Wednesday, November 19, 2008

2008 SIIA On Demand SaaS Conference

It’s that time of year; we’re now in the middle of the 2008 Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) On Demand Software as a Service (SaaS) Conference. At this year’s conference the key note speakers include Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of, Josh James, CEO and Co-Founder of Omniture, Anthony Lye, Senior Vice President of Oracle CRM and Zach Nelson, CEO of Netsuite. It is truly a who’s who of the On Demand SaaS CRM world this year. The San Jose conference line-up is action packed this year with Josh James starting for the key notes speaking about the secret to SaaS success. Following next for the keys is Marc Benioff talking as often does about Platform as a Service. Starting things off on the 19th Anthony Lye speaks about how social computing meets the enterprise and Zach Nelson discuses Cloud Computing.

Outside of the key notes there are many great topics being discussed over the few days including many presentations from early stage SaaS provides, revenue extension, how to grow business in a slow economy, how to extend SaaS across multiple verticals, service integrity and much more.

Other CEO’s of major On Demand SaaS CRM vendors are also present providing their expertise to the event. Among these is CEO and Co-Founder of, Troy Muise who is discussing Customer Retention focusing on corporate processes, at risk signs and organizational structure in relation to customer retention.

The SIIA On Demand Conference isn’t just about business, the event is packed with networking opportunities. These give the best minds in the industry a chance to share their knowledge and experiences, even industry rivals’s Marc Benioff and’s Troy Muise put their swords away and were seen shaking hands at the event.

This is the third annual SIIA On Demand SaaS Conference and it has proven over the past 3 years to be one of the must attend events for the industry. I am looking forward to next year’s event already and urge everyone to attend if they can.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Streamline Your Operations during Tough Economic Times

We are now facing tough times in the market place which is causing many businesses to take a closer look at how to cut operational costs. There are different ways and different approaches that businesses will be taking in order to squeeze as much as they can out of their dollars. One of the first ways many businesses try to cut spending is by cutting their IT budget. This means companies are going to be much more hesitant to spend money on new business management software or on getting updated versions of their current IT solutions. Although this may save some money it can cause a lot of problems for organizations since they need software solutions to successfully manage their business and their customers.

When every dollar counts, companies can’t afford to let business slip through cracks or walk on past to a competitor because they didn’t have the tools needed to stay ahead of the game. Traditionally, purchasing solutions to manage a business and customers was a very expensive undertaking which would take a lot of time to roll out. Since time is another thing businesses have less and less of these days, many companies are finding themselves in a difficult position.

A solution to these problems that many businesses are making a move to is software as a service (SaaS). This form of software allows businesses to receive the IT solutions they need today without the large upfront bill they would get hit with purchasing traditional software. SaaS Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has been a saviour for many businesses in recent times since it is inexpensive and fast to implement. SaaS CRM solutions provide companies with all the tools they need to manage customers, sales, and marketing among other areas within a single software solution.

With only one platform to manage, companies have to spend less time training and less time spending and implementing software. SaaS CRM is not provided like traditional software where a business owner must install the software on every computer in the company and service this. As expected this can get very costly very fast. SaaS CRM is provided via the internet by vendors like Salesforce, or Netsuite and is accessed through a web browser with a login to a secure site where all your data is stored and managed. This means businesses can leverage their software from any computer with internet access and it is updated in real time with no cost for upgrades or installs. I think it is safe to say that in these times of tough economic conditions SaaS CRM vendors will notice an increase of new businesses making the move to the clouds.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who Will Actually Benefit from Entellium’s Demise?

Now that the Entellium situation has begun to slow down in Seattle I ask the question, who will actually benefit from the unfortunate events at Entellium? There are many employees left standing outside after the massive layoffs and there are a lot of businesses and organizations who fear the safety of their data, wondering if the software they use to manage their business will just be turned off one day, there was already a brief period last week where the Entellium web site was down. Theories have been flying around the web of what will come of Entellium employees and customers, Avidian’s Founder and CEO James Wong expressed interest in purchasing some of Entellium’s assets. Meanwhile CRM vendor issued a formal release aimed at Entellium’s Employee’s and Customers with a “Rescue Initiative”. This rescue initiative invited laid off Entellium’s staff to send their resumes to for possible employment. Also in the release offered free accelerated data migration to Entellium customers.

