Sage to launch online version of CRM offering

Link: New Sage MD raises the stakes

The Windows desktop Act product is a low-end customer-relationship management database tool aimed at sales and marketing people in small and medium-sized companies to help them access and manage contacts.

It is a cheaper alternative to the enterprise-scale CRM systems offered by the likes of Siebel.

But Sage has just released the online Act for Web version of its product in the US and David Pinches, marketing director for Sage CRM, told VNU News Centre it will be made available in the UK in March or April.

The current version of Act sits on the local network and is accessed from the desktop. Sales staff download a copy of the contact database on their laptop to take on the road and upload any changes to the server on their return to the office.

The online Act for Web software is instead installed on the company’s web server and then hooked up to the Act database, allowing it to be accessed via any web browser.

‘It just enables web-access to the system. It gives browser access to an Act system and allows the user to change the database, add records and update contacts and run reports,’ said Pinches.

Sage claims it has seen market demand for browser access, and Pinches revealed the company will be making more modifications to the product later in the year around mobile phone and PDA access.

The head of IT for a media company using the Lotus Notes version of Act told VNU News Centre that browser access will suit salespeople out on the road or teleworkers.

‘It will be a very popular and positive move,’ he said. ‘The only downside is that you would have to be physically connected to get the data because there is no local copy.’

But Sage may still face a battle to convince customers who have had problems scaling up Act.

‘There are scalability issues with the amount of data you can physically hold on the database and inconsistent views of data once it is scaled beyond a certain range,’ he said.

Pricing for Act for Web in the UK has yet to be finalised, but is expected to be around the same as the $200 per user mark charged in the US.

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