CRM & the Mac is Oranges to, Uh, Apple

CRM & the Mac is Oranges to, Uh, Apple

Summary: I have two Macs and 2 PCs at home. I have a MacBook Pro laptop which I love and an iMac which I like.

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I have two Macs and 2 PCs at home. I have a MacBook Pro laptop which I love and an iMac which I like. While I'm not a fanboy, I'm at least an applecore who thinks that Apple products are not only cool but actually useful and important - especially to small businesses and self-employed and consultants and old guys who want to look cool (that would be me).

But as a spawning ground for CRM, Apple and the Mac ain't pretty.  And there doesn't seem to be a lot of interest in doing anything about that either. For example, there is a forum that is devoted to CRM on the MAC that has a total of six entries/responses and has been up since mid 2008.  The discussions elsewhere of what to do about Mac OSX  based CRM range from using Filemaker and Bento (a database-driven Personal Information Manager) to a product called People - which is a HGH-driven contact management solution.  Most of them pretty much fall in the range of things that handle contacts, accounts, calendars, tasks, notes and can sync one way or the other.  At best contact management.  Weak to say the least.  Pity too.  If Apple was being smart (which when it comes to style they are incredibly smart, same with consumer thinking, the enterprise not as much - though getting a little better), they'd be providing tools and deals to ISVs to build enterprise level applications for Leopard and the upcoming Snow Leopard that would provide CRM capabilities for small businesses. They could pick up even more hardware market share if they made the SMB value proposition more compelling than it is currently.  Just for the fanboys: I KNOW they are gaining some marketshare and goodie, goodie, but they could do considerably if they actually invested some time and money into supporting partner development of CRM applications that did what good CRM apps do.

I took an initial look at the CRM applications for the Mac that are out there - or those that claimed to be CRM. There is very little to see.  Many of the applications that claim to be CRM are devoid of things like opportunity, lead management and pipeline management features in their attempts at SFA, much less any other pieces of the CRM suite like marketing and/or customer service.  While a few carry workflow capabilities, they are all in all mediocre when it comes to process and workflow. They don't even meet anyone's standard for sales force automation (except their own) though I have no doubt they make fine contact management applications.  A few of them fall for the Etelos CRM syndrome which is to include project management applications as part of CRM - which while not horrible and devastating or anything like that, just muddy the already difficult waters of what should be in a customer facing application.

I'm not speaking to the quality of the application since I don't know that. I'm speaking to their claims of being CRM for the Mac which most of the ones out there are NOT unless Mac users are living in a parallel universe. Hmmmm.....

There are a few that are intriguing though not as good as Windows or Linux based CRM solutions. These are the better I've found from a feature/function standpoint. I have no idea how technically sound they are.  They might be sufficient for small businesses with a few users. I'd love for someone to let me know which Mac CRM apps they are using and how it fits the criteria for CRM  beyond the marketing person at the company calling it that.

  1. Daylite 3.0 - This might be the best of the lot with integrated email, lead and opportunity tracking and some marketing functionality though it adds the headscratching project management capabilities also. Through its simple workflow functionality it allows you to build in some sales methodology rules if you care to and all in all to be about as good as the Mac apps get.
  2. Elements SBM - this one from Ntractive is intriguing. But despite all its potential it doesn't have a lot of breadth. It leaves out fundamental SFA functionality - lead and opportunity management -  and has, also that...thing - project management - which I just don't see as part of the CRM  pantheon though they obviously can include it if they want. But minimally they should have incorporated standard stuff like opportunity and lead management before project management.  Even so, this one has a lot of deep workflow capabilities and what really distinguishes it, a GREAT interface. Its iTunes like so if you use an iPhone or iPod, then you're going to be comfortable immediately. This is the kind of interface that anyone can use -and that's what makes this terribly intriguing.  Other CRM companies can learn a lesson here. They go further with what seems to be a strong mobile platform, data storage in the cloud and several other advanced architectural features. But there is no getting around the missing functionality.

I looked at several others including Redlien's Account Executive, Nighthawk, Jumsoft's Relationship, Bento 2, and Soho. They seem to all be capable contact managers or PIM software - but not CRM in particular.  Sadly, because this is an area that could be a huge win for someone who had the smarts enough to get in the game - and if Apple were smart - they aren't always smart, fanboys - they would invest some serious moolah into CRM with a partner or two.

Smart SaaS

Not surprisingly, the strongest "Mac-compatible" CRM applications are SaaS applications that have been adopted for Safari - the Mac browser. That would be both salesforce.com, SugarCRM, and Netsuite - with Netsuite getting the edge in this one.

