Microsoft Is Set to Steamroll CRM Space

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 john_taschek@ziffdavis.com.