Open source CRM gains traction

Open source CRM, which was first noticed in the CRM market a couple of years ago, was not mature enough at that point in time to meet the requirements of the corporates. Now, according to SugarCRM, the market has awakened to the potential of open source CRM, yet it is not a technology that is set to trouble the leading CRM vendors. It is not even as big as hosted CRM but open source vendors are upbeat about sales in 2006 and are even talking in terms of tripling the existing customer base.

Open source CRM can be deployed as a hosted or on-premise offering. Sugar CRM gained its first commercial deal in October 2004, it had been in operation for two years before that. Since October 2004, the company has added approximately 400 new customers. Apart from its commercial client, the open source code is downloaded from the SugarCRM website around 200,000 times every month; however, the company keeps track only of its paid clients. The growth of open source CRM can also be gauged from the fact that around 4,000 developers are a part of the development community.

By implementing the Sugar Network, SugarCRM aims to obtain a better understanding of the manner in which companies use open source CRM. It will provide training and useful plug-ins for Microsoft Outlook and MS Word at a price that should evince interest in these offerings. The low cost of open source CRM and its customizability are its main attractions, especially for small enterprises who wish to test the waters before moving on to a larger CRM deployment. Over a period of time, open source CRM has been steadily losing its advantage of customizability to hosted offerings.

Open source CRM is best suited for companies that have a staff of around 30-50 personnel; however Sugar CRM also has been deployed to cater for 9,000 seats. There are companies such as BluewhaleCRM that started off as open source CRM vendors but moved toward a shared source model. The primary reason for this according to some experts is that some in-house IT expertise is required to handle open source CRM and small enterprises often do not have that, also the support from the development community is not as strong as it should be.

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