The Twelve Days of CRM | 12/19/2014
Let’s face it. Who knows the values of partridges in pear trees or even five golden rings? Certainly they have been substantially diminished in recent times.
Hence my rewrite of the lyrics here: but please substitute your own preferences in the comments…
Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Good Kwanza. A successful 2015
On the first day of Christmas my CRM gave to me a database full of customers and leads
On the second day of Christmas my CRM gave to me Two-way sync to mobile on the road and a database full of customers and leads
On the third day of Christmas my CRM gave to me Three web browsers, Two-way sync to mobile on the road and a database full of customers and leads
On the fourth day of Christmas my CRM gave to me Foreknowledge of activities, Three web browsers, Two-way sync to mobile on the road and a database full of customers and leads
On the fifth day of Christmas my CRM gave to me … Five times the sales … Foreknowledge of activities, Three web browsers, Two-way sync to mobile on the road and a database full of customers and leads
On the sixth day of Christmas my CRM gave to me Six times the accounting integration … Five times the sales … Foreknowledge of activities, Three web browsers, Two-way sync to mobile on the road and a database full of customers and leads
On the seventh day of Christmas my CRM gave to me Seven types of communication, Six times the accounting integration … Five times the sales … Foreknowledge of activities, Three web browsers, Two-way sync to mobile on the road and a database full of customers and leads
On the eighth day of Christmas my CRM gave to me Eight hard-working staff, Seven types of communication, Six times the accounting integration … Five times the sales … Foreknowledge of activities, Three web browsers, Two-way sync to mobile on the road and a database full of customers and leads
On the ninth day of Christmas my CRM gave to me Nine management reports, Eight hard-working staff, Seven types of communication, Six times the accounting integration … Five times the sales … Foreknowledge of activities, Three web browsers, Two-way sync to mobile on the road and a database full of customers and leads
On the tenth day of Christmas my CRM gave to me Ten Pipeline processors, Nine management reports, Eight hard-working staff, Seven types of communication, Six times the accounting integration … Five times the sales … Foreknowledge of activities, Three web browsers, Two-way sync to mobile on the road and a database full of customers and leads
On the eleventh day of Christmas my CRM gave to me Eleven Marketing templates, Ten Pipeline processors, Nine management reports, Eight hard-working staff, Seven types of communication, Six times the accounting integration … Five times the sales … Foreknowledge of activities, Three web browsers, Two-way sync to mobile on the road and a database full of customers and leads
On the twelfth day of Christmas my CRM gave to me Twelve monthly bonus cheques, Eleven Marketing templates, Ten Pipeline processors, Nine management reports, Eight hard-working staff, Seven types of communication, Six times the accounting integration … Five times the sales … Foreknowledge of activities, Three web browsers, Two-way sync to mobile on the road and a database full of customers and leads
Backup Act! CRM Data to the Cloud with @Dropbox as a Service | 12/12/2014
A couple of years ago, in an article called Taking your ACT! on Holiday, I discussed the use of Dropbox to help with off-site backups. One of the issues with this is that Dropbox only uploads the files when you’re logged into the system and that means it’s not a great option for backing up the database on your server.
A little research and some testing later, and I have the solution for you –
Run Dropbox as a Windows service
What this means is that, when Windows is running, Dropbox will also be running without you needing to be logged in to the server. The benefit of this is that Dropbox will be able to keep uploading backups created by the Act! Scheduler to the cloud.
So, how do we go about this? Well, we need to install Dropbox and set it up as a service.
- Log into your Windows Server as a local administrator
- Download the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit, which you can download from:
Note: There isn’t a later version of the Resource Kit. Don’t worry about that if on 2008
You just need the files INSTSRV.EXE and SRVANY.EXE from this kit
- Install the Server Resource Kit or just copy the two files (INSTSRV and SRVANY) to:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Resource Kits\Tools
Note: You only need the two files mentioned. They can be in any folder – I’ve used the location from the default install. If you change the location, you’ll need to adjust those paths in a few spots.
- Download Dropbox from: https://db.tt/82ZOShy
Install and setup Dropbox
- Install Dropbox as per normal
- Select a folder for Dropbox to use – I prefer not to use the user folder for this, so create C:\Dropbox or add a Dropbox folder to your Data folder on the local system.
