Really Simple Systems’ CEO explains the full rewrite of its flagship CRM

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Most B2B technology companies are trying to make their products smarter with artificial intelligence. Really Simple Systems just wants them to be easier.

The company this week released Version 5 of its cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) system. Aimed at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), Version 5’s latest features include drag and drop customisation, a global search bar, easy data move and merge options, and pull-out support drawers on each page.

“The original decision for the CRM rewrite was to update the code. It was a bit out of date and didn’t work well with technology like APIs and jQuery,” John Paterson, Really Simple Systems’ CEO, told B2B News Network. “At the same time, customer feedback told us that the UI was a big turn-off. It looked very dated and was counterproductive to the ease of use message of the CRM.”

The Really Simple Systems CRM Sales Dashboard and Welcome Screen (PRNewsfoto/Really Simple Systems)

While the Petersfield, U.K.-based firm is billing Version 5 as a ‘total rewrite’ of its CRM, don’t go looking for any AI capabilities under the hood.

“Despite the hubbub in the press, AI is not a hot topic with SMBs,” Paterson said. Though this may change over the next few years, “the cost for SMBs is prohibitive.”

Even for traditional tools and larger enterprises, the costs are high. Sugar CRM this week released a survey it commissioned from CITE Research of 400 sales executives across the United States and the U.K. The research showed 80 percent of companies spend at least $1,000 on technology annually per sales representative to equip them with the right tools to do their jobs effectively. Furthermore, nearly one-half (49 percent) of the respondents said they spend at least $2,000 per sales employee. CRM was the most-cited tool, by 70 per cent of the respondents.

Paterson said Really Simple Systems is working to introduce lead scoring and lead nurturing to the CRM at an affordable cost and exploring other opportunities for AI within its product. The firm is also working on a development to integrate with Zapier.com, which will enable a range of automation platforms for its customers.

Although other CRM vendors focus on the SMB sector, such as Zoho and Insightly, Paterson said Really Simple Systems isn’t worried about more enterprise-oriented vendors such as Microsoft and Salesforce encroaching on its turf, despite “some token gestures” to scale down their more sophisticated products.

“In time, it’s likely they will leave the SMB market altogether,” he said.

Version 5 from Really Simple System also marks a move away from Microsoft platform technology to open source, which Paterson said will allow the company to have more flexibility in offering PHP add-ins.

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.