CRM from Microsoft

New solution likely to pressure providers to small, midsize market

Fargo, ND  February 28, 2002  Software mega-provider Microsoft tossed its hat in the customer relationship management ring this week with the announcement that it would release its own CRM solution later this year.

Microsoft is targeting its Customer Relationship Management, the company's first business solution built on the .NET platform, at small and midsize businesses, touting its speed of deployment, ease of use and integration with Microsoft Office and back-office solutions from Great Plains, the Microsoft division that provides business applications to small and mid-market companies

According to a research alert from technology consultancy AMR Research, the new application currently has "limited functionality, doing little more than contact management in sales and case management with a knowledge base in service." But AMR praises the application's usability and its integration with Microsoft's Outlook software.

And with a price tag starting at about $500 per user and running up to $1,000 per user, the new solution has a price point that meets or beats competitors, according to AMR.

The consultants suggest that while the Microsoft application will not have any impact on the market for CRM solutions targeted at large enterprises, smaller CRM players, such as Onyx, Pivotal and Interact, could face pressure if the MS software gains greater acceptance in the mid-market. Microsoft already offers a CRM solution for medium-size enterprise customers through an alliance with Siebel Systems.

Microsoft Customer Relationship Management is due out in the fourth quarter of 2002 in North America, and beginning in the first quarter of 2003 elsewhere.