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Mike Leatherwood,  Lead Industrial Development Manager at W.O. Grubb (and SUPER Sugar Insider) tells his story and shares some tips on CRM adoption

Carolina Industrial Trucks (CIT) is a materials-handling supplier providing forklift sales, rentals, service, parts, operator training and warehouse products.  A certified dealer for three of the world’s top forklift manufacturers, CIT operates five full-service locations in North and South Carolina.

 

Headquarters: Charlotte, NC

Website: https://www.citrucks.com

Email: info@citrucks.com

Phone: (704) 588-7388

Partner: Faye Business Systems Group

 

 Challenge: Improve sales and create efficiencies by implementing time-saving tools for prospecting and nurturing customer relationships.

 

Solution: Sugar Professional with relationship intelligence booster Hint.

 

 Results:

  • 75 minutes saved each day per seller on prospect data capture time;
  • Central database for prospect and customer information;
  • Enhanced post-sale opportunities by improving data resources; and
  • Superior relationship intelligence compared to others in the industry

 

Daily Prospect Research Time Cut by Nearly 2/3s

 

Most companies in the materials handling business sell the same products, so finding ways to differentiate and create efficiencies are essential to growth.

When CIT needed to drive revenue, one of its steps was to implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform.

The Sugar Professional platform created immediate process efficiencies and improved post-sale opportunities. But CIT also experienced challenges common to organizations new to CRM: achieving widespread adoption and having sellers spend too much time (two hours daily) researching prospects.

 

CIT’s solution came in the form of a Sugar add-on called Hint, a relationship intelligence seine that combs websites and social media to automatically create a data-rich prospect profile that appears on a seller’s dashboard.

Hint draws from a range of public-domain data associated with a contact name and email address. It can include Twitter and Facebook profiles, and about 70 other common data sources that would be laborious for sales or marketers to research, input and collate manually.

Upon evaluating Hint, CIT quickly realized the solution was ideal for its sales reps to become more efficient at their daily tasks. Three days later, Hint was up and running.

Now, CIT sales reps are excited about using Sugar and Hint and see every day how it enhances their performance.

Prospect research time is down from two hours to 45 minutes, which enhances CIT’s ROI.

With Hint and Sugar, CIT sees a bright growth picture based on a clear prospect and customer image.

Partner: Faye Business Systems Group

Headquarters: Woodland Hills, CA

Phone: 818-280-4820 

Email: info@fayebsg.com

 

This case study is based on information provided by Sugar Elite Partner Faye Business Systems Group.

Renowned Architectural Firm Hits It BIG with Sugar

 

Bjarke Ingels Group, known as BIG, is a trend-setting architectural firm with offices in the United States and Europe. Among its works are VIA 57 West, a 44-story residential high-rise, and Two World Trade Center in New York City, the LEGO House in Denmark and the Washington Redskins football stadium.

Headquarters: Copenhagen, New York City

Use case: Marketing

Website: https://www.big.dk

Partner: UpCurve Cloud

Challenge:  Centralize contact management data and make it transparent; manage projects and potential projects within one platform; drive user adoption.

Solution: Sugar Enterprise, hosted on-premise, with customizations by Sugar Elite Partner UpCurve Cloud.

Results:

  • Cost savings by restructuring databases before they grew too large to manage
  • Time savings by creating workflows that fostered transparency and enriched information-sharing
  • At-a-glance, color-keyed data via UpCurve Cloud reporting enhancements

BIG’s Growth Trend Demands a Workhorse CRM

With high profile-projects throughout Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East, BIG’s growth was outstripping its ability to track projects and contacts.

BIG had relied on Microsoft Outlook and Excel for contact management, with no central database to hold all the information. Users couldn’t find and report in a timely way.

Leadership decided it was vital to centralize data, creating a singular place where users could access all the information. And it had to do it now; waiting could take double the time and costs to make the change.

Before implementing Sugar, BIG had a CRM marketed towards the architecture and engineering industries, but the firm scrapped it within a year. BIG had several custom configuration needs that the other CRM wasn’t built to accommodate, and it needed an Outlook integration.

