Bob Gatewood needed more control. The chief technology officer at Athena Healthcare was sick of multiple databases that contained the same customer record. He wanted to tightly integrate the company's customer data into its Web portal, its financial accounting system and its call center software.
He also needed to save money. Paying his existing customer relationship management--or CRM--vendor, Salesforce.com, was growing increasingly costly. The reason: He was adding 10 new employees a month to handle his company's workload, which in turn obliged him to pay for 10 additional CRM licenses under the terms of his contract with the vendor.
"We realized we needed to integrate CRM into our system," Gatewood recalls. "It was not a separate thing," he says of Salesforce.com's CRM applications, some of which are free and others licensed with a support contract, and of his company's other enterprise software applications. Gatewood was on the verge of directing Salesforce.com's in-house software developers to build a unique CRM product, which would integrate Athena Healthcare's customer relationship business tools with its other enterprise software applications, when he learned about an open-source CRM product offered by SugarCRM that might solve his problems.
After learning more, Gatewood did what a growing number of CTOs are doing today: He went open source...
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