CRM Service Providers Target SMBs

 
 
By Dennis Callaghan  |  Posted 2004-12-06 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Small-to-midsize businesses are getting more reasons to consider hosted and open-source CRM offerings as several technology providers prepare to roll out new offerings.

Small-to-midsize businesses are getting more reasons to consider hosted and open-source CRM offerings as several technology providers prepare to roll out new offerings.

NetSuite Inc., SugarCRM Inc. and Entellium Corp. are each readying services or products designed to overcome challenges that SMB companies have faced when deploying CRM services.

NetSuite will announce this week that it has added new sales forecasting capabilities, hoping to solve a weakness that customers have typically found with hosted CRM application services. The companys new Advanced Forecasting service provides a single interface for multiple forecasting methods, including a calculated forecast that shows actual opportunities and quotes; a "mood ring" forecast that shows what representatives believe they will sell, without tying the forecast to specific opportunities; and actual sales within the forecast, including recurring revenue.

New dashboard features that help users track the progress of reaching a forecast target include a Sales Management Portlet that allows sales managers to track performance by sales reps and teams; a key performance indicator for opportunities won and lost; report snapshots that show the status of the sales pipeline and sales forecast that can be customized to a companys sales process and methodology; a score card that shows the status of top deals in progress that have yet to close; and weekly snapshots of forecast history by rep and by manager to track forecast accuracy.

Mark Porter, president and CEO of High Wire Networks Inc., of Eden Prairie, Minn., said NetSuites forecasting is already working well for his company. Porter said he expects even more from Advanced Forecasting.

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"Our products are all services, and each one can have drastically different profit margins," said Porter, in Chicago. "If you can forecast better, you can predict cash flow better. Nothing is more precious in a small business like ours than cash resources."

Getting both front-office and back-office applications from NetSuite is also key for High Wire.

"The forecast is a lot more meaningful if you also have the financial information and customer records so you can compare the forecast to historical data and really get a handle on [comparing] the forecast to reality," Porter said. "We dont struggle with that like a lot of organizations do."

SugarCRM announced recently that its open-source CRM components are now available preinstalled and preconfigured as part of a hardware-software solution. Called Sugar Cubes, the components come preinstalled with the companys SugarSales Professional.

The Sugar Cube 1005 includes two 80GB SATA (Serial ATA) hard disk drives in a RAID 1 configuration; the 3005 includes four 80GB Ultra SCSI hot-swappable hard disk drives in a RAID 5 configuration.

For its part, hosted CRM application service provider Entellium is getting into the open-source act as well and will announce this week a Web services library for developers to build their own extensions and integrations to Entelliums hosted applications.

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