Not only was the lack of a robust, enterprise-level CRM hurting business, it was dampening user enthusiasm toward any CRM.

"There was a general feeling of weariness around the subject of implementing a new CRM," says Arielle Cruz, business development manager.

A CRM for Visual People

The BIG team consists of highly visual people. They are designers by nature, visual learners and communicators, inspired by the visually stunning. 

That need played into Sugar’s wheelhouse because the business transforming platform is easily and cost-effectively customized.

In UpCurve Cloud’s hands, the Sugar Enterprise application was customized for all the color-coding BIG had used in Outlook and Excel.

When Outlook was synched to Sugar, users saw the same familiar Contact color codes.

"We love the way contacts and relationships are comprehensively linked,” says Arielle. “We can identify people who are working on a project as well as what their role is on the project, which is super important to us."  

The business development team, which kept a complex color-coded spreadsheet to track the status and type of potential projects, saw the same color indicators when it pulled reports in Sugar.

Retaining the color codes helped substantially with user adoption.

“Because everything is centralized now, we know where to find the information we’re looking for, and our work process is much faster, reliable, and more efficient,” says Arielle.

Today, BIG uses Sugar to manage a multi-country pipeline and business development activities. The marketing, business development, press and front office teams see Sugar fulfilling their original hopes for CRM functionality.

"When putting together our marketing materials, it’s been such an improvement to be able to gather general project information such as size, location and program so quickly. Without Sugar, we would end up either contacting colleagues for additional details or shuffling through several folders and emails, which took up a lot of our time," Arielle says.

BIG Will Build on its CRM Success

Riding the success of its implementation and user adoption, BIG is looking at more Sugar uses, such as adding functionality to track the firm’s exhibitions and lectures.

Arielle also wants to gain more operational insights by expanding reports and dashboard use.

"Having this centralized database creates opportunities for us to run analyses that may reveal more about our business development workflow that we hadn’t considered before,” she says.

It appears she’ll have executive-level support.

“Our tailored CRM system will ensure that BIG is able to respond to any future possibility,” says Kai-Uwe Bergmann, a BIG partner and head of business development.

 

This story is based on information provided by Sugar Elite Partner UpCurve Cloud.

 

Integrations: Outlook

Customizations: Adapted Task and Contact Modules for color-coding

 

Partner

UpCurve Cloud

Headquarters:  Ramsey, NJ.

Phone: (800) 775-8378

Email: info@upcurvecloud.com

Website: https://www.upcurvecloud.com

Backcountry is the parent company of four business units that specialize in gear for wilderness adventures and outdoor sports, including biking, skiing, snowboarding, climbing, fly-fishing, hiking and camping. It operates: Backcountry, MotoSport, Competitive Cyclist and the Germany-based Bergfreunde. Backcountry and MotoSport use Sugar for sales, mostly B2C. 

 

Headquarters: Park City, Utah

Other offices and manufacturing: Oregon, Virginia, Costa Rica and Germany

Founded: 1996

Use case: Sales

Website: http://www.backcountry.com

Challenge: Implement a Customer Relationship Management platform that has scalability, extensibility, customization options and helps improve customer relationships.

 

Solution: Sugar Enterprise, cloud-hosted, with integrations for ERP and marketing automation.

 

Results

  • Sales strategy becomes customer-focused
  • Increase in sales call volume because of CRM efficiency
  • Improved pipeline reliability

 

How a software platform changed a sales culture

 

There are strategic changes, and then there are small unrecognized moments that produce important outcomes and moments of clarity. 

                                                                                                          

Peter Tew, senior product manager for Backcountry, an international wilderness outfitters firm in Utah, has seen both.

 

While he focused on increasing user adoption for the company’s new CRM, the unexpected moment of clarity came in identifying how Sugar was driving a cultural change about customer orientation.

 

Like many companies, Backcountry staff logged and carried out rote tasks. It sold items, set up sales calls, responded to customer inquiries and provided customer service. But the tasks lacked goals, context and customer insight.

 

“We’ve turned that around, and in Sugar, we have a customer-centric view of our jobs instead of a task-oriented view,” says Peter.