These are just two hints as to what may come of Entellium but I want to look at the reality of the situation outside of the offers to purchase Entellium assets. To start here is a list of the companies best situated to benefit from the Entellium fiasco;, Netsuite,, ACT!, and Microsoft. These are some of the top CRM vendors in the market today and can all take on Entellium customers. There hasn’t been much mentioned from Salesforce, Netsuite, Microsoft or ACT! regarding these events; all I noticed is that Salesforce has purchased Entellium as an adword to ensure those seeking Entellium find Salesforce. What I find most interesting is that no one has mentioned ACT! as an organization who stands to gain many of Entellium’s customers since a lot of those customers moved to Entellium from ACT! ACT! has made their business on SMBs by providing contact management solutions and SMBs are what made up the majority of Entellium’s customers. I see a problem with Entellium customers moving to ACT! they will not be receiving a true on demand multi tenant CRM solution which they could receive from Salesforce, Netsuite or

A quick look at the other CRM vendors; Salesforce is almost always considered when businesses are looking for CRM which makes me think that for some reason Entellium customers have already evaluated Salesforce and for whatever reason decided to go with Entellium instead. Looking at Microsoft, this giant is a new comer to the CRM world, although they have the resources to develop a great CRM I believe they are still too far behind the game with their CRM inside Outlook approach. Netsuite is another large company who has its roots in ERP which shines through to their CRM, I find Netsuite’s CRM to lack some of the features that Salesforce and Salesboom have. With this reasoning I am not surprised with’s efforts with their Rescue Initiative positioning themselves directly in front of Entellium customers. Where ever Entellium customer land I’m sure CRM vendors will be more than happy to welcome them.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Entellium CEO and CFO Behind Bars, One Considered a Flight Risk!

Installment number 2 of the Entellium situation: Well it is now official, Entellium's CEO and Top Financial Officer have been arrested for Wire Fraud which can carry a penalty of 20 years behind bars. Picked up by the FBI with one denied bail because he is considered a flight risk, Entellium's CEO and CFO have been arrested Tue adding to the already unfortunate situation facing CRM vendor Entellium.

With this addition to the events the future of Entellium is not looking good. It seems 50 million dollars of investor’s money was received based of fudged financial books. Stated in one release there was roughly a $400,000.00 per month misrepresentation of Entellium's books which caused investors to hand over much larger amounts of money then granted. As time passed these large amounts of money have seemed to run dry with some speculation that offshore accounts have received some dollars.

The question now is where will all of roughly 850 Entellium's costumers go? As I have previously commented on one site I believe the giants Netsuite and are not a good landing spot for these customers in flight as they tend to lean towards large corporations and not SMBs, which made up the majority of Entellium's customer base. Entellium's average client was stated to be nowhere near above 100 users which is only a drop in the hat to Netsuite and As I look around the CRM playing field I see that Avadian and have both showed interest in purchasing the customer base of Entellium but no other names have surfaced yet. This makes me wonder why no other company has jumped, as they say, make hay when the sun shines.

For SaaS CRM vendors the sun is certainly shining as x Entellium customers will be looking for new homes. From the two CRM vendors which have surfaced so far, I believe to be the best match for Entellium customers since both these companies focuses the majority of their time on Small and Medium Sized Businesses. Entellium has or was around for roughly 8 years now and has been around for 7 to 8 years and is showing a strong future. Where ever Entellium customers end up scurrying to they better ensure they can receive a swift and smooth transition with minimal impact on their own business processes.

