We talk a lot about social CRM, communities and the like. The developer community – and the open source community, to be specific – was really the first to seize on the potential of the new communication technologies enabled by social media. We’re lucky over here at SugarCRM – we have an insider as our community manager.
John Mertic’s his name, and his efforts would usually be invisible to CRM Outsiders readers – which would be a shame, since the ability to develop new applications and to create customizations to a CRM application is the key to gaining a competitive advantage from your CRM system, and the developers are the folks who would do that for you, even if you aren’t a SugarCRM user. It’s always nice to know these people and to understand that they are working together in an loosely organized but often collaborative manner on your behalf.
First off, let me introduce myself. My name is John Mertic and I have been newly minted as the Community Manager (or as known in community management circles, Chief Cat Herder). I come to this from the more technical side of the house, with deep engineering experience in SugarCRM, especially for using it as a platform for building applications for your organization (and written two books on the subject). For me personally it’s a very exciting opportunity, as I have a passion for helping people solve their problem and interacting with various communities, making it a great fit for both myself and Sugar.
So now that I’m officially on the “products” side of the house (with deep hooks into both my former peeps in engineering as well as our excellent marketing team ) and somewhat new to the SugarCRM community as a whole, I feel my first task is to define the community. Those of you who have been around awhile will be well-aware of our rather “indifferent” stance towards community (and many will argue I’m being too kind there). For me being more of a community guy, and especially as one who is tasked with managing it, it makes perfect sense to define what this encompasses and what it means to be a part of the Sugar community.
With that last statement I’ve actually split this into two tasks; the first is to define what encompasses the community. Is it just those people using the open source edition of Sugar? Maybe those building or developing on Sugar? Or could it be the folks with projects and add-ons at SugarForge or SugarExchange? I would say yes to all of them, but I’d make the pool much bigger, including these folks as well:
- People who use SugarCRM as an end-user in their daily life
- The vast network of partners, consultants, system integrators, and brother’s-nephew’s-cousin-who-knows-how-t0-use-computers who have (or tried to) install and administer Sugar.
- All those cloud and other shared hosting providers who offer the option to install SugarCRM easily on their hosting platform.
- That lonely developer who has been tasked building an app for his organization to use internally, and is looking for a great platform to build upon.
- The sales person (or person in charge of sales people) who is fed up with his or her current CRM selection (or lack thereof ) and wants something different.
In a nutshell, it’s pretty much anyone who’s ever dealt with us or heard of us before. Sounds like a lot of cats to herd…
So what does it mean to be part of this vast group of people? Looking for common ground, I find there’s one thing that binds us together: the need to solve a problem. Whether that problem is just having a virtualized Rolodex, automating business processes, or integrating third-party tools together, we just are looking for ways to make life easier without boundaries. What are those boundaries? Think proprietary and locked-down applications with limited customization options. Think data that is not free to push and pull out of the system. Think lack of freedom where to deploy your application. All of these are boundaries that do little to help you, and serve more as a giant pain in an unspecified but widely-known body part.
When I look at the Sugar community, I see a vast group of pragmatic do-ers, wanting to make their lives and the lives of everyone around them easier. And that’s who I am here to serve.
In the words of Jerry Maguire, “Help me, help you.”