CRMExplorer is the February 2012 SugarCRM App of the Month. CRMExplorer is a tool for visual CRM data mining. CRMExplorer provides an innovative and interactive way of visualizing SugarCRM data and all interconnections between data elements. It can be used to get more transparency on all CRM objects and their links among each other. Visit the SugarForge project.

Name, title and brief bio?

Matthias Schuhmann. Since 2005 - CIO of Orpheus GmbH From 2002 - Project Leader/Lead Developer of several projects From 1998 - Developer in several projects.

Why are you a leading contributor in the SugarCRM community? What are the benefits that you experience from your involvement?

Orpheus got involved in the SugarCRM community because of our desire to participate in one of the leading CRM platforms and because we use SugarCRM in our own company. The community is very helpful to discuss new applications and business ideas.

What other projects have you been involved with on SugarForge.org?

We have been working with our customers to refine and enhance the functionality of CRMExplorer over the past two years. While CRMExplorer is our first project with SugarForge.org there are a number of interesting projects currently being planned for the future.

What inspired you to create this project?

Well, we use SugarCRM in our own company. As a leading provider of BI visualization software we tried to apply our own innovative visualizations like "Dependency Graph" or "Tree Map" to the SugarCRM data. The results we got out of this experiment were very encouraging. So we decided to use this approach to support SugarCRM users bringing more transparency into their SugarCRM data set and perform visual data mining in a completely new way.

What business pain points were you solving specifically?

The CRMExplorer tool allows analyzing structural relations within the SugarCRM data set. This is especially valuable to answer questions like: "Which opportunities regarding a certain close data with which accounts are in which sales stages and supported by certain sales representatives? Th kind of questions is difficult to answer with classic business charts and BI-tools.

CRMExplorer is built to fill this gap. Therefore it supports the SugarCRM user to get more transparency on all CRM objects and their interconnections. We name this structural visualization and network analysis. Using our innovative visualization methods like "Dependency Graph", "Tree Map" or "List View" you can browse and explore your data in a completely new way - easy to use, flexible and highly interactive.

Is there anything that the users should know about those? Something hidden/new in this project? Think of this as an opportunity to describe how it works to a user?

The business pain points we like to address are as follows:

  1. Get a complete overview of your SugarCRM data objects and connections
  2. Use advanced visualizations for SugarCRM data instead of "boring" bars, lines etc.
  3. Use visual data mining and ad-hoc analysis capabilities to investigate data patterns
  4. Browse interactively through your SugarCRM data objects and connections
  5. CRMExplorer goes one step beyond OLAP

What would you say to encourage additional community participation?

The best way to understand if you're on the right track is to work together with an community. The more developers there are on SugarForge, the better the feedback is going to be for all of us.

What do you want to build next for Sugar?

First we want to be successful with CRMExplorer. The next step will be to improve the data mining capabilities of the tool. We are sure that there is a huge market for professional ad-hoc data analysis tools using new and highly specialized visualization types. So we are currently working on a set of visualizations dedicated to application areas like pipeline analysis, activity analysis or customer tagging and clustering.

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