GlassCubes is an example of the type of companies entering this space, providing tools that the average sales person can begin using with little or no training.The small business market is seeing a new crop of customer relationship management and intranet applications designed to provide a basic set of features without overwhelming the user.
GlassCubes is a London-based company that launched last Fall. They now have about 250 customers. A good number of their users are companies that migrated from British Telecom Workspace, which has discontinued its contact management and collaboration product. GlassCubes has teamed up with the telecom provider to help users make the switch.
The GlassCubes product has a clean user interface. It provides features that would be considered basic by the advanced user. And that's the point. Microblogging, for instance, is not a feature you will find in GlassCubes. It is on the road map but to start they want the sales person to feel comfortable with the product and not require training on features they know little or nothing about. This is a trend we are seeing with content management systems for the small businesses and larger enterprise systems like Sharepoint. The new Sharepoint 2010 feels like it has social features designed for the mass market. In GlassCubes' case, the basic features are deep enough for the average user but not overwhelming to intimidate them into not using the application. More social features are on the road map, including the possibility of integrating Google Wave.
GlassCubes has the following core set of features:
- Contact Management
- Cubes (project management spaces)
- Upload capabilities
- Shared Calendar
- Free Conference Call Service
- Flexible Customization Capabilities
We find a need in the market for core contact management features. GlassCubes has a standard feature set but is lacking email integration. Rob Hallums, online marketing manager for GlassCubes says they are in the process of integrating Microsoft Outlook and other email providers. We reviewed OfficeMedium earlier this week. GlassCubes compares well against OfficeMedium. GlassCubes may lack email but it does have a decent tasks feature. Tasks may be assigned to individuals or companies. With email, this feature would be a big hit for GlassCubes users who want to keep track of tasks by sending email from within the application.
Cubes is a neat play on an office metaphor. Cubes are designed to be secure spaces where users may collaborate on documents. Cubes have their own calendars. Tasks may be tracked and assigned. Notifications, conference calls, discussions and polls are also Cubes features.
Document management is a fundamental aspect of any content management system. GlassCubes users may upload documents up to one gigabyte in size. Version control is baked into the product. Users may share documents. With standard services like Google Docs, users send links to the file they want to share.
GlassCubes appears to have core search capabilities. They use Lucene, the open-source search engine.
Under the hood, GlassCubes looks robust. It is built on a Java platform that runs on Sun Solaris. The company uses open-source libraries in both Java and C/C++. This looks appealing from the end user perspective as it appears it has the ability to scale.
GlassCubes is a pretty rich CRM environment for the small business. It has core collaboration features. It does not have all the bells and whistles of a service like Salesforce.com. Nor does it have the massiveness of a service like Sharepoint. But it also does not have a minimum entry level such as with Jive Sofware. Instead, it fits with the companies who are looking for a productivity suite that users can begin using with little or no training. Pricing is competitive, based on a subscription model.
GlassCubes does need some additional features, including email and instant messaging. With the additional features, GlassCubes is a product that should be a consideration for the small business looking for a CRM environment.