Microsoft Is Set to Steamroll CRM Space

By John Taschek  |  Posted 2002-07-22 Print this article Print

Microsoft is moving so quickly into crm that there may be few survivors.

To no ones surprise, Microsoft is getting into the CRM space. Many may find it amusing that Microsoft is even thinking of offering customer relationship management software, since "customer relationship" and "Microsoft" rarely evoke positive responses when included in the same sentence.

Microsofts rapid inroads into the CRM space have been systematic and scary (at least to its potential competitors). Microsoft is moving so quickly that there may be few survivors in the coming years.

Look at the history. Microsofts CRM play probably started with the innocuous addition of Pivot Table to Excel. The addition of Pivot Table gave users the ability to add meager business intelligence to Excel, which was commonly used for basic contacts and inventory. Then, in the mid-1990s, Microsoft struck a deal with SAP. The thinking was that Microsoft needed an enterprise entry point and that SAP needed to move into the midmarket. By the late 1990s, Microsoft was growing its own CRM system. The people doing the work had better plans and decided to spin off completely. That company became Onyx Software, a competitor to Microsofts CRM that, unfortunately, has a product completely based on Microsoft technology.

Also in the late 1990s, Microsoft added cube and roll-up functions to SQL Server 7.0, giving programmers the ability to add BI features to custom applications. BI is now a basic building block for all CRM systems. Microsoft acquired Great Plains software in 2000. Last year, Microsoft began to spin SQL Server as a core BI system. This year, Microsoft re-marketed Office XP as a BI tool, then spun out MapPoint as a .Net service and specifically discussed the geocoding capabilities that become possible with a service-based mapping and demographic data tool. Microsoft also acquired Navision, a Danish CRM and vertical-industry solution provider targeting the midmarket.

Microsoft subsequently announced it is getting into the CRM business but claimed that it wont compete with its customers.

Unbelievable. This simply means that Microsofts CRM system will still be missing some components and needs partnerships to last a little longer. Otherwise, the company is going to steamroll this segment.

Even if its great, will you use it? Write to me at

As the director of eWEEK Labs, John manages a staff that tests and analyzes a wide range of corporate technology products. He has been instrumental in expanding eWEEK Labs' analyses into actual user environments, and has continually engineered the Labs for accurate portrayal of true enterprise infrastructures. John also writes eWEEK's 'Wide Angle' column, which challenges readers interested in enterprise products and strategies to reconsider old assumptions and think about existing IT problems in new ways. Prior to his tenure at eWEEK, which started in 1994, Taschek headed up the performance testing lab at PC/Computing magazine (now called Smart Business). Taschek got his start in IT in Washington D.C., holding various technical positions at the National Alliance of Business and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he and his colleagues assisted the government office with integrating the Windows desktop operating system with HUD's legacy mainframe and mid-range servers.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel