and the customer, and also a view of the customer’s preferences and other pertinent information that can help the organization build a stronger relationship.

While many data sources and systems contribute information to develop a total customer view, CRM is the nexus that ties it all together. It should be the place where anyone who interacts with customers can immediately see where the customer is in their journey, where they’ve been, and get an understanding of how to be successful helping them to the next phase of their journey.

To function in this capacity, the CRM solution needs to be an enterprise-grade platform that can seamlessly incorporate data from multiple systems into an inclusive, central view of the customer. That platform must be scalable and non-restrictive – truly able to grow with increased usage across the organization. It must manage the very large volume of customer data to empower customer-facing employees at every step as they aid the customer along his or her journey.

Creating a total customer view is vital to building extraordinary customer relationships. But it’s also important to take that view of the customer and provide intelligence and context to employees at the point of customer interaction.

There is simply so much information available about every individual prospect or customer that it can overwhelm employees if not properly filtered.

So, a modern CRM needs to provide a “consumer-like” user experience that allows employees to easily navigate the system. The CRM must understand the context of the customer interaction and the role of the employee. By providing role-based views and context-sensitive data, users of modern CRM can quickly identify individuals and determine where they are on their customer journey. From there, they can access the information to complete the tasks needed to successfully aid the customer along the journey.

In short, companies that build great relationships with their customers “live” in their CRM. They obtain a total view of their customer and use that to provide the right information to customers, at exactly the right time.