You’ll set the Act! Scheduler to save the backups into this folder (or a sub-folder)
- Open the Dropbox Preferences, by clicking on the icon in the SysTray, and turn off
- Show desktop notifications
- Start Dropbox on system startup
- Exit Dropbox from the SysTray
Setting up the Service
- There are two options here, depending on which Operating System you’re using:
- If Windows 2003 or 2008,
Open a command prompt, change directory to
C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit\
instsrv Dropbox "c:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Resource Kits\Tools\srvany.exe"
If it worked, you should get:
The service was successfully added! .
If Windows 2008 R2, open an elevated command prompt (Run As Administrator) and type:
sc create Dropbox binPath= "C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit\srvany.exe" DisplayName= "Dropbox Service"
If all ok, you’ll get:
[SC] CreateService SUCCESS.
Next open the Services applet – Start > Run > services.msc
Scroll to the Dropbox item in the list. Right-click and select Properties
Switch to the “Log On” tab
- Click “This account”, and enter an Admin account with Full Access to the Dropbox folder. Set the appropriate password for that account.
- Click Apply
- Switch back to the “General” tab
- Change “Startup type” to Automatic
- Click Apply and OK
- If this is the first time you have done this procedure for the administrator user, you may get an notification saying that the “Administrator user has been granted log on as service rights”.
DO NOT START THE SERVICE AT THIS TIME.
- Next is to set up some registry settings for the service. Open the registry editor
Start > Run > regedit
- Navigate to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Dropbox
- Create a new key “Parameters”
- Add a new string value “Application”, (type REG_SZ). Set the value to the path to the dropbox.exe binary.
Find the location by right clicking the Dropbox icon on the desktop. Select Properties and copy the Target.
- Close the Registry Editor
- Start the service either from Services.msc or by:
Run > Net start Dropbox
- If you check your Task Manager, you will find both Dropbox and srvany running
Files saved by you or the Act! Scheduler to this folder should be automatically uploaded.
Important Notes and References
- If you want to make changes to the Dropbox preferences:
You MUST stop the service first, make the changes, exit Dropbox and then restart the service
- These methods should also work with the desktop operating systems if you want to do this on XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8.
- Reference from Microsoft on INSTSRV and SRVANY: How to Create a User-Defined Service
- Reference from Microsoft on: How to Create a Windows Service by Using SC.exe
- There are also some third-party tools that can be more stable in a production system. I haven’t tested them, but here are three I’ve found:
- You should regularly check the backups as I mentioned in my original article:
Taking your Act! on Holiday
Please post in the comments if you have any questions.
What’s new in Act! v17 – with KB links and videos #ActCRM | 12/02/2014
Say hello to Act! v17, the newest and most intelligent version of the #1 best-selling contact and customer manager. With enhancements to integration and automation, it's easier than ever to turn your marketing efforts into successful sales.
Act! v17 is not just fixes – there are significant enhancements that make it easier than ever to turn your marketing efforts into successful sales. With the new enhancements to integration and automation, it’s easier than ever to turn your marketing efforts into successful sales. Finally – sales process meets nurture marketing.
Grow and connect with your audience – the newly enhanced, intelligent, integrated Act! emarketing experience helps you attract new customers and get more from existing relationships. Optimize your workforce and drive productivity with enhancements that help you save time and stay organized, including a dynamic view of all your contact interactions with Contact Timeline, new Smart Task automation, and numerous usability, installation, and configuration improvements.
Discover the new, modern look of Act!
- Easily access resources, tools, and a variety of apps that help you get more out of your solution.
- Explore the new look of Act! – updated icons, colours, and layouts help you navigate more easily, save time, and focus on what’s important.
- Explore the new look of Act! – updated icons, colours, and layouts help you navigate more easily, save time, and focus on what’s important.
Easily access a variety of apps, right from within the integrated Act! marketplace, that help extend the power and possibilities of your Act! solution – including dozens of premium apps for integrated accounting, data management and reporting, plus, exclusive discounts for Business Care Members!
- Get the most out of Act! with helpful tips, access to webinars and tutorials, and updates on the latest news from Act! from the new Act! Welcome Page.