Several years ago when I spoke at the Netsuite partner conference I met a rep from Apple and found out that they had been a partner of Netsuite from the get go. Netsuite has been Mac-friendly since Panther as far as I can tell. Long time and continues on through Leopard. That said, salesforce.com and SugarCRM also claim Mac compatibility and are listed in the Apple product catalog.

Note, I'm not covering the iPhone platform CRM apps. I did that already at PGreenblog here and here.  Plus Oracle has made a serious commitment to the iPhone as a Social CRM platform. But that's not the same as Mac OSX-based applications - which is what I'm looking at.

All in all, Mac OSX CRM is either a big disappointment or a huge opportunity for either a new Apple partner or one of the two existing apps that I think work to own this niche in the market.  If Apple is gaining OSX and hardware market share, this is the time for Apple to not just be smart-cool, but smart-enterprise and grab that CRM building partner and dance.

Topics: Apple, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Software

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41 comments
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  • Why is it smart for Apple to go after the enterprise market

    MS is the 800 pound gorilla there and has a chokehold on the industry.
    Enterprise is ruled by inertia and margins. Enterprise makes no business
    sense for Apple right now; they are seeing great success in the consumer
    space.

    What we are seeing here is a paradigm at work: A computer company's
    success is measured by it's business adoption.
    frgough
    • Apple in the Enterprise

      Apple already has enterprise ambitions which I think they've made fairly apparent. CRM happens to be a good place for them to make the inroads. Actually, your comments on my "paradigm" are way off. I'm generally more consumer oriented as a rule, though I have CRM as my expertise. But we're in an era where consumer thinking in business is increasing dramatically. Apple is in a prime position to take a larger piece of the market if they make a few moves - CRM is a good starting point.

      Also, the applications that are supposedly CRM applications - which are business applications - are mediocre for the most part with a couple of exceptions - by any standards, regardless of operating system. That's too bad. More effort there and there would be more business adoption - which by the way, may not be the only thing, but isn't a bad thing either.
      pgreenbe
    • CRM?

      Exactly. There are several people on my block in a quandary deciding
      what CRM they should be using. Some are considering licensing Oracle.
      Actually, most computer users would not have a clue what CRM means.
      You are right, this is not an issue in the consumer market, it's only of
      interest to the enterprise market ... and to people who run consulting
      companies specializing in CRM or write books on CRM, like Mr.
      Greenberg.
      john_gillespie
      • Practitioners

        Apple has already made its enterprise intentions clear. I'm not suggesting anything they haven't publicly or privately said already. I actually don't have any vested interest in any particular vendor going into the enterprise software or hardware market - which is all Apple is - as iconic as they may be. If If they only wanted to be in the consumer market - good for them. If they want to expand to the business applications world - good for them. CRM is a good place for them to be if they do want the latter.
        pgreenbe
  • RE: CRM

    I have been looking at CRM for a 4 person startup. We all have Macs. We decided to go to the cloud for CRM. That way we can share the data without having to provision a server.
    jimberg51
  • RE: CRM

    You should check out Servoy. As a much more powerful
    alternative to Filemaker, it allows ISVs like us (who are
    entirely Mac based) to create standards based (SQL /
    Javascript / XML / SAAS / AJAX / Smartclient) apps to meet
    any need. There is even a pre-written CRM solution in the
    free download with 5 community licenses thrown in. Servoy
    provides a very strong alternative to .net / filemaker / and
    any of the proprietary (and therefore inflexible) pre written
    crm solutions out there. Very surprised as a 6 year Servoy
    veteran to hear people complaining about a lack of
    powerful tools and software...
    Thunder_z
  • RE: CRM

    Salesforce.com has a HUGE Mac following.

    http://community.salesforce.com/sforce/board?
    board.id=mac

    Although it does not matter for the most part if you use
    Mac or PC or even iPhone all plug-ins and apps - like
    Dataloader - are available for the OS X.




    tomslama
    • Glad for That

      Thanks for the info. Glad to hear it. You do make the right point when it comes to SaaS apps which is that the OS doesn't matter as much when it comes to using them. The browser might though....
      pgreenbe
      • salesforce.com CRM: supports Safari, iCal, Mail, Address Book, iPhone

        Safari is an officially supported browser for salesforce.com, so is
        Firefox.

