SugarCRM has recruited 12 new partners in Australia and New Zealand, effectively doubling the size of its local channel, as it looks for help managing its fast expanding share of the CRM market.
The 12 new channel partners, which include Baseline, Task Exchange, CloudTech, Evolution Marketing, Holistec, Nexright, Genix and IBM Premier Partner ISW, will sell, deploy and provide support for the SugarCRM product suite.
They form part of SugarCRM's aggressive growth plans for 2012. In Q1, the company enjoyed a 118 percent rise in billings globally and a 36 percent increase in Australia/New Zealand.
This surge in global billing is attributed to recent traction with larger enterprise customers in North America, a trend that is beginning to be replicated in Australia and New Zealand.
Tony Hughes, managing director of SugarCRM A/NZ said the company's "massive" local growth was helped by increased awareness of its platform as a flexible, affordable, secure and easy-to-use alternative to its key rivals in the market.
"The thing that makes SugarCRM unique above and beyond a very compelling value proposition is flexible deployment," said Hughes. "There's some cloud CRM providers out there that force their customers to take their infrastructure and deployment model.
"At Sugar, we're completely flexible – you can deploy on your own premises, you can deploy with local Australian cloud providers or hosting providers, or they can deploy on Sugar on Demand [a dedicated hosting solution through manages upgrades and maintenance].
"We also make it very easy for customers to leave us if they ever choose to do so – some of our competitors really lock their customers to them and make it hard to ever get your data out in a format that's actually useful."
In the A/NZ market, approximately a third of Sugar's customers opt to deploy on premise, with the remainder split evenly between Sugar-on-demand and local partner-hosted solutions.
"That's an added piece of value that the partners provide, so they'll typically do local support, manage upgrades and do local hosting," explained Hughes.
The flexible nature of the SugarCRM product suite also allows it to be deployed in a variety of markets for an equally diverse array of purposes. The system can be integrated to other company applications, such as financials and web management.
"We really go beyond mere sales force automation to be a platform on which you can manage all kinds of relationships," Hughes stressed.
"It's what we call 'XRM'. It's really a horizontal technology that fits in almost any vertical – you can manage any kind of relationship in essence. In government sectors, we really see the systems manifest themselves as stakeholder management as opposed to sales force automation, for example. "
SugarCRM provides customers with their own dedicated data base which eliminates the "co-mingling" of customer data.
"We believe this is more secure and offers [our clients] a lot more flexibility at a much lower cost for integration," Hughes said.
This also ensures that a customer's data remains on-shore – a growing concern in regulated industries such universities or government departments in light of the US Patriot Act.
"US agencies are able to in essence mine data that resides in the USA without the customer necessarily knowing that it's going on," Hughes noted.
Any Australian customer that's in regulated industries needs to know that their data is secure. They don't want the data going off-shore. Sugar can uniquely do that for them as a cloud provider because of the level of flexibility that we provide."
Hughes also highlighted the intuitive nature and ease-of-use of the SugarCRM platform.
"We're not a CRM system designed by an accountant," he joked. "We're a CRM system that's designed for sales people and the users of the system inside an organisation. There is no return on investment for any system unless you deploy it to volume across the organisation.
SugarCRM is a privately owned company that does not divulge data relating to market share. However, Hughes stated that the Australian market is the company's third biggest globally with over 700 customers and a thick pipeline of new business in the offing.
Looking to spur further growth in the Asia pacific, SugarCRM has made a number of new key appointments in Australia including a dedicated channel manager, a marketing manager, while company also revealed it is "in the process" of hiring a pre-sales engineer.
SugarCRM is also finalising the relocation of its Sydney premises to new offices in Lindfiled.