Modern Look Knowledgebase Articles
Modern Look Videos
To be added
Enhanced Act! emarketing
- Enhanced Act! emarketing fuses your marketing and sales efforts together for individuals and now teams, by automating key follow-up activities driven by intelligence from campaigns and web forms.
- Easily create simple web forms to capture leads from webpages, newsletters, emails, and more with Act! Lead Capture, now included with Act! emarketing!
- Create, send, and track professional, eye-catching email campaigns that reach customers and prospects with the right message at the right time.
- Know who to follow up with first with intelligent, prioritized Call Lists that close the gap between Marketing and Sales.
- Find your best emarketing fit, with a new tier designed for teams, including additional contacts, Call List, and multiple profiles for sending email campaigns on behalf of your company, department, or individual team members.
- Save time by automating key follow-up activities based on dynamic criteria you define, with new Smart Task options for Act! emarketing – such as automatically sending an email to welcome a new customer, scheduling activities to follow up with hot leads, and assigning contacts to a new owner.
- NOTE: Act! emarketing Features are subscription-based services, Additional Fees apply
Act! emarketing Knowledgebase Articles
Act! emarketing Videos
Getting Started With Act! emarketing
Get to Know Act! emarketing
Getting Leads Using Lead Capture
Optimize your workforce and drive productivity with enhancements to save time and stay organized
- Now you can view all your interactions with a particular contact at a glance, with a new interactive visual timeline that helps you prepare for and personalize your customer interactions.
- New Outlook sync options allow you the choice of 1-way sync of your Act! Contacts and Calendar to Outlook, 2-way sync information back to Act!, or to keep both separate.
- Update contact records on-the-go, with new Act! Premium Mobile photo and document attachments.
- Easily link documents from popular business tools such as Dropbox, SharePoint, iCloud, Google Docs and more, to contact records in Act!
- Take advantage of new Smart Task options for sending Act! emarketing messages, assigning activities, and contact owner reassignment that give you powerful automation, so you don’t miss a beat.
Productivity Knowledgebase Articles
To be added
Get more done with streamlined configuration and access options
- Make sure more of your team is in-the-know – create read-only licenses for additional members of your business or team – at no extra charge!
- Easily create and distribute Act! Premium for Web remote databases and offline clients, directly via your web browser.
- Improved global preference management allows you to automatically deploy, activate, and customize default user preferences for multiple users in a snap. Thus allowing you to set up instances quickly and easily.
- Hide inactive users from drop-downs to help speed up data entry.
- Seamlessly import contacts from CSV files to Act! Premium for Web.
- Behind-the-scenes performance and usability enhancements for peace of mind.
- Automated silent install for larger deployments and enhancements to Global Preferences – all designed to help your efficiency.
Configuration and Access Knowledgebase Articles
Configuration and Access Videos
To be added
Act! Fanatics Club–Viability Survey #ActStory @ActStory | 07/22/2014
Some time ago, I was looking at setting up an Act! Fanatics Club (click on the link for more details) – well, the time to look into this has come.
I would really appreciate it if you would fill out this short Viability Survey - http://www.swiftpageemail.com/survey/ActFanaticsSurvey1
From this, we can determine how many of you are interested and what topics we should focus on.
This survey is open to Swiftpage staff, Act! Consultants, Act! users and potential users.
Please fill it n this week and share with anyone you think may be interesting.
New Security options for Handheld Contact | 08/14/2013
As mobile demands grow, so do security concerns, and organizations using Handheld Contact have been asking for more control over their ACT! CRM data.
Limiting features and data access is an excellent, proactive approach for organizations to protect their data. And today — thanks to popular feedback from clients — we are excited to introduce two new security features that enable Handheld Contact administrators to do just that: One-Way Sync and Export Contacts Control.
With One-Way Sync, a Handheld Contact administrator can disable data modifying and adding on a per-user basis. The end-user still gets to take advantage of Handheld Contact's powerful interface to access the data they need, and the organization can improve the security and integrity of their ACT! database by limiting functionality.
Export Contacts Control
Export Contacts Control allows a Handheld Contact administrator to disable the Export Contact feature on a per-user basis. Once disabled, ACT! data on the end-user's mobile device cannot be exported from the Handheld Contact mobile app to the device's built-in contacts app. The device's built-in contacts app is accessible by other services and third-party apps, so by disabling the Export Contacts feature, you eliminate the risk of ACT! contacts falling into the wrong hands.