Out of this entire ordeal I can't help myself by feel bad for the customers and employees of Entellium, a company who only a short period ago was hosting trade shows and marketing aggressively. These are the real people who will be affected from these events as they unfold and I hope both the current or x clients and staff of Entellium find a comfortable new home.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is Entellium Going out of Business? 100 Laid Off

On October 4 2008 the Seattle Times released a story titled “Workers get ax at software maker Entellium, told money ran out”. This came as a shock to many of us around the CRM Software industry since Entellium was once stated to be a threat to As it turns out last Friday morning Entellium chopped 100 staff leaving only a few in their Seattle location. This mass let go came just after a sudden resignation from Chief Executive Paul Johnston and Senior Vice President Parrish Jones, who was once in charge of finances.

Stated in the Seattle Times an x employee of Entellium was told there was just no money. Entellium has received over $30 million in venture capital backing in the 9 years they have been in business but I guess this wasn’t enough. Currently board members and senior executives are in meetings to decide on the future of the CRM vendor. Outside of their walls there has been some interest in Entellium from other CRM Vendors in the market. Avidian has expressed an interest in some assets and also CRM vendor was showing some interest.

The fate of Entellium will become evident in the coming days as their clients become aware of the current situation. I can only imagine that if Entellium doesn’t act swift and strong there will be a lot of stranded CRM users looking for a new place to call home.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What does enterprise security, going green and going under have in common?

If you are wondering what enterprise security, going green and going under could could possibly have in common then allow me to elaborate. CRM.

That’s right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) ties these three topics together since they can all be improved by implementing a CRM Software solution. CRM helps enterprises met SOX compliance and maintain a single secure database. Also, CRM aids an organizations effort to cut down on wasted time and resources in their attempts to green up their operations. Finally, with the condition of the market these days’ businesses are searching for ways to reduce operating costs and better track leads to ensure no opportunity ever slips through the cracks.

Enterprise security is not a new worry like the other two mentioned, this is always a number one concern to organizations. Although it is not a new concern I think it is safe to say that with guidelines like SOX compliance, efforts placed on ensuring security will only increase. CRM comes into play here by providing businesses with functionality like custom profile and user role security settings, record level security, field level security, login time and IP access restrictions, advanced administration and audit trails. These features are built into many of the major CRM platforms like Salesforce, or Netsuite and aid businesses control who can view or edit what information. Leveraging this type of functionality will not only show you who are accessing what for security reasons, it also brings a new level of accountability to an organization.

Next up is going green and the efforts businesses are taking to better align with this concept. Organizations are following many avenues in hopes of making their operation earth friendly which in turn can also save them money. Out on the market today is a wide array of tools designed to clean up businesses by cutting out unnecessary functions. For example, I was recently looking at Interfax and other online fax solutions. In today’s age there really is not much need for the dinosaur way of sending and receiving faxes which wastes paper and time. Let me ask how long does it take you to send a simple fax? This small but still meaningful green solution cuts out the need to first print a document, take the time to walk to the fax machine which isn’t always in your office or even on your floor, stand there and wait just to waste one more piece of paper describing the transaction. All this can be cut out by SaaS solutions which allow you to send document or email to fax or receive fax to email. Tying back to SaaS CRM vendors some of them even integrate with fax providers, I believe Salesforce has this integration as well I’m pretty sure integrates with InterFax now. This is just one area where organizations can cut down on waste but there are many with Online CRM. The simple ability to access your entire database from any location with an internet connection also cuts out wasted resources. When traveling or working in the field there is no need to print or bring documentation with you, just login to your CRM offline or mobile solution and you have everything you need.

