Sugar Sweetens CRM Pot

SugarCRM, Salesnet strengthen on-demand apps for enterprise.

Although adoption rates of CRM software are still lagging, new products released this week point to maturing enterprise-level customer relationship management capabilities for on-demand software. SugarCRM Inc. is announcing the first enterprise edition of its open-source suite, which builds on its Sugar Professional suite. Likewise, Salesnet Inc. is announcing major upgrades to its Extended and OEM suites.

The Sugar Enterprise Edition includes support for Oracle Corp.s 9i database (the Professional Edition supports Microsoft Corp.s MySQL database only), as well as mobile work support, which enables workers to automatically synchronize offline changes made to the application. Multidimensional reporting capabilities enable administrators to report on complex associations and write queries using native SQL query syntax. At the same time, a Module Loader capability lets users add or remove third-party modules with no additional code, keeping any add-ons separate from the base application code.

To date, open-source developers have written about 70 SugarCRM accessory modules, according to the companys co-founder and CEO, John Roberts, in Cupertino, Calif.

"The whole concept [of our software] is communities within communities," said Roberts. "This is key to our business model. In order for [our software] to be successful, it has to be really, really good. Otherwise, people wont come back."

Bob Gatewood, chief technology officer of AthenaHealth Inc., is in the midst of migrating 200 customer support users to SugarCRMs Sugar Professional platform. The next phase of the project is to move AthenaHealths sales and marketing teams over, and Gatewood is considering Sugar Enterprise edition for the task.

"The decision [to move off] wasnt about cost primarily; it was about control over how the application functioned," said Gatewood in Watertown, Mass. "Weve been using for about four years, and we customized heavily, but we were still running into limits on how we could modify the workflow and what kind of metrics we could get."

Gatewood said SugarCRMs Sugar Professional version is doing the job, but hes interested in the Oracle support of the Enterprise version.

Salesnet is announcing what amounts to the second iteration of its Enterprise On-Demand CRM software, which focuses on two main points of functionality: streamlining the user experience and enabling a more flexible application so that users can easily refine activity tracking and reporting.

For example, custom field enhancements enable fine-grained control of custom field attributes.

"Its like we added a couple layers to the visibility level," said Rich Perkett, CTO of Salesnet, in Boston. " Theyre embracing the model, but we need to be as configurable as those seven-figure, on-premises applications."

This release is a precursor to Salesnets 25th-edition release, slated for late October or November, which will include more than 250 enhancements to the companys Enterprise and OEM editions.