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I am writing from Tampa today, having just finished three days of meetings in Houston and Tampa with new and prospective customers. And if there is a single theme that can be drawn from these three days it is the tremendous value of SugarCRM as a platform for very diverse and complex CRM applications.
Not content with basic sales pipeline and customer service management, I'm seeing new customers using relatively inexpensive, "mid-market" CRM systems to automate, track, and manage nearly every aspect of their business except accounting. And with real-time integrations to accounting and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems, even some accounting functions are falling on the shoulders of the CRM system. What's most interesting is that these complex projects can now be completed far more quickly and for a fraction of the cost of similar projects attempted only a few years ago. The two companies I met with over the last two days are perfect illustrations of this.
The first, a large manufacturer of industrial equipment with about $650 million in annual revenue, is using SugarCRM to push critical customer information to its far flung salesforce. They'll also use Sugar for traditional sales opportunity management functions like keeping up with their sales pipeline, but the real value of the system will be a tight integration with their ERP system, which is closed and difficult to use. By linking it to SugarCRM, sales reps will be able to view and act on customer order histories, order status information, inventory levels, and customer payment data. Systems with this level of sophistication have typically been implemented using only "enterprise-grade" CRM systems such as Siebel or SAP. But modern "mid-market" CRM systems -- particularly open source solutions like SugarCRM -- make these projects achievable at a fraction of the cost of the traditional enterprise deployment. Plus these new systems are web-based, easier to use, cheaper to support, and accessible from just about anywhere.
My second visit was to a specialty electronics distributor in Tampa that is looking to use SugarCRM as a platform for delivering complex customer data to its inside and outside sales reps. Traditionally an application like this would have been built from scratch or a set of custom analytic dashboards would have been built using an expensive business intelligence tool. But with SugarCRM our prospect will be able to take advantage of robust customer and activity management capabilities built into Sugar out of the box, and then layer a sophisticated customer dashboard system on top of this base. The result represents the best of both worlds. The customer will get the custom application they need without having to build everything from scratch. Development costs are minimized, support costs will be far lower, and our prospect will have a sophisticated application up and running in only a few months.
All of this is possible because SugarCRM is effectively a "CRM Toolkit" that can be molded and shaped to the needs of each customer. Sugar may not be perfect for every customer but we are having a hard time finding situations where it does not offer the best combination of high flexibility and low cost for complex CRM deployments.