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BBCON: Platform Integration A Top Proiority

Reaffirming its commitment to a platform, Blackbaud assured clients that integration will be its top priority in the coming year after its acquisition of rival Convio.

The Blackbaud Conference for Nonprofits opened Sunday at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md. It’s the first combined user conference between Blackbaud and Convio, after the $275-million acquisition earlier this year.

Jana Eggers, Blackbaud’s senior vice president, products and marketing, addressed more than 2,000 registrants during the conference’s general welcome session on Sunday morning. “Common Ground was a business decision, not a platform decision,” said Eggers. The firm is seeking better ways to work better with Common Ground was built on the Salesforce platform. “We see it as a strong platform,” she said.

“We want to support it and be engaged. So everybody knows, we love Salesforce,” said Eggers.

Blackbaud announced last month it would retire Common Ground after March 2014, and restructure 51 positions associated with the platform. The Charleston, S.C.-based fundraising software company will offer the approximately 400 Common Ground customers the option of transitioning to Raiser’s Edge or eTapestry, which have about 10,000 and 13,000 customers, respectively.

Some Common Ground users are upset that there’s such a short window before the platform is retired — about 18 months. A petition was started on (signed by about 190 people) as well as a Facebook page (“Don’t Get Grounded”) in hopes that Blackbaud at least will extend the platform past March 2014. Clients whose contracts run past March 2014 will be honored but Blackbaud will not extend contracts past that date, company officials have said.

Eggers took questions from the audience at the general session although few were about Common Ground.

“It’s hard when you’re going through a major acquisition. There’s a lot of anxiety with that,” she said. “We bought the company because of the company and the people.”

“The number one thing we have to do this year is integrate,” Eggers said. “Our duty to you is to make this integration work and work well,” she said, taking the leader in CRM capability, Blackbaud, and marrying it with Convio, the leader in online fundraising.

Nonprofits need to use products that are specific for the nonprofit industry, Eggers said. “That something special is what we have to build into the product,” she said.

Eggers said the company must ensure that it supports extensibility and integration. Blackbaud’s vision is that CRM always be at the core but supported by and supportive of other pieces of product and functionality about that. “Traditionally, Blackbaud has been very focused on CRM, adding on things around that give you the ability to start where you want to start,” she said.

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