 

Backcountry sells differently today because the progressive profiling logged in Sugar gives the sales team more insight into customers and more sales opportunities.

 

 

The company also I-framed a widget in Sugar called “Outdoor Passions” that lists each customer’s hobbies, sports preferences, clothing and shoe sizes – even the customer’s last adventure.

 

Sales reps don’t have to open a different database to get the consumer information; it displays within Sugar when sales calls up a customer profile.

 

Here’s an example from Peter about how that information in Sugar leads to a sales conversation:

 

“Let’s say you bought hiking boots. We’re going to call and ask how they are, what you’re planning to do with them. If they are for walking around, I’ve got nothing else to say. But maybe you say you are using them to climb Kilimanjaro. Then I say, ‘I climbed Killie and there are a few things I recognized I wished I had. Would you like me to send you an email about that?’ ”

 

Backcountry recently tripled its sales staff.

 

“We wouldn’t have been able to expand our sales staff and get the returns without Sugar,” Peter says. “Now we have accurate reporting on tasks and email, and that is changing behaviors for the good.”

 

Finding the Right CRM Partner

 

Choosing a CRM – whether you are moving from an old one or implementing one for the first time – is a challenging task that must leverage C-level support.

 

Peter says Backcountry started with a field of about 20 candidates, then short-listed Sugar, Salesforce and MicroSoft Dynamics.

 

Cost-efficiency and scalability were keys, as usual.

 

 

But Sugar’s personalized, extra-mile sales approach won the deal.

 

“I really liked that the Sugar rep listened and proposed a solution without trying to do a lot of upsells; it was a natural process. It took two weeks to get all the stuff signed and purchased and developing,” says Peter.

 

“Of all the third parties of Sugar’s size or bigger that I’ve worked with, this was the smoothest experience I have ever had, and the relationship and gotten better and better,” he adds.

 

Backcountry and MotoSport went live with Sugar within two months.

 

Peter used in-house developers. They had no prior experience with CRM but found Sugar’s documentation clear and easy to follow, Peter says.

 

It led to that dramatic moment of proof.

 

“The business processing was the big thing. I knew Sugar could do it, but when I saw it happen for the first time I was like, ‘Oh, man, this could be huge for us,’ ” Peter says.

 

With millions of data points, being able to identify a customer by phone number or by searching the email topic filed is huge for his sales staff.

 

Planning the Long Journey

 

Already, the Backcountry business units are identifying unique ways to expand Sugar’s capabilities.

 

MotoSport, which sells dirt bikes and gear, is working on customizing some of the Sugar fields to accommodate more specifics about its catalog. Information such as manufacturer, make and model of its bikes.

 

“I know we will be finding more uses for Sugar as we grow into it,” Peter says.

 

INTEGRATIONS

LiveEngage: live chat and SMS

 

Founded in 1841, Fordham University provides exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to approximately 15,000 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in Westchester, and the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., as well as programs in the UK and China.

 

Headquarters: New York City

Customers: 15,200 students in undergraduate and graduate schools.

Founded: 1841

Website: http://www.fordham.edu

Partner: Squiz US

 

Challenge: Implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform that easily integrates with academic and business software and drives a business transformation toward the customer journey.

 

Solution: Sugar Professional, with cloud and on-premise options; integrated with about 30 other software solutions, including Banner, an Enterprise Resource Planning tool widely used by the education community. Sugar is re-labeled as “Fordham Connect.”

 

Results:

  • 360-degree view of students
  • Improved response time to constituent needs
  • Empowered university users to be proactive in working with constituents
  • Enhanced relationships and increased loyalty among students and alumni.

 

 

Creating the User Experience with ‘Constituent’ Care

 

Shaya Phillips’ business on-boards about 3,800 new customers each year – and most start within the same few days. That’s in addition to serving a base of about 11,000 customers who carryover annually.

 

The new customers are freshmen and first-year graduate school students at Fordham University, a private New York City Liberal Arts school where competition for admission is fierce, academic excellence is a given, and personal attention is expected.

