Friday, 12 December 2014 17:26

IT should listen to users not just managers, says SugarCRM CEO


Deliver the software users want and need (not just what management thinks is required), look for deployment flexibility, and beware of API charges. They are the messages from SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin.

The proliferation of BYOA - bring your own applications - is putting pressure on IT departments to provide better tools, and to regard users as "constituents" rather than simply listening to management.

Various startups are providing applications that address enterprise requirements, but with the consumer-like interfaces and features that users expect. Thanks to that enterprise orientation, companies are open to talking to these new providers, SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin (pictured) told iTWire.

Major software vendors "are a couple of generations behind in this," although they are trying to catch up, often through acquisitions, he observed.

SugarCRM's efforts are around providing new-generation CRM with a focus on helping individual employees help their customers.

The company has an advantage not only from the design of its software, but also from its deployment models, Augustin suggested.

Organisations can buy SugarCRM as an on-demand SaaS product from SugarCRM, as SaaS from a local (ie, onshore) hosting provider, or as conventional software for on-premises or use.

According to regional sales director for Asia Pacific Wayne Goss, these three delivery methods are of approximately equal popularity in the Asia Pacific region, but the company's top customers in Australia and New Zealand all use SugarCRM either on-premises or in local data centres.

"Those numbers are pretty much true globally," said Augustin, although there is less concern about offshore data in the US as so many providers are based in that country.

Onshore hosting has advantages from a performance (latency) perspective, and SugarCRM's hosting partners can provide the benefits of "customer controlled but vendor managed" systems.

Another reason for what he said is a slowdown in SaaS adoption is the need for integration with other systems.

"There's some good progress being made," Augustin said, but "SaaS applications are really easy to get started with, but where does it leave you in the long term?"

SugarCRM's largest customer has around 15 deep integrations at the database level that can't be done with a multitenanted SaaS system, he said.

Goss referred to the "shock of awareness" experienced by organisations when they first run into this type of integration issue, and also warned of the budget stress experienced when they discover that a vendor charges for API access.

Organisations often adopt a multitenanted SaaS system in order to save money, only to end up paying more thanks to API access charges, Augustin said.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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