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CRMBuyer.com

Sage CRM's Dave Batt: New Migration Products, More Choices

By Erika Morphy
Sep 25, 2006 4:00 AM PT

Earlier this month, Sage Software announced it had acquired one of its longtime partners, Corum, a Canada-based provider of CRM technology.

Sage CRM's Dave Batt: New Migration Products, More Choices

It was a significant deal for the company, said Dave Batt, senior vice president and general manager of Global CRM, as the acquired technology matches one of the functional areas the company intends to push -- and push hard -- over the next few years.

It is, however, not the only area. Sage's CRM pipeline includes new migratory applications for Salesforce.com and Microsoft CRM, as well as initiatives that will intensify the company's focus on R&D. Batt spoke with CRM Buyer about these plans in an exclusive interview. He also discussed the impact of the company's reorganization, which occurred this time last year.

CRM Buyer: Let's start with the acquisition. Why mobile, why now?

Dave Batt: For starters, this is an application in great demand, at least among our installed base. At least half of our customers want more mobility in their operations. Also, we view it as an additional way to generate revenues for our partners. In North America, we expect to see eight figures worth of new revenues this fiscal year, which begins October 1, because of this acquisition.

CRM Buyer: The mobile CRM market has been notoriously difficult for vendors for crack. What do you plan to do differently with Corum under your umbrella?

Batt: I think the approach that many vendors have taken in the past is that they first develop the "right" device, the "right" synchronization and so on. They built the technology and then tried to find a business [problem] to solve. We, on the other hand, asked our 2.6 million registered users what they wanted in a mobility application, what they were trying to do with it -- and if we enabled an application or device a particular way, would they use it? In response, Corum helped us develop a native user interface that allows SalesLogix to be viewed from the BlackBerry.

No one has developed a user interface design for the BlackBerry to the degree that Corum has. Other applications focus on looking good on the device, but what they should focus on is how to make it operate natively.

Corum built a separate division to take this functional layer deeper -- which is what we acquired. It's this technology that we see as providing a sustainable revenue stream in the next fiscal year as it fills a huge gap in the marketplace.

CRM Buyer: You plan on rolling out this development platform to all of the Sage products. So theoretically you could now develop, for example, an ACCAP native user interface for the BlackBerry if you wanted to?

Batt: Yes, if we wanted -- if the demand was there.

CRM Buyer: Speaking of revenues, let's talk about how CRM is performing within the Sage product line. According to the company, it is the No. 1 growth product of all products within Sage. When did that happen, and what are you doing to maintain it?

Batt: We break out revenues according to product line. About two years ago, we saw that our CRM products (ACT, SalesLogix and Sage CRM) were growing at a faster rate than any other product line or family, and [CRM] was the highest producing category.

We decided to set up a global operation within the company to maximize the CRM portfolio's performance. We could do that with CRM, because it is not regulated locally like accounting is. That happened in fiscal year 2006, last October.

CRM Buyer: So it's been a year. Can you point to practical examples of how this has helped?

Batt: Our business partner community has seen the value of our localization center in Dublin, which is a shared services center. It allows us to roll out localized products faster and it has driven up revenues.

It's also helped us with our migratory strategy (Sage Migrator). We've wrestled with so many analysts about why we offer three products for CRM -- and what is a company to do if it outgrows one product or has new requirements? So, we've developed tighter migratory paths among the various products. We've also introduced competitive migration aimed at other vendors' CRM products.

There has been a lot of consolidation in the CRM industry, as you know, and a lot of companies are looking to move their CRM operations to a safe company not likely to be acquired. Our first product was for Goldmine. We plan on delivering two other competitive migration products in the upcoming quarter.

CRM Buyer: For which vendors?

Batt: Two vendors we are considering are Salesforce.com and Microsoft CRM.

CRM Buyer: It's not likely that Salesforce.com -- and certainly not Microsoft CRM -- will be acquired. So, what case can you make for customers to jump to Sage?

Batt: We will target areas that their customers don't feel comfortable with. Our premise of freedom of choice, for instance, is very compelling for Salesforce.com customers, because the company doesn't offer a choice. It is only on-demand. And while it may suit the functional needs of a customer, on-demand can get very expensive.

CRM Buyer: What else will you be focusing on in the coming fiscal year?

Batt: We will continue to focus on business process enablement that crosses multiple business lines. And we will be leveraging mobility to do that.


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