Microsoft Ready to Hit the Gas on CRM Accelerators

Microsoft will be rolling out eight CRM “accelerators” for its Dynamics CRM product line in the second half of 2008. On the Javista blog, Microsoft’s Reuben Krippner gives readers a thorough update on what they will offer customers. On the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Team Blog, he shares information for the analytics add-on.

Krippner promises to blog about each accelerator each week. Altogether, the company will release accelerators for analytics, eService, event management, enterprise search, sales methodologies, extended sales forecasting, CRM notifications and business productivity.

Krippner writes, “each accelerator will showcase how the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 platform can be configured and extended to broaden marketing, sales and service capabilities.” They come with an importable data model, business process workflows, business Intelligence elements such as custom reports, functional code samples that adhere to software developer kit guidelines, an automated installer, and documentation for installing, operating, localizing and extending the add-on.

The accelerators met with approval from the crowd when Microsoft demoed them this summer in Houston at its Worldwide Partner Conference, Brad Wilson, GM of Microsoft Dynamics, told CRM Buyer shortly after the conference ended.

“They are building out functionality that our partners and clients have been asking for,” he said. “For instance, the e-service accelerator allows user to integrate CRM cases into a Web site and set up a workflow for these cases. The sales methodology accelerator provides integration for leading firms like Miller Heiman.” These will all be delivered to Microsoft’s partners through Q3, he added.

Content Marketing vs. Advertising

What’s the difference between content marketing and advertising? It’s the same as the huge difference between candy and a well-balanced meal, Chris Brogan, VP Strategy & Technology at CrossTech Media, an integrated media and events business, writes in his blog post.

“Content marketing, in my definition, is the ability to produce useful and entertaining information that is worthwhile on its own, but that might also be useful towards a sale or subsequent action … traditional marketing efforts, the slick and shiny kind, are like red licorice.”

For instance, he says, someone whose goal is lead generation might take a traditional approach working very hard to explain just why a product is the best tool for a certain job. “But what if, instead, you wrote up some really great suggestions for how one might do that certain job better, with or without your product, and then made a very simple link back to whatever your product offer might be? Which would offer more value to your prospective customer?

“Slower? Yes. More effort? Yes. But I believe the results will speak for themselves.”

Instead of gorging on data culled from yet another Free iPhone offer, he concluded, “you will start to accumulate relationships with people who actually care about the space where your company is doing business, and might actually benefit from your product/service.”

In another post, Brogan lists his favorite e-books on social marketing.

More Web 2.0 Tools

Another week, another new tool by Google. Bryan Eisenberg, a cofounder at FutureNow, takes a look at Google Insights for Search. Why? “Whether you’re an advertising agency, a small business owner, a multinational corporation, or an academic researcher, Insights for Search can help you gauge interest in your relevant search terms,” he writes. “It allows you to compare search volume patterns (and trends) across specific geographic regions, categories (like finance, health, and sports), and time frames.”

Meanwhile, Robert John Ed takes a look at why Facebook is sometimes a useful tool for marketing — and when it isn’t. “A lot of people hoping that somehow the social network will be the answer to increasing revenues, attendance, bottom line profitability. It’s a good thing to do, certainly, but most marketers who are doing it as a grassroots effort are going to hit some very serious walls very quickly,” he writes.

CRM Integration Wars

At Sales Software and Marketing, S. Watts takes on a subject that’s been a running topic of debate — not to mention angst — in companies ever since enterprise software was first introduced.

He points to the usual horror statistics — “One late 2002 study showed that between 40 and 50 percent of all CRM software licenses purchased end up going unused within 12 months” — and then moves on to why so many projects fail.

“Yet time and again, when companies would struggle, it usually came down to one or more of three core factors: technology, processes and people, with people being by leaps and bounds the most important element.

“In all cases, whether through mis-management, shortsightedness, or just plain bad luck, they had failed to account for critical factors that were going to ultimately determine the success or failure of their new initiative.”

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