Finally, going under is a rising concern when the market is feeling a pinch. During a time when banks are closing their doors and large corporations like Lehman Brothers are declaring bankruptcy businesses begin searching for ways to save money and secure their future. Hosted CRM Software helps organizations of all sizes manage and track their business which can uncover wasted resources or marketing campaigns with poor ROI. One of the greatest benefits to using Web Based CRM Software is the ability to closing track and report on leads, campaigns, opportunities and accounts. Accurate real time lead tracking is key to making sure no lead is ever forgotten about or passed by. Kind of on this topic, recently I have seen a lot of Real Estate agencies making the move to Web Based CRM. This is most likely for some of the reasons mentioned here like accurate lead tracking along with the fact that it is cost effective and quickly rolled out. Never missing an opportunity is extremely important when purse strings are tightened and consumers are less willing to part with their dollar. This is why businesses large and small need the tools to allow them to track opportunities and leverage analytical and reporting tools to uncover trends in the market, all possible with CRM Software.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Take Your Business to the Clouds

We have reached a new era with the way we compute and leverage enterprise or business software. No longer are large organizations required to purchase expensive on-premise software solutions or host and maintain costly servers to store their data. Also gone are the days where small business owners must purchase off the shelf packaged software or order multiple discs in order to install software on more than one computer. This new era of business software solutions is brought to you from the clouds and delivered via the internet.

The term "cloud computing" has been around for some time now, referring once to ATM networks the term applies to so much more today. Chances are that you have computed in the clouds even if you don't understand what it means. Some examples of cloud computing you or your kids may be familiar with are online photo storage and editors, web based word processors like Google Docs or online data storage services.

The term "cloud" is just a reference to using the internet to access software or services. In short, Cloud Computing leverages the internet, a web browser and a centralized data center. When you are cloud computing your information or data is stored in a centralized off-site data center instead of your personal computer or in-house servers. You access your data over the internet using a web browser like IE or Firefox to securely send and receive your information.

There are many great benefits to services provided over the internet including a lowered cost to run software, no need to deploy and maintain expensive servers yourself, real time platform upgrades and 24/7 access to your data from any computer with an internet connection. This means small businesses no longer need multiple versions of software for different computers since no software is actually stored in house.

An example of how cloud computing is helping organizations of all sizes is web based customer relationship management software (CRM). This Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution allows companies to take their business to the streets since users can access their data in real time anywhere in the world via the internet. When leveraging SaaS CRM, every department within an organization shares a single database which breaks down the doors that once separated sales from marketing or billing form shipping. With up to the minute information everyone involved with particular processes in an organization will have up to the minute information as transactions are processed or leads are captured. There are many Web Based CRM vendors out there in the clouds today with this form of Software-as-a-Service growing rapidly. Some of the major players currently providing this form of SaaS CRM are, Netsuite and

I think it is now safe to say that cloud computing will be a big part of business in the years to come with the large number of services currently offer over the internet. For more info on some of the online services currently out there here is a good post I found on this topic which outlines over 270 online business tools with short descriptions of their services, "".

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Still Not Convinced Your CRM is Secure?

When a new business management solution is developed or for that matter when when a new anything is released it is bound to end up under the microscope. With Web Based CRM Software the area most scrutinized was how secure this web based application could really be. There has been many articles, white papers, webinars and so on discussing the security of online CRM Software and I thought I would add one more blog to this list to add further evidence of the tight security of online CRM.

First a list of 3 areas used to ensure the security of your Web Based CRM:

1) Data is housed in a highly secure Data Center and constantly maintained 2) Data is transferred using highly secure internet connections similar to those trusted by the banking industry 3) Customizable Organization Security Tools

There is no better place to start then the data center where an organizations information is stored. Prior to Web Based CRM it was up to each individual organization to house, maintain and securely network their own data center. This brings on a large cost and takes a lot of resources to properly house a data center. Involved in maintaining a data center is building the correct facility which is ready for all types of natural disaster and is constantly backed up as a fail safe. With this in the hands of an organization who's main role is to provide and protect such a data center combined with their ability to allocate a large amount of resources to this task, organizations can rest assured that their data is safely stored and backed up in a cutting edge data center.

