Making CRM Pervasive
Corillian Corp., a producer of online banking software to large banks and credit unions, is adopting CRM 3.0 to replace a legacy package, said Greg Hughes, Corillians director of IT and security operations. The new version "is a world of difference over previous versions," Hughes said. The "tight, two way integration" between CRM 3.0 and Outlook along with a "flexible, yet intuitive interface" is very valuable to the company, he said."You dont have to involve a lot of people, such as development engineers or programmers," to customize the applications, he said. Currently about 40 people are using CRM 3.0, and Hughes said he expects this will steadily ramp up to between 200 and 250 of the companys 300 employees, he said. Corillian is rolling the product out in its security product division. "We chose a portion of the company where there was a strong need and where we could really get our feet wet," to learn how to use the product before extending it to the rest of the company, he said. Click here to read why Microsoft will rely on partners to provide on-demand versions of its CRM package. People want to be able to use CRM with the applications that they are used to doing, and most people are used to working with the Microsoft Outlook and Office platforms, said Long T. Duong, CRM practice principal with Interlink Group Inc., a Microsoft Gold certified CRM resellers based in Bellevue, Wash. "The CRM product is built on the Microsoft platform, so you are using what you already own, from servers up to the desktop," Duong said. This enables CRM users to have "one-click access to important data like sales orders or any kind of transaction information" within a unified interface, he said. Another key factor is that customers dont have to call the services of a programmer to configure and extend the system as their business needs change, he said. As a result, Microsoft has "created a value proposition for customers to maintain and evolve their CRM system" so it remains useful over the long term, Duong said. The time Microsoft has taken to develop CRM 3.0 has generated a lot of customer interest and pent-up demand for the product, Duong said, based on what he has seen from the preview sessions Microsoft and his company have presented. Analysts on Monday said it was apparent that Microsoft is ready to make a serious bid to become a major player in the CRM sector, especially in the small and midsize corporate market. Its been years since Microsoft made its first foray into CRM with its 1.x product, and its clear that the new product is significantly stronger than the earlier versions, said Rob Bois, an analyst with AMR Research Inc. in Boston. Microsoft is making an aggressive bid in the small and midsize market, where companies such as Salesforce.com have been major players, and that "hasnt seen a whole lot of competition," Bois said. Seibel Systems Inc. has also been a major competitor mainly in the enterprise market, Bois noted. But he indicated that customers are currently wary about moving to Seibels CRM On-Demand product while it is in the throes of being acquired by Oracle Corp. This provides a major opportunity for Microsoft to win new customers in the SMB sector with a product that is closely integrated with Outlook. "We are continually hearing from CRM users that Microsoft desktop tool integration is a necessity," Bois said. With CRM 3.0, it appears that Microsoft is "hitting the sweet spot" in terms of providing Outlook integration in a package designed for SMBs, he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about customer relationship management solutions.
"Making it work the way we work is fairly easy from installation to configuration to customization," he said.