Thursday, May 22, 2014

Focusing On Integration at SugarCon 2014

The Sugar user community gathered last week in San Francisco for the #SugarCon 2014 Conference that concluded with a training day for both partners and end-users. I was very pleased to see that SugarCRM executives and employees “Get IT.” Meaning they understand that for #CRM to deliver on the promise of an integrated, 360-degree view of the customer, Sugar must be connected to back-end systems such as accounting, ERP, warehouse management systems, logistics, supply chain, eCommerce, field service, product configurators, work order management systems and much more.

The promise of CRM is ultimately to be found in enhanced customer experiences. There are all kinds of ways that do not involve technology whereby we can improve the customer experience. The role of the CRM system is to automate those enhanced experiences and make sure that gaps in the information available to you and your customer do not diminish that experience.

So shared or distributed data and its availability are essential to the CRM experience. By reducing multiple data entry points, time spent finding information, bad or conflicting data and so on, costs are reduced. The 360-degree view of customer information helps assure better customer service which leads to better customer retention, greater brand loyalty, increased share of customer, the buzz created by great customer experiences attracts more customers through word of mouth, viral marketing and other methods. The bottom line is that reduced costs and increased revenues leads to greater profits. But CRM has not been static.

For excellent customer experiences, individual employees need to be empowered with the information and authority to act as customer advocates and collaborators in the furtherance of those positive experiences. Sometimes it is simple things like visibility of inventory, credit status, order histories, shipment tracking, and pricing that make a key difference in an individual employee’s ability to resolve and act on behalf of a customer.

Thanks to the SugarCRM commitment to openness, Sugar has an API that allows Magic xpi to place all that needed information right where it belongs in the hands of the sales, service and marketing team members that work most closely with customers. Using Sugar and Magic xpi, all relevant enterprise information pertaining to the customer experience is easily accessed according to an employee’s user rights and authorizations of course.

Integration also puts an end to process gaps that can cause a delay in responsiveness to customer needs. When an opportunity closes in Sugar, the CRM system should be monitored so that Magic xpi can trigger the needed order fulfillment and invoicing processes in the ERP and warehouse management systems, for example. At SugarCon 2014, we discussed how-to build an integrated enterprise. Magic xpi provides the infrastructure needed for business analysts to easily define data and process relationships in a manner that uses visual tools rather than programming. From our perspective, Magic Software was the only vendor sponsor at SugarCon focused on the broad issue of enterprise integration for Sugar users. This is good news for the Sugar community. As announcements of new Sugar users integrating systems makes its way out of the conference, I believe many more Sugar users will seek out the Magic xpi Integration Platform for use of its Sugar Connector for ERP, eCommerce and other enterprise software interfaces.

Glenn Johnson is a Senior Vice President at Magic Software Enterprises, Inc. Active in the software industry since 1984, he frequently speaks at industry conferences and writes for numerous publications.