Microsoft Needs to Prove Reliability of CRM 3.0

By John Pallatto  |  Posted 2005-12-06 Print this article Print

Opinion: To win over customers to its new Dynamics CRM 3.0 suite, Microsoft must demonstrate that the software is easier to use than both the previous version and other established CRM products.

With the release of Dynamics CRM 3.0, its clear that Microsoft is determined to become a major player in the customer relationship management software sector.

It also appears that CRM 3.0 is destined to become a leading contender in the field, at least in the small and midsize markets, if only because Microsoft already has a large captive audience of customers who are working with Windows, Office, Outlook and SQL Server.
Its quite likely that Microsoft will sell plenty of CRM seats to companies that really arent able to afford the heavy implementation and customization costs that are typically required to install CRM packages from SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft or Siebel Systems.
Not only does Microsoft pose a competitive challenge to the high-end software companies, but it also represents a serious challenge to the scrappy lower-end CRM providers such as, NetSuite and RightNow Technologies. Click here to read how Microsoft plans to reach a broad market with Dynamics CRM 3.0 These companies have been pitching the ease of implementation for their on-demand CRM applications, particularly for SMBs that cant afford to spend months and tens of thousands of dollars on installation and customization consulting services. The whole point of shifting to an on-demand application is to let the hosting service deal with the IT management and integration issues. Microsoft is counting on ease of use and integration with the familiar Outlook interface to win over new customers. On the face of it, Microsoft seems to have a winning hand. But ease of use only asserts itself once an application is fully deployed and running reliably. Microsoft is going to have to show that deploying CRM 3.0 is a lot easier to deploy than the earlier version to prove that all those important total cost of ownership issues wont get out of hand. The problem is that Microsoft will still be relying on partners and resellers to sell and support the product. It claims that CRM 3.0 delivers low total cost of ownership because it can be configured and customized without calling in the services of application programmers. But it remains to be seen whether that holds true for some smaller businesses without extensive IT resources that want to implement CRM 3.0. To read John Pallattos commentary on why Microsoft is taking a short-sighted approach to on-demand software, click here. CRM software isnt typically sold and installed like a shrink wrapped box of Microsoft Office for Windows. Its not necessarily as simple as taking a CD out of the box and booting up the installation routine. Jock Putney, CEO of MDServe Inc., a developer of healthcare information systems based in Houston, said deployment costs and reliability issues were the key reasons why his company switched from Microsoft CRM 1.x to Next Page: Cutting deployment pain.

John Pallatto John Pallatto is's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.

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