Green Beacon Solutions, a Microsoft Gold Partner and beta test site for Microsofts Dynamics Live CRM application platform, reports that the core application architecture better addresses workflow and customization issues compared to the current product version, Dynamics CRM 3.0.
Eight weeks into testing both the hosted and on-premise product versions, Richard Smith, vice president of CRM strategy at Green Beacon Solutions in Watertown, Mass., speaking under a strict non-disclosure agreement that the company has with Microsoft, reported that hes impressed with the new platform enhancements.
"We believe that Microsoft has addressed some of the much-identified issues with Dynamics CRM 3.0," he said. Green Beacon Solutions is a six-year old solution provider of CRM (customer relationship management), ERP (enterprise resource planning) and business intelligence to midmarket clients. In addition to offering Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the Microsoft channel partner offers CRM products from Oracle Siebel and Onyx.
Microsoft recently announced its partner-led customer early access program for Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM, slated to begin in Q3 2007, as well as product and initial pricing information. Availability for the on-premise version is planned for Q4 2007.
Given the new breathe of the Dynamics CRM platform for hosted and on-site applications, Smith contends that Microsoft is upping the ante for CRM vendors in the small and midsize business space.
"We see Dynamics Live CRM as a valued option that offers the tools, functionality and feature set for small businesses without the added infrastructure costs or need for IT staff," Smith said.
With promotional pricing for Dynamics Live CRM Professional set at $39 per user per month in 2008, increasing to $44 per user per month in 2009, and the Enterprise offering priced at $59 per user per month, Green Beacon believes that Microsoft makes it a no-brainer for potential customers to look at the hosted CRM application offering. By comparison, CRM competitor Salesforce.coms hosted CRM offerings cost approximately $65 and $125 per user per month, for the professional and enterprise CRM editions, respectively, according to the vendor.
At the same time, the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM application platform offers SMB users a roadmap as the company grows, an option no other vendor currently offers. "Since the on-site and hosted applications are virtually the same product, if a hosted application user decides to convert to an on-site license down the road as the company grows, they can do so while getting their users up and running quickly," said Smith, who added that he has seen customers come to the end of a three-year contract for hosted services and not have the option to take the application internally.
As a solution provider that caters primarily to midsize businesses, Green Beacon sees Dynamics Live CRM—a product that offers out-of-the-box salesforce and support automation and contact management functionality—as a new product in his arsenal that he can offer to businesses with 20 seats or less. The on-demand application will also be positioned as a strategic sales tool for cultivating customers that will one day require more advanced system solution services.
Jeff M. Kaplan, managing director at ThinkStrategies, Wellesley, Mass., believes that Microsoft continues to flush out its software plus services model that allows customers to have a choice in how software is delivered, as the vendor aims to embrace rather than circumvent its channel partners.
"Microsoft is ratcheting up its marketing strategies, offering consistent platform and tools approach. It continues to enhance and expand its .Net and service capabilities and continues to support and promote the fundamental value of its on-premises solution, as it pursues on-demand capabilities…all moves to cultivate its CRM strategy," Kaplan said.
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