Article #1 of a 6 part series
Sage Group announced Friday, February 15 that the company has reached an agreement to divest itself of arguably two of the most well known CRM brands in the history of CRM itself – ACT! and SalesLogix. So what does this mean to the market and for the future of these two storied products? This 6 part article series will take a look at the history of ACT! and SalesLogix and will provide an overview of the changing CRM landscape with some insights into the future of these products with insights for companies utilizing them in their businesses today – or those considering these and other CRM products for the future.
ACT! Contact Management
ACT! was one of the first commercially successful contact management systems on the market. Initially released in 1987, the software has passed hands several times.
It was developed by Conductor Software founded by CRM legend Pat Sullivan. The company later changed its name to Contact Software International. The original name of the software was “Activity Control Technology” and then changed to “Automated Contact Tracking.”
ACT! was originally released as a DOS product and was one of the first contact management systems available for Microsoft Windows (Version 2.0) in 1992. Anti-virus giant Symantec purchased Contact Software International and ACT! in 1993 only to resell it back to Sullivan’s new company – SalesLogix (later renamed Interact Commerce Corporation) six years later in 1999.
Interact Commerce quickly became a leading CRM supplier having ACT! as its entry-level solution and its newer SalesLogix product geared toward larger companies. Sullivan sold Interact and both ACT! and SalesLogix to the Sage Group in 2001.
During Sage’s tenure, the product had its ups and downs but had several milestones including integration to Intuit QuickBooks and a complete rewrite in Microsoft .NET replacing the old dBase database file format (DBF) with a modern Microsoft SQL Server database. Although there were many documented quality issues with early SQL releases, the new SQL database represented a future for ACT!
The acquisition of ACT! by Swiftpage is strategic. Swiftpage has integrated their email marketing software with ACT! for many years. We see this acquisition as very important for both groups. For Swiftpage – it provides them with a very attractive, low-end contact management solution and control over the code so they can improve integration to the system. This can only benefit existing and future ACT! customers.
Another consideration – when ACT! was initially designed and introduced, most sales people were still referencing printed business directories, using fax systems, and very few business people had email let alone a website. Marketing has changed and so has contact management. Swiftpage’s expertise in these new marketing technologies is sure to breathe fresh air into ACT! Our opinion – ACT! will be around for many years to come.
It remains to be seen if Swiftpage can do more with the product than Sage did. But Swiftpage has a much smaller portfolio and a keen focus on this segment of the market while Sage had a much larger portfolio to manage which detracted from its focus on ACT! and SalesLogix.
Early in our company history we too grew up on ACT! We used ACT! when we had one sales person until we got to the point where we had about a half dozen users. At that point in time we evaluated several systems eventually selecting Sage CRM because of Sage’s announcement to deliver an integration between it and our internal Sage 500 ERP system. The integration never came to fruition but we implemented Sage CRM which we used for many years to come.
to be continued…
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