Earlier this month, Sage Software announced it had acquired one of its longtime partners, Corum, a Canada-based provider of CRM technology.
It was a significant deal for the company, saidDave Batt, senior vice president and general managerof Global CRM, as the acquired technology matches one of the functional areasthe company intends to push — and push hard — over thenext few years.
It is, however, not the only area.Sage’s CRM pipeline includes new migratoryapplications for Salesforce.com and Microsoft CRM, as wellas 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, whynow?
Dave Batt: For starters, this is an application in greatdemand, at least among our installed base. At leasthalf of our customers want more mobility in theiroperations. Also, we view it as an additional way togenerate revenues for our partners. In North America,we expect to see eight figures worth of new revenuesthis fiscal year, which begins October 1, because ofthis acquisition.
CRM Buyer: The mobile CRM market has been notoriouslydifficult for vendors for crack. What do you plan to dodifferently with Corum under your umbrella?
Batt: I think the approach that many vendors have takenin the past is that they first develop the “right”device, the “right” synchronization and so on. Theybuilt the technology and then tried to find a business[problem] to solve. We, on the other hand, asked our2.6 million registered users what they wanted in amobility application, what they were trying to do withit — and if we enabled an application or device aparticular way, would they use it? In response, Corumhelped us develop a native user interface that allowsSalesLogix to be viewed from the BlackBerry.
No one has developed a user interface design for theBlackBerry to the degree that Corum has. Otherapplications focus on looking good on the device, butwhat they should focus on is how to make it operatenatively.
Corum built a separate division to take thisfunctional layer deeper — which is what we acquired.It’s this technology that we see as providing asustainable revenue stream in the next fiscal year asit fills a huge gap in the marketplace.
CRM Buyer: You plan on rolling out this developmentplatform to all of the Sage products. So theoreticallyyou could now develop, for example, an ACCAP nativeuser 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 tothe company, it is the No. 1 growth product ofall products within Sage. When did that happen, andwhat 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 ratethan any other product line or family, and [CRM] was thehighest producing category.
We decided to set up a global operation within thecompany to maximize the CRM portfolio’s performance.We could do that with CRM, because it is not regulatedlocally like accounting is. That happened in fiscalyear 2006, last October.
CRM Buyer: So it’s been a year. Can you point to practicalexamples of how this has helped?
Batt: Our business partner community has seen the valueof our localization center in Dublin, which is ashared services center. It allows us to roll outlocalized products faster and it has driven uprevenues.
It’s also helped us with our migratory strategy (SageMigrator). We’ve wrestled with so many analysts aboutwhy we offer three products for CRM — and what is acompany to do if it outgrows one product or has newrequirements? So, we’ve developed tighter migratorypaths among the various products. We’ve alsointroduced competitive migration aimed at othervendors’ CRM products.
There has been a lot ofconsolidation in the CRM industry, as you know, and alot of companies are looking to move their CRMoperations to a safe company not likely to beacquired. Our first product was for Goldmine. We planon delivering two other competitive migration productsin the upcoming quarter.
CRM Buyer: For which vendors?
Batt: Two vendors we are considering are Salesforce.comand Microsoft CRM.
CRM Buyer: It’s not likely that Salesforce.com — and certainly not MicrosoftCRM — will be acquired. So, what case can you make for customers to jump to Sage?
Batt: We will target areas that their customers don’tfeel comfortable with. Our premise of freedom ofchoice, for instance, is very compelling forSalesforce.com customers, because the company doesn’toffer a choice. It is only on-demand. And while it maysuit the functional needs of a customer, on-demand canget very expensive.
CRM Buyer: What else will you be focusing on in the comingfiscal year?
Batt: We will continue to focus on business processenablement that crosses multiple business lines. Andwe will be leveraging mobility to do that.