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Microsoft’s annual lollapalooza of a conference, Convergence, has come and gone, but the blogs it triggered live on. The team behind Microsoft CRM Live — the on-demand application scheduled to be released later this summer — has been particularly prolific, with “how-to” posts such as“How to get better performance from the MetadataService,”“Mail Merge and more…”; andAccessing CRM Live Web Services.

Much of the buzz among Convergence attendees centered on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0’s robust feature set, according to Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone.

The Live version is almost identical to the application that rolled out in January, she said. There have been a lot of briefings on it, which apparently have worked in its favor. With such a bread-and-butter offering, more information is usually better than less.

Version 4.0 is making deeper inroads into the enterprise market, Richard Smith, a principal at Green Beacon, told CRM Buyer in an earlier interview on the subject, with its multilingual and multicurrency features, in particular, driving adoption.

“Microsoft has also dramatically expanded the number of relationships that can be modeled in the application,” he said. For instance, if a company wanted to track sales in a partner channel, it was difficult to do that with 3.0.

Other “enterprise-friendly” features in 4.0, Smith said, include the ability to link RMA (reader material authorization) — which allows a company to ship back inventory to a source — to multiple organizations.

More on Social Media

Social media — aka Web 2.0 — is an oft-discussed topic in the CRM blogosphere. Despite the all the talk, though, few vendors have successfully incorporated its features and larger MO — user participation — into their products. It’s a subject of ongoing debate why this is so, and whether it will ever change.

A variation on this theme is why so many B2B sites have failed to match their B2C counterparts in adopting this technology — a question Paul Dunay, director of global field and interactive marketing for BearingPoint, explores in his blog post,“Is Social Media more difficult in B2B than B2C?”

“When I say Ralph Lauren, Nine Inch Nails, Vineyard Vines, GAP — or even Apple — you get a sense of a very homogeneous type of person,” he writes. “You get a picture of exactly who I mean and the ‘lifestyle’ that brand portrays. When I say Ralph Lauren, it’s like reading the preppie handbook.

“But what happens when I say Unisys or Delco or even Oracle? What mental image, what picture of homogenous people comes to mind, if any? Probably nothing, right?”

Sure, a B2B company can launch a microsite any day, Dunay concludes. “But can it launch one that speaks to the company’s audience so perfectly that it resonates with a vast majority? I would submit the answer is no.”

Pros and Cons of Online Marketing

“When it comes to interactive marketing technologies, all signs point in one direction: The Online Marketing Suite,” wrote Forrester analyst Peter Kim in“Do you know about the Online Marketing Suite?”

In this short-and-sweet take on the marketing industry, he observes that “the Online Marketing Suite may not be as sexy as social media, but it’s how business gets done…if you haven’t heard about this concept, you may want to keep an eye out for it in the future.”

Agreeing that “thetime has come for marketer’s to embrace the idea of an online marketing suite,”Collaborative Marketer blogger John Kottcamp, who is also the director of Strategic Planning for Ascentium, nevertheless argues that “it is a mistake to represent its value as being primarily around collaboration and optimization. Marketing organizations are being pushed harder and harder by the rest of the enterprise to integrate marketing with sales, operations and particularly finance.”

By contrast, there are two values in the enterprise marketing platform to which users should pay heed.

“First, by integrating various technology tools like analytics, campaign management and CRM, marketing organizations can begin to track relationships, capture real behavior and preferences and engage customers with meaningful dialogue.

“Secondly, by integrating all these various applications, marketing will be able to elevate its reporting and analysis from campaign reporting to real business metrics that can measure ROI or ROMI from prospect (think adserving) to conversion (think ecommerce) and most importantly loyalty (CRM).”

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