SugarCon: SugarCRM Product Road Map Focused on Customer Insights

SAN FRANCISCO—At last year's SugarCon, SugarCRM announced its Sugar 7 product, designed to provide a more user- and customer-friendly experience. This year, the privately held company is already on the release of Sugar 7.2, and announced its eighteenth consecutive quarter of growth. "I hope you see we have made significant strides," CEO Larry Augustin told members of the press and analysts in a preconference briefing. "But we believe there is a lot of innovation left to go."

The theme of this year's conference is "The Power of i," and Chief Technology Officer Clint Oram and Senior Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Stagnaro showed off the host of features aimed at providing a cleaner user experience, with a focus on single-screen dashboards that can be customized with a drag-and-drop interface. "We observed that most people hated using their CRM systems. If you looked at it, they were designed to be like Big Brother, measuring how many calls you made, how many meetings you took," Augustin said. SugarCRM's product aims to move past that by focusing on adding value for the end user and making the product simple and customizable.

"You can have a sea of data, but what you really want is to have actionable things to do with it. That's where the intelligence panel comes in," said Bill Hunt, SugarCRM's new chief product officer. These graphed insights of customer data aim to move beyond just pulling up a customer's history, but instead add value by showing the information in a way that can yield new insights.

"This is where we are going to put a significant part of our product road map over the next few years—the data and analytics," Oram explained. "When we launched Sugar 7, it was all about the end user and empowering the individual. They can see all the information in the intelligence panel," Stagnaro elaborated in an interview with CRM.

Augustin and Oram also highlighted the number of integrations that have added to the flexibility of SugarCRM. Recently, the company released an integration with Marketo that allows for a quick, seamless match-up with the marketing automation solution. There is also a new integration with D&B, which allows companies to pull in external data in order to better understand their clients by seeing that information along with the client record. During a demo at the conference, Oram showed an example of a customer screen for an insurance agent that had a trigger set up when a home significantly changed in value. The note in the customer record was enabled by a call to Zillow's API, an example of a simple but meaningful integration that "any software engineer could do," Stagnaro said. Those types of integrations are consistent with SugarCRM's focus on adding meaningful connections to other products and data sources, from FitBits to simply adding a picture to a note. "We saw what was happening with big data and analytics, we wanted to put ourselves in the position to integrate and make those connections," Augustin summed up.

The changed user experience of SugarCRM will continue to support customizations and additional integrations, consistent with SugarCRM's history as a product sold and customized by channel partners. "Our new technology is very framework-oriented. Even [with] things that don't come out of the box, it makes it very easy to build," Hunt emphasized.

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