Important Industry Announcements

By Geoffrey James

SAGE announced new marketing capabilities for Sage CRM SalesLogix version 6.2.3 users. The tools, designed with the marketing resource needs of small- and mid-size businesses in mind, include new email marketing services, lead management and lead qualification features. Enhanced lead capture, list import and campaign management features also are included. According to company executives, the integrated Sage CRM SalesLogix solution is intended to facilitate more effective marketing campaigns by enabling users to accurately identify their most valuable prospects and profitable customers, analyze purchasing trends and execute meaningful marketing programs that can shorten sales cycles and increase revenues.
Our take: Sage continues to round out its product offerings. Campaign management – the next level of marketing automation – is particularly important in our view. One of the big challenges facing market groups today is the ability to run a coordinated marketing campaign. Any software that helps them accomplish this task is a welcome addition to the marketplace.

FRONTRANGE announced the general release of a new version of FrontRange SolutionsCRM software. GoldMine 7.0 is intended to provide integration capabilities that enable the viewing of external sources of data, plug-ins for existing enterprise systems and better integration with other powerful FrontRange Solutions products. The latest version also offers more workflow tools and a new database architecture intended to provide greater stability and faster processing for remote users.
Our take: What’s important about this relatively major release is that the new database architecture provides the groundwork for future product enhancements as well as the basis for workflow, which is an increasingly important part of a CRM strategy.

MICROSOFT announced the general availability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0, the new release of Microsoft’s customer relationship management solution for small businesses, midsize companies and large enterprises. Microsoft CRM is intended to provide a complete suite of powerful marketing, sales and service capabilities, all with a user experience based on Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office Outlook. The product is offered in a Professional Edition and a Small Business Edition and is immediately available in English worldwide with 21 foreign language versions planned for released in the coming months.
Our take: Last year many CRM vendors were pooh-poohing Microsoft’s entry into the CRM market, positioning them firmly in the small business category. At the time we wrote that it was unlikely Microsoft would remain in that segment of the market, so we’re not surprised that Microsoft is now positioning its CRM capability for companies of all sizes. We expect to see Microsoft capturing market share rapidly, unless the new release proves to have some major problems.

SUGARCRM announced Sugar Suite 4.0, the seventh major release by SugarCRM. Sugar Suite 4.0 is intended to enhance and extend functionality across sales management, marketing automation and customer support and reporting, as well as support for critical business processes with collaboration and administrative tools to meet the individual demands of a business. According to the company’s Website, Sugar Suite offers “a single system of truth for managing customer interactions across different lines of business.”
Our take: SugarCRM continues to intrigue us. The company’s open source development methodology appears to be pacing and overtaking the rest of the CRM industry, most of which still operates under proprietary development methodologies.