Microsoft Corp. clearly will shake up the customer relationship management and sales force automation markets simply by its decision to enter those spaces. Vendors that focus on the midsize-and-up markets will be among the most affected. eWEEK Labs brought together the opinions of the CEOs and chief technology officers of the top competitors to Microsoft CRM on Microsofts entry into their market.
"Certainly, the most surprising aspect of MS CRM is not what it does, but rather what it doesnt do. Despite Microsofts evangelism on behalf of Web services, MS CRM is built on top of an old-fashioned architecture and an old-fashioned business model. The Microsoft evangelists are right, though. Offering software as a service over the Internet means faster deployment, lower costs and fewer IT resources.
"MS CRM offers none of these. Microsoft offers little technical innovation and lags behind leading vendors in terms of features. Even when it comes to integration with Outlook e-mail, UpShot wins because we do not require an Exchange Server. Prospective purchasers of CRM solutions are asking us what Microsoft is bringing to the party. Good question."
—Keith Raffel, Chairman and Founder, UpShot
"What if you could get all the power of CRM, and not buy any Microsoft software at all? It is hard for me to critique Microsofts well-known strategy: To sell you as much software servers as they possibly can, and make them all expensive, propriety and integrated. With Salesforce.com, you get all the power of enterprise CRM with absolutely no software at all for just $65/user/month. This makes Salesforce.coms total cost of ownership an order of magnitude (10x) less than Microsoft CRM. It is no wonder that 5,700 customers in 110 countries and 10 languages have already chosen it over buying more client/server software from Microsoft, Siebel or any other vendor.
"It is time for all of us to ask the question Is more expensive, proprietary Microsoft client/server software what we all want? Microsoft wants to sell you CRM as part of Windows 2000, SQL Server, Great Plains and every other software product they manufacture. Not to mention all of the upgrades, updates and support that goes with them. Microsoft will become the standard for companies seeking all Microsoft solutions. You can say goodbye to Sales Logix, Onyx and Pivotal. Why? Microsoft always beats vendors running with an undifferentiated product on their platform."
—Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO, Salesforce.com
"Although Microsofts impact in the CRM space will generate significant buzz, I agree with Gartner Groups prediction that MS CRM will have a minimal impact on any sales organization with more than 50 users. We are confident that issues like customizability, depth of functionality, price and general market acceptance of online CRM solutions will help minimize MS penetration into midsize companies. Its the old complex client/server versus the easy-to-implement Web-based model. With a Web-based solution like Salesnet, all you need is a Web browser—and you can be up and running instantaneously. With MS CRM, companies must buy, set up and maintain the Exchange Server, SQL Server and Windows 2000 Server. And companies will spend $1,200 per user implementing MS CRM versus $300 per user for Salesnet. Synchronization will be an issue with a client/server [system], whereas with Salesnets Web-based application, companies can link up in real time with multiple sales offices across the globe.
"Basically, all the moving parts with MS CRM make for a complex, expensive, high-maintenance implementation. There are also a slew of technical issues surrounding a MS CRM deployment, including the fact that its a version 1.0—and there are holes in the core features that they will need to address in 2003. This means that customers will need to purchase upgrades to take advantage of those fixes, versus Salesnets ability to generate seamless upgrades every 45 to 90 days."
—Rich Perkett, CTO and Co-Founder, Salesnet