SAN FRANCISCO - Performance improvements, simplified navigation with ready access to full text search are some of the improvements in Sugar 6.5, the latest version of SugarCRM's customer relationship management package that it officially introduced Tuesday during its annual SugarCon user conference here.
SugarCRM, a fast-growing but still relatively small provider of CRM software, compared with Salesforce.com, Microsoft and Oracle, is "on a journey to reinvent the CRM experience," said Clint Oram, SugarCRM co-founder and CTO.
The new version is aimed at putting the user first in a new user interface that is designed to increase user productivity by making it easier for users to find and access customer information, Oram said.
The new interface has also been redesigned so that it will work seamlessly with any browser or any mobile device, Oram said. New architectural and performance enhancements include an abstracted database layer that enables simplified and faster data access including the use of client-side data caching to enable sub-second screen refreshes.
The new version also provides support for IBM DB2 and IBM PureSystems, the "new expert integrated systems" announced on April 11 that the company says combine server, storage and networking resources into "one highly automated and secure, simple-to-manage machine."
Sugar 6.5 also provides tighter integration with major social and business collaboration applications, including an import feature for LinkedIn contacts and enhanced Microsoft Outlook Integration. SugarCRM is also tying into IBM's social business and smarter commerce strategy but supporting IBM Connections and IBM SmartCloud for Social Business.
The new version also includes a new calendar feature that supports dynamic scheduling with a simple drag-and-drop interface that supports recurring meetings. It also supports the Apple iCal standard design and enables integration with other calendar systems used in business applications such as Microsoft Outlook.
While SugarCRM got it start billing itself as an open-source CRM software company that gave customers plenty of flexibility to modify the application to suit their needs, at this year's conference, the company was emphasizing its claim to be "the world's fastest-growing CRM company."
The company reported that its first-quarter 2012 billings grew 118 percent over the same quarter in 2011 and 24 percent over the previous quarter. SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin also presented a litany of impressive-sounding business milestones. The SugarCRM applications have been downloaded more than 11 million times, and the company currently supports more than 1 million users in 192 countries, Augustin said. The company has signed up 70,000 paid subscriptions and has attracted 30,000 registered developers, 1,000 of whom are working with the company's SugarForge application development platform. Furthermore, the SugarCRM software has been downloaded more than 11 million times.
To serve its growing customer base, the company has about 350 employees and contractors on its payroll and has active partnerships with more than 400 VARS.
Although SugarCRM is small, compared with Salesforce.com and its other giant competitors, Augustin said there is still plenty of opportunity for growth in the CRM market. Augustin noted that market researcher IDS estimates the size of the total world CRM market at $18.74 billion, with a potential to grow to nearly $23 billion by 2015. "But we don't think it stops there," Augustin said.
There is still plenty of time and room in the market for SugarCRM to catch up to the giants, Augustin said. CRM is a "large market that's very wide open and very fragmented. So we see this as a huge, huge market opportunity," he said.
He estimates that while there are only 15 million CRM seats in use worldwide today, there is an opportunity to sell as many as 50 million to 100 million additional CRM seats in the next few years. Furthermore, there are 3 billion email users around the world, 730 million business email users, and 365 million sales and marketing email users.
SugarCRM's goal is to "enable the nearly 400 million customer-facing professionals worldwide to create a better experience for their customers."
To help support its growth plans, Augustin said that SugarCRM closed its fifth-round financing of $33 million, bringing the total amount of venture funding it has received to $80 million. This latest round of funding was acquired to strengthen the company's balance sheet and to show potential partners that it has "the reserves and wherewithal" to carry out its business plans, Augustin said.