Sramana Mitra: There’s a ridiculous amount of spam that comes through as well and that’s why that tool needs to be able to distinguish between spam and real customer opportunities where a client wants to talk to you.
Larry Augustin: Yes, I agree, all of those are opportunities for innovation in the industry. I think, as an industry, we’re just at the beginning of those pieces. Here, our goal has been to build a platform which can pull those pieces together, integrate them well, and create a great dashboard – whether it’s mobile or desktop – for the individual to view all of those pieces and pull them together. Some of it is internal data. A lot of data are external. How do you correlate those difference sources? We have architected a platform that enables all of those pieces.
There’s still a lot to do in understanding how to pull all that together and advancing the state of the industry to do all the things you just talked about in terms of how we filter those down and identify some of those pieces. My argument here, in part, is you need an open platform that can integrate with those pieces and has been architected to do that in order to solve those problems.
Sramana Mitra: Bring me up to speed on that. We know a lot about Salesforce’s platform. We know that they’ve really been successful by opening up their platform to developers and have attracted a very serious base of developers, both people who are enhancing their CRM offerings as well as building other applications on their Salesforce.com platform. In general, there is a very significant platform ecosystem trend going on right now.
We do a lot of work in these platform ecosystems. We have several partners where we help them incubate their platform ecosystem – entrepreneurs developing on their platform ecosystem. Bring me up to speed on what you are doing. What is your platform strategy and how are you working with smaller developers on solving specific pieces of the kinds of problems we were just brainstorming about.
Larry Augustin: First of all, the company has always had an open source version of our products that allows any developer, no matter how small or large, to get started with our products. They can integrate and understand them to a high level of depth completely for free without the need to go through a heavyweight process to get there. That’s all built on common open source technologies. A developer can come in to SugarCRM with the knowledge of common open source technologies such as Java Script, PHP, HTML, and CSS and integrate into that platform.
Sramana Mitra: That part of the story was documented in the original story that we did on SugarCRM in my conversation with John Roberts. That’s the genesis of SugarCRM – the open source strategy.
Larry Augustin: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: My question is a bit more evolved in that because of Salesforce’s strong penetration in the sales and marketing organizations of different customers, they have a very large footprint. Developers who are developing extensions or expansion applications on top of their platform are getting into those accounts often very easily because of their large footprint.
We are now in 2014 when SugarCRM has an install base. As you said, you have a dashboard and architecture such that developers who are building enhancements to your core offering could tie-in to that, right?
Larry Augustin: Yes, we have a significant number of developers tie-in to that as well and building off of that. We have our Sugar Exchange where developers can list those components and add-ons. That’s why we have partnerships with companies we were talking about before. Whether it’s Hootsuite, D&B, or even Data.com, which is a Salesforce offering; those all have integrations into our products. Developers can place things in there. Customers can browse that catalog and understand what they’re using. We have a model that allows people to reach and sell into that environment.