Epicor releases first piece of .Net CRM suite

A new version of Epicor Software's Clientele customer service software, released Tuesday, is among the first CRM (customer relationship management) products built around Microsoft's .Net framework.

Created using Microsoft's Visual Studio .Net, Clientele Customer Support 8.0 is the first module in a CRM suite Epicor is revamping to take advantage of .Net features, including the platform's XML (Extensible Markup Language) support and intended facilitation of Web services deployments. A component of Epicor's 11-year-old Clientele software portfolio, Clientele Customer Support manages customer-service communications, including tools for call management, order tracking, billing and other client interactions.

Clientele Customer Support's last major update was in February, when Epicor released version 7.3, the last built on the old code base. Epicor began revamping the software around the .Net framework a year ago, said Greg Horton, director of marketing for Epicor's Clientele group.

Next up for rebuilding around .Net is a customer self-service portal that will replace the application currently named ClienteleNet. The .Net version of the software is scheduled to enter beta-testing later this month. By the end of 2003, all of Clientele's CRM suite will be moved to .Net and re-released, Horton said.

Epicor, in Irvine, California, targets the Clientele suite at small- and medium-size businesses, or companies with annual revenue of up to about US$50 million. Among others, the Clientele CRM.Net suite will be competing against Microsoft CRM, an in-development package also aimed at the mid-size market and scheduled to ship in the fourth quarter.

Clientele Customer Support works either as a stand-alone application or as part of Epicor's broader Clientele CRM software package. It is available now in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and several countries in the Asia Pacific region. Current customers with maintenance contracts will receive the software upgrade free, while standard retail pricing starts at US$1,500 per user.

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