CRM prominent on Google Apps marketplace

No less than 13 applications are available on Google's Apps Marketplace since its launch in March

CRM (customer relationship management) software has established a significant foothold on Google's Apps Marketplace since its launch in March, according to an official blog post this week.

The post lists 13 CRM applications that can be installed on a Google Apps domain. Some offerings are for general-purpose CRM, focusing on the sales cycle and customer service. Represented vendors in this camp include Zoho, Applane, Capsule, Tactile, and Timetonote.

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Other applications, such as BatchBook and Bantam Live, tap into the growing "social CRM" niche, which is oriented around monitoring social networks and engaging in conversations with customers.

A third group, including products from Insightly and Solve360, are aimed at project-based businesses.

All of the applications feature varying degrees of integration with Google's Apps productivity suite. At a minimum, they include single sign-on from Google Apps, but others go deeper, adding features like contact synchronization and Google calendar sharing.

Google created the marketplace in an effort to build up a broader ecosystem around its Apps business, which competes with Microsoft, IBM and others. Its hope is that Apps users will stitch together an array of business applications, all unified via Google's integration points and management tools.

The marketplace also includes applications that complement CRM, such as MailChimp for email marketing and FreshBooks for invoicing and time-tracking.

But the marketplace may need to provide better guidance for users.

While the CRM offerings there "might be good in their own right," comments users made to the blog post are telling, said analyst Denis Pombriant of Beagle Research, via email.

"People are asking for direction and insight into what might be right for them and their businesses," he said. "This all seems to prove the point that CRM is a discipline and an approach to business, not simply a technology set. Some vendors and customers are still making the obvious mistake of searching for a miracle."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.

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