Next we have the transfer of business information over the internet. In a time when I don't remember the last time I actually stepped foot inside of my bank and most people I speak with share the same trait, the internet has reached a point where data can be securely sent and received via the internet and a simple web browser. Using a file encryption like that leveraged by banks, Web Based CRM vendors can safely transfer an organizations data to any computer a user desires as long as they have a secure internet connection. The great upside to this functionality is the freedom it provides businesses and the money saved by no longer needing to have a hardwired office network. This feature allows SMB's to be up and running quickly with a secure CRM solution with little or no head aches, currently I even have an HP wireless printer which now allows me to sit in my kitchen, contact 2000 people simultaneously using Online CRM and print a confirmation of this act without a single wire to trip over.

My third point, is at the organization level. Many CRM vendors like Salesforce or offer many means of furthering securing your CRM based on user roles and profiles. Using customized user roles and profiles an organization may set exactly who can view, edit or view and edit any given record within their system. Best of all this functionality is easy to use and modify as new hires join the team or staff advance up the ladder. Adding again to security at the organization level is functionality called the audit trail. This feature provides executives, managers or administrators with the ability to see who has been doing what within the CRM. Companies can easily see who has created, modified or deleted any record which also acts as a means of uncovering the most productive employees.

The mentioned above features and functionality of Web Based CRM Software are only some of the ways CRM vendors are protecting your data while at the same time saving you money. For added security you can take it another step and add two-factor authentication which involves a USB token which acts as your key to your CRM platform. Without having your USB Key with matching login information your user name and password are rendered useless thus being of no value to scammers. All in all I believe that organizations can now trust Web Based CRM Software with their important data and still receive a good nights sleep.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Improve Coordination in a Business Organization

Organizations are always looking to increase productivity, smooth processes and cut down on the time it takes to complete tasks. When an organization is well coordinated and has smooth workflow processes they not only improve their output but they also improve their quality of work and accountability within the organization. In order to improve coordination certain tools must be present to allow for interdepartmental coordination and for employees to better collaborate on tasks. These particular tools can be found within business solutions like Web Based CRM Software. Many Online CRM solutions provide organizations with coordination tools like a shared calendar, instant messaging services, web self service portals and document, report and task sharing functionality. These tools allow individual employees as well as team members to function more effectively since all company information, documentation and historic events can be located within a single platform.

With a shared calendar and the ability to share documents, reports and tasks team members will poses all the tools they require to operate smoothly. A shared calendar will allow team members to view when other members are not in or taking vacation which will prevent the assignment of tasks for that particular time period which could delay a project. Also, having the ability to share documents and reports within a secure environment keeps all needed resources at the finger tips of the right people.

Other CRM tools including Instant Messaging and Web Self Service Portals improve coordination both within and outside of your organizations walls. A self service portal can lighten the work load your customer service receives with customer self service forms and allows your business to better collaborate while searching for related cases within a knowledge base. I have seen many different ways organizations attempt to maintain contact including the use of public messaging services, emails, phone calls and so on but none have worked as well as a secure internal messaging system. This will remove all chance of an important file making its way to a public messenger and will also make sure that employees are not spending more time chatting with friends then working with co-workers.

When looking for ways to increase the coordination within your organization there are some providers who can supply your organization with these particular tools and there are also CRM vendors like Salesforce and who provide these coordination tools as part of a complete CRM solution. To find the best fit for your company I suggest researching all options and even taking some free trials which are often offered to get the best feel for what your organization requires.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Is There Too Much Marketing in CRM?

With the latest news of Salesforce and their 9.6 million profits in their first quarter out of a total of 247.6 million in sales in the quarter goes to show the amount of money the giant of the Online CRM Software industry has to spend on marketing. I will admit I am a fan of underdogs in many situations and the Web Based CRM industry is no exception. I like to see many CRM vendors do well because it will create a more competitive market and keep a single company from obtaining a monopoly. With more competitors battling with roughly the same market share the end user and small businesses are sure to benefit from lower costs and better service.

