The venerable product line receives upgrades to improve security, Outlook integration, and user productivity; one analyst lauds the new functionality.
Posted Sep 5, 2006
Sage Software today released the new and improved ACT! product family, the 2007 installation in the company's annual release cycle. Upgrades were announced for the entire product set: ACT! by Sage 2007 9.0, ACT! by Sage Premium for Workgroups 2007 9.0, ACT! by Sage Premium for Web 2007 9.0, and ACT! for Palm OS 2.0. Sage users can look forward to tighter security offerings, more complete integration with Outlook, and better user productivity with the new software.
Denis Pombriant, founder and managing principle of Beagle Research, believes that this upgrade brings Sage even closer to muscling out more space in the sales force automation pond. "We're looking at a product that is climbing the ladder and is capable of competing on a very equal footing with some of the SFA products out there," he says. "The fact that this is a product you can buy at the store for a couple hundred bucks--it compares very favorably."
In this release, Sage has added improved functionality to both its regular solutions and the ACT! Premium tier of products. The new ACT! now allows users direct integration with Outlook so that they can share contact information and message history between the two applications. Additionally, emails can now be sent inside the ACT! framework and the Outlook calendar is automatically synchronized with ACT! without activation of the applications.
Sage has also made moves with version 9.0 to increase user productivity. The new release comes with an advanced key word search and the ability to identify a contact's last email send date--two features that will make it easier for users to keep track of their correspondence history. The new split panel note feature will allow the user to view all of a contact's information at the side of the screen while performing contact searches and writing notes.
Security is a big touch point in this release as well. Elevated password complexity, field level security, and secure notes and history all contribute to the higher level of security available with the 2007 release. "There's more hazards on the Internet than ever before," Pombriant says. "It's a smart move to reassure customers in this market that Sage is just as serious as everybody else about security."
This side of the upgrade caters specifically to larger companies, and may help Sage become a more serious contender in the enterprise space. Larry Ritter, vice president and product manager at Sage Software, explains that the company focused on tightening security this time around, as "security is really a function of the number of users accessing the database." As Sage continues to attract larger customers, this feature has become more central. Pombriant believes the high level of security will be a defining point in making Sage "more and more comparable to behind-the-firewall kinds of products."
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