Using One-Way Sync and Export Contacts Control
These new security features are available for you to use today and are conveniently accessible from the Handheld Contact computer application. Simply upgrade the ACT! server with the latest Handheld Contact computer application and all the associated Handheld Contact mobile devices with the latest mobile app and you're ready to go.
ACT! still a top 5 CRM <100 employees #ACTCRM | 05/02/2013
Now that the dust is starting to settle from the recent purchase of ACT! and SalesLogix from Sage, I was doing some research to see where ACT!’s standing is in the CRM market and came across some figures I thought worth sharing.
The first is from CRMswitch in their article: U.S. CRM Market Share 2013
ACT! is in 4th place in the 1-100 Employees demographic
I’m pretty certain that for sites of less than 50 seats, ACT! would be higher still – and more so under 25. I consider to be the “sweet-spot” for ACT! to be 10-25 users
Not only that, the article had ACT! in 6th place overall, which shows how big the SMB market is in comparison to the total.
As a nice point for Swiftpage, SalesLogix came in 5th overall giving them a combined total of 8.6% of the CRM market
Additionally, from the Gartner analysis Customer Relationship Management Software, Worldwide, 2012 (April 18th 2013), we can see that:
- Worldwide CRM market grew from $16Bm to $18Bn, experiencing 12% growth in 2012, three times the average of all enterprise software categories
- 40% of all CRM software sold in 2012 worldwide was SaaS-based. Gartner expects this figure to grow in the coming years
What this shows is that, while some outside the ACT! community see’s ACT! as somehow “old”, those who use it know that pound-for-pound, ACT! still packs a great punch … it’s very easy to use and is feature rich.
More so, it has expertise in some very core areas – from The History of ACT!, you can see it’s been available in the cloud since 1998 and on mobile devices since 1992. This gives ACT! the advantages of being:
- On-premises - with the additional security, speed, integration and control
- Sync – for remote offices and laptops
- Mobile – with options for HTML5 or native add-on, Handheld Contact, for additional functionality
- Cloud – for simpler admin of remote users via public or private hosting
With Swiftpage saying that they’ll be using their web expertise to add a multitenant cloud version this should help ACT! grow as a product in this expanding market, and also to increase it’s market share.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Office 2013 integration in #ACTCRM 2013 SP1–Updated | 04/30/2013
13th July 2013: I have updated the information on the issues and options for the Click-To-Run version of Office
Also added links to new/updated articles re IMessage errors
I was watching this video by Will Ingleby of BluebirdCRM on the integration of ACT! and Office 2013 and, as I’ve fielded quite a few questions on this, I thought it worth reposting as well as adding a couple of comments below.
Sage ACT! 2013 and MS Outlook 2013 Compatibility Overview by BluebirdCRM
Some points to note:
Office 2013 isn’t formally supported, but I’ve found it works well with the following provisos.
- One correction to Will’s video: ACT! 2013 needs to be installed as 15.1, not 15.0 then adding the service pack update. If your install CD or download is 15.0, contact ACT!, your ACT! Consultant or GL Computing to obtain the later 15.1 full install
- As with previous versions, Office must be installed as 32-bit (even if running on a 64bit operating system. This is Microsoft’s recommended way also as per this post (check the links in the comments):
Office 2010 support with ACT! by Sage #SageACT
- As Will says, History is not recorded when replying from the Preview pane … this is due to Microsoft not providing the same controls to track the sending that way.
You don’t need to open the email first in order to send the History – from the Preview reply, click “Pop-Out” before sending will work.
- Some users might get an error related to “IMessage” – Act! have two possible articles on this:
- Most important – you need to have the full install of Office 2013, not the Office 365 with the Click-To-Run install that doesn’t include all components for the full API needed to connect. Some info on this issue:
Other than these points, it should work the same as for previous versions of Office … please let me know in the comments if you find anything else worth noting
ACT! Users Celebrate: Sage sells ACT! & SalesLogix to Swiftpage | 02/17/2013
For those who haven’t heard:
Sage is selling ACT! and SalesLogix to Swiftpage
And it’s great news for all involved
Here are the relevant official releases:
As someone who has spent more than 25 years supporting ACT! and supported more ACT! users than anyone else over that time, I have had hundreds of messages and questions about this since the Friday announcement. Mainly focused on these areas:
- How many owners has ACT! had?
