Catch Up: SugarCRM Wants To Go To The Next Level

Continuing on the series of catching-up with the spring conference series, next up is SugarCON from SugarCRM.

Great. Their embrace of the open cloud.  No other enterprise software vendor understands the cloud as well as SugarCRM does.  They are not out there discussing what multi-tenancy can or does bring to anyone because they understand it does not matter.  They support multi-tenancy (under duress I might add) for the late-comers to the cloud, but they can also work like a true cloud solution that supports any other platform (show me another vendor that can easily switch from Azure to Rackspace to Amazon without much detriment).  They are the only vendor I know that can deliver a true open-cloud solution for CRM today.  They need to refocus their message (see more below) around this model.

Good. Dropping the concept of open source as the key message to save the world.  Maybe a tad later than I’d’ve (I had to use that double contraction – I told my daughter last weekend I’d use it in a post to prove it exists – G, there you go :-)) liked to, but finally coming around to it.  Now starting to focus on the value of the platform and open cloud (also a tad later than I would’ve liked – but still ahead of most of the rest of the market) as their key deliverable – which is going to be what makes them very powerful when they decide to start courting financial analysts on their way to their IPO.  I want to see a better positioning as the best open-platform solution for CRM (see right below for more).

Bad. The go-to-market message.  I have been talking about this for many years: they need to focus on what they bring to the market as value – and it is certainly not being open source.  They need to put their entire marketing department to work (recently revamped marketing department, BTW- this should be interesting) to come up with a far better message of what they can do (and how differently they do it, and how well even)  in the cloud.  As more and more organizations begin to embrace cloud as a core infrastructure, more and more of them will be looking for a provider to give them a “CRM Platform” (yet to be fully defined) and Sugar could be it – if they had the right message.

Ugly. This is a tie.  First, the Waldorf Astoria as a conference location (I am still lost, and I left very long ago); they had wonderful food, good service and decent rooms – but it absolutely bottoms the list as a conference location.  Second, the delivery of the message.  This may be redundant, but they absolutely, definitely, positively need a better message and the only thing more in need is how to deliver that message so they can make the right impression in the market.  Lots of work ahead for marketing (and the executive leadership embracing it).

Overall Impression. I always said that the problem with SugarCRM is not their product: they have one of the best open-cloud based platforms for CRM out there.  Their problem has consistently been their message and the delivery of the same.  With the new emphasis on the marketing department it is my hope this will change soon.  There is a lot of work ahead to present a vision that leads the next-generation of CRM (it is doable, but there is lots to do) and it all starts on creating a better message that is focused on what customers are asking for (hint: it is not open source) and building a better ecosystem with partners (I still say that their Sugar Forge has lots of promise, but needs more focus).  A good product, good intentions going forward – I want to see SugarCRM deliver consistently over the next 12-18 months in claiming a position of leadership in the CRM Market.

disclaimer – SugarCRM is a client.  In addition, they covered most of the expenses and the entry to the conference.  They gave us good food, a decent bed, and a good event in exchange for my attendance, and they have had no influence whatsoever in what I wrote above.