APPLE IS GEARING UP to launch a new internal customer relationship management (CRM) system, known as Apple CRM, according to a claim by a US-based source.
The new system is based on SugarCRM and will link every part of Apple's internal customer relationship systems, including its in-store, Genius bar, and online presences. Until now, these systems have been discrete in CRM terms, the source said.
The new system is to go live globally in April, and will allow Apple to have a much broader and deeper view of its customer relationships and how they relate to the different parts of its business.
Apple CRM was originally scheduled to launch last autumn, but was delayed by the challenges of integrating all of Apple's global systems, according to our source.
Apple, headquartered in Ireland and whose new spaceship-shaped California campus will open in April, has recently filed a defence against a European Commission claim that it owes €13bn in back taxes. It is not known if this has affected the global CRM implementation in any way.
Until now, Apple has been a Salesforce customer and then developed its own internal CRM system, before opting to create the new platform with SugarCRM.
Privately-held SugarCRM has long prided itself on being platform agnostic, and has been quietly ramping up its public presence in recent years. Current customers include IBM, Mitsubishi, HTC, Agfa Healthcare, and audio specialist Sennheiser.
This latest development suggests that the company may be a much more significant player in the CRM market over the next few years than its low profile might have previously suggested - particularly as it appears to be winning major deals from its larger rivals.
SugarCRM declined to comment on the story and Apple did not respond to our enquiry. µ
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