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ISVs Jump on Microsoft CRM Opportunity

It's critical for Microsoft to demonstrate strong partner support for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 launch this week.

Customer relationship management software doesn't lend itself as easily to Microsoft's usual 80-20 formula, which is to provide functionality that's good enough for 80 percent of the market and let partners do customizations for the other 20 percent. With CRM and other business applications, the formula is much more heavily weighted on the partner customization side.

That partly explains the barrage accompanying the launch of partner announcements, such as Microsoft's assertion that 2,500 partners participated in the Microsoft CRM Early Access and Microsoft CRM Showcase programs. Whether or not all that apparent momentum is real, Microsoft's efforts highlight a number of opportunities for partners interested in selling Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0.

Much of the opportunity comes as add-ons and tools developed by independent software vendors that will give the Microsoft channel some building blocks for compiling customized solutions. At least a half dozen of those were available for the launch.

c360 Solutions Inc. refreshed its line of Productivity Packs for the 3.0 release. The company's Productivity Packs extend the functionality and provide industry-specific functionality. c360 distributes the packs through a global network of 450 authorized partners.

Another ISV with a channel focus, Experlogix, released a version of Experlogix Configurator tailored for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0. The configurator is designed to automate the process of turning business opportunities into quotes and converting the quotes to orders. Experlogix leveraged enhancements in Microsoft's 3.0 upgrade to improve the synchronization between field sales reps and the corporate office.

Financial services industry specialist GaleForce Solutions is creating custom Microsoft CRM solutions for wealth management, capital markets and commercial and retail banking. Microsoft-backed systems integrator Avanade launched a new solution called Avanade Enterprise CRM for Financial Services based on GaleForce Solutions technologies.

Another ISV already by tapped by Avanade is call center technology specialist Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc. Avanade is using Genesys Gplus Adapter for Microsoft CRM as the basis for the Avanade Enterprise CRM for Customer Care solution. Genesys plans to release a version of the adapter to the broader market in April.

Protech Associates Inc. used the launch to highlight its Protech CRM for Members application. Designed for associations, the Protech application handles functions such as dues billing, list management, committee management and event management.

Scribe Software Corp. also has a product ready for the channel with its Scribe Adapter for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0. The Scribe adapter integrates Microsoft CRM with data in existing ERP applications or other business systems.

Other ISVs at work on Microsoft Dynamics CRM-related tools include Avaya Inc., Brimstone, Businesscale, Client Profiles Inc., Compass Technology Inc., Endeavour Commerce LLC, Epicor Software Corp., Foliodev LLC, K3 Business Technology Group plc and Neocase Inc.

Aside from the ISVs' work, Microsoft called attention to Microsoft CRM-related activity by some of its closest systems integrators and value-added resellers. The examples light the path that Microsoft hopes its thousands of other partners will follow in developing CRM 3.0-related solutions in the coming months.

In addition to the partnerships with Genesys and GaleForce, systems integrator Avanade offered a third Microsoft CRM-based Enterprise CRM solution for Health Plans.

Infosys Technologies Ltd.'s angle on Microsoft CRM for its customers is to integrate the new version with Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server and Microsoft Exchange. Sonata Software Ltd., identified by Microsoft as one of its systems integration partners, developed preconfigured solution frameworks called Sonnets for certain verticals.

Value-added reseller Quilogy is tailoring Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 for the verticals where it already operates -- the public sector, healthcare, manufacturing and services. Another VAR, Tectura Corp., is focused on building solutions for customers that integrate Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 with client ERP systems. ITVT GmbH, on the other hand, has focused on integrating the new Microsoft CRM with Microsoft BizTalk Server.

Microsoft and its partners trotted out a few customer wins, and one was especially appropriate for an early adopter. Ascentium Corp., a business, marketing and technology consulting firm in the Northwest, showcased Tourism Whistler's implementation of Microsoft CRM 3.0. Whistler, the ski resort in British Columbia, is the source of the Microsoft code-name for the operating system that became Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. "Longhorn," Microsoft's code-name for Windows Vista and the 2007 version of Windows server, is taken from the name of a saloon and grill in Whistler.

About the Author

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