- Why would Sage sell the products?
- Is Swiftpage a good choice for ACT! and the ACT! Community?
- What does this mean for Mike Lazarus
Let’s discuss these one at a time – However, as I haven’t worked in the SalesLogix space, my views are from an ACT! perspective.
How many owners has ACT! had?
From The History of ACT!, this is the 4th sale of ACT! – and, if you don’t count Pat twice, the 4th owner:
- In 1993: Contact Software International (ex Conductor Software) purchased by Symantec
- In 1999: Sold by Symantec to SalesLogix (owned by Pat Sullivan, one of the co-founders of ACT!) – later renamed as Interact Commerce Corporation
- In 2001: Interact Commerce Corporation purchased by Sage Group Plc (Best Software in the US at that time)
- And now sold to Swiftpage
Why would Sage sell the products?
It’s useful to understand the reason Sage wanted ACT! (and SalesLogix) in the first place … a decade ago, companies in the ERP arena like Sage, Microsoft and others believed that they could gain advantages in the small-mid business market by providing a front-office solution to complement their accounting and ERP solutions, in a similar way that solutions sold to larger enterprises had done to lock in users to a single vendor.
This essentially failed for a number of reasons:
- Sage never managed to achieve the promise of real integration between ACT! and their accounting products to a level where they could show an advantage in an SME customer purchasing both from the same vendor
- Unlike with the enterprise users, small-mid businesses do not make the decisions on their accounting and their sales/marketing solutions at the same time or from the same management needs
- Sage never fully understood that the CRM market is different to ERP in it’s use – especially for small-mid market users and for those in international markets
Also, like SalesLogix (Interact), they thought that the ACT! base would become a feeder channel that they could convince to move to their bigger products – this belies the passion that most ACT! users have for the product and the reason why both Symantec and Sage couldn’t remove the ACT! branding to replace with their corporate ones. It also failed to appreciate how the needs of ACT! users differed from those of the other products.
Sage has had a tumultuous relationship with ACT! and the community surrounding it:
- They did recognise that, in order to add functionality that users wanted, ACT! needed to be re-engineered from the CodeBase architecture that the Symantec re-write had been based on. However they made the mistake of jumping on .Net and MS-SQL well before it was ready for prime-time (most tech support issues are related to the Microsoft components rather than Sage code) and this further limited the product in portability to Mac or other operating environments.
- Most of the long-time ACT! staff were let go instead of being promoted. This created a vacuum of requisite knowledge of both the product and the users within the organisation
- With the exception of the brief stewardship of David van Toor, senior management refused to engage the users and partners with any communication about problems or the direction of the product – to me, this was the single biggest error that Sage made. Although, since the more recent promotion of Ben Lederer to the Product Management position, this has been improving as I stated in the post: Looking ahead with #SageACT! 2013
- They gave up on ACT! in many international markets such as Asia, India and recently outsourced the Australian and New Zealand market to ACT! CRM – at least this last one improved the resources for ACT! users and partners
- Sage also failed to understand the mobile needs of the users – or that the mobile users for ACT! and SalesLogix have quite different needs. ACT! has been in the mobile market longer than most (since supporting HP95LX in 1992), but Sage’s years of trying to get their Sage ACT! Connect product (renaming it several times) working has been a distraction and a failure. It was the first time I’d ever publically advised against using a product with the ACT! brand in the post Getting ACT! on your phone and again in Problems with Sage Mobile for ACT! (new ACT! Mobile Live) and, most recently in this Sage ACT! Mobile Solutions Comparison. While the newer Sage ACT! Premium Mobile interface has some good functionality (when they get it right) for Premium users who can administer an IIS infrastructure, I’d suggest that Connect should be put to rest and that Swiftpage should work with Handheld Contact to provide a complete solution.
I do not feel, as some others do, that making ACT! a pure SaaS product would have been the right answer for Sage. One of the long-time ACT! consultants, Paul Marentette, put it this way:
I'm seeing a real backlash in the marketplace against high-cost, slow response plus the restricted controls endemic with SAAS. Remember, ACT! is uniquely positioned to work well over the web, but even better in on-premise/self-hosted environments while supporting mobile and remote users with the full features and fastest response only available from a local database.
