Microsoft Corp began its European CRM push in earnest this week, starting off a series of European promotions with an event in London to celebrate the formal launch of the international version of Microsoft CRM, modestly billed as “The Big Day For Your Business”.
Driven by the desire to create a $1bn revenue division within the $10.5bn Microsoft universe from a current revenue base of $190m, and to attain profitability as a division, Microsoft is not holding back when it comes to supporting the sales program.
There is a dichotomy between the Microsoft CRM message and its implementation because while the company stresses the cost and business benefits of rapid implementation and maintenance plus the advantages that can be derived from minimal end-user training, much of the event was given over to demonstrating how the software can be enhanced, extended and integrated, activities that will normally require the skills of the Microsoft partners.
The gap between the vision and the here and now is further highlighted when the functionality gaps in the base-level product are considered. When developing the international version Microsoft opted to put its resources into extended language support in preference to functionality such as marketing or country-specific functionality such as VAT and multi-currency support.
Although Jeff Young, general manager, emerging solutions, believes the current release has breadth of functionality, he acknowledged that it falls short in some areas.
There is still room to breath. We have still got to broaden marketing, integration with Office and [developments with] ISV’s, he said. Nevertheless, its overall ambition is still to develop a generic solution, leaving partners to develop for verticals and other specialist markets and functionality areas.
This week’s activities mark the start of an aggressive European campaign, which will bring Microsoft head to head with Sage Group and its Best Software subsidiary, Salesforce.com and potentially SAP AG with its SMB-oriented Business One product, yet spokesman have dismissed the threat of an upset.
Salesforce.com responded to the launch with typical robustness. The Microsoft CRM solution will never be a viable option for SME’s as it is too expensive, complex and difficult to install, said Phil Robinson, EMEA vice president for marketing at Salesforce.
This is the second or third time Microsoft has launched a CRM product and it still has no traction in the marketplace.
Another company likely to be impacted by Microsoft’s European onslaught is the Sage Group, particularly through its Best Software division. A financially secure mid-market business specialist with a large installed base and hosted and online capabilities, Sage represents the biggest threat to Microsoft.
Although both Sage and Microsoft’s respective portfolios of applications are based on disparate architectural and code bases because they have both grown through a combination of in house development and acquisition, Microsoft is putting its faith in its promise to integrate its application set.
This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire