SugarCRM finds its sweet spot
Vendor credits support with making open source competitive
By Simon Eskow, Auckland | Monday, September 03 2012
Open source provider SugarCRM says its most recent quarter was the 11th consecutive period of year-over-year billings growth globally.
The company has clocked up 11 million downloads of its customer relationship management package, and in its second quarter this year experienced a 36 percent year-over-year increase in billings.
And according to a regional spokesman, the ANZ market is the company’s third most important in the world.
"Australia and New Zealand is our third biggest market," says Tony Hughes, managing director for SugarCRM in ANZ. "Our heritage is open source and that offers benefits in that there’s a massive development community that people can contribute code back in, so you get enormous support and momentum within the marketplace."
In New Zealand, SugarCRM works with Holistic Systems, TEIQ, and CloudTech, and at the time of this writing was on the verge of signing on a fourth reseller. While the company doesn’t shun the idea of expanding its reseller base, the focus currently is on building business for its current ecosystem.
"We sell 100 percent through our local systems integrators and resellers," says Hughes. "We’re looking to expand business with the resellers we have now and grow them. We very much believe you shouldn’t over appoint a channel and from both a reseller, and our point of view as a software vendor, we are making a joint investment with each other."
Globally, Sugar CRM has had a lot going on. The company recently added over 700 new customers around the world, launched Sugar 6.5 with a new search framework with integrated full-text search and more integration with third party applications. The company has also signed a distribution agreement with Ingram Micro in North America. (In New Zealand, the vendor deals directly with its resellers).
"There is no doubt that commercial open source can scale to enterprise, but we provide a value proposition [ie, with support] which is why we’re getting this momentum," Hughes says.
Hughes says the driving forces in the market include a need for systems to integrate better, which is something that "legacy" CRM vendors have more trouble doing because of their proprietary programming. Hughes also touts the ability to deploy SugarCRM on any cloud infrastructure, giving resellers more flexibility in servicing their customers.
"The last trend is mobility and social media," Hughes says. "And I think there is a huge opportunity for partners to help their customers navigate social business, to take that down to what actually matters in the real world."
According to Hughes, most organisations think they embrace social business by putting up a Facebook page or by tweeting.
"Projecting yourself into the market with social media to me is only 10 percent of the equation," Hughes says. "The other 90 percent where the real value is, using social media to engage their customers and listen to them really well. So if there’s a customers that phoned your call centre and got sick of being on hold for 25 minutes and then put it on their Facebook page or tweeted the bad experience, you want social analytics that can understand that, and get in touch and apologise and sort the problem out before it generates a life on its own."
SugarCRM handles information, Hughes says, to leverage those sources of data.
"We can improve productivity for users with one single source of the truth about accounts and contact. As a platform we support marketing, selling, end service and support. We do that all and we can service all the social media interactions, so you have one place to go to know everything about the customer."