Archives For SugarCRM

Analyst reports can be very valuable tools when making a software purchase decision. Analysts pour over tons of details, product roadmaps, and talk to several partners and customers of the products they review.

However, G2 Crowd does it a bit different – their rankings come 100% from users like you. The peer-review concept is gaining steam, and SugarCRM is proud that its users are so satisfied with Sugar the product that they drove us into the Leader quadrant in G2 Crowd’s latest rendering of its midmarket Grid for CRM.

Best_CRM_Software_in_2017___G2_Crowd

Again, this ranking comes from nearly 150 satisfied Sugar users – and nothing else. G2 allows site visitors to peruse thousands of reviews from real, verified users. So, we’re especially proud of this honor.

If you’re a mid-sized company looking for a CRM partner, don’t take our word for it, ask the satisfied reviewers at G2 Crowd.

steintongueA few weeks ago I wrote a blog post around how artificial intelligence (AI) is more of an arms race than a “killer feature” that tech firms will be making themselves.

I referenced Salesforce, and its supposedly AI-powered Einstein as an example of a risky bet to make. Salesforce’s strengths are not in analytics (one could argue they’re not in CRM anyone either, but that’s a topic for another day), so why invest your own resources to build something that has already been built? And, why invest when something has already been built better than you can build it?

So, long story short – Salesforce today (surprise, surprise) announces that it can not complete its vision for Einstein without a real “arms dealer,” which in this case happens to be IBM’s Watson.

We have been working with integrating Watson into the Sugar platform for a while now, and can agree that Salesforce has chosen a winning tool. But, we wonder how much money and time Benioff and co. wasted by trying to do it themselves first?

Again, in the end, those that leverage the powerful AI tools in Watson, Amazon’s Alexa, etc. in ways that are seamless and delight employees and customers alike will win.

Maybe this was just an “I told you so” kind of post, but it is important to see that we may not be recapitulating as many mistakes as we have in the past with cloud and mobile in the world of AI…

robocopRemember when SaaS CRM companies needed to build their own multi-tenant architectures to bring their CRM to market? And how they needed to maintain expensive and unwieldy architectures that took focus away from actual product development? And how the cost and complexity of said proprietary architectures was passed along to the customer to maintain revenue goals?

Oh wait. That’s still going on with companies like Salesforce.

But, even Salesforce has finally admitted that CRM vendors should not also be cloud infrastructure providers anymore. The company’s recent partnership announcement with Amazon tells us all we need to know. Salesforce needs to focus on innovation, since its core product is old and the cost of maintaining the underlying delivery and development infrastructure itself is proving costly.

So, why is Salesforce potentially repeating past mistakes by trying to create a proprietary AI product for CRM?

Let me explain. What I see brewing with Salesforce’s Einstein concept is a hodge-podge of Wave analytics, generic machine learning (pieced together by several small pocket acquisitions), SalesforceIQ, and elements of Data.com – all components of Salesforce’s portfolio. In short, Salesforce is building yet another proprietary stack in AI.

By “owning” the entire stack, one could argue the profits (as noted, something perennially eluding Salesforce) can be much higher. But at what cost? By instead focusing on integrating industry standards and expert-AI platforms into its tools – a CRM provider can have more flexibility and be able to keep up with the rapid pace of change.

Today, companies like IBM with Watson, and Amazon with its AI platforms are opening these up to software manufacturers as a service. These companies have both the deep pockets and expertise to offer broad and even focused AI-tools for CRM usage scenarios – without CRM vendors having to do much if any heavy lifting.

Here at SugarCRM, we are taking a “best of breed” approach for a number of reasons. One, it will speed our time to market to leverage pre-built, highly scalable and proven AI toolsets and platforms. And, of course, the cost to bring AI-powered CRM offerings to our prospects and customers will be lower, which we can pass on to the user and remain a value-driver for our partners and customers.

And again, by leveraging larger platforms and standards, we will be more nimble than those building hulking masses of analytics engines, giant data warehouses, etc. We will be able to quickly hone our offerings to adhere to market demands, without having to re-architect massive purpose-driven AI stacks.

In short, it is becoming clear to me that AI is an arms race – and categories like CRM should not be trying to reinvent the wheel. Just as with cloud delivery – when you integrate and build upon expert, proven strategies – you can cut costs, speed time to market, and focus on building exceptional customer experiences.

 

I just returned from a jam-packed two days at the Gartner Application Strategies & Solutions Summit in Las Vegas. While there, I met with analysts, existing SugarCRM customers, and a lot of prospects and IT leaders looking for the next “big thing” in application software.

gartnerimage002After dozens of great conversations, it is exciting to know that the IT and line of business leaders who attended are driving change in their organizations – mainly around the customer experience. And, perhaps more important, they are doing so in ways that align perfectly with the vision we have here at SugarCRM.

Here are some key takeaways I brought back from the event. I think they are pretty telling about the state of the industry and where we need to be as solution providers for businesses of all sizes looking to reinvent the ways they interact and build customer relationships:

Disruption is a serious issues for nearly ALL industries. I spoke with (and spoke to during my breakout session) individuals from all types of industries – both old, establish firms and even some startups. They ALL said they feel disruption BOTH from digital native upstarts as well as see the changing demands of the customer as disruptive forces.

Transformation over Migration/Modernization. I LOVED hearing that those with older technologies performing CRM functions were looking to go broader and truly transform their cultures and engagement strategies, and NOT simply put in more up to date systems. Right now is a time for transformation, not migration.

