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Microsoft CRM

Following the recent news about MS flirting with SAP I've been thinking about MS strategy in the enterprise software world, it seems to be its next goal.

Microsoft has its own CRM package, see: http://www.microsoft.com/BusinessSolutions/default.mspx but it doesn't seem to be getting too much attention..

Anyone has hands of experience implementing MS CRM solutions? Is it any good?

What do you think Microsoft is going to do in this area? Buy someone big? Enhance its actual product?

Daniel Tio
Monday, June 14, 2004

Philo?

Matthew Lock
Monday, June 14, 2004

Search for "Microsoft business foundation" and "ObjectSpaces" both have been put back to the longhorn timeframe.
MS own Great Plains, Navision, Axapta and Solomon?
There is a great and grand plan to unify all four products into one called project "green" but so far it seems to be slipping badly (suits me as a competitor)
All four are mid-market applications (say greater than 10 users, less than 200)
I've yet to look seriously at Microsoft CRM, I did look at V1.0 and decided it wasn't ready for the european market, however version 1.2 might be much better in that respect.

Peter Ibbotson
Monday, June 14, 2004

It seems to me Microsoft is always going to have problems with this type of product, Microsoft is a volume software business selling lots of boxes and very little in the way of services. CRM/ERP/Accounts/MRP/Whateveryouwanttocalit software needs lots of installation and support services that Microsoft will never be able to provide.

Tony Edgecombe
Monday, June 14, 2004

Googling a bit I've founf this:

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1. Microsoft Business Solutions

Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) is the business applications division of the Redmond giant, home to its Great Plains and Navision acquisitions and the source of its emerging Microsoft Business Foundation platform and related applications, which are essential elements in its 10-year vision to connect SMEs, and claim the sector as its own. "The market is under-serviced," says Doug Burgum, who heads up the division. "During the dot-com era there was a level of excitement and everyone talked of a level playing field but the majority of the dollars were spent by big organisations automating inside their walls. SMEs did not have access to the same [resources]. Our vision – even though it is a long way off – is that SMEs should have the same advantages the big companies have."

Approaching the market with all the subtlety of a rhinoceros, Microsoft is relying on its brand name and the depth of its financial resources to gain the leading position in the fragmented mid-market, and the division has recently taken a huge step up in terms of its significance within Microsoft. Although there are questions over whether Microsoft really understands business applications, and the sales and support process, and whether it can get its partner channel on side, not to mention the need to actually deliver and prove its technology, it is the most watched and feared new-comer to the sector so there is no doubt that Microsoft will change the landscape for business applications in the mid-market.

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So, if I'm getting it right: MS is buying products and solutions with the goal of consolidate them all into the Microsoft Business Foundation platform, which is an ERP aimed at small to mid sized business.

But this is not going to happen anytime soon.

So my question is: currently (jun 2004) is MS to be taken serously in the enterprise solutions market? My feeling is that their current products are somewhat experimental, not really intended to be competitive.

If you were an ISV, do you think that offering Microsot Business Solutions based products is a good strategy?

Daniel Tio
Monday, June 14, 2004

Tony's pretty close. I can tell you that our corporate philosophy is to remain solidly in the software business, not the services business.
That's why you'll notice that our products generally have a rich API and are very configurable and extensible - to try to present products which are usable out of the box, but can be extended (either by the user or a 3rd party partner) to solve specific problems.

I don't know what our strategy is in the CRM space specifically tho, sorry.

Philo

Philo
Monday, June 14, 2004

Daniel the answer from me here in the UK is that MS is my #1 competitor by far (I'd guess we'd be #20 or something silly to them)
We're also MS partners and it feels weird talking to them sometimes, the MBS bits do feel very seperate from the rest of the organisation.
Right now however the current offerings from MBS are different from each other and I don't feel that MS has quite figured out what it's going to do with all these different legacy systems to make them all into one.
Currently they aren't offering anything that makes me feel we should throw the towel in on our own development and jump over to a MBS/MBF solution for our existing customer base. Since LongHorn on the desktop is at least 5 years away before you could write commercial software to run on it I can afford to ignore the problem for a few years yet.
However I may well want to integrate with the CRM bits in the shorter term as a good CRM system that talks to word, excel and outlook as well as an ERP system is difficult.

Peter Ibbotson
Monday, June 14, 2004

Peter, drop me a line. Let's talk - I might be able to help both tactically and strategically.

Philo

Philo
Monday, June 14, 2004

Do any of you guys know the level of integration of MBS's products with existing Ms server software?

I think CRM is specially suited for integration with Active Directory and Exchange. And that reminds me: what is Microsoft's plan for directory services in future versions of Windows? It's one thing we don't really hear about anymore.  AD was all the rage when Win2K was released. It was supposed to be a big information repository for enterprise apps (I remember seeing demos showing employee photo ID's and office floor space maps all stored on AD).  I think the only real application built with AD I ever saw was Exchange; did Microsoft gave up on this front?

R
Monday, June 14, 2004

SharePoint leverages AD heavily.

Philo

Philo
Monday, June 14, 2004

Philo, how does SharePoint leverages AD, apart from authentication and authorization?

I've only played around with WSS,  never used Portal Server; is it different? From what I can recall WSS stores all data, including contact list information on a SQL Server backend.  It's lack of integration with Exchange was one of the downsides I found on a otherwise very nice product.

R
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

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