ACT! has, in fact, been available as a hosted solution (browser or remote desktop) since 2003 – and I agree with Paul, in that one of ACT!’s advantages has been the variety of remote support options and third-party integration products that are not available in full SaaS offerings. As well as the higher expense that monthly fees typically entail and the fact that ACT! was built around the mobile sales-warrior who will often need access where the internet is not readily available.
That Sage has been wanting to sell off these products should come as no surprise. Most of us arrived at this conclusion seven months ago when Sage defined ACT! and SalesLogix as “non-core” as you can see in this discussion thread (despite Sage’s denials at the time)
Sage has realised that it’s good business sense to focus on the solutions it knows best … and, like when Symantec made the same decision previously, I believe this is the right call and will be good for both Sage Group, plc and for the products they are selling.
There are some who may think that the lack of corporate backing by Sage might hurt ACT!. Sage will maintain a 16.1% stake in the new ACT/SalesLogix operations, so there still is that backing to leverage off when it has value
Is Swiftpage a good choice for ACT! and the ACT! Community?
My answer: A resounding YES!
The Friday announcement is the public statement of intent. It’s still subject to final regulatory approval (which can take from a few weeks in up to 3 months) and no specific details of their plans have been revealed.
So, what is it about Swiftpage that I find so compelling and exciting?
- Swiftpage understands the products and the market
They have been working with the ACT! Community, as an add-on vendor, since about 2004. Senior Vice President and General Manager - Sage ACT! and Sage SalesLogix, Dan Wilzoch, pointed out:
As an existing partner and provider of Sage E-marketing for Sage ACT! and Sage SalesLogix, Swiftpage also brings a thorough understanding of our customers, partners, products and the markets in which we compete.
- Their partners find them great to do business with and they inspire loyalty
I should point out that, unlike other members of the ACT! community, I haven’t had a lot of dealings with Swiftpage as I don’t sell directly to end-users and my client base tends to be ACT! Consultants, Resellers and Add-on vendors that prefer communications and news via forums such the LinkedIN ACT! Fanatics Group – in fact, I previously produced add-ons for ACT! that directly competed with them, such as MergeMaster! for ACT! 5/6. My only connection with them is that I have, at times, recommended them to users via this affiliate link: Swiftpage
But, I know from all the many resellers and users that I deal with that Swiftpage has been a superlative organisation for them to deal with. They have been responsive and supportive of users and community, alike.
- Swiftpage understands the sales and marketing mentality
As their focus has been in digital marketing, they come from an appreciation of the needs of sales and marketing, which is quite different from those looking for an ERP or accounting solution.
- They understand the real value of ACT!
As a long-time add-on vendor, they know that ACT!’s value is in having a great, easy-to-use, core-product with users able to build the solutions they need via the huge number of add-on products available. Hopefully, this will means they will make it easier for such solutions to be created.
- Swiftpage has been in the cloud for a long time
While most ACT! users prefer the speed and functionality of local copies – as regional internet access improves and the market continues to mature, the benefits of having hybrid systems combining hosted (or SaaS) and on-premises solutions will be an area that ACT! is better enabled to take advantage of.
- Swiftpage is an entrepreneurial enterprise – like most of the ACT! user-base
ACT! has always flourished best when not constrained by the controls and red-tape associated with larger corporations that try to pigeon-hole it within their broader product range.
- Swiftpage has the necessary financial backing
Via investment from Accel-KKR, one of the preeminent private equity firms in the US. Accel-KKR has a reputation for creating high growth software companies. They would not be investing in Swiftpage if they did not think they have the skills and resources to make ACT! a big success
- They intend to make the international market a focus
Swiftpage has a lot of activity internationally and expects the international ACT! market to be an important point of growth going forward.
- I spoke to Swiftpage’s Chairman and Founder, Bob Ogdon, on the weekend. He reaffirmed that Swiftpage wants to reignite the energy and passion that the communities of both products still have in heavy supply. It is the intent of Swiftpage to include the ACT! community in a very active role. He told me that they want to make an impact and they need the key players in the ACT! community to be involved for that to happen.
One can see from this thread that the “ACT! Fanatics” in the Community are very much behind this change:
Announcement from ACT! Fanatics - ACT! and SalesLogix sold to SwiftPage
What about the future?
