taps into CRM dissatisfaction

Remember the days of the mammoth CRM project when big vendors sold complex software, wheeled in a busload of consultants leading up to the go-live date then scurried away with little responsibility for outcomes?

If so, you fit the typical profile of the customers in the sights of hosted CRM provider, which has just signed up its 100th customer since arriving in Australia last June.

By offering hosted CRM apps that avoid huge capital investment costs, has been able to tap into the mid-tier enterprise market with its free, 30-day trials and promise to share the risks.

In a climate where most IT executives today really don't want to talk CRM, is tapping into that dissatisfaction winning 2500 subscriptions in less than 12 months with local customers such as AAPT, Hutchison, Hostworks and Red Sheriff.

Despite being a dotcom, an Application Service Provider (ASP) and a company that sells CRM - three attributes that spell disaster in the current climate - has actually turned all these into an advantage, challenging the big players such as Oracle, SAP and Siebel.

"I defy you to find a happy CRM customer that isn't one of ours of course; we speak to plenty of large organisations that invested millions in ambitious projects that went nowhere because they simply turned into navel gazing exercises," Doug Farber, vice president of marketing, Asis Pacific, said.

"But companies that have already made big investments can still access our offerings as we have formed integration partnerships with the likes of BEA Systems, Borland and Sun Microsystems so they can hook straight into our online service and connect with other back-end applications; organizations can avoid single platform lock-in and expensive upgrades."

Farber claims the company's biggest competitor is the 'no decision' mid-market IT executive who is scared to move ahead because of the failures that occurred in the big end of town.

"A lot of our new customers were companies embarking on some two-year CRM project, but in the meantime they needed to get work done, so they simply used our hosted service in one part of the organization and over time we gained more traction," he said.

A research paper by the Aberdeen Group in Boston found that companies hosting CRM services can undercut vendors delivering products via a licensing model by as much as 90 percent.

Aberdeen VP Denis Pombriant said software has become very complex and expensive.

"Evidence points to more of a utility model being the way of the future," Pombriant said. "We're going to see enormous growth in hosting, and [CRM] vendors that don't make investments in hosting will be laggard or out of business."

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More about AAPTAberdeen GroupBEABEA SystemsBorland AustraliaHostworksHutchisonOracleRed SheriffSalesforce.comSAP AustraliaSun Microsystems

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