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The problem with many Customer Relationship Manager tools (CRM’s) is that they are too complex for small and medium-sized companies to use.  Salesforce, which is the world’s leading CRM software vendor with 14% market share in 2012, may offer the most tools, but for many companies, it’s just too darn complicated.  That’s where a number of smaller CRMs, including Citrix’s Podio, are finding their niche.

The online work platform is seeing growth from users that switch over from Salesforce and other big-name CRMs.

“The thing that we hear is that Salesforce ultimately is too complex,” said Lilly Hanscom, PR Manager at Podio.  “This is the advantage that Podio has, in that it is so customizable, it is a simple platform and it weeds out some of those feature-heavy or bloated features that small companies that aren’t large organizations don’t necessarily need.”

Unlike some larger more complex CRMs, Podio has a simple step-by-step process to get started.  As a new user, you input the name of your organization, pick your company’s icon and add your email.  From there, you can pull in all your contacts associated with your work email address.  You then have the option to pick different templates to set up how you want to use Podio, for example, if you are a marketing company, you can set it up using the marketing template, etc.  One of Podio’s advantages is that unlike other CRMs, Podio’s is set up using apps, which makes it more user-friendly and Apple-like.

Podio

After you pick your company’s template, you can then add in different apps to build into your own workspace.  Podio has over 800 free apps to choose from depending your type of company.  For example, if you are a PR & Communications company, you could click on that function and see a list of apps relevant to that field including campaigns, media contacts, clippings and press content.

One of Podio’s strengths is its ability to let users customize their own workspace, so if you don’t see an app that’s designed exactly how you need, you can easily create your own using a drag and drop-type of template.

Podio App

Once you set up your workspace, the left side becomes your navigation bar with all of your organizations, so you can be a member of multiple organizations and you only need one universal account.  On the top are your mini apps and in and on the right is your social platform, where you can bring in contacts from LinkedIn, Exchange, Google or Facebook.  A search bar on the top will search everything across all your workspaces.

Another unique feature to Podio is it’s recent addition of video and audio conferencing to it’s browser version (the mobile video and audio conference is still in Beta).  Unlike industry leaders Yammer and Salesforce, Podio’s technology is built into its platform and allows you to speak with your colleagues and external clients in real-time.  The Skype-like service allows you to share files within voice chats and can access content from Sharefile, Google Drive, Sugarsync, Dropbox, Box, and others.  The video feature is powered through GoToMeeting with HDFaces, another Citrix product.

Small companies of under 5 employees can use “Podio Lite” for free and add five external clients or colleagues.  Companies of over 5 employees can use the “Podio Teams” for $9 per employee per month and add unlimited external clients.

CRM’s aimed at small and medium-sized businesses like Podio, Zoho and Bitrix24 are growing at a rapid rate as they offer easy-to-use interfaces and low-cost options for companies that can’t afford an IT training team.  The CRM worldwide market, which grew from $16B to $18B  from 2011 to 2012, according to Gartner, is expected to grow even more as the majority of small to medium-sized companies still haven’t adopted CRMs.  While the leaders in the CRM space including Salesforce, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft will remain the dominant players in the market, it is still yet to be seen who will emerge as the leader among small and medium sized businesses, but Podio looks like a contender.


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