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 Chuck Schaeffer SugarCRM Looks Forward

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End of Year Musings with Larry Augustin

It’s the end of the year and I had a chance to catch up with SugarCRM CEO, Larry Augustin, and explore some of his thoughts for the future – both for the CRM industry and SugarCRM.

Larry provides an interesting perspective in part because he’s been on the forefront of some big technology curves. He was part of the small group that actually coined the term “open source”. And while he’s now the leader of the leading open source CRM software company, his mission is to make Sugar a CRM leader beyond just the open source category. So how’s he going to do that? Well, that’s where anticipating market movements come in.

Customer Experience Management (CXM)

Research and everyday conversations show that Customer Experience (CX) is top of mind to most CEOs. The benefits of rewarding and memorable customer experiences are clear. However, the underlying technology platform to enable the delivery of convenient, responsive, consistent, accurate and complete customer engagements, across channels and devices, which collectively create positive customer sentiment remains far less clear to executives who seek the process automation to achieve the business outcomes.

Larry offers a minority opinion among enterprise software publishers that CRM and CXM need not be separate conversations or technology platforms. He suggests the CRM industry will transition from ‘CRM for SFA’ to ‘CRM for CXM’. He believes CRM and CXM will morph. He also espouses that the label isn’t important. Call it CRM, call it CXM, it doesn’t really matter. If recent history is a guide, we need only look at how CRM and Social CRM began as separate solutions before coming together to leave us with only “CRM” (which includes social and other customer facing tenants).

To help its customers achieve their CX strategies with enabling technology, SugarCRM offers a highly extensible CRM platform, accessibility to and from external systems, and a capability of catering to unique customer journeys. Consistent and rewarding customer experiences don’t just occur on their own; they must be designed and orchestrated in order to deliver repeatability and predicted outcomes for the company, and satisfaction for the consumer. SugarCRM’s open source flexibility, constructs such as its workflow engine and integration with other technologies provide the means to enable journey mapping and help achieve CX strategies.

Big Data

Big data is another business strategy whereby most business leaders understand the benefits but struggle with the design and deployment. While big data is a broad category that serves many purposes, most CEOs believe an increase in the volume, velocity and variety of customer data can unlock new insights and revenue opportunities.

While some CRM software publishers are moving to create their own big data technology, SugarCRM follows a trend to coexist or tap into big data solutions and facilitate integration in ways that automatically assemble data so that it makes sense for customer facing staff.

SugarCRM has been delivering an architecture and tools to support improved information dissemination – be it big data or other business intelligence – since its Version 7 release in October 2013. Sugar version 7 improved the design in a way to better integrate and display new types of intelligence. The CRM application also upped the tools, such as an intelligence panel, dashlet framework and hierarchical activity streams.

The Future of SugarCRM

So what can we expect next from Sugar CRM? Beyond CX and big data, Larry speaks passionately of mobility, social business and the continued consumerization of enterprise IT. Beyond these disruptive technologies, Larry also points to a not so subtle change in CRM buyers and users.

We all recognize that enterprise software buyers are no longer just IT people, and frankly IT is fighting to regain their role in buying decisions. To succeed, Larry advises CIOs and IT managers to think more like Consumer Product managers – focusing less on IT standards and company interests and much more on the end user interests, objectives and experience. Wise words for sure that many IT shops would do well to consider. End

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CIOs and IT managers would do well to think more like Consumer Product managers – focusing less on IT standards and company interests and much more on the end user interests, objectives and experience.


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