a Riverside, CA company, has been in operation since
1995 and thus far can be considered a deep-rooted mid-market solution provider.
Surado CRM comes loaded with features that cover most SMB's CRM needs. The software
is quite easy to install and to customize. Surado's Web self-service
module based on Microsoft .NET technology and Surado
Integration Module 2.0 provide the means to integrate third
party back-office applications and give it an advantage over the more traditional
stand-alone CRM applications. Surado's CRM solutions are recognized both nationally
and internationally, and provide solutions to vertical markets such as financial
services, healthcare, government, manufacturing, and high-tech. The CRM Evaluation
Center www.crmevaluation.com scores
Surado CRM high in many functional areas, against other mid-market software
vendors such as Saratoga, Microsoft CRM, Epicor,
and Commence Corporation.
Cheryl McCarthy, Surado's Executive Vice President claims that three major objectives in creating the product line were ease of use, quick implementation, and affordability. Beyond basic sales force and marketing automation functionality, Surado CRM provides an integration module they claim eases customization and connectivity with other back office systems, an automatic synchronization (Always-In-Sync) between mobile users and servers, and a module for synchronization with Microsoft Exchange.
Product Definition and Market Impact
Through the guided installation of Surado CRM, the user gets to answer a series of questions that define the basic customization, for example, importing all your contacts, tasks, and calendar appointments from MS Outlook. Users can start running the software in a matter of minutes. There is no need to be a programmer to go through a few simple steps to personalize the interface with custom fields and generate automated business rules.
Although they are insufficient to be considered as vertical modules, preset templates covering areas such as real estate, financial services, life insurance, and more could help facilitate vertical integration. If the user operates principally in the USA, an auto-completion feature can add the zip code to an address automatically. The marketing automation module features permission-based campaign management, across multiple channels including phone, direct mail, Web, wireless devices, e-mail, and direct sales. Leads generated from marketing campaigns can be assigned directly or through an automated workflow to sales teams accessible through the SFA module. Marketing campaigns can be created based on time periods, target audience, and channels.
The Analytics module, although it is more of a reporting tool rather than an on-line analytical processing (OLAP) engine, provides key indicators on campaigns' return on investment (ROI) and opportunities driven by each campaign source.
The Sales Automation module has all the bells and whistles an SFA tool can offer but through its integration with back office inventory and product databases, users are better empowered to create quotes. For mobile users, activities and to-dos can be synchronized with most popular PDAs.
Surado CRM also provides its Customer Service module for help desk and support environments. Both CSRs and Sales representatives can share customer details since there is a single repository for data. The workflow once again fulfills its role to allow rule-based escalation and notification. In addition, Surado's release of its computer telephony integration (CTI) module, based on Intel's NetMerge CT ADE, scheduled for 1st Quarter of 2004, with support for all major telephone switches, will allow a true automated support call center.
of the Customer Service module features are a referral tracking system, definitely
a smart feature to set up relationships between contacts and to identify strategic
alliances for cross selling and up selling; the user interface provides a hierarchical
view (tree based model) of all companies with their contacts, and custom fields
can be imported and exported from and to other applications. The learning curve
to both manage and operate the application should be quite short and thus decrease
the cost of ownership. On the down side, the user interface, built on a proprietary
design, does not provide a context sensitive right mouse click, which would
be much appreciated.
the technology side, Surado has first confined its application to Microsoft
.NET and SQL technology, certainly not an open source architecture. In the upper
portion of the mid-market, many potential customers have UNIX
based server platforms and carry IBM DB2 or Oracle
database systems. Nevertheless, Surado confirms that development for IBM DB2
and Oracle 9 support is underway. Surado's move should open the door to more
sales opportunities in the larger businesses.
Surado Strategy and User Recommendations
Web Self-Service module is Surado's first step in moving toward a web-based
application. In its current version, the module provides a web interface for
users and customers to access their existing profiles and be able to modify
data depending on the permissions granted. The web-based interface also allows
users to submit trouble tickets and follow-up on the ticket resolutions or use
a knowledge base to search for similar tickets and resolutions. The web server
provides for real time submission of all changes to the CRM database.
administrative view provides a means for setting up process rules, e-mail responses,
and alerts. Tickets could thus be assigned to the proper individual with a load-balancing
feature that routes tickets based on urgency.
Self-Service module also allows customers to use the system as a secure login
gateway to customer portal sites dedicated for their clients only.
Web Self-Service module extends the accessibility of the client/server version.
Market demand though, is growing towards comprehensive e-CRM applications and
portals. A fully web oriented application could represent the right path for
Surado to take. Cheryl McCarthy seems to confirm this vision. Surado is also
planning to enhance its customer service module and have it linked to telephony
systems by including its CTI integration in a future release. The same approach
applies to Surado's Analytics module that is poised to integrate predictive
modeling and other analytical capabilities into future releases. In addition
to a well-positioned pricing scheme, Surado could be considered in the near
future as a serious mid-market competitor to bigger players such as Onyx,
Epiphany, Amdocs/Clarify, and Pivotal.
the real question is: can the software vendor sustain its price and ease of
use advantage as it continues to increase in sophistication like other upper
Surado's marketing module together with its enhanced Analytics module should promise the company a strong CRM positioning since there are huge untapped opportunities for business improvement, customer predictability, and increased niche marketing. Organizations are poised to better coordinate their marketing programs and campaigns thus creating demand for marketing automation suites that include analytics.