After years of success with its ACT! for Windows contact management program, Best Software earlier this week released an online version of its extraordinarily popular software.
ACT! for Web is an online content management system and sales force automation program that is hoping to bring all the benefits of existing ACT! programs to the Web. According to Beth Nagengast, vice president of ACT! marketing for Best Software, the new version of the software will be sold to companies at a one-time cost of $249.95 per user and will be hosted on the customer's own server, giving the customer complete control over who has access. The Web version includes 255 fields of customer information, customized templates for email, and 16 different types of reports that can be converted into PDF, HTML, or text formats. However, unlike the Windows version, ACT! for Web doesn't allow users to create customized reports for individual company use.
Sheryl Kingstone, CRM program manager with the Yankee Group, explains that allowing their customers to host the software themselves was the only reasonable option for Best Software in bringing its product online.
"This was really the only way they could do this," says Kingstone. "Hosting applications isn't something that they wanted to get into. Sure, they could have done it, but it would have added a layer of cost that their target customer group wouldn't have wanted to pay for."
Kingstone contends that ACT! for Web isn't an SAP application, it's simply a piece of contact management software and that Best "isn't Salesforce.com or Upshot, and can't compete with them."
However, Kingstone expressed confidence in the company's strategy. By giving customers software that they have complete access control over and by making it fully compatible with existing ACT! programs, she believes that Best has put itself in a good position to continue to turn good profits.