CRM Hosts to Provide Back-Office Services

 
 
By Dennis Callaghan  |  Posted 2002-09-09
 
 
 

Development efforts at NetLedger Inc. and Salesforce.com Inc. will provide hosted software offerings of integrated front- and back-office applications accessible via the Web.

Such services will enable companies to automate the entire sales process, from generating leads to booking orders, using hosted software.

NetLedger this week will introduce a suite of hosted software called NetCRM, the latest step as it splits its Oracle Small Business Suite into separate front- and back-office hosted application services. NetLedger is in a close partnership with enterprise software maker Oracle Corp.

Meanwhile, Salesforce.com, of San Francisco, plans to match NetLedger with its own hosted back-office applications, known as Billing Edition, as soon as by years end.

Billing Edition will include billing and invoice management, product catalogs, price books, order management, and contract management hosted applications, according to Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.

While NetLedger is targeting companies with fewer than 100 employees, Benioff said Salesforce.com counts large and small companies among its customers.

Sheldon Tkatch, senior project manager at Garrett Aviation Service Centers, in Tempe, Ariz., a Salesforce.com Enterprise Edition customer, said his company will have to look at the new services when they become available.

"If you can get your CRM [customer relationship management] system to interface with your accounting system, its a big plus," said Tkatch. He said that integrating the two would allow salespeople to have access to customers payment histories and status and be able to run credit checks on customers, as well as track opportunities by product lines and price structures.

Tkatch said, however, that he would have to reassess Salesforce.coms application security before adding Billing Edition. "Any time youre dealing with financial records, a whole additional group of [security] requirements comes up," he said.

Splitting Oracle Small Business Suite into separate applications lowers the barrier to entry to the hosted service, particularly for small-business customers, according to officials at NetLedger, of San Mateo, Calif.

Integration was one reason Big Wave Technologies Inc., a reseller of excess electronic components in Santa Clara, Calif., chose Oracle Small Business Suite.

"It gives you the ability to combine all of your sales orders, purchase orders and invoices along with your customer data in one package," said CEO Kurt Pfluger.

NetCRM will include sales force automation, sales order management, partner relationship management, and customer service and support automation applications from Oracle Small Business Suite. It will also add an application for marketing campaign automation.

"The marketing automation looks slick," said Pfluger. "We can target specific customers based on their transaction histories and know what customers are interested in what products. It will help our marketing become more efficient rather than just a fire hose kind of thing."

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