The Many Flavors of Microsoft CRM

Welcome back from the holidays! For many of you, the first week of the year means back to the daily grind, but I for one welcome the rest. After the Ironman-like challenge of festivities and shopping that we now call December, I like sticking my nose back into the happenings of the IT industry. It’s downright tranquil compared to out-of-town relatives.

And since we’ve been ultimate consumers and hosts these past few weeks, what better topic to kick off 2007 than CRM? Titan, codename for the announced-but-not-available Microsoft CRM Live offering, is scheduled for release this summer, completing the trifecta of the Redmond giant’s somewhat confusing strategy for this market.

Titan will join two other forms of CRM delivery from Microsoft. The first is traditional on-premise software that you find in the current Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 release; the second is the partner-hosted version of CRM 3.0 that you see offered today by the likes of NaviSite. For its part, Titan will be served up direct from Microsoft’s datacenters, sold as a monthly service per user.

Beyond its software-as-a-service appeal, Titan will be multi-everything: Multitenancy, multilanguage (boasting 24 to 3.0’s current 22 languages) and multicurrency. From what I’ve gleaned, Microsoft sees the market breakdown thusly: Titan, when it rolls out as CRM Live, will be a fairly vanilla CRM implementation intended for small to medium-sized companies and will be initially sold only in North America. The hosted version of the software is targeted at international markets (as well as domestically) in order to use partners to cover that wide footprint of customers, and provide the customization and domain expertise necessary.

All three offerings are based on the same code base and provide marketing, sales and customer service-related capabilities, according to Microsoft. The company is positioning its three-pronged strategy as one of choice: You can start on-premise and move to on-demand or vice versa.

Given the existence of the partner-hosted model, I’m not entirely convinced of the differentiator for the upcoming Live option unless you are the smallest of companies that require no customization or integration work at all.

Are you using or considering Microsoft CRM in any of its current or upcoming forms? Please send your thoughts on the products and how they are being sold to capril@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Carolyn April is the executive editor of features for Redmond magazine.

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