We keep hearing the phrase “social CRM.” It has been an abstract concept, something for techies and thinkers to debate. That’s no longer the case. Here at BrainSell, when Social CRM comes up, I will defer to products like Qontext and Chatter for an explanation.
Recently, Salesforce.com made a nice addition to their powerful CRM tool; Chatter. It’s a collaboration tool for CRM users. It has features that are found in Facebook. Like “following” someone or something, such as a project, group, person or conversation. You can also share files with users easily.
Just a few months after Chatter was unveiled, Sugar shot back with a seamless integration with Qontext, a very Chatter-like tool.
Qontext For SugarCRM provides a social platform for SugarCRM users to collaborate with people at work from right within SugarCRM.
When Qontext is installed, it appears as a module on screen (see pic below). You can post messages within an opportunity, post files, assign activities, follow conversations and more.
There’s a free edition of Qontext (we’re using it at BrainSell and it’s very cool). You get a few more bells and whistles with the paid version, and support. More info on pricing can be found on their site.
When I talk to people about Sugar I am frequently asked to explain what difference (if any) open source (OS) makes. Usually the fact that a software application is OS means very little to the end user in their day to day work. (please no flames from any true believers who might read this post).
This month I saw a very real example of how OS makes a difference.
For proprietary CRM systems (like SFDC and MSCRM), the addition of an added feature requires a product management group to develop a plan, integrate that plan within the architecture, unit test, regression test, release in beta, create a release candidate, and eventually add the feature to a point release of the product itself. The process, if executed perfectly and without flaw or delay can take months. Sometimes years.
In the OS world, it happens much more quickly.
Sugar and its partners (like BrainSell) have heard for some time that customers want a collaboration tool within their CRM (much like Salesforce.com’s Chatter tool). Rather than develop the feature directly in Sugar, developers took an existing collaboration tool called Qontext and embedded it within the Sugar tool. This took weeks rather than months and let Sugar satisfy a customer need (and a competitive requirement) faster than any other product could.
How it affects the end user is obvious. You want something, you get it. Besides that, since you have access to the code (it is Open Source after all) you can add your own feature requirements. Think your add-on is killer? Sell it. You have that option with open source. Try writing a MSCRM add on without paying your dues to Steve Ballmer.
SugarCRM is taking on Salesforce.com with a version of its service and software package that can be customized by partners: Sugar Platform Edition.
Platform Edition, lets OEMs, service providers, and independent software vendors tailor the Professional or Enterprise versions of its PHP suite and re-package them as part of their own offerings.
SugarCRM has also announced Sugar Logic, a set of development tools to customize its PHP-based suite.
Larry Augustin, SugarCRM’s chief executive, said in a statement the OEM edition would serve a growing partner base. This version means potentially shorter development time and faster and easier upgrade for those hanging on the suite.
“Sugar Platform Edition allows our growing OEM partner base to bring the power of flexible, intuitive and open software like Sugar to a vastly underserved market,” said Larry Augustin, chief executive officer of SugarCRM. “It is a great win-win scenario: customers receive best-in-class software while our OEM partners build a profitable and repeatable business.”
Unlike Salesforce, which can only be deployed on a proprietary cloud database, partners can run SugarCRM on Sugar’s own hosted platform, on their own services, on the Amazon cloud, or on Microsoft’s Azure cloud. Or – if they’re old school – partners can install Sugar on-site, as it also comes as a boxed product.
Salesforce.com is clearly in SugarCRM’s cross-hairs.
A key difference between customizing Sugar and Salesforce is the openness of the code: Sugar is built using PHP, but Salesforce uses the company’s own, proprietary Apex programming language which runs only on the Salesforce platform.
Salesforce.com and SalesLogix by Sage Software are two popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. They serve the same general purpose: software that helps companies track customer/employee interactions, lead management, planning, calendar capabilities and much more.
Salesforce.com has been in existence for 10 years and is only offered as a software as a service (SaaS), i.e as a subscription model. SalesLogix has been around for 14 years and was previously install only. However, in 2010 Sage released SalesLogix Cloud. Customers can now choose to deploy SalesLogix on the web, SaaS (Cloud), mobile, and LAN (installed).
There are similarities in both Salesforce and SalesLogix. But also some significant differences. Such as functionality and data storage.
To see an entire product comparison download BrainSell’s white paper by clicking the button below.
Purchasing and implimenting a CRM system can be a daunting task. Sometimes you can buy directly from the software vendor and other times you can buy through a Value Added Reseller (VAR). BrainSell President Jim Ward addressed the topic of who to buy from as a guest blogger on the Sales Opperation Blog this week.
Jim focused on the pros and cons of buying direct and buying from a VAR. Here are some of his points in short… to read the entire post, visit Marci Reynolds’ Sales Opperation Blog.
Direct Sales: A direct sales model for a CRM software vendor means the vendor employs their own sales force and you do business directly with the vendor.
Value Added Reseller (VAR): When buying through a VAR you’re buying through a company certified to resell the vendor’s software. VARs offer additional services such as training, development, consulting and implementation to add “value” (the “V” in VAR) to the sale.
2010 SugarCon speaker Jan Sysmans, Director of Product Marketing at SugarCRM, made a very compelling SugarCRM vs. Salesforce argument. Below are some of his points.
SugarCRM’s Flexibility is Superior
* With SugarCRM, you can… easy drag and drop UI for customization. Create your own integrations in PHP (open language) – Salesforce has a proprietary language (NOT open source).
* SugarCRM has… 5,000+ integrations with other applications – Salesforce has under 1,000
* SugarCRM has no limitations to the number of custom modules and work flow – Salesforce DOES have limits
* Sugar Pro comes with Free Mobile (read and write). Salesforce.com charges extra for read/write mobile. Their free mobile is read-only.
With SugarCRM, you get more Control
* With SugarCRM, every customer has their own database – Salesforce users share one multi-tenant database.
* SugarCRM does weekly database backups with object relationships intact – Salesforce only does monthly backups without object relationships (they’ll charge you if you want to back up more frequently)
* With SugarCRM, you’re free to deploy on-demand or on-site or virtual private cloud and easily move your deployment from on-demand to on-site – Salesforce is locked into a Salesforce data center – that’s not very nice.