SugarCRM, IBM Band Together to Socialize Business in the Cloud

In yet another step binding it closer to IBM, SugarCRM has acquired iExtensions, the CRM solution for Lotus Notes.

A big part of our business is international,” SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin announced to an audience of analysts and reporters at SugarCon in San Francisco on Monday. “Quite a number of our big customers in Europe are on Notes and need Notes integration.”

The acquisition of iExtensions “can move our Lotus integration road map up by almost a year,” Nick Halsey, chief marketing executive and EVP of corporate development at SugarCRM, told CRM Buyer.

SugarCRM’s partnership with IBM fueled one of four areas of enhancements in the latest release of its platform, the Sugar 6 Spring 2011 release.

The purchase of iExtensions deepens a partnership between SugarCRM and IBM that was formally launched earlier this year, when SugarCRM announced integration with LotusLive after joining the IBM Global Alliance Portfolio as a cloud solutions provider.

For IBM, the partnership is one of several it has entered to boost the adoption of its LotusLive public cloud services.

Stronger Ties

By purchasing iExtensions, SugarCRM adds enhanced support for IBM collaborative tools inside Sugar 6, including native Lotus Notes support, Notes email and calendar plugins, and a connector to the IBM Domino product line.

SugarCRM also unveiled an integration between its CRM software and IBM’s LotusLive, new connectors for IBM Cognos Business Intelligence Suite, and IBM Websphere Cast Iron for the SugarCRM integration platform.

SugarCRM’s integration with LotusLive gives users of both applications access to the other’s features. LotusLive users will get access to the customer relationship management capabilities and other features of SugarCRM.

SugarCRM users will get social business capabilities through LotusLive. They will be able to conduct Web conferencing and share documents inside the Sugar system.

Integration with IBM’s Cognos business will offer users access to advanced reporting, analytics, dashboarding, and scorecarding around their CRM data.

Websphere Cast Iron for SugarCRM will make it easy to populate the SugarCRM system with rich data from legacy and third-party systems. IT will also let users more easily integrate cloud-based or on-premises solutions with Sugar.

Big Blue’s Cloud Push

SugarCRM is one of many companies IBM is teaming up with as it pushes into the cloud.

In March, the computer giant launched cloud-based social media analytics capabilities for marketers.

One product, IBM Coremetrics Social, helps companies analyze the business impact of their social marketing initiatives. Another, IBM Unica Pivotal Veracity Email Optimization Suite, analyzes email links that are shared across social network platforms. This lets markets cross-sell across channels better.

The launch of the analytics capabilities follows the creation of a new consulting practice at IBM dedicated to what the company calls “smarter commerce.”

Smarter commerce focuses on helping companies adapt to rapidly changing customer demands in the digital marketplace.

IBM’s smarter commerce offering delivers real-time intelligence on the social media response to a brand, or to products, contents and services being offered by a company.

IBM’s Take

Big Blue expects to make a lot of money from social business.

“We think social business could conservatively be a (US)$100 billion market space,” Sean Poulley, vice president, social business cloud at IBM, told the SugarCon audience. “We think at its core, social business embraces networks of people to create business value.”

The infusion of social capabilities with business processes is going to be transformative, Poulley continued. “At the core, the way people interact with each other and are consuming information is changing.”

The combination of IBM and SugarCRM will deliver a hybrid model for deployment that can help customers move their enterprise perimeter to the cloud.

The hybrid model has become a favorite of enterprise software vendors in the face of resistance from companies that aren’t inclined to move their on-premises data to the cloud any time soon.

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