Battle of the CRMs: Each gets one. Salesforce gets Virgin Atlantic, Sugar gets Virgin Mobile

All’s fair in love and war as SugarCRM gets its own Virgin customer win to crow about

SugarCRM SugarCon Larry Augustin
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For a few years now, Salesforce has had Virgin Atlantic as one of its more high-profile customer wins. Anything to do with the Virgin group and its charismatic founder Richard Branson is worth its weight in gold -- especially for technology vendors wishing to explain just why they deliver what modern businesses need.

So given that we are on the run up to Salesforce's mega conference, DreamForce, it was interesting to hear that SugarCRM, one of Salesforce's CRM rivals, is trumpeting its own Virgin customer win -- this case Virgin Mobile USA who have selected SugarCRM to run its customer service and engagement initiatives.

For those who aren’t aware of the vendor, SugarCRM started out as an open source project. The company, however, is decidedly commercial -- to the extent that a couple of years ago they announced that they would not be releasing any more open-source versions of the software. From then on, the focus would be directly upon the commercial models.

SugarCRM has, it’s fair to say, languished a little in the not insignificant shadow of Salesforce. As a CRM, the product is a good one -- as can be seen by the fact that over two million individual users interact with Sugar on a daily basis. But whereas Salesforce styles itself on being the cloud platform for our era -- a modern take on oracle or SAP if you will -- SugarCRM has remained just that, a solid, but perhaps unexciting, CRM product company.

Well it may be unexciting, but it certainly ticked Virgin’s boxes who carried out an evaluation across many different CRM products but eventually choosing Sugar because, according to the company, “it is a flexible and configurable CRM that will help the company engage customers in new ways. SugarCRM also has a track record of successful deployments with other telecommunications companies around the world.”

It’s always a hard thing to get a customer to come out an sing the praises of a vendor but Virgin have done so in spades:

“As part of the new strategy for Virgin Mobile, we saw a need for a modern and innovative CRM that would help better meet the needs of our customers,” said Dow Draper, Virgin Mobile USA CEO. “As we got to know the team at SugarCRM, it was clear there was a lot of synergy. They, like Virgin Mobile, are industry disruptors that go head-to-head with large competitors by offering something different than the status quo. That appealed to us and we are thrilled to have SugarCRM as a strategic partner.”

Sugar seems to be building itself a bit of a specialty around the telco business -- an industry that is in dire need of some modern platforms on which to innovate. This is a great win for Sugar, both in terms of their telco vertical focus, but even more so as a kick in the direction of a seemingly unstoppable Salesforce.

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