        Apple Mail support for email integration is available free on
        AppExchange: http://www.salesforce.com/appexchange/detail_overview.jsp?
        NavCode__c=&id=a0330000002f9rTAAQ

        iCal and AddressBook integration is also available for free: http://code.google.com/p/sf3/

        And, of course, salesforce.com has a native iPhone application
        available in the iTunes AppStore: http://www.salesforce.com/products/mobile/iPhone/


        sj76
  • RE: CRM

    Glad that you checked out Bento 2 from FileMaker
    for CRM but Bento 2 isn't designed for full blown
    shared CRM solutions. My suggestion would be to
    get familiar with any of the many excellent FileMaker
    Pro 10 cross platform based customized CRM
    solutions available from FileMaker third solutions http://developer.filemaker.com/search/
    kjmfmp
  • Write much?

    First of all, spell out terms like CRM first, before spouting
    them ad nauseum.

    Secondly, FileMaker could very easily provide any sort of
    CRM you would ever need. There are paid consultants
    available. This is not a high powered database solution by
    any definition of the term.

    Finally, learn to spell Mac. It's NOT an acronym.

    comp_indiana
    • Puh-Leeze

      This is a blog, not an academic paper or formal journal article. Since I've been blogging on CRM for 4 years and writing books on it for 10 years, most of the people who read this blog know what it stands for. (see the title of the blog?). Second, I don't really care about the capabilities of Filemaker to build CRM applications. There are lots of platforms and programs to do that. I'm looking at what's out there already built. CRM actually is a high powered solution that uses databases, not a database solution.

      Finally, I'll fix the Mac references. Thanks at least for that. You're right about that much.
      pgreenbe
      • Changing Tack

        I saw the later follow-up blog and my question is whether you have
        looked at virtual desktop approaches to running software where a Mac-
        native version is unavailable or underperforming (QuickBooks, any one?)

        It's what I do and it works out very nicely, though I operate at the small
        business/sole proprietor level.
        DannyO_0x98
        • That's Interesting

          Could you please detail how you do it a little more? That interests me quite a bit.
          pgreenbe
      • He's right about the CRM issue

        I personally had to think about it for a minute, as in my mind Mac is so far removed from business issues I did not make the association. I kept having to purge DRM out of my mind (that is Digital Rights Management) which is a strong association that I have with Macs.
        stano360
      • Puh-Leeze read what you write before posting

        It is sad to see the poor level of professionalism in so-called
        journalists who have Macs to work on. Try highlighting the text and
        then use Services to speak the text. The spellchecker and grammar
        checker will get most things right but you need to re-read or hear the
        text to pick up the missed words. This is one example :

        Just for the fanboys: I KNOW they are gaining some marketshare and
        goodie, goodie, but they could do considerably if they actually
        invested some time and money into supporting partner development
        of CRM applications that did what good CRM apps do.

        Considerably what? Do you understand the problem? Try to spread the
        word to other ZDNet bloggers to check for missing words so we can
        follow the writer's thoughts instead of trying to guess what is going
        on in your head.
        Mr_Dave
        • thanks

          Thanks for pointing out that there were words missing. I guess my brain
          just automatically filled in the missing words and so I understood exactly
          what thought the writer was trying to convey. They should check he text
          more carefully so that the slower thinkers can keep up.
          john_gillespie
  • Look at Daylite closer, you'll like what you find.

    Wow, it sure looks like you need some of my training
    videos on Daylite to help you see the "light." I have entire companies
    leaving the PC world just to use Daylite. I have been using and
    implementing Daylite for 7 years. We specialize in Daylite solely. I'd
    like to encourage you to have a look at my podcast on Daylite so that
    you can get to know it better. You would be most interested in my
    Sales Prospecting and Lead Follow Up video. I think you'd fall in love
    with Daylite.

    Go to iTunes and search for Daylite Training

    As for Elements, I checked it out, because this is what I do.
    I had to know if I had made the right choice hitching my
    horses to Daylite. It paled in comparison, although I think
    it's a great idea it is far too limited for me to suggest it to
    any of my clients at this point.

    Shine On,
    Marni "The MacAngel" Melrose
    Apple Certified Technical Coordinator
    Master Certified DayLite Partner
    www.macangel.com
    feed://www.macangel.com/macangel_blog/index.xml
    Marni "The MacAngel" Melrose
    • Saw Video

      Hi Marni,
      Very good videos. I can't say that I fell in
      love with Daylite 3.0 but do see it has more
      capabilities than they make apparent. You do a
      terrific job of explaining what it can do.
      pgreenbe
      • Re: Saw Video

        Thanks just doing my little part.

        Namaste,

        Marni "The MacAngel" Melrose