SugarCRM, a customer relations management software company, has apparently taken advantage of weakness in one of the big names in the computer industry – Oracle. As Oracle falters, SugarCRM is making points with the big boys.

Rumor has it that IBM is planning to replace Oracle?s Siebel CRM with a license for tens of thousands of seats from SugarCRM. This comes as Oracle announced Siebel Loyalty Management 8.2.2 this week, noting that "organizations increasingly look to adopt loyalty programs that stand-out from the competition and attract and retain customers." Ironic, isn?t it?

IBM was major sponsor of SugarCon 2012

IBM was major sponsor of SugarCon 2012

The rumor seems credible after seeing the IBM Diamond Sponsorship display at SugarCon this week. Seems like there is a "sweet" relationship brewing between Big Blue and the open source CRM company that holds these annual user group gatherings.

SugarCon attendees filled two ballrooms at the Palace Hotel for lunch
SugarCon attendees filled two ballrooms at the Palace Hotel for lunch

One thousand users, analysts, and other interested parties from 23 countries attended SugarCon this year in San Francisco. They were treated to a first class event where everyone enjoyed a sit down luncheon in addition to the informative sessions.

SugarCon 2012 in San Francisco, CASugarCRM was born from three entrepreneurs who believed they could do it better with an open source product. Over the years, the company has grown and flourished under that model. Oracle might find themselves caught off guard as open source solutions eat away at their profit margins and competitors hack into their market share. Traditionally companies have bought off on the idea of the on-site, license software scheme. That may not be as true in the future.

The advantage of open source software and SugarCRM caught the eye of IBM. In October 2011, SugarCRM became the first and only CRM application to run on IBM DB2 and IBM SmartCloud Enterprise. Subsequently, IBM became a Diamond Sponsor of the recent SugarCon event.

One of the sessions led by Big Blue was titled Social Selling: the IBM Transformation. Gary Burnette, IBM VP of Sales Transformation, gave a 45 minute presentation. He explained that they liked the open source nature of SugarCRM. Its interface, look and feel were appealing. Possibly more importantly, IBM liked the flexibility of how and where they could run it. IBM will combine the sales force automation of SugarCRM software with their own collaboration and analytics technology, and voila you have "Sales Connect".

IBM wants to progress from emphasizing managing the sales staff to focusing on putting those sales people to work – selling. They plan to leverage social networking principles, embedded social analytics, and mobility.

How SocialCRM is changing the world of customer relations
How SocialCRM is changing the world of customer relations

Keynote speaker, Alistair Rennie, IBM General Manager, Collaboration Solutions, spoke convincingly on why he thought social business was the path to happier customers. Chris Lamb, Program Director, IBM Social CRM Software presented Social Selling: the ROI for Your Team. His premise was that adding social collaboration and analytics capabilities to your sales process can improve sales productivity.

Joining IBM as a Diamond Sponsor at SugarCon was TRACT, a complete billing, subscription, activity, rating, invoicing and payment platform that is tightly integrated with SugarCRM. Pardot, a B2B cloud marketing automation software provider and a Platinum sponsor offers email marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring and ROI reporting with data bi-directionally synced with SugarCRM. Other sponsors are listed at the SugarCon website. 

Sysmans adds to the fun of the Sugar Throwdown as judges look on
Sysmans adds to the fun of the Sugar Throwdown as judges look on

Aside from the serious business of managing sales people and customers, application developers had fun during the Sugar Throwdown. Each participant had two minutes to pitch their SugarCRM add-on product. Jan Sysmans, SugarCRM?s Sr. Director of Product Marketing, who previously held the position of Director of Marketing for Cisco?s WebEx product, facilitated the competition. Participants included:

  • Sugar Asterisk Connector – Blake Robertson, Alertus
  • Contactually – Tony Cappaert, Contactually
  • Whiteboard – Danny Mulvihill, Epicom
  • EasyAsk Quiri – John Morrell, EasyAsk
  • NextPrinciples –  Social Media Analytics
  • ActivePrime – Real Time Data Quality

SugarCon 2013 will trade West Coast for the diamond of East Coast - New York

As this year?s SugarCon California is winding down, SugarCon 2013 is already planned to take place on the East Coast in New York City. Attendance at the user conference is expected to double.

In the meantime, we?ll try to pin down that rumor about SugarCRM replacing Oracle at IBM. At press time, none of the three companies involved had responded to requests for comment.