 

The challenge for Shaya and his IT team is to make sure these customers have what they need when they need it, and to track their journey through college life and beyond.

 

Fordham, which also operates graduate schools and a law school, depends on Sugar and its integrations to ensure it has a complete view of its students.

 

“We call them constituents – our students, parents, alumni and others who interact with us – and we use CRM to manage those constituent relationships, says Shaya, associate vice president for Information Technology.

 

Modern CRM Focuses on Customers

 

With a modern approach to CRM – one that has evolved beyond sales tracking and marketing and instead focuses on customers – Shaya and his team have put constituent experience at the heart of the university’s efforts.

“We track students throughout the whole system. We recruit them, maintain them, give them the best customer service possible through graduation and keep them informed as alumni,” says Shaya.

 

“We build a relationship from beginning to end and establish that relationship not just with the student but with the extended family; a relationship that fosters giving and helps build a reputation as one of the nation’s best universities,” he adds.

 

Because of some easily written application program interfaces (APIs), Fordham officials can see a complete picture of a student or graduate without leaving the Sugar platform: transcripts, completed courses, required courses, academic standing, advisor notes, expected graduation date – even passport status.

 

“A lot of what we learn and collect with Sugar helps us to target students at different stages in their education.  We can see what courses they take, when did they pay, if they are at risk: actionable information that helps us serve our constituents,” Shaya says.

 

“Sugar has made a great different in the ways our users work with our constituents,” he says. “It has empowered our users in ways we never thought about because we can make constituent lives better and easier with the way they interact with the university.”

CRM as the Information Hub

Choosing an easily customized CRM that was hefty enough to handle all those integrations was a factor in Fordham’s decision to implement Sugar. About 80 percent of the software is cloud-based.

Says Shaya: “We liked the fact that Sugar was modular in a way that we could interact with it for our integrations. We had a lot of information from different systems that we wanted to bring into it, and it was customizable for the way we wanted to use it.”

With more than 15 integrations and about 30 APIs helping paint the Sugar customer image, administrators and staff are empowered to help students and alumni because they have a 360-degree view of each constituent.

Fordham uses two types of API calls: APIs that can be called on demand and APIs that allow you to make a call and retrieve a batch of data.

 

Because Sugar’s dashboards are easily configured and convenient, financial aid officers, administrators or professors have immediate insight about a constituent’s status. It’s a customer journey view at the click of a mouse.

 

“In Sugar, our people can easily see the current grade-point-average, the course schedule and the grades associated with each course,” Shaya says. “If we had to just use our Enterprise Resource Planning system, the administrator would have to go to different screens to view a full student picture.” 

 

Growing the CRM’s Scope

As Fordham’s Sugar use matures, Shaya envisions the versatile platform taking on even larger roles in the university’s business growth strategy.

 

The school decided recently to begin implementing IBM Marketing Cloud for campaigns.

 

Shaya knows the IBM product will integrate seamlessly with Sugar.

 

He wouldn’t expect any less: “So far we have not found anything we can’t do with Sugar.”

 

CUSTOMIZATIONS AND INTEGRATIONS

Banner: Enterprise resource planning

InformationBuilders: Business intelligence

OrgSync: Student engagement network

Star Rez: Student housing management

PowerFAIDS: Financial aid management system

ACES2: Student admissions

Technolutions Slate: Admissions applications processing and tracking 

 

PARTNER

Squiz US

183 Madison Avenue, Suite 1416

New York, NY 10016

Phone: 877 394 0640

Email: support@squiz.net

Website: https://www.squiz.net

 

 

T-Mobile is the mobile communications subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. The brand operates in the United States, Poland, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. In the Netherlands, where it has nearly 4 million customers, T-Mobile operates a discounted sub-brand called Ben, which targets younger users.

 

Headquarters: The Hague

Use case:  Customer Service

Website:

www.ben.nl 

www.t-mobile.nl

 

 

Challenge: Optimize customer care, support marketing, sales and dealer network, improve data management and inventory control.

 

Solution: Sugar Professional hosted on-site with integrations to business support and operating systems.

