Lou Guercia, president and CEO for Scribe Software, which specializes in CRM integration, explains why the company approaches integration as a role-based function and discusses with IT Business Edge’s Loraine Lawson recent upgrades to Scribe Online.
Lawson: Forbes had an interesting article about how you approach integration as a role-based function. Is that new?
Guercia: If you go back to the beginning of our company’s history, we’ve always been about integration, data integration around CRM or around customer data. If you look at all the other players out there — Boomi, Cast Iron, Informatica, Pervasive — they're much more generic. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad word, but they integrate data across any kinds of application.
Scribe has been deep in the Microsoft CRM market. When we went to build our cloud product, Scribe Online, we said, “What are the four areas of a company that create or want to leverage customer data?” So we looked at it as kind of personas. If you're in sales, you're probably running some kind of CRM application. If you're in marketing, you're using some kind of marketing automation application; it could be HubSpot, it could be Eloqua, it could be Marketo. It could be some email management product like ExactTarget. Those are the kinds of applications that marketers run. And similarly, if you're in finance and accounting, then you have all those accounting and ERP solutions. The fourth area of a company, the fourth persona, would be in the contact center, in support.
When we think about the ISV applications we want to connect to, the systems integrators that would most want to work with Scribe Online, what we try to do is think about those personas. What are the applications that sales people use? What are the applications that finance accounting, marketing and support contact center use? This is how we think about how we go to market, who we want to partner with, how we develop the user experiences.
We ultimately want Scribe Online to be usable by Sarah the support person or Sam the seller or Mary the marketer. So we think about the personas in that context and it’s because we just focus on customer data. We’re not focusing on HR data. We’re not focusing on travel expense information. We’re focused on the data that describes a business’ relationship with its customers. And those customers interact with the business through sales, marketing, support and accounting.
Lawson: So that goes back to at least your cloud solution, right?
Guercia: What I think is really cool about it is that has been kind of consistent with our heritage over the last 15 years. We don’t just go after any kind of data integration product. We’re always focused around CRM, ERP, marketing and support. We just formalized our approach more with the online product.
Lawson: When you use that kind of approach, how does that work in terms of IT supporting it? What do the roles do?
Guercia: When you're looking at integrating marketing automation solutions like Marketo or ExactTarget with SalesForce and you want to get information out of an ERP solution like Great Plains or Oracle Financials or SAP, it’s a collaborative effort. You're going to want to make sure that people in those three departments — accounting, sales and marketing — are well represented.
Let’s just say that I’m in the marketing area, you are in IT, and Dan (MacLeod, Marketing Associate Scratch Marketing+Media) is the systems integrator at Hitachi, who we’ve brought in to integrate all this. The way Scribe Online is designed is it’s very collaborative. So you may be the ultimate owner because you're the IT organization. You’ve subscribed to Scribe Online, but you want to invite in Dan and the folks from Hitachi to work on building the integrations between these three applications: Oracle Financial, SalesForce and Marketo.
I want to be represented, because I want to make sure that the right information is coming from my system, that I understand what information you want, and that I can provide it on a time frame, whether it’s hourly, daily, weekly, that makes sense. So you can actually invite me into the organization. You can invite Dan and other architects from Hitachi into the organization. Once my needs are met, or maybe once your needs are met and you’ve got everything you need from me, you then, through a web browser, can dismiss me. You can say, “Lou, thank you very much. This was great. You're now not a part of this integration.”
Once Hitachi has helped you implement this, then you can say, “Hey, thanks Dan, thanks Hitachi, you guys are gone.” And now you can manage this.
To my knowledge, we’re the only cloud data integration platform that not only has roles, if you will, but we actually have this collaborative environment where you can invite key people in and out of the integration because we think these integrations should be an ongoing process. It shouldn’t be from April to June of 2013, we’re going to integrate these two systems and then declare victory. This should be the type of thing where you should be doing certain work this year, maybe you can extend it to include the contact center in 2014, and you're going to continue to evolve and develop your company’s data and applications so it better serves the needs of the customers.
Lawson: What do you see as the “big news” about Scribe Online’s integration service?
Guercia: It is a completely new visual programming language. If you look at these integration products, they were developed several years ago and they're very workflow oriented. The term that we tend to use is very “step control;” you do this, then you do this, then you do this, and it’s very systematic, multi-step.
With Scribe Online integration service, we were inspired by a visual programming language called Scratch. Scratch was developed by the MIT media lab to teach children how to program. So with Scribe Online, the big news was that you have a palette of puzzle pieces or graphical objects that you just drag onto your palette and you just essentially create your data maps or your integrations between applications and their data in a very graphical way. And we’re getting just stunningly positive feedback as to how we’re reinventing how data integration is done.
There was a great piece that was written by Mark Smith of Ventana Research. We’ve gotten great feedback from Ray Wang at Constellation and Rebecca Wedeman from Nucleus Research.
So I think what’s the big news was that, not only did we come out with this major new release with this visual programming language based on MIT’s Scratch, but we had some new brands join our ISV, and one of the hottest new IPOs in the making is Marketo.
Marketo is a Bay Area company in this really hot field called marketing automation and they just filed for their IPO. Last year, there was another marketing automation company called ExactTarget that went public that had a very successful IPO. And then also, just before that, Oracle made a near one-billion-dollar acquisition of another marketing automation company called Eloqua.
So this marketing automation segment is very, very hot because at the end of the day, people realize that it’s not just about managing their sales better with CRM, but it’s understanding every communication you as a customer or as a prospect has — every web visit, every response to an email, every solicitation. This is what marketing automation strives to do and we had Marketo and ExactTarget write to our Scribe Online platform. So we’re getting real dominance in this marketing to sales world.