Centric CRM Updates Its Offerings
Centric CRM has released an updated version of its flagship product, Centric CRM 4.1, which comes fresh with expanded database support and new workflow best practices. The improvements are designed to add continued scalability to Centric's product lineup. "The vision has always been to create a solution for small business, but also has the horsepower and scalability to run on any database," says Michael Harvey, CMO and vice president of corporate development for Centric CRM.
Topping the list of enhancements is expanded database support, which includes nearly all of the technology stacks that open source providers are targeting for integration with today. These include MySQL, IBM DB2, and Oracle 10g databases; this brings the total number of supported databases to eleven, giving Centric CRM 4.1 the broadest number of accepted databases of any open source CRM system, according to the company. As part of this infrastructure expansion, Harvey says the company has added object-oriented backup and restore functionality to version 4.1, allowing users to "seamlessly backup and restore any Centric CRM 4.1 system from one supported database to another."
Other features includes a new Web content management system that users can leverage to build and manage a fully functional external Web site that is integrated into their CRM systems. Using "portal capability," users can update a product catalog "without having to go back and do a lot of HTML coding," Harvey says. "You can change the product from within Centric." For the contact center, Centric teamed up with Digium, an open source PBX provider, to add VoIP capabilities, enabling CSRs to be notified via screen alert whenever an account calls in, as well as outbound calling to account contacts at the click of an icon.
Unique to version 4.1 is Action Plans, a tool that allows users to quickly build, deploy, and enforce best practices for specific CRM tasks such as lead management or trouble ticket resolution. And for e-commerce, Centric built portal access into 4.1, giving external customers the ability to access account details, trouble tickets, and project plans via the Web. The portal access is equally adept for both B2C and as a PRM-type solution for B2B customer interactions, Harvey says.
Martin Schneider, an analyst at the 451 Group, says of the release, "What we're seeing here is an evolution." Schneider believes the upgrades will make the software more competitive and attractive to both large businesses and SMBs. He explains that Centric isn't behind on developing this functionality, but that the company is expanding quickly. "As the product gets more robust and there are more features that are ready to go, you're going to see a wider and wider acceptance of the product in general."
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