Microsoft steps into hosted CRM business

Microsoft took a step into the hosted CRM market business last week by offering products to third-party companies. At the Convergence 2006 user conference in Dallas, the vendor brought out the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional Edition application for Service Providers.

The new tool targets value-added resellers and business partners that would use the application to deliver a hosted offering to end users.

The software can be accessed via a Web browser or through an Outlook desktop client.

Since February, IT consultancy CBH in Irvine, Calif., has been a hosted CRM customer of Microsoft partner Streamline Solutions LLC in Newport Beach, Calif.

Migrating to a hosted version of Dynamics CRM 3.0 for sales force automation last month was a "no brainer," said Myron Weber, CBH's chief technology officer.

The application was deployed quickly with reduced upfront costs, but with the requisite service levels, said Weber.

Prior to the shift, the CBH sales force used GoldMine, now a part of FrontRange Solutions. "The biggest factor [for the switch] was that 3.0 integrates into our other applications," which include the Microsoft Solomon (now SL) ERP suite and the Microsoft SharePoint portal, Weber said.

He said the GoldMine software, which had been used for eight years by the company, was essentially a client/server application that had only a Web front end. The new version of Dynamics CRM has been created specifically for the Internet.

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional Edition application for Service Providers is shipping now.

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