CentricCRM Reinvents Itself as Concursive

On Wednesday, open source CRM software developer CentricCRM will announce it is rebranding its application after revamping it and adding new functionality. The company also is changing its name to “Concursive.”

Now called “Concourse,” suite 5.0 offers an integrated CRM, Web site creation, content management and enterprise 2.0 technologies on either a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis or delivered on premise.

Modules include Concourse CRM, Concourse Web, Concourse Content and Concourse Team. Users deploy the modules separately or as a full suite.

This new offering, explained company executive vice president Michael Harvey, gives users “a single app that allows a company to deploy, edit and maintain a Web site on the same platform that also provides lead tracking, management and generation — as well as other CRM capabilities and team collaboration and Web 2.0 tools,” he told CRM Buyer.

White Label Option

The application can also be white-labeled or syndicated by vendors that wish to offer such functionality to their clients. AlphaGraphics, for instance, is using it in this fashion. The firm has used the Concourse Suite to build and support its extended enterprise of business partners, clients, franchisees and suppliers, according to CEO Kevin Cushing.

“Using this solution, we can deploy an on-premise corporate CRM system while we host a secure multi-tenant system for each stakeholder, providing them with their own copy of these powerful tools,” Cushing stated.

“Because each instance of Concourse Suite in our extended enterprise can communicate with other sites, we can collaborate in entirely new ways as an organization.”

Portlets vs. Salesforce

The new Java-based offering also can serve as a platform to create other applications using portlets, an open source technology.

If this sounds similar to Salesforce.com’s Force.com, that’s because it is. However, Harvey adds there are important differences between the two platforms.

“In Force.com, applications have to be written on the Salesforce.com proprietary language and run on Salesforce.com servers,” he said. “Our approach is based on portlets, and these applications can run anywhere users want them to.”

Also, Salesforce.com is only offered on a SaaS basis, while Concourse can be delivered as an on-premise application, he noted.

The portlet and portal capability used in the Web content management system has been built into every other major module of the suite. The application ships with a number of prebuilt portlets, including graphical dashboards and spreadsheet-like data portlets.

This integrated support for the industry standard JSR-168 portlet specification allows any Java developer to add further functionality without modifying any of Concourse Suite’s 3 million lines of underlying source code, the company explained.

For this reason, the new application is highly customizable, Harvey said. The portlets that Concursive itself develops will be released under an OSI-certified license in the near future.

There is much to like about the application, said Bernard Golden, CEO of Navica and author of Succeeding with Open Source.

“I especially like the integration of content management with CRM, since so much marketing is done via the Web. Good integration can really help a company be more effective in turning marketing into leads and leads into customers.

“I also like the fact that they’ve made integration with other apps possible via APIs (application programming interfaces). That makes it easier to wire your CRM activities into other core business processes,” Golden said.

One question Golden has is how fully featured is the community edition.

“It can be tempting to hold features back and only put them into the commercial version, but this business strategy relies on upselling people who adopt the community edition with low sales/marketing efforts and then are willing to consider a more powerful commercial version,” he noted.

Time for a Change

Given the advances this new version has made, the company’s name change is almost an afterthought. The company wanted to change its name to reflect the new approach its application is now taking, Harvey said.

“What we are doing with this product is creating a complete front office solution — which is increasingly necessary in today’s wired environment. Wiki functionality and corporate blogging — it all needs to tie together with the more traditional elements of CRM, such as e-commerce or lead tracking,” he added.

In short, the company didn’t want to be limited by the CRM name anymore, said Harvey.

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