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August 15, 2008

Social ACT!

This week the folks at Sage came out with the latest version of ACT!. I had a briefing with David van Toor and Larry Ritter, two of their execs on the CRM side of things. I haven't been hands on with it, but I did pick up a couple of things during the demo:

  • Much tighter integration with Outlook
  • Easier data lookup/search capabilities
  • Nice mashups with Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Maps

If you're a power user of both Outlook and ACT! then you'll probably want to look into upgrading. This version makes it easy to keep the two apps in sync with each other and track Outlook interactions on contact records in ACT!. They've also made it move around and get to the data you're looking for with more streamlined lookups. It may not sound like much but it makes it much easier and more efficient to get to the data when you need to.

What really grabbed my attention was the ability to see Twitter pages and LinkedIn profiles for contacts, right from within ACT!. Now this functionality isn't apart of the out-of-the-box product, but is part of a growing third party mashup market cropping up around ACT!. But this is important, as it allows you to track even more information with the people you're looking to engage in conversations leading to business opportunities. So being able to view all kinds of social information from one location makes it that much easier to look for conversation points that may help you connect.

Overall I was impressed with the glimpse into ACT! 2009. I hope to dig in more to see how the ease of installing and maintaining the application is coming along. And I'm looking forward to seeing how ACT! "on the go" is progressing. But if you're a die hard fan, you should at the least take a good hard look at this. According to the Sage team, this version had more customer input than others, thanks to members of the ACT! community. In fact you can thank the community for working with Sage to make sure the voice of the customer was not only heard, but was integral to the upgrade process.

Working with the community in an open forum was a new experience for Sage, but it looks like they plan on enlisting the community again for future upgrades. This can't be anything but good news for ACT! and its users. And while I get excited to see social media mashups with crm apps, the most exciting thing to see is CRM vendors working with their communities in a transparent fashion to deliver products and services these communities need. That's a real Social ACT!

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