Cisco and Microsoft Update VOIP, CRM Integration

The companies work to break down the barriers to customer relationship management adoption by SMBs.

Cisco Systems and Microsoft are teaming up to help small and midsize businesses to overcome the obstacles of customer relationship management deployments with the launch on April 25 of a new release of the Cisco Unified CRM Connector.

Version 3.0 of the Connector, which integrates Cisco Unified Communications VOIP (voice over IP) products with Microsofts Dynamic CRM 3.0 software, provides a Cisco IP Phone link into Microsofts Outlook.

With Microsofts new integration of its version 3.0 CRM software with Exchange, a Cisco IP Phone can now display results of a CRM Connector lookup.

By combining Microsofts Dynamic CRM 3.0 with Exchange and Ciscos Unified CRM Connector, marketing, sales and service users "get a 360-degree view of the customer," said Brian McDonald, senior marketing manager for Cisco, in Bellevue, Wash.

The Unified CRM Connector 3.0 provides Cisco IP Communications users with screen pops, click-to-dial, call-duration tracking and customer record creation functions. It gives those users working with any Cisco IP phone that supports XML interfaces access to current and past customer purchases, sales information, order status, account relationships and billing data—all displayed using the Outlook or Internet Explorer GUI.

When calls come in, they are automatically connected to the Microsoft Dynamic CRM system and the IP Phone screen is populated with customer contact record and phone call activity records to track the calls. New customer data collected during the call is uploaded back into the system.


To read more about the earlier Connector integration effort, click here.

Cisco is bullish on the integration Microsoft did with Outlook—so much so that it created a new Fast Start Web- and event-based partner program that matches Microsoft CRM-certified partners with Cisco partners that specialize in VOIP.

"Were doing a speed dating service, matching these partners city by city," said McDonald. The program will target 30 major metropolitan areas across the United States, where Cisco and Microsoft will work to bring their top partners together.

For midsize businesses, Cisco and Microsoft partners will hold events that include partner presentations along with a mobile demonstration of the combined technologies. Cisco and Microsoft partners will also team on marketing and joint sales calls.

For small businesses, Cisco partners will hold similar events in smaller metropolitan areas. A total of 64 events are planned across the United States.

"CRM and business-class VOIP are a marriage made in heaven. Both enhance the value of each. IP Communications with CRM extends that [customer] information to the edges of the company," said Peter Ruh, director of commercial strategic partners at Cisco in San Jose, Calif.

The Cisco Unified CRM Connector 3.0 is available now.


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