 

Results: Improved customer service response time; developed complete customer view; all customer service and transaction channels managed directly in Sugar.

 

 

One Click Empowers Customer Service  

 

T-Mobile’s Ben cellphone brand is sleek and hip. It is priced for young, budget-minded residents of the Netherlands who think more about urls and clicks than bricks and mortar when it comes to buying phones, service or SIM cards.

 

The brand, which was relaunched by T-Mobile in 2008 and loosely translates in Dutch as “I am,” operates mostly in the virtual world for sales and service, although some dealers also carry the line. Because the business model is essentially digital, Ben needed a sturdy, agile Customer Relationship Management platform that empowered the customer service staff and personalized customer interactions.

 

Sugar gives Ben's customer service representatives an integrated customer view across all channels (call center, ecommerce, dealers, etc.) and surfaces insights that tare the basis of fast, accurate and personal responses.

 

Through its customer portal, Ben subscribers can place orders, look at data use and invoices, manage voicemail and even activate a new SIM card. All with customers at the helm.

 The digital convenience created by the Sugar powerhouse also benefits Ben’s dealer network.

 

Dealers can place orders via their own portal, where they can see within a few minutes whether the order has been approved. In addition, they can integrate their website or application with Sugar via an API. This allows them to place, validate and request number portability via their own platform. Sugar generates the contract for the customer and the dealer simply downloads the form.

 

Sugar also makes it easy for Ben's marketing and sales staff to manage many products and packages because offers and price changes are implemented in real time.

 

These days, when residents of the Netherlands dial up new phone services with Ben, they get fast, customer-focused service that enhances their experience, because Ben dialed the right number with SugarCRM.

 

This case study is based on information provided by Sugar Elite Partner BrixCRM

 

 

Notable Integrations

Drupal, for content management

SAP, for ERP

 

 

Sugar Elite Partner

BrixCRM

Headquarters: Almelo, NL

Phone: +31 88 10 20 600

Email: info@brixcrm.nl

Website: www.brixcrm.nl


 

Roses are red, violets are blue, 

Our customers are the best, 

So we’d like to thank you!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

 

CMO Insights: Becoming an Agent of Change

by Clint Oram

Our Sugar platform is different…and that’s intentional. Our customers are different…and we like it that way. You’ll never find us walking the centerline of the highway because that is not where the innovative thinkers are. Legacy CRMs walk that mundane centerline of managing people; Sugar helps people understand customers and build value through relationships.

 

Corner Office: What's new for the Customer Experience in 2017?

by Larry Augustin

Like flowers on Valentine's Day, prioritizing the customer experience has moved from a ‘nice to have’ to an essential component of business’ strategy. When research by Gartner reveals that 89% of organizations now expect to compete solely on this, you know you need to take it seriously.

 

Developers Corner: Extending Advanced Workflow and more

by Matt Marum

There’s something cool and new for all developers in the Sugar 7.8 platform. From simple changes, such as moving to PHP 5.6, to the more robust Advanced Workflows that dramatically extends extensibility, Sugar 7.8 is a tire-screeching, road-hugging sports car of a platform.

 

Products: Maximize Productivity with Relationship Analytics for Sugar

by Dax Farhang

In the Valentine's spirit, Relationship Analytics for Sugar adds richness and insight into your customer engagements. This add-on analyzes Sugar and email correspondence between customers and your company to build an insightful relationship map. Our customers use this tool to find contacts with strong customer relationships and help transition customers to new account managers and sales people.

 

ISV Spotlight: Innovation is #awesome. Innovation + experience is #awesomesauce

by Mark Weitzel 

Struggling with finding the right Valentine's gift - check out Amazon. Struggling to find ways to improve sales efficiency or adding? Before you look at your developers, check ours. We’ve got hundreds of savvy partners who think about that stuff all the time, and it’s possible they’ve already got what you need.

 

 

Customer Spotlight: Agfa Healthcare

by Tom Opdyke

A multinational corporation that develops, manufactures, and distributes analog and digital imaging products and systems, as well as IT solutions completed its worldwide Sugar deployment and achieved 139 percent ROI while staying on budget - Wow, that's sweet.

