Interview: SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin discusses how he aims to expand the firm globally...
With the rise of social networking and media, businesses are increasingly looking to use information from outside their organisation to improve the service they give customers and boost their fortunes as a result.
This shift is something that Larry Augustin, CEO of open-source CRM software company SugarCRM, has clearly taken note of. "Traditionally that information - orders, contacts, all those things - you gather from inside the company. But more and more that's becoming about information that you gather from outside the internet," Augustin told silicon.com.
SugarCRM started life as an open-source project in 2004, becoming a fully fledged company following venture capital investment later that year.
By September 2004, 25,000 copies of the Sugar application had been downloaded - attracting further investment - and the company now has 800,000 end users, making it the third-largest CRM provider in the world behind Microsoft and Salesforce.com.
Now based in Cupertino, California, the company saw its billings grow by 50 per cent in 2010 while it also became cash positive for the first time - no mean feat for an open-source software company.
The company provides its technology as software as a service, as well as on-premise and as an appliance hosted in third-party datacentres.
There are three editions of the Sugar CRM product - the free Sugar Community Edition and the subscription-based Sugar Professional and Sugar Enterprise.
The open-source Community Edition is developed by the SugarForge.org community while third-party extensions are made available via Sugar Exchange.
Version 6.2 of the CRM platform was recently unveiled, adding versions for Android and BlackBerry and native support for the iPad to its armoury. General availability of the latest version is planned for later in the spring.
silicon.com recently caught up with Larry Augustin to discuss developments and the company's priorities.
A focus on mobile and social media
Although SugarCRM technology had long been available through mobile browsers, Augustin said the company is working hard to provide client-based applications for mobile platforms.
The latest version of Sugar includes mobile apps for Android and BlackBerry, as well as an upgrade to the existing iPhone app. There is also a version of the CRM technology optimised for the iPad.
"You'll see continued emphasis on mobile - that's very important," Augustin said.
Another area where the company is trying to strengthen its hand is social technology, to allow users to interact more effectively with customers and have better visibility of these interactions.
The use of this kind of technology will provide businesses with...