Microsoft Plans 'Live' CRM Service For Mid 2007

MS CEO Steve Ballmer told attendees at the WWPC (Worldwide Partner Conference) that Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live will debut sometime next year. CRM Live is being developed as part of the next release of CRM, code-named Titan, and will be an on-demand "software as a service" offering.

Many in the marketplace see this as a response to salesforce.com and other hosted CRM solutions. A significant departure from previously discussed hosted offerings, CRM Live will reside in Microsoft's own internal data centers, potentially cutting partners who have invested in the CRM product and their own hosted solutions out of the equation.

From my perspective, I don't think end-users or business managers much care where the application resides. While many partners may feel the loss of revenue opportunity because of the reduced necessity for customers to invest in infrastructure with a hosted solution, I think this will really allow CRM consultants like me to help my clients focus on the real issues at hand with a CRM project: developing business processes and mapping the application to those processes.

A big portion of the failure of CRM projects can be attributed to the fact that companies often think that once they have CRM installed, the project is over. With the ease of installing CRM 3.0, I've seen many companies install the product themselves, play with CRM for a few weeks, and then abandon the project altogether when they can't get their employees to use it, or can't figure out how it is supposed to make their businesses run better.

A hosted solution that let's a company deploy CRM simply by signing up online may help them see the forest for the trees and focus instead on the fundamentals of customer relationship management: clear goals that are well-communicated, well-trained end users, and an application that maps to a business's specific way of working. Clearly Microsoft CRM has the potential to do all that, and a hosted or on-site offering shouldn't make much difference -- if the partner has the customer's business interests in mind instead of their own.


The Hughes said...

Hi Mathew,
I just found your blog on MSCRM/Dynamics. I am an IT manager who works for the Tourism Board in Whistler BC. We have been using MSCRM 3.0 for the last year and I am making strides in getting CRM to "work the way I work". This blog looks like it will be a great resource for us, and I look forward to reading the archived posts. Thanks and keep on blogging.

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