FrontRange launches .Net-based CRM

FrontRange Solutions launched its next-generation of CRM software Wednesday, built on Microsoft Corp.'s .Net architecture and targeted at financial services and manufacturers in the mid-market.

GoldMine Customer IQ will provide industry-specific functionality while offering users the ability to customize their own business processes, according to officials from Colorado Springs, Colo.-based FrontRange. Built on Microsoft's .Net programming architecture, CustomerIQ uses XML to enable access to information from virtually any location and device.

"We actually use common programmable objects ... so that we are interoperable with the [Microsoft] Exchange server," said Patrick Bultema, president and CEO of FrontRange. "The functionality is integrated seamlessly with Microsoft out of the box. We've got support for all of the standards that embody .Net to maximize interoperability."

Despite its closer ties to Microsoft with the new product, FrontRange will find itself going head to head with Microsoft itself after Microsoft rolls out its own mid-market CRM offering later this year. Despite this, Bultema downplayed Microsoft's entrance into the mid-market.

"What Microsoft is doing is very much of a horizontal kind of play, which we don't think works," he said. "What the mid-market needs is an application that out of the box does business the way you do business and that is a vertical manifestation. CRM is not sales, marketing, service, and support with this generic set of features that you apply to your business. In discrete manufacturing they don't even do marketing. If you have a horizontal application ... it's impossible for somebody to get the application to be adaptive."

The new FrontRange offering, which combines core CRM functionality plus unique features for the verticals, is developed specifically for midsize companies. The contact management function for each module, for example, is modified according to industry preference, such as projects and quotes for manufacturers and clients and portfolios for financial services.

GoldMine's vertical industry focus and its adoption of .Net is exactly in line with where the industry is headed, said Christopher Fletcher, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. CRM applications for the mid-market have to provide usable functionality and need to integrate with Web and back-office applications virtually right out of the box, he added.

GoldMine CustomerIQ will be available in limited release in November, with general availability slated for early 2003.

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