New open-source CRM app uses gamification

The Zurmo CRM application is now in beta

The backers of a new open-source CRM (customer relationship management) application called Zurmo are hoping to stand out in a crowded field via the use of gamification, the notion of applying game-like design principles in an effort to make users engage more closely with a product.

Now in beta, Zurmo is written in PHP and made available under the GPLv3 open-source license. A release candidate is slated for availability in July, with a "general audience" release scheduled for September.

CIO Australia feature: What is gamification?

Its core CRM features cover contact management, deal tracking and activity management, while the gamification elements include the use of points and badges that users receive based on the actions they take, both in terms of sheer use as well as "business-related milestones," such as garnering a certain number of sales leads.

As users build up these points, they can achieve higher levels. The best performers jockey for space on a "leaderboard" inside the application, with the idea being to spur competition.

"We made the decision to go with gamification about six months ago,"said Zurmo's community manager, Stafford McKay. "We could either continue on and do the normal enterprise functionality like everybody else, or do something different."

The problem is that the CRM industry "has failed in terms of user adoption," McKay added. "Truly, end users do not use the [systems]. We've got to fix this. What is the point of creating an application nobody's going to use?"

Gamification is still a nascent field, "but we see it as really interesting and very possible in terms of motivating users," McKay said.

The company is seeking contributors to the open-source project. Right now, five internal developers and about eight committed external contributors are involved.

Zurmo is using test-driven development practices to create the software, which makes the process slower but avoids buggy code.

It would probably be possible to reach general availability earlier than September but Zurmo wants to make sure the initial release has "a nice baseline of functionality," said co-founder Ray Stoeckicht.

Gamification is a key philosophical focus of the product but not the only one, he said. In addition, Zurmo intends to deliver a "pure" open-source product, with all features available for download at no charge, rather than offering more basic editions at no cost and charging more for additional functionality, as is often done, he said.

Zurmo's backers have previous experience in running an open-source CRM business. Stoeckicht and McKay both work for Intelestream, a firm that offers consulting and services for SugarCRM and its own Intelecrm application, which is a fork of the SugarCRM community edition code. Zurmo's lead architect and co-founder, Jason Green, was an early SugarCRM employee and founded Intelestream, where he serves as CEO.

Intelestream and Zurmo are completely separate companies, and Zurmo has its own codebase, according to McKay.

Zurmo hasn't made final decisions on how it will make money off the software, but will probably look toward support and customization services, as well as building out a channel model, Stoeckicht said.

Hosting is available for the software from Zurmo and a few partners, but right now most deployments are on-premises, he said. In terms of customers, Zurmo is targeting small and medium-sized businesses.

Zurmo's success or failure may rest on how it executes the gamification components.

"Gamification is most effective when it employs rewards in exchange for actions," said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. "Sometimes the reward isn't pay, it's personal pride," he added. "Really good gamification mechanisms take advantage of non-monetary rewards."

For example, reaching a certain point threshold might earn a user a dinner with the boss or a preferred parking space, Wang said. "It's something that's valuable to them. That's what motivates people."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service
Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?