On March 18, 2008, Sage, an international supplier of business management software and services, announced a strategy that aimed to enhance mobility of sales data and offer easier migration and greater interaction between solutions. The "Sage CRM Solutions 2010 strategy" sought to address all three of the top user needs reflected by Yankee Group's 2007 Enterprise Applications and Mobility survey:
- the need to focus on and transform applications' processes;
- increasing the usability of those processes; and
- the need for mobility.
[Editors' Note: For CRM's coverage of this strategy, click here.]
Approximately two years later, Sage has made good on this strategy with the release of two products: Sage CRM version 7.0 and Act! Mobile Live.
"Because pressure on the vendors is so incredibly intense they all tend to throw out hot and sexy improvements but neglect the blocking and tackling that has to go on," says Paul Greenberg, president of enterprise applications consulting services firm The 56 Group. "Sage has been good in recent years at making the larger improvements when necessary and not because of vendor pressure but because of customer requirement."
Greenberg describes Sage as a company whose reputation is steeped in the ability to add incremental benefits to each upgrade, a characteristic he argues is evident in the Sage CRM v7.0 upgrade.
[Editors' Note: For Sage's press release on the launch of version 7.0, click here.]
Version 7.0 introduces an interactive dashboard and new user navigation geared toward providing enhanced usability. The interactive dashboard pulls data from within the CRM system, external websites, and integrated Sage ERP systems in real-time. The dashboard, which features drag and drop capabilities, was built with simple customization as a key attribute. The new web interface and navigation was designed to meet what 82% of CRM user respondents to Yankee Group's sales management survey cited as the most important feature of a CRM system: ease-of-use.
"I wouldn't say that Sage CRM was deficient in usability prior to v7.0," says Larry Ritter senior vice president of Product Management at Sage, "but we've enhanced the usability in this product. Usability has been expanded because it enables data from multiple sources to be put easily onto one dashboard. If I was using Sage CRM in the past I could create certain views of data that I have access to and put it onto the dashboard. With this dashboard we've enhanced it to allow those data feeds to come through a variety of sources."
SageCRM v7.0leverages SData protocol, Sage's REST-based technology standard used to develop advanced customizations and integration between Sage ERP systems and third-party applications.
"Sage was the first company to convince me of the value of REST for the architecture of back and front office applications,ot; says Greenberg. "REST has four commands and that's it. If you know how to navigate a web site you can handle REST. So from that standpoint you're dealing with a company that knew their audience and restructured everything they did and built their architecture around REST. If you look at large companies now, they all have REST APIs."
Greenberg is also a fan of Sage's contact and customer software Act 2010 Premium, a product he hopes Sage has copied in the creation of its new Act! Mobile Live, a cloud-based subscription service that delivers ACT! by Sage contact and customer management data to BlackBerry devices.
According to Sage's Act! Mobile Live press release, the product allows user to:
- Access ACT! data in their mobile phone's native environment, using a phone's built-in address book and calendar interfaces;
- View, create and edit ACT! contact information, calendar items, activities, meeting notes and conversation histories on their phone;
- Sync quickly between their ACT! database and phone, keeping data on each consistent; and
- Back up data using an online portal that provides ACT! data access and backup files in case a phone is lost or stolen.
"If Sage has brought the functionality of Act 2010 premium," says Greenberg, "I have no doubt about Act Mobile being an excellent product."
iPhone, Windows Mobile, and Symbian compatibility are planned for later this year. ACT! Mobile Live service is available now for $10.00 per month.
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