 

Customer Spotlight: Do You Need to See an Analyst?

by Rebecca Jukoski

The relationship doctor is in. Find a convenient time to meet with one of our SugarCRM analysts to tell us your digital transformation story. We're looking for real Mavericks here. Become one of our reference superstars.

 

Events: What do Chief Revenue Officers talk about when they get together?

by Jennifer Smart

We wanted to know, too. Find out as CROs from across all industries gather in New York City on April 4-5 to explore the connections between CRM, predictive analytics, and a better understanding of customer requirements to improve customer communication, retention, and loyalty. Get 20% off registration.

 

Events: SugarCon 2017. Bigger, more disruptive, transformative

by Karen Havstad

Don't miss this customer love fest. Our must attend customer event of the year will be held at the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco September 25-28. Watch for our Early Bird registration. Save the date - we’ve got a seat for you.

You're hearing a different tone from SugarCRM these days. It's about being the CRM disruptor.

 

We've always seen ourselves as the outlier in a field of mundane Customer Relationship Management providers, many who sell CRM as a small part of a business application suite. Frankly, we like it that way because we want to only focus on CRM.

 

From our inception, when we launched an ambitious startup to provide cost-effective CRM that transforms businesses, we have looked for ways to make SugarCRM stand tall above the crowd. We pioneered open source CRM. We gave customers our source code to let them know no limits. We provided options for on-premise, private cloud or public cloud. We added mobile functionality without the crazy hidden charges imposed by other CRM providers. We continue to add functionality through new alliances with other vendors, such as our Customer Journey Plug-in from AddOptify, Relationship Analytics for Sugar from TrustSphere and the Gmail Plug-In from Collabspot.

 

And we know from our customer feedback that we are a dependable source of business transformation in this era of disruption. So call us the disruptor, the challenger, the maverick any of the terms are correct. Because we are the only exclusively CRM company leading the way through this thicket of digital transformation.

 

In this time of unbelievable change in business models around the world, SugarCRM helps tomorrow's leaders agents of change like yourself who are embracing CRM technology to create a differentiated customer experience -- tear down the status quo and engage with customers in unique and compelling ways via digital channels.

 

We have so many maverick stories about companies driving change, but here is a snapshot:

 

A leading global financial services firm: the conservative bankers had multiple existing CRMs already deployed in the bank from which to choose. They wanted a platform to provide high-touch, concierge service for their wealthiest clients. They chose Sugar because they needed not just the most flexible CRM platform, but the concierge CRM service that only we were ready to provide.

 

CitySprint: the largest same-day courier company in the United Kingdom uses Sugar to up-end its 20-year business model and thrive among disruptive competitors like Amazon. By leveraging Sugar as the core of customer information and processes, CitySprint has transformed itself into the leading UK logistics services provider as well as the household courier brand its always been.

 

Cells4Life: This leading repository for stem cell tissue leveraged Sugar to build a revolutionary laboratory management system because it didn't like the inflexible, out-of-the box CRM packages in the laboratory industry.
They close Sugar as the CRM platform to build an entirely new customer experience around.

 

We'll be telling other stories about disruption this year, and introducing you to some of the people customers and Sugar staff -- who are plotting new ways to engage with customers.

 

Throughout the year, we will continue to share how Sugar is the best CRM platform for digital transformation and how Sugar champions are true CRM Mavericks.

 

Be a CRM Maverick yourself. Challenge the CRM status quo. I look forward to having you join us on this journey.

Well, 2016 will be a tough act to follow. With all the twists and turns of a Hollywood blockbuster, it was a year no one is going to forget in a hurry. But let's not dwell on the past. At this time of year it's de rigueur to roll out the dusty crystal ball and predict what the coming weeks and months will bring. What's going to change? What will remain the same? Who will be the heroes? Who will be the villains?

 

I work in Silicon Valley, so please excuse my bias, but what I'm most excited about this year is seeing how the tech industry will change and continue to enhance the customer experience. The last few years have seen the rise of the Empowered Customer, and 2016 continued to blaze a trail for the informed, powerful customer with endless choice at their fingertips.

