Microsoft tests new CRM software for mid-size businesses
Programme for companies to track their clients
Microsoft is carrying out the first public ‘beta’ testing the next version of its CRM software, a programme for midsize businesses to track their clients.
The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 programme can be purchased either as server software or as a hosted service. The current version CRM 4, is available in hosted form from Microsoft only in the US and Canada. With the new release, which is due in final form by the end of the year, Microsoft is expanding the hosted option to over 40 countries.
Microsoft VP Michael Park said that the new CRM version is designed to add new reporting capabilities and is designed to work better with and more closely resemble Outlook.
He would not predict how many more customers this time will opt for the hosted product as opposed to the version customers run on their own servers.
Microsoft is facing heavy competition in the CRM space from traditional rivals such as Oracle in addition to the online-only Salesforce.com. 72,000 businesses use Salesforce software and the company has won 5,000 customers in the last quarter.
Both Salesforce and Microsoft also compete in the effort to offer tools that developers can use to write their own online software. Salesforce has its Force.com tool, while Microsoft has several options including its Windows Azure cloud-based operating system.
Microsoft also lets developers build customized applications on top of the CRM product.
Dynamics CRM 2011 offers a native Outlook client, Office contextual CRM Ribbon, RoleTailored design and user personalisation. The new release provides guided process dialogues, inline data visualisations, performance and goal management, and real-time dashboards.
It enables connected experiences through cloud development, Windows Azure integration, contextual SharePoint document repositories, teamwork and collaboration and the Dynamics Marketplace, which is entering beta later this month. The company says this provides an easy way for partners to market and distribute solutions to customers, including a catalogue with more than 700 applications and professional services.