SugarCRM: Should Salesforce.com Be Worried?
When it comes to CRM (customer relationship management) software, Salesforce.com CRM seems to be the only option.
Yet there are a variety of competitors making a dent in the company’s armor. Just look at SugarCRM. Founded about a decade ago, the company now has its software deployed by over 1.5 million individuals across 120 countries.
So to learn more about SugarCRM, I recently met with the company’s CEO, Larry Augustin. He is a veteran of the tech business, having been the founder and CEO of VA Linux and also the interim CEO of Medsphere. Along the way, he has served as an advisor to various startups.
Here’s what he had to say:
Tom Taulli: How is SugarCRM different from Salesforce.com? What’s your strategy for winning?
Larry Augustin: SugarCRM provides the most innovative and affordable CRM solution in the market. We are different in three key ways.
First, while most CRM systems focus solely on management tracking and reporting, SugarCRM puts the needs of the individual user first—fusing the seamless simplicity, mobility, and social aspects of a consumer app with the sales optimization of conventional CRM. The latest release of Sugar includes a significantly enhanced user interface called Sugar UX™, which offers an immersive, intuitive interface to CRM designed to help the individual contributor do their job. The SugarUX delivers contextual intelligence about every individual contact, company, lead, case, and opportunity, from internal data and external sources via an advanced Intelligence Panel; as well as enhanced collaboration features, including context-sensitive activity streams all on a single page.
Second, SugarCRM gives our customers complete flexibility in how they deploy the system. We offer a multi-tenant cloud service, a private instance in the cloud, and also allow customers to deploy on their own internal clouds. This gives customers a level of control they can’t achieve in a proprietary SaaS-only model where their data is locked up in one vendor’s data silo. This allows our customers to more easily comply with international data security and privacy laws, lowers the costs of integration and makes it easier for our customers to create a unified view of their customer data across systems.
Third, SugarCRM is the most open, extensible platform in the industry. We’re built on the most common Open Source, web technologies. While our customers most often start with our out of the box capabilities for managing customers, tracking leads and opportunities, forecasting, and customer service tickets, many deploy SugarCRM widely across their organization to support all business processes to help them manage the complete customer lifecycle.
To get a sense of this, look at one of our customers: Cells4Life. This is a leading stem cell collection and storage company in the UK and chose Sugar in part because client privacy was a major concern. Keep in mind that they are in a highly- regulated industry and rely on our software to handle all of their client data and laboratory management.
Finally, while Salesforce.com certainly makes a lot of noise behind their brand, according to Gartner they only have a 15% market share. The CRM space is a very large, under-penetrated market with tremendous opportunity for business transformation. Today’s businesses are focused on growth and are investing in new advancements to up-level their customer experience tools and strategies. Where SugarCRM uniquely excels against any competitor in the industry is by offering the most innovative solution at the best value. The demand for innovation, a highly intuitive user experience and value are all converging, so the need to create extraordinary customer relationships affordably is where we specifically focus. Our CRM solutions enable a superior customer experience across an entire organization–at affordable price points inclusive enough to put it in the hands of every employee with a customer-facing role. No one else in the industry today can deliver this.
Taulli: What about mobile? Your take on how it impacts the CRM market?
Augustin: We’re constantly improving our mobile platform and more importantly – offering a single platform that is inherently mobile across all major mobile standards. This means native tablet apps, smartphone apps, browser-based apps – all built on a ubiquitous platform. A lot of our competitors have either added mobile as a bolt-on via acquisition, or as a separate platform that requires users to pay to access. We strongly believe mobile should be a seamless and a freely accessible extension to any users’ experience.
Taulli: And what about data? How is this changing the CRM market?
Augustin: Data has become a massive growth driver in the enterprise market in general. The whole concept of “Big Data” has prompted companies to think about how to glean actionable customer insight from the data in their CRM system. And today we are drowning in a sea of customer data; there is so much information available now about every customer – be it inside your own back-office systems or in social media and third party data sources on the Internet. The key, in my opinion, is to help our customers turn Big Data into “Small Data.”
In other words, helping them filter the less useful data and push the most pertinent insights about a prospect or customer to individual users when they need it most. We are working with companies like Dun & Bradstreet to not only enhance the quality of data, but to inject valuable insights from multiple data sources into a central Intelligence Panel in Sugar. This is another way we add value as we empower every individual Sugar user.
Tom Taulli (@ttaulli) operates MasterCFO, which helps companies with accounting and taxes.