 

Prioritizing the customer experience has moved from a 'nice to have' to an essential component of business' strategy. When research by Gartner reveals that 89% of organizations now expect to compete solely on this, you know you need to take it seriously.

 

The robots are coming (or not)

So, looking ahead, what's going to be new this year? Whatever you may have heard, 2017 is not going to be the year when AI (Artificial Intelligence) completely revolutionizes customer experience and management. There. I've said it.

While some tech companies have been loudly talking up the AI capabilities within their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, there's a danger that people are getting ahead of themselves. That's not to say that AI isn't coming; it is and soon, maybe even as a little as a year down the line, AI within CRM is going to be something to get very excited about.

 

And that's the reason why AI grabs the headlines: it's an exciting area. But tech is nothing if it has no purpose. At the heart of all customer-facing businesses is (or should be) the customer. The question should always be asked: how can we use technology to make people's everyday lives quicker, more efficient, and streamlined?

 

At SugarCRM, we're investing big in AI technology and you can bet that when we launch this new offering we're going to be shouting as loudly as anybody about the huge leap forward that it will be.

 

Innovation is undoubtedly fantastic and it's really quite amazing what has been achieved in the last decade alone, but the bottom line is people still like to talk to people. For all the talk of AI, it's still going to be the case that people are the most important part of any customer management experience. This will be true in 2017 and I am convinced it will be true in 2067.

 

Predicting and pre-empting

Predictive analytics is another area which we'll see increasingly come to the forefront this year. It will give sophistication to systems that will feel both innovative and entirely logical. CRM will no longer be about data entry and simple deal tracking; instead companies will be able to anticipate customer trends with increased accuracy by finding patterns in the vast sea of customer data they are now collecting. As a result, this will in turn give a huge opportunity for businesses to give better service. And that's what it's all about.

 

Imagine a system that tracks communication patterns between a company and its customers, segmenting those customers by personality types, and suggests the time of day and the tone of message to send to each individual customer. Even better, imagine a customer sending a complaint to your company's billing department and the system alerts the appropriate sales rep with the right email already written and staged for sending out. This level of highly personalized service is what predictive analytics will bring to the customer experience in the future.

 

The rise of mobile

What we can predict with certainty is that this year mobile will continue to assert its place as an entirely feasible alternative to office-based working. The modern work environment has broken free of desks, buildings and commutes. The flexibility that smart phones, tablets, laptops and, of course, ubiquitous connectivity offer means employees can now work anywhere, at any time.

 

I'd expect that most business professionals will be dividing more of their time over a wider range of multiple locations; a flexibility that, deployed intelligently and supported by their employer's technology, could have significant benefits for the customers they serve.

 

The image of empty offices as remote workers sit in cafes with their laptops, matched with intelligent software that learns and decides without the need for intervention, could suggest that this will be the year in which the human dimension of business becomes extinct.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Human to human interaction will never be completely replaced by machines. Yes, machines will help automate repetitive or low value tasks. But overall they will increase human productivity and increase the value of personal interaction.

 

Take the case of the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) in banking. The first ATMs were introduced in 1969. Since then, the number of (human) bank tellers has grown, and continues to grow. Research by James Bessen, Lecturer in Law at the Boston University School of Law, shows that the number of ATMs in the US stood at just over 400,000 in 2010, compared to nearly 600,000 bank assistants.

 

As it did with bank tellers, automation will enable more businesses to provide higher levels of personal touch instead of decreasing the need for human interaction.

 

I hope this year businesses remember that customers are human, and technology should enhance the experience they offer, not replace it. Hold tight - it's going to be a big year.

The recently released Sugar 7.8 provides some exciting new platform changes that should be welcome to every Sugar developer.

 

First, we've dropped support of older PHP versions (PHP 5.3, 5.4, and 5.5) in Sugar 7.8. Not only does Sugar run faster on PHP 5.6, this change allows the SugarCRM Product Group and the entire Sugar Developer Community to spend more time on innovation and less time on maintenance.

