With Maximizer CRM 10, the vendor hopes to provide SMBs with the tools to compete.
Posted Nov 14, 2007
Vancouver-based Maximizer Software announced today the release of the 10th version of its CRM software, specifically tailored for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). The new edition, aptly named Maximizer CRM 10, introduces new partnerships -- going mobile with BlackBerry -- and formalizes the availability of recently announced partnerships -- with CanDoGo to provide on-demand advice from industry experts and with 90 Degree Software, to improve business intelligence reporting.
Industry statistics have shown that the rate of CRM adoption is rising -- to a degree. According to a midmarket study by AMI-Partners and cited by Maximizer, small and midsize businesses are increasing their CRM spend at a compound annual growth rate of 8.5 percent. However, despite this growth, the study indicated that the advances are being made by a minority of SMBs: Barely one-third of SMBs -- just 35 percent of them -- report using CRM, putting the rest at a disadvantage next to their technology-enabled, enterprise-level competition. Maximizer, sensing an opportunity, has positioned Maximizer CRM 10 to target businesses ranging from single entrepreneurs to divisions of large enterprises with a software solution the company calls "simple and quick." (Further emphasizing the marketing shift, Maximizer has officially changed the name of the product, which had been known until now as Maximizer Enterprise.)
The partnership with BlackBerry to make Maximizer CRM available via smartphones -- a feature known as MaxMobile -- is a response to the increasing demand for work on the go, the company says: Aberdeen Research, for example, has reported that 79 percent of businesses intend to incorporate mobile CRM solutions within the next 12 months. MaxMobile will be accessible not just on BlackBerrys, but on all devices running the Windows Mobile operating system. Companies will have improved functionality to manage every aspect of their business and customer relationships, without being constrained by location, according to Maximizer executives.
"More and more, SMBs need instant access to critical customer information from anywhere, at any time," says Will Anderson, the company's executive vice president of technology. "With Maximizer CRM 10, the new MaxMobile for BlackBerry offering -- along with enhancements to our Windows Mobile solution and Web-access platform -- accelerates the ability for SMBs to compete with the big guys."
The company seems to be introducing mobility at the right time. Although smartphones only constitute approximately 5 percent of the current cell phone market, Tim Bajarin, president of California-based consulting firm Creative Strategies, predicts that figure will hit 18 percent by 2010 -- not an insignificant figure, he adds, for a market expected to move over 1.5 billion cell phones annually by then.
As a result of the exclusive agreement with CanDoGo, first announced back in October, Maximizer CRM 10 users will have access to the Denver-based firm's on-demand sales and professional coaching resources. In addition to providing timely and relevant advice, a critical aspect of this new feature is, as destinationCRM.com noted last month, that it "adds a much-needed live component to Maximizer, which has traditionally provided its on-premise product without Web enhancements."
Gretchen Duhaime, senior research analyst of CRM at Aberdeen Group, observes in an upcoming report that "[p]roviding sales with collected expert intelligence on all aspects of the sales cycle and actionable analytical insight on performance is necessary to maximize sales effectiveness." In addition to pursuing live advice, and the need to automate, Duhaime notes that SMB's are 1.5 times less likely than their enterprise counterparts are to invest in sales analytics solutions. Whether that's because of a lack of time, resources, or management, SMBs are encouraged to examine their priorities and understand that there are solutions available. Many SMBs are already showing a shift in this direction. As businesses feel the pressure to deliver numbers, Duhaime says, "it is not surprising that many companies have turned to sales analytics for automation."
Finally, in its partnership with 90 Degree Software, Maximizer says it aims to enable businesses to have a significantly more user-friendly experience with the technology. Maximizer CRM 10 supports both Microsoft SQL Reporting Services as well as 90 Degree's Radius90 collaborative reporting platform, both of which provide the familiar Microsoft Office-like interface. Moreover, Maximizer's CRM 10 aims to make all dashboards visible across all users, the company says.
SMBs, Duhaime says, are lagging far behind large enterprises in reducing "non-selling time," cutting it at a rate only 48 percent as fast as their larger counterparts. She explains that this occurrence is "partially due to the sales force not having the insight large enterprises gain from their dashboard reporting." Therefore, with better reporting capabilities, companies will hopefully be able to bridge the gap and, in turn, improve their performance against the competition. "Investing in dashboards will help Laggards (bottom 50%) to understand the impact of their organizational and process improvements on key metrics," Duhaime says.
Overall, according to Laurie McCabe, vice president for SMB Insights and Business Solutions at research firm AMI Partners, Maximizer CRM 10 is a sign the company is on the right track. "They are hitting on some of these key needs like mobility, and having the CanDoGo tools are kind of neat because a lot of these businesses don't have a lot of IT people," McCabe says. "Sometimes they just need that extra boost on just how to do something better -- not necessarily a technical thing but some advice. It's kind of neat having [that capability] embedded like that. No one else is doing it yet."
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