Hot Seat: Julie Choi
Online CRM applications are gathering steam and quickly becoming a popular alternative to traditional CRM solutions. Julie Choi, vice president of marketing for UpShot Corp., spoke with CRM magazine Senior Editor Lisa Picarille about how far ASPs have come, where they are going, and how to avoid being crushed as Microsoft Corp. enters the mid-market.
magazine: You spend 50 percent of your job with customers, what is the number one thing they ask for?
They all want visibility into their organizations. They want to get their arms around what is working and what is not. They want to understand their business by tracking sales, knowing customers, forecasting, and analysis in real time.
: What fears do users have about going with a hosted solution?
: The number one fear used to be about data ownership and security. There's been a lot of education around these issues and letting people know this is our business. We are going to have more security, firewalls, and processes to protect their data than they would have if the application was in-house. At this point, we are struggling with somewhat of a perception that ASPs can't be as tightly integrated with other applications, when in fact we are doing this through XML APIs. Users no longer have to sacrifice the ability to integrate for a hosted CRM solution.
: Microsoft's entry into the mid-market space is drawing a lot of attention. Does that help or overshadow smaller, existing CRM players?
: Microsoft is a formable competitor. It has deep pockets and lots of resources. But Microsoft is not addressing the problems of CRM. Users want fast deployment, easy configuration, and solutions that are easily adaptable. Microsoft is bringing attention to the space, which is great, but like most of our competitors, Microsoft is focused more on world domination than delivering real results to customers. Salesforce.com has done great things to bring attention to the ASP space, but we measure success with real results, and not who is louder.