by Ash Nallawalla
CRM Manager, Macromedia Asia-Pacific
We looked at three low-end CRM tools aimed at small business users:
You could drown in a sea of TLAs when it comes to managing customer relationships. A Personal Information Manager (PIM) is the simplest tool that you can have, and Lotus Organizer was arguably one of the more successful early PIMs. Its interface mimicked its paper counterpart - the humble appointment diary and address book. When we started using a personal digital assistant (PDA), these hand-held organisers provided a synchronised copy of the PIM data and an alarm to boot. Unfortunately, you cannot use a PIM to review your organisation’s history of contacts with a customer. At best, it delivers a one-to-many view of individuals.
On the other hand, customer relationship management (CRM) requires a Contact Manager, such as ACT!, so that you can merge the complex touch point data about the individuals and organisations in your database and survey it from one viewpoint. A CRM package can capture the many-to-many relationships between your work colleagues and individuals who work for your customer company and its sister companies. Is Microsoft Outlook a PIM? Yes and No. Microsoft positions it as a collaboration and communication tool, to be used internally in a company; whereas CRM products focus on external relationships. Nevertheless, Outlook can be used as a PIM and it has integration points with most business products.
All the reviewed products work seamlessly with PDAs and enhance your productivity.
ACT! was first released in 1985 by Pat Sullivan, a salesman, who sold it to Symantec in 1993. It became a worldwide success and today has over 3.2 million users. Sullivan moved on to start Saleslogix, which focussed on organisations, rather than individuals, as ACT! had done to that point. Saleslogix bought back ACT! in 1999 and repositioned it as a low-end CRM solution. Today, Sage PLC sells ACT! under the trading name Interact Commerce.
ContactTracker was first written by Shimon Pineles and Paul Dodd as SoftTrack in 1985 and it became known as Tracker a year later. Its ownership passed from Adaptive Electronics Pty Ltd to Softcode Pty Ltd in 1989; to Tracker Software Pty Ltd in 1992, which was placed in administration in 1997. Paul founded VitalSoftware in 2001 with Roger Bushell and relaunched it as ContactTracker. Paul’s passion for the program is evident throughout its features and documentation.
Legrand CRM was first published by Sydney-based software engineer Alain Legrand in 2000 as an affordable CRM solution for small and medium enterprises.
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Product Review: Pt 1