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Microsoft Takes ClearLead in Contact Management

Microsoft Corp. today waded into the lead management market by unveiling a roadmap with a few partners for a solution called ClearLead.

The service automates lead creation and maintenance from Web site contacts by routing e-mails to desktops initially, to pagers after two hours, and to alternate sources after four hours. Previously, e-mail contacts had largely been faxes that were delivered only to the financial departments of companies. Additionally, ClearLead will automate follow-up procedures with active follow-up notifications and reporting summaries.

ClearLead will be integrated with Outlook, Act, Goldmine, and other existing lead tracking software in the second half of the year. The service is already implemented in Microsoft's (www.microsoft.com) DealerPoint auto sales service in the lead management capacity, and it will be implemented in other vertical markets through Microsoft's bCentral Customer Manager in April, and eventually to a wider audience through Microsoft's investment in VerticalNet (www.verticalnet.com).

Integration of the solution with Outlook, Act, and Goldmine will not happen until the second half of the year, and Outlook synchronization will not happen until early next year. Integration with wireless devices will also have to wait until mid-year. However, ClearLead is seen as a first step on Microsoft's broader XML-based services plan. -- Isaac Slepner

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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