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Zurmo: Playing Games Is Serious Business

By Erika Morphy CRM Buyer ECT News Network
Jan 4, 2013 5:00 AM PT

Last summer, open source CRM provider Zurmo threw its hat into the CRM ring with a beta version of its particular take on the hot new gamification software category.

Zurmo: Playing Games Is Serious Business

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The theory is simple: CRM, especially sales force automation, has notoriously poor user adoption figures. Why not use some of the fun features people are accustomed to seeing in games and social media to drive adoption?

Badges and Contests and Goal Points

Zurmo users of the beta version -- in fact, there have been several beta releases since its debut -- are rewarded with badges when they log onto the system early in the morning or late in the day. They receive points for achieving certain goals and are encouraged to engage in friendly competition with co-workers.

Now the company has released version 1.0, ready for corporate use.

Practice Makes Perfect

The many beta iterations paid off, Ray Stoeckicht, cofounder of Zurmo Open Source CRM, told CRM Buyer.

"I would say this is more of a stick-in-the-ground application," he said. "Version 1.0 is a stable, production-ready application, but there are not a lot of features that differentiate the beta from 1.0. We did our core work in the betas."

The functionality is simple and straightforward, with a focus on sales force automation and contact management. Consider, for instance, how Zurmo deals with social CRM in 1.0. Rather than emphasizing outreach with clients or partners, it is strictly internally focused, sporting such features as team collaboration. It streamlines email correspondence so sales reps can concentrate on communicating with customers.

Zurmo 1.0 reflects a number of tweaks the company has made in its run-up to prime time. Layered on top of the simple functionality are some fun touches that Zurmo first eyed when it began developing the product two years ago.

For instance, the application has social feeds that let users tout their accomplishments, make announcements, and get advice from co-workers.

A social conversations feature enables private communication, with access limited to relevant participants.

Waiting for 1.5

The next major advance will come around March, when version 1.5 is released, Stoeckicht said.

There will be a big leap in functionality. New features will include work flow, a full reporting engine, mobile access and email marketing.

"The work flow engine will be a heavy-hitting feature in particular, allowing the user more automation capabilities, such as sending and triggering alerts and performing other automated tasks."

Email integration and email marketing will also be more sophisticated in version 1.5, said Stoeckicht, but the company won't forget about its original goal of making CRM fun and easy to use.

"Our focus is always about usability," Stoeckicht said.

Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.

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