Microsoft's New CRM Accelerators Embrace Social Networking, Web Portals

Microsoft will release free CRM Accelerators for Microsoft Dynamics CRM that allow the enterprise to pull data from social networks such as Twitter, centralize sales management across multiple channel partners through a common Website, and integrate Dynamics CRM with Web portals. Microsoft has been heavily promoting its Dynamics CRM throughout 2009 as an alternative to and other cloud application companies.

Microsoft plans on issuing free CRM Accelerators for Microsoft Dynamics CRM that will help businesses pull data from social networks, Web interaction channels and other sources, as well as reduce overall costs. The accelerators will be released at an unannounced date within the next few weeks.

"These new accelerators expand the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to address emerging business trends in social networking and drive efficiencies in collaborative business processes," Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, said in a statement accompanying the July 9 announcement.

The free CRM Accelerators include:

Social Networking Accelerator: Businesses can use this accelerator to monitor and analyze customer conversation on social networking sites; the initial rollout integrates the application with Twitter, but Microsoft says that future releases will include other social networks.

Partner Relationship Management Accelerator: This accelerator utilizes Microsoft Dynamics CRM to centralize sales management across multiple channel partners, as well as distribute sales leads. A centralized Web portal becomes the nexus for companies and their channel partners as they jointly manage sales. It also automates additional business processes.

Portal Integration Accelerator: "A connector between Dynamics CRM and a business's Web portal, this accelerator allows users to rapidly extend to the Internet any business process and drive costs out of everyday business interactions," according to Microsoft.

Microsoft has been promoting its CRM as an alternative to offerings from other cloud application providers such as, offering a variety of add-ons and services at no cost. In March 2009, the company opened its Convergence conference by offering eight free CRM Accelerators and an SLA (service-level agreement) for CRM Online customers.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM powers not only businesses, but also Microsoft's Public Sector On-Demand Solutions, applications for government and education that include public-records tracking, and student information systems.