You gotta have a platform to win. In nearly every conversation we had with those managing a transformation, or even a broad CRM initiative – they indicated the need for a process-driven platform at the heart of the project. We built the Sugar platform, and embedded advanced workflow, with these types of projects in mind.

CX and CRM are Merging. Well, maybe to be more accurate, as one Gartner analysts described to me – “CRM is becoming a subset of CX.” Meaning, all businesses need some sort of core CRM tool, which can be a foundational system to power broader, more inclusive, end-to-end and omni-channel CX initiatives. I think the attendees are still bewildered around how to create a wholly inclusive CX strategy, but we as an industry need to be experts and be there to help guide them.

Value Matters, Always. We had hundreds of people coming by our booth at the conference and one overarching theme was that a lot of companies simply do not feel they are receiving value for the biggest and entrenched enterprise CRM players. We had a lot of productive conversations about how to drive value inside a CRM/CX initiative – and as more CIOs and business leaders are pressed to do more with less, we will continue to strive to be a leading value-oriented provider for all types of businesses.

Ultimately, it is comforting, energizing and exciting that we have built up a portfolio of offerings and solutions that align well with the needs and visions today’s business leaders see as necessary to remain successful in their respective markets. Thanks to all of the attendees and analysts with whom I had the pleasure of speaking to at the event. It was an awesome few days of learning and sharing ideas!

 

visionThis month, Gartner released its 2016 Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation, and SugarCRM was once again listed in the “Visionaries” quadrant, we believe because of the company’s continued improvement in our core SFA and mobile tools, among other product developments in the last year.

But what makes SugarCRM truly a CRM Visionary? We’re a company that challenges conventional CRM wisdom and offers an alternative to the status quo. Over the past year, SugarCRM has made a number of enhancements to the Sugar platform, announced new product offerings, and formed partnerships aimed at empowering organizations to go beyond simple “SFA” and truly create standout sales engagement strategies and better overall customer experiences.

This includes Sugar Intelligence, revealed at this past SugarCon in San Francisco, which leverages the company’s recent acquisitions and innovative development to build tools that deliver insight at every turn to sales reps in a variety of real life usage scenarios. In addition, SugarCRM released version 4.0 of its cutting-edge SugarCRM Mobile – which allows for more profound customization, as well as drives greater collaboration and productivity for users in mobile settings.

To further our commitment to providing the most choice available for CRM deployment options, SugarCRM announced a deeper partnership with IBM, to offer private cloud deployment options on IBM SoftLayer.

These are just a few of the truly innovative moves SugarCRM has made in the last few months. They underscore our commitment to helping our customers think and be different when it comes to CRM – helping them build uniquely strategic initiatives to win in an ever-increasing competitive marketplace.

To download your own copy of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation, click HERE.

 

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

 

We have just returned from a bit of a whirlwind week of events: the trio of CRM Evolution/SpeechTek/Customer Service Experience shows in Washington D.C. and thecrossrdGartner Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit in London. Throughout the week, we heard a LOT of insightful and innovative ideas from analysts, practitioners and other industry experts around the present and future of customer engagement and customer relationship management in general.

One item that stuck out in my mind was Gartner analyst Ed Thompson’s keynote, which focused on the “defining moments” that shape our personal lives as well as the world around us. Note, these are very different than “moments of truth,” those small, but far more frequent interaction points that can make or break your relationships with customers. Defining moments, as Thompson explains, are far more infrequent, think of a major breakthrough such as the market availability of the first digital camera (or even the first camera phone), and have far more profound and lasting impacts.

These moments affect not just the way individuals see the world, but also shape the way businesses (and really, the world in general) operate.

When I look at the industry in which SugarCRM operates, that of front office software, it is easy to see several defining moments. These monumental shifts have been both in the way the customer relationship has evolved, and also about the nature of the technology we create and use in business. And of course, these two are inextricably linked.

A few examples of defining moments that have shaped CRM: the introduction of email into the customer relationship, the emergence of SaaS delivery of apps (and the eventual evolution into cloud software), the iPhone making mobile CRM apps a must-have, Facebook and Twitter becoming de-facto customer conversation channels, etc.

Looking at these defining moments, a few observations become clear. One, the pace and breadth of defining moments in our world is increasing, due mainly to the insanely rapid pace of technology innovation. Second, those that refuse or simply fail to take advantage of the changes pushed forward from these moments do so at their own peril.

We talk a lot about “disruption” and “digital transformation” – but in the light of defining moments these should not be considered single “projects” or a one-time transformation endeavor. Rather, the pace of innovation and the onslaught of more customer channels, data points, and expectations means that businesses must be in a constant state of development, with total openness to change. Sure, change is hard, but you need to aggressively embrace new business models.

One great example is SugarCRM customer CitySprint (who just happened to co-present their transformation story on stage at the Gartner event). While CitySprint is a leader in its space as a last mile delivery and logistics provider in the UK, they saw the disruption curve coming – from new digital technologies like Uber, Amazon Prime, etc. Rather than risk getting left behind, CitySprint is incubating its own startup to shift its business from simple delivery into providing technology, solutions and tools for businesses across the UK to create more effective customer experiences. (CitySprint will be telling more about this story at SugarCon in June FYI.)

So, no matter what your industry, one thing is clear: disruption is coming in some form or another. And, it is going to keep coming. Those who embrace the pace of change and respond accordingly will win. Those who do not will face steeper and steeper uphill climbs in an increasingly competitive marketplace. On which side of this equation would you rather be?

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.