- They are bringing over 250 of the ACT! staff … this includes UK and US staff. Time will tell as to how many of those stay in place. There are many that I hope do just that – I won’t name those I especially think are important here, for fear of upsetting any I may inadvertently miss
- As I mentioned above, ACT! CRM is distributing in Australia and New Zealand and I’d expect this to continue. While there are some changes I might make to the local policies, I have considerable faith and trust in Michael Bryant (the long-time ACT! Consultant behind the new distributor). He knows the local market, has a considerable investment in both money and time behind the product, and has shown himself to have exceptional business and entrepreneurial skills
- I hope they listen to, and work with, the local Consultants in Europe and South America as well as looking at reigniting the markets in Asia, India and others that Sage left. Most especially, they need to understand some of the international issues that Sage had ignored. I’d be more than happy to assist them in this venture.
- I do hope they remove the artificial barriers of international regionalisation that Sage implemented (especially amongst the partners). While this is de rigueur for ERP and accounting solutions, it’s counter-productive for contact managers and CRM
- They should look at ending the annual upgrade cycle that makes more sense for ERP products than it does for CRM … good products should have their releases determined by development and QA, not by marketing, accountants and analysts.
- They should refocus on the core product – and look at the options to leverage off both on-premises and SaaS. Then promoting the third-party vars for functions they are already doing so well.
- More specific plans will be discussed and announced as the transfer proceeds to a close.
The ACT! world is going to be fun again - In fact, the only negative I can see is that searching the web for “ACT!” produces far too many unrelated results, compared to “Sage ACT!” or #SageACT on Twitter
Well, after 25 years supporting ACT!, including over 13,000 posts to the Sage ACT! Community site, winning the Experts-Exchange Titan Award 3 times and running the LinkedIN ACT! Fanatics Group, I can’t see myself going anywhere in the near future … but I am looking to see what opportunities this may present.
I must say that I have been delighted, humbled and a little amused by the posts in this ACT! Fanatics thread – while I don’t see the option of Pope being available, I would certainly be open to talking to Swiftpage and see how they could best leverage my skills, on-line reputation and passion for the product.
It the mean time, I’m looking to set up an ACT! Fanatics Club to provide the type of training indicated in this thread – please let me know if this would be of interest to you and worth putting the effort in?
Looking ahead with #SageACT! 2013 | 01/02/2013
Welcome to the new year, I hope you all had a wonderful time over the festive season are are looking forward to making the most of your contacts in the new year.
I am feeling more positive for the direction of Sage ACT! at this time than I have been for a few years. Those of you who have seen some of my posts in the LinkedIN ACT! Fanatics Group will know that I have had some issues over the past 5 years with the way that Sage management has been developing the product and especially with their head-in-the-sand approach in avoiding any communication with the users.
ACT! is still one of the best and most loved products in its class. Its millions of users worldwide depend on its operation and ease-of-use to run and grow their businesses by maintaining and tracking the relationships we have with our contacts.
Well, last year, there was a change at the top and Dan Wilzoch took over as General Manager for the product. My conversations with him have so far been quite positive. The best sign that this is a positive change, is that, while there has been a loss of a number of staff who really knew the product and the needs of it’s users … this time they have promoted one of the ACT! stars, Benjamin Lederer, to the position of Product Manager.
For those who don’t know Ben, he’s been with Sage since 2005 (and Symantec before that) in a variety of technical, development and product management roles. I have spoken to him many times and I can tell you he knows the product. He talks to those that deal with the users and he understands how to make the technology work. I have had situations where I had explained a bug to a number of Sage staff and nothing was done. A 10 minute call from Ben for me to explain the cause I had identified and he had it fixed quickly in a patch.
His first responsibility as Product Manager will be ACT! 2013 Service Pack 1 – due January 8th.
The best thing about the management change, so far, has been that Ben has already been communicating the intended road map publicly …
For Service Pack 1, Ben has stated the following:
- Microsoft Windows 8 and IE10 certification.