 

Next, we've enhanced Advanced Workflow to dramatically extend extensibility. With the added ability to create and incorporate Custom Actions, Sugar developers can create custom code that runs when their Custom Action is called during an Advanced Workflow process.

 

Finally, we've made some important upgrades to the third-party libraries used by the Sidecar framework and Sugar 7 user interfaces. We've upgraded Backbone.js, jQuery, and other libraries, which include feature improvements, bug fixes and some subtle API changes. Check the Sugar 7.8 Migration Guide for advice on this and other areas of change to watch out for with your code customizations when migrating to Sugar 7.8.

 

If you want to learn more about obtaining, developing and migrating customizations to Sugar 7.8, review our Sugar 7.8 Technical Overview webinar. Or, if you just want to review the slides in our Sugar Community, go to Sugar 7.8 Technical Overview for Sugar Developers (Slides).

The CRM industry is abuzz about the potential of analytics, AI and the like. The promise is that applications will reach deeply into a dataset and retrieve insights that go beyond "who do I contact next?" or "what should I say?"

 

At SugarCRM we are actively investing in the analytics space with our own product development efforts and through strategic partnerships. One example is Relationship Analytics for Sugar. This Sugar add-on accelerates your business with:

  • Increased sales productivity
  • Increased customer retention
  • Rapid employee onboarding

 

Relationship Analytics for Sugar analyzes employee-customer interactions within your email system and distills those interactions into a deeper understanding of the relationship strength each employee has with every individual at your customers and prospects with whom they communicate.

 

Our customers leverage Relationship Analytics (RA) for Sugar to strengthen relationships across their company and improve prospecting and opportunity management. Companies can uncover "hidden" contacts or new prospects buried in their email system with a one-touch process to add them to your Sugar contacts. You can also identify trends in contact activity, or quickly educate new account executives on the strength and breadth of each customer contact.

 

Most importantly, users' natural email activity provides the raw data that drives Relationship Analytics for Sugar.

This is truly a powerful product to improve efficiency or gain a competitive advantage through technology.

Relationship Analytics for Sugar is available for $20 per user per month and integrates with popular email systems, such as Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Lotus Domino and Gmail for Business. It is available with all Sugar editions, supports every supported Sugar 7.x version and can be leveraged by both On-Demand and On-Site customers.

 

Learn more about Relationship Analytics on our new SugarCRM website.

Our partner community never ceases to amaze me. Really. Whether it's understanding how your organization is connected to your leads to get that all important warm introduction, or combining geographic data to optimize the sales routes, you can bet one of our partners has a solution. When you combine that innovation with the years of experience implementing sophisticated Sugar installations you get #awesomesauce.

 

Jump on over to the Partner Corner to learn about how our partners are helping customers just like you be successful. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to our Featured Partners on SugarExchange.

 

Take a moment to check their listings and see how they can help you get more out of Sugar and disrupt your competition!

You might know Agfa from its days as a maker of professional-grade camera film, but the company has evolved into a giant in the healthcare industry with its diagnostic imaging solutions.

 

To continue growing, the Belgium-based company needed to be a disruptor in medical imaging sales and service. So, when Agfa X-rayed its own business model, it prescribed a flexible Customer Relationship Management solution that was future-proof and adaptable worldwide.

 

With a payback of 15 months, the Agfa project was out of the red even before the worldwide Sugar implementation was completed. A 139% ROI also sweetened the experience.

 

Find out more about the Agfa success story.

Become a Sugar Superstar

Posted by rjukoski Employee Feb 14, 2017

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We're always on the hunt for good customer stories, especially those of you who have overcome disruption in your business or industry or are creating a great customer journey map. Share these stories with colleagues looking for great examples of sales, marketing and customer service Sugar implementations.

 

Contact me through the community, Rebecca Jukoski, or email me, about your story and we'll help put you in the spotlight. It might be with the analysts or it could be a Sugar case study - or both.

 

Who knows? Your company could be a featured customer on our website or at SugarCon 2017.

 

You know you've got a great story that is begging to be told.

 

Now's the time to act.