Enterprise Apps

Ballmer Talks Up Dynamics CRM

Microsoft is on schedule to release Dynamics CRM Live this summer, CEO Steve Ballmer assured the crowd at the Convergence 2008 keynote address. The application’s features and functions are, for the most part, familiar to users and partners. They are largely the same as the Dynamics CRM 4.0 application released in January. The only difference is that Live is hosted and managed by third-party vendors.

Still, though, Microsoft watchers should look to Live for a sense of what else Microsoft plans to roll out, at least according to comments made by Ballmer and other executives at Convergence.

Specifically, Live will be the first of several hosted applications Microsoft plans to introduce from its Dynamic enterprise application line of products.

Features and Functions

Not that familiarity with the application kept Microsoft from demonstrating it. Areas of emphasis included the integration with Office and third-party data sources. “Nothing significantly has changed in its feature lineup,” Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone told CRM Buyer.

The emphasis on features and tools did a disservice to the application because it focused too much on its CRM 1.0 creds, Denis Pombriant, founder and principal of Beagle Research, told CRM Buyer. “This would have been a good opportunity to talk about CRM 2.0 and what Microsoft has planned for that.”

Microsoft, however, is looking beyond just tactical functionality to experiment with next-gen applications, albeit not necessarily in Web 2.0 mode. It is, for instance, conducting research around what makes applications “emotionally driven” for users, Kingstone said. “They want to establish more of a emotional connection to users” similar to what Mac fans feel for Apple and its products. It’s called Microsoft’s “Feel It” Campaign, she added.

EDS Announcement

From a practical perspective, the announcement that intrigued Kingstone the most at Convergence was Microsoft’s new partnership with EDS.

Under it, EDS will offer Microsoft Dynamics CRM as an EDS enterprise application solution to its clients globally. EDS’ services, which include consulting, implementation, integration, management hosting, contact center outsourcing and managed services, will allow clients to deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM in both the contact center and in a sales force automation implementation.

The expanded relationship, Kingstone said, “is all about marrying the Dynamics application with EDS’ unified communications story.” This telephony play is a brand new initiative for EDS and will push Microsoft Dynamics CRM further into the contact center, she said.

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