SugarCRM is planning a Siri-like agent named Candace

Its new Sugar Intelligence Service will tap AI and offer predictive analytics

SugarCRM has put AI at the core of its product plans and is working on a new intelligence service along with a Siri-like agent named Candace.

Tapping the company's recent acquisitions of Stitch and Contastic, the new technology will be designed to help businesses spend less time entering data into their customer relationship management software and more time learning from and acting upon it.

SugarCRM is scheduled to demonstrate the new capabilities Wednesday at its SugarCon conference in San Francisco.

"In the CRM space, we want people to focus on what they're good at: relating to others, such as customers and partners," Rich Green, SugarCRM's chief product officer, said in an interview last week.

In this era of big data, however, that's not always possible.

"As data becomes more and more available, it typically has required quite a bit of labor to ensure that your CRM system stays up to date," Green explained.

The initial goal of the company's new Sugar Intelligence Service is to "remove the need for individuals to insert, add, modify and keep information current," he said.

Toward that end, the service will integrate data from a variety of external sources, including the Internet of Things (IoT), with internal CRM data to provide a more comprehensive view of the customer.

Such tasks will be handled automatically by the new software, but the hope is that it will go much further than that.

"Where we're headed is to use machine learning to go through these huge data sets, call out important insights, and make recommendations," Green said.

Predictive analytics capabilities, for example, will drive suggestions for the best next steps to take for optimal customer interactions.

Sugar Intelligence will be an open platform so that developers can extend and enhance it by creating new features, the company said.

Also on SugarCRM's roadmap is Candace, an AI-powered intelligent agent that guides and assists users in interactions with customers, helping them plan meetings, build deeper connections, recommend best actions, and respond to late-breaking developments.

Candace will be able to listen in on meetings and use natural language processing to parse the conversation, for example, then make recommendations and define follow-up actions, Green said.

Pricing and availability details for the new products are not yet available.

CRM giant Salesforce has also made a number of moves into AI recently, including buying MetaMind earlier this year and touting its "AI-first Salesforce Customer Success Platform."

Intelligent agents, meanwhile, have become increasingly common, including not just Apple's Siri but also Microsoft's Cortana.

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Katherine Noyes

IDG News Service
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