Unfortunately it is sometimes the case that when a company grows into a position where they control the market they can neglect their current clients and provide less then optimal customer support since there is not much fear of a client going elsewhere. The same scenario plays into the pricing of software and services or software as a service, prices can be raised because it is almost certain that businesses will pay the higher price if the marketing of a company controls the means people use to research other possibilities. There are many Web Based CRM Software vendors out there who offer small, medium and large businesses a great solution for their CRM needs. These vendors are companies like Netsuite, or Oncontact; there are many more out there you just need to dig through the marketing of the large firms to find the other great CRM solutions.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Offer like No Other

Yesterday in the CRM Software industry there was an offer put on the table for exsisting customers. This offer did not come from the CRM giant, rather from one of their competitors, The offer is comprised of an enticement program for those who migrate from CRM Software to and have a minimum of 20 user licenses. The details include a $5000 check and free data migration with the Migration Magic Button if an agreement is made by a certain date.

The Migration Magic Button is stated to quickly migrate all data along with business processes from to Salesboom, kind of a way to rest aside the moving pains and ensure the integrady of a companies information remains intact.

So I wonder if this move by Salesboom to target the customers of the largest CRM player in the market will pay off or piss off, either way it will let those who are unhappy with know there is an alternative out there, they're no long stuck.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Benioff's loss of interest is hurting SMB's

The latest news is all about the speculated proposal of their shares to Oracle, this combined with the fact that Marc Benioff is selling his shares daily makes one wonder, how interested is he? Apparently Oracle was approached and offered Salesforce at a price of $75 per share, this was roughly 50% higher then the closing $50.87 of that day. Whether this move makes sense or not for either of the companies involved is not what I am concerned about. If this transaction were to take place all the small to medium sized businesses currently with Salesforce are going to suffer.

Right now is the largest Web Based CRM Software vendor on the market, their prices are already the highest and their focus has been moving away from SMB's in attempts to attract large corporation's. If Salesforce was under the direction of Oracle, SMB's would only suffer more since their focus also overlooks SMB's.

What this means for the other Web Based CRM Software vendors like or Entellium for example, is that there could be a lot more of what is already happening to come in the future. Salesboom has noted that a large number of their clients were former customers who were fed up with high prices and lack of support for smaller companies. The possibility of Salesforce changing hands could mean a lot more SMB's will be looking else where for their CRM solutions.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

In Search of CRM?

Everyone is always searching for the best CRM Software, as they should, but when they search the internet they often don't find the best solutions for their business, often times they find the companies who pay the most money to be palced at the top of the search results. I would suggest to anyone looking for the Best CRM Software solutions to do their research, or look for vendors like ACT, Salesboom or Netsuite that offer product comparison's, if you do this you should have a much easier time finding the perfect solution for your company.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Church Management Software

With all the buzz around CRM Software for SMB's or companies of any size, we tend to forget about the management needs of groups and organizations. These groups need similar software to manage members, financial transactions and any other daily tasks. For example, Church Management Software can assist and ease the work involved in managing church members and all other administrative aspects, these organizations look to grow the same as any other business.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A True Outlook Integration Solution

Most CRM vendors have some sort of Microsoft Outlook integration built into their platform. This being true not many integrate in a way that you don't loose Outlook functionality, companies like and both have a solid Outlook integration system, but even from a company like some functionality is lost. When integrating Microsoft Outlook with Salesforce, notes attached to contacts are lost in translation, this doesn't happen when using Salesboom. So even though many CRM vendors claim to have Outlook integration, beware of their fine print.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Salesboom release states they'll end phishing scams on CRM has just put out a press release saying they will end phishing attacks on CRM. They are using a two factor authentication security approach which means an employee must insert a USB key into their computer before login, if the username and password entered match the "digital ID" then access is granted. This would have been helpful to when one of it's employee's was "tricked" into disclosing their password, with Salesboom's security you could give your password away and it's still no good to any scammer out there, Salesboom says that the USB keys can not be duplicated and are encrypted. This news is good to hear, something needed to be done to help protect companies databases., by the looks of things, 2008 should be a safe CRM year.

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