For a long time it has been conventional wisdom that ACT! is one kicking good deal for people needing a contact manager. But over the last few years it seems the company has been playing a game of one up with the rest of the market and even challenging the SFA/CRM players over the difference between a contact manager and SFA.
ACT! has always been a price performance leader and this year’s version (2012 that is) clocks in at $239.99 which amounts to twenty bucks per month, if you could buy it that way. That compares favorably with the legion of SaaS based SFA out there, but more important than price is the functionality and that goes to the idea of one-upmanship mentioned above.
The newly announced ACT! 2012 (you can watch some informational videos here) has some valuable and not often considered capabilities like a scratch pad that lets you take notes and then use them as a todo list assigning data to a new or existing contact or just letting you work through the todo’s.
Universal search helps you find documents or other information within ACT! and filter search results by relevance and click items of interest to go to those fields or attachments.
There’s also integration with Google apps. This is a nice bi-directional integration that lets you send email from within Google Mail for instance and have it recorded as history in the ACT! application.
ACT! has been mobilized in the best sense of the word to work with Android devices, iPads and other tablets and it checks out in browsers like Chrome and Safari.
Finally — and I think most impressive for ACT! 2012 — there is something called Sage ACT! Connect which makes it easy to access your ACT! data from the road. Connect also puts your instance of ACT! 2012 in touch with a fast growing list of added services that Sage is now offering for things like marketing and lead generation.
All in all this is rather impressive. We won’t touch on the user interface and all the hours Sage spends with customers and users making sure not a mouse click is wasted. Nor will we mention the 2.8 million individuals and 59,000 companies that use ACT! in their businesses. But suffice it to say, this is not your father’s ACT!