Making CRM standard and sweet

SugarCRM has made CRM a horizontal market again, rather than just a set of verticals.

There may be as many as 30 million organizations which can take advantage of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. So why do only about 20,000 have them?

Cost. Or so says SugarCRM CEO John Roberts.

So while most CRM vendors specialize in a vertical -- sales, transactions, government -- Sugar is expanding horizontally, using open source business methods to get 800,000 downloads of its main product, and 2 million downloads of various extensions.

"We write everything in public." in PHP, Roberts said. "We're getting tremendous traction. We're also neutral on deployment, on-premise or on-demand."

Sugar has been chasing the numbers of Salesforce.Com for almost two years now, and has just reached the beta phase of its Version 4.5 software, now coordinated through Sugarforge.org. The company has also been able to get some "name" customers, like the state of Oregon and Avid Technologies.

Most of all, SugarCRM has made CRM a horizontal market again, rather than just a set of verticals. "We haven't seen the need to verticalize," and that may be one of the important lessons of CRM development. When you're not doing targeted sales calls, you're not going to become locked-in to a customer set.

Drop the price to nothing and pretty soon everybody wants it. Or everyone who needs it, anyway.

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