Note: IE10 works in 2 modes, Regular and Metro.In Metro (the full-screen app), Microsoft has not included ActiveX controls, so ACT! won’t have word processing or reports in that mode
- Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2011 and Windows Server Server 2012
This includes improving the APFW installer to work in SBS environments. This will have a positive effect on any deployment that has existing 64 bit web services (SharePoint, Exchange) and reduce the setup problems after ACT! is installed
- Microsoft Office version 15 (2013)
Note: This will be unofficial support at first. They have removed the code that would prevent you from using this product. It will still require Office to be installed in 32bit as Microsoft still hasn’t added the ActiveX controls to the 64bit version. But, this really doesn’t make a difference unless needing spreadsheets larger than 3GB and Microsoft recommends the 32bit install as I posted in a comment to this blog article
Microsoft has added a new feature in Outlook that will create some problems. Now you can reply to emails within the preview pane. Actions performed in the preview pane do not trigger any add-ons. The Microsoft third party developer groups are looking for ways around this, but as of now no workarounds are available. If you use Outlook the way you always have, we suspect there will be no problems. If you use the preview pane to reply to messages history will not be recorded.
- Other Enhancements
- All record type checkboxes are now checked by default in the Copy/Move Data wizard
- Database Startup view preference can now be any relevant view
- Significant changes to the social media integration – see the Screencast demo Ben posted here
- Over 25 customer reported bug fixes
This is a big improvement on the previous management who didn’t add Office 2010 support till the next paid upgrade rather than patching it in the current build.
There are still a number of issues with international data (phone numbers, dates and currency) both in the core product and in Premium Web. I have suggested to Ben that he calls me so I can properly explain these. Hopefully he’ll take me up on the offer as soon as he has time.
I will be posting some articles soon on mobility and social media for ACT! users as well as data security and a look at how hosted or SaaS. I think these are areas that are becoming more important to all of us.
Please add a comment to this article if there’s any topic you’d like me to address in a future article or if there are specific areas you think Sage needs to improve in the product. But remember that not all feature requests can be added as I explain in the article: How Are Product Management Decisions Made?
Well, that’s all for now … I hope you all have a successful 2013 and that Sage ACT! continues to help grow your business.
Taking your ACT! on holiday | 12/05/2012
As we approach the festive season many of you will have your minds turning to travel … some of you to warm climates enjoying beaches and swimming, while others to cooler areas that might involve building snowmen or some skiing. So I thought it would be useful to discuss a couple of important areas before you finalise your plans:
- Have you checked your backups?
- Will you have access to your Sage ACT! data if you need it on the road?
Checking your ACT! backups
- If you have not already done so, set up the Sage ACT! Scheduler to automate your backups as per this ACT! Knowledge Base article:
How to Use the ACT! Scheduler to Automatically Back Up Your Sage ACT! Database
- If you have done this, make sure you check the Scheduler logs to be sure it’s running ok as it doesn’t notify you if it’s been failing
- As an extra precaution, use another backup utility to store the backup in the “cloud” in case of a disaster. One easy way is to use Dropbox and backup to the Dropbox folder.
- Before you go, do a test restore from your backup … use “Restore As” and restore to a different name or folder, then test you can log in and access your data. You really should do this about once a month anyway.
Accessing your data on the road
While most of us prefer not to think about work while we’re having our much needed rest and relaxation, for those of us in small business we know this simply isn’t a realistic wish. It’s pretty certain that when we don’t have access is when something will arise that needs your data on hand.
There are some things we need to consider to ensure that we have that data and can use it:
- For those of you travelling outside of metro areas, you might find yourselves without decent WiFi or cellular data (or the costs to access these might get prohibitive). This could mean you can’t rely on access to web browser versions of Sage ACT!. So it’s always best to have your Sage ACT! data synchronised to a mobile device (smart phone or tablet).
- If you’re travelling to another country, many of the sync links to ACT! do not properly support international country codes and dialling rules to dial in the country you’re in or to dial back to contacts in your country.
The product I use that does the best job of keeping my Sage ACT! data with me is Handheld Contact. It syncs data to iOS (iPhones, iPad, iPod touch), Android (phones and tablets) and Blackberry (phones and Playbook). It fully supports international dialling and has many other benefits that will save you time as well as taking away the stress of being away from your data so you can enjoy yourself.
For more information or assistance with this, please contact your local ACT! Certified Consultant.
Wishing you all a very relaxed, happy and safe time over the holidays and a successful and prosperous new year.