CDC Software, with its newest Pivotal CRM release, is getting more comfortable than ever with the competition: Pivotal 6.0 presents tight integration with Microsoft suites and interfaces, including Office, SharePoint, and Visual Studio. The newly designed Pivotal platform focuses on the easing user adoption and lowering the cost of ownership for organizations, according to company executives, and CDC is taking its existing integration with tools in Microsoft's .Net framework one step further by actually embedding those applications into the Pivotal platform.
"[CDC has] admitted that Microsoft is good at building interfaces and they are embracing typical interfaces people are familiar with," says Rob Bois, research director at AMR Research. He points out that the tight embedding with Microsoft products is an interesting move, since Microsoft has been steadily pushing its own CRM offering. "Rather than trying to fight that, [CDC is] embracing [the fact] that Microsoft desktop tools have been the most pervasive tools."
David Cahn, head of product strategy for CDC Software, says that the real message behind this release is the company's focus on the Pivotal platform and the agile development of the applications surrounding it. "Pivotal as a platform is designed as a solution set to solve more services-oriented or complex sales solutions," Cahn says. "Where you are selling services and have to have a lot of interaction, such as financial services or insurance or real estate -- where it's very much the inner-social-relationship sale -- that's where we focus."
For the last few years, CRM releases from CDC have been vertically focused. This past March, for instance, the firm released a product configured for the Institutional Assets Management space; that followed the February launch of a Home Building and Real Estate solution. Cahn says that although CDC wants to continue to build upon its overall platform, remaining vertically focused is always a goal. He expects that the company will continue to strengthen its applications for verticals in which CDC has particular expertise, such as financial services.
Bois notes that, while the Pivotal product has been on the CRM scene for quite some time now, its vertical deployments are what differentiate CDC from some of its competitors. "It's hard to argue that they don't know CRM fairly well from a functionality standpoint," he says. "From a challenge perspective, they have two CRM applications and are working to converge those to form a platform perspective."
CDC Software recently made headlines for the withdrawal of its plans for an initial product offering (IPO) of its stock. Monish Bahl, vice president of investor relations for CDC Software, says the state of the capital market was the main reason for pulling out of the Wall Street game. He says that the product roadmap has not, and will not, be affected by the change. "It is really strictly a market-downturn issue," he says. Bahl explains that CDC put a lot of money and effort into boosting the staff, running auditing fees, and complying with regulations involved with becoming a public company. Because of the economic downturn, it became apparent that CDC needed to focus on its core fundamentals -- product development and maintaining the customer base -- rather than going public at this time, he says. As part of the refocus, CDC shifted its internal management team, as well: With the IPO in mind, a second CEO had been hired to head the software branch of the company, but CDC has now slimmed back down to one CEO, Peter Yip.
As for resubmitting for an IPO, Bahl says it remains an option -- but that there's no definite timeline involved. "If market conditions improve and the fundamentals improve, '09 is definitely a possibility. We could turn on pretty quickly if we needed to," he says.
Bois, looking at the company from a software perspective, says that visibility is a challenge CDC will face going forward. "CRM tends to thrive on really big, bold marketing, as evidenced by Salesforce.com," he points out. "I think that CDC needs to continue to get the word out that they are still putting weight behind CRM."
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