Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corp. has never been reluctant to take chances when it comes to IT spending.
"We have gone out on a limb on several occasions in different markets and in varying degrees of criticality and have never really had a failure by a provider whether it was software or hosted services," said CIO David Langston.
So when the Houston-based mortgage broker set out to replace its existing GoldMine CRM system, it wasn't too surprising that it chose to entrust its 5,000-seat implementation to a hosted CRM vendor. But it didn't choose Salesforce.com or even Siebel OnDemand -- both of which have publicized large enterprise customer wins in the last year. Instead, Allied selected Seattle-based Entellium Corp., which has been quietly making headway with its hosted CRM offering less than two years after moving to the United States from its former headquarters in Malaysia.
Any 5,000-seat deal is a good one for a hosted CRM provider, but this is a significant win for Entellium, said Laurie McCabe, vice president of SMB solutions for New York-based AMI Partners.
"That deal not only draws attention, but helps to put them into consideration in these kinds of deals," she said. "Really, it's hard on a marketing and PR level for anyone to compete with Salesforce."
Langston admitted there were concerns about Entellium's size and its relatively recent emergence in the U.S. market, but those were overcome.
"First, we've certainly developed a skill in recognizing a good product," Langston explained. "Second, there's an incredible value that's associated with it. And third, it's something that's going to be used by my customers."
Hosted CRM, applications housed and run in the provider's data centers and accessed by users via the Web, established itself with the small and midsized businesses (SMBs) but has recently made inroads into the enterprise market, most notably with Salesforce.com, which has boasted of large deals with Merrill Lynch, ADP and SunGard. Entellium's deal with Allied Home Mortgage rivals those and could reach 5,000 users. Allied currently has 4,200 employees and expects to increase that number by 800 over the course of its three-year agreement with Entellium, according to Langston.
So far, Allied has deployed Entellium to a couple of hundred users in its corporate offices and intends to extend it to a couple of hundred New Jersey branches by the end of next month. The third wave of users will be deployed over the following year as word spreads of the value of the system, thus easing adoption challenges. There is already a significant incentive to use the Entellium system in the form of a highly successful lead generation program being used by the New Jersey branches that other branches are clamoring for, Langston said.
Learning the importance of end-user adoption after some struggles with other technologies, Allied made that one of its primary buying criteria.
"We got down to a short list of hosted providers versus building our own," Langston said. "In the end it was Entellium versus build. The reason we were so swift in eliminating most of the marketplace has to do with the learning curve in providing tools to our population. The lesson we learned is the easier this is to use for someone who has a mortgage mindset, the more likely it is to be used and provide results that can be measured in terms of increased production."