If there’s one thing that Greg Friedman knows after a decade as a software entrepreneur, it’s to promise what you can already deliver.
The president of San Rafael, Calif.,-based CRM Software is making an exception this time.
Friedman is announcing that his company’s industry-leading customer relationship management product, Junxure, will have a cloud-based version of its software come January. The hype surrounding the cloud forced Friedman to take a risk by putting a date on the product’s unveiling, he says.
“It was hurting us because we weren’t saying anything. We weren’t looking like the market leaders because people didn’t know what we were doing,” Friedman says. He is also co-principal of Private Ocean, a large RIA.
Across many industries, cloud-based software is increasing being touted as cheaper, easier to update and more reliable than software flowing from specific servers.
Friedman says the new Junxure product, which will not have all the functionality of the desktop version, will appeal to smaller advisors and those looking for more flexibility to plug in to other vendors.
The pricing hasn’t been set; Junxure currently charges $350 per user per year.
Technology consultant Joel Bruckenstein, Miramar, Fla.-based producer of T3 conferences and newsletters, said Friedman made the right call in announcing the new product well ahead of its launch. See: The T3 conference heads to the Everglades — and so does RIABiz.
“I agree they had to announce it now so that folks who are shopping CRM or those current clients who want it can plan accordingly,” he says.
“The pressure is on Junxure to offer a cloud-based product because that’s where the majority of new applications for advisors are headed,” adds Bill Winterberg, principal of FPPad.com of Dallas, Texas.
“Advisors are not IT professionals or server administrators, so anything that can be done to reduce their internal infrastructure is beneficial and often preferred.”
CRM Software is a 43-employee company that has been around for more than a decade. More than 9,000 advisors use Junxure.
Schwab Intelligent Integration
Junxure profile was raised recently when it was named as one of the three hubs of Schwab Intelligent Integration, along with Salesforce and Microsoft CRM. SII is the grand ecosystem of technology that Schwab Advisor Services is working to build for its 6,500 financial advisors with more than $600 billion of assets in custody. Of the three software companies picked by Schwab, CRM Software was the only one truly customized for RIAs and it was also the only one of the three that is not cloud-based.
Schwab is constructing its ecosystem of software providers around the CRM application. See: Schwab chooses some giant software partners, apparently with big RIAs in mind
Friedman says he has other custodians in mind as well with his cloud initiative.
“We’re obviously committed to (Schwab’s effort) and working with them closely. But we’re not exclusive just like they’re not, so we’re talking to all the major custodians.”
Creating a cloud-based version is consistent with this goal, Bruckenstein says.
Not scalable now
“Junxure does a good job of integration now, but it is not scalable. A cloud product will be scalable.”
The cloud version will also appeal to multi-location advisors, Friedman says.
Having decided to put Junxure into the cloud, Friedman is determined to go all out. He has hired six people with what he considers to be experts in user experience and web architecture as part of his company’s cloud effort. The user experience product manager is Mona Singh and Page Horton is the senior technical architect and developer.
The cloud product is literally a rewrite of his desktop software with no recycling of code.
The cost of the simplicity gained by going to the cloud, he says, is that it could take years for the functionality of the cloud-based product to approach the desktop version.
Still, the desktop-versus-cloud distinction is a red herring of sorts, he adds. Between 10% and 15% of Junxure users are currently using the software over the web from servers set up by the advisors themselves — or companies they contract with privately. This concept is known as the private cloud in computing circles.
“We have it in a private cloud; now (with the launch of the new service) the advisor won’t have to create their own private cloud.”