Guest Blog ~ In the Beginning: the Start of CRM

Today we have a great guest blog from Lauren Carlson from Software Advice. Thanks for sharing with us, Lauren! 

Sometimes the best way to understand where you are going is to take a look back at where you’ve been. The world of customer relationship management (CRM) and contact management software has been through many ups and downs, with several exciting innovations and changes over the past few years (cloud computing, social media, etc.). 

One of the very first contact management products on the market, and one that is still highly relevant today, was ACT! Its co-founder, Mike Muhney, recently started a three-part series on the Software Advice blog, chronicling the timeline of contact management and CRM. You can view the first installment here, but I’ve included a brief summary below.

Tech Innovation in the Mid-80s
We are currently experiencing quite the surge in terms of technological innovation, with advancements of the Internet, cloud computing, smart phones and apps. However, the mid-80s were quite energetic as well. During that time, the PC industry was dominated by three big players and their products. These powerhouses were both intimidating and, presumably, unbeatable. However, innovative ideas abounded, and were limited only by the capabilities of current software to perform.

ACT! is Born
Mike Muhney and his partner, Pat Sullivan, were veteran sales guys looking for a way to commodify the PC for their specific purposes. They didn’t see a need in terms of common applications, but they recognized the value of the PC for organizing records and keeping track of their client interactions. After admitting defeat on a joint project they were working on, the two sales guys decided to sit down and brainstorm something else. The question they asked themselves: What do we need the most? What is mission critical?

The answer to this question came with ACT! This product was a means of incorporating technology to meet their greatest need: relationship centricity. It was released April 1, 1987. At the time, they did not see themselves as “visionaries.” However, I doubt Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg would have put themselves in that category either when they first started.

After the release, the partners went about promoting their product. They needed to overcome one very large obstacle: most business people did not own a PC. They, much like Muhney and Sullivan in the beginning, did not see a practical use for it. Through their promotion, they were able to prove the necessity of their product. Then they partnered with major PC providers (IBM, Toshiba, Zenith, etc.) to sell their product.

In fact, one of the first users of ACT! were the laptop companies themselves, who equipped entire salesforces with the tool. After all, they couldn’t very well sell a product that they didn’t know how to use.

The next obstacle was finding a category because up until now, no one had really created a product like this. Muhney discusses this in his next post. Look for it on the Software Advice blog next month.

Lauren joined Software Advice in 2010. She writes about various topics related to CRM software, with particular interest in sales force automation, marketing automation, and customer service. She has a background in the music industry, and when she isn’t writing about software, you can find her running at Town Lake and singing at local venues. She is a graduate of the University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Interested in being a guest author on the Swiftpage Blog?
Contact Audrey Howes.

About Swiftpage Guest Blogger

We love to share the limelight on our blog and feature guest bloggers. We select guest bloggers who have a unique perspective or expertise to share. Enjoy their posts!

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