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Avidian's Outlook is Simple
The CRM vendor enhances sales force features and contact management through intricate integration with Microsoft Outlook.
Posted Mar 24, 2008
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No matter the business or the industry, contact management is crucial -- and perhaps the most widely available contact management tool in the business world is Microsoft's Outlook email application. That fact is hardly lost on Avidian Technologies, which announced today the release of its CRM software for small and midsize businesses (SMBs): Prophet 5, a solution built right on top of Outlook, integrating contacts with sales force automation and CRM applications. "I believe that being in Outlook is key to CRM success," says James Wong, Avidian's chief executive officer and cofounder. "CRM success is based not on whether it is hosted or on-demand, but whether or not people are using the application. People will use Prophet because they are in the Outlook application all day long." Avidian is calling the solution the "easiest CRM software for Outlook," and the updated release offers technological enhancements and additional CRM sales features including:
  • A simplified dashboard view: provides users with a snapshot view of the deals, sales cycles, close dates, and projected revenues.
  • A quote generator: based on a customizable quote template, creates a quote based on the products or services associated with the sales opportunity; also provides company background information.
  • A quota tracker: provides a way to track an account representative's quota and measure it against actual sales.
  • Offline and online synching: allows remote users to sync directly to the Prophet Server.
  • Usability improvements such as contact functionality: allow users to link files to company accounts and contact information.
"What we are seeing is an enormous product potential with people using Avidian's technology because it allows people to harness a lot of chaos and homogenize it and make sense of it," says Frank J. Bernhard, technology economist and managing principal at Omni Group. Bernhard says that Avidian is the only vendor providing SMBs such capabilities for Outlook, adding that Prophet 5's contact management aspect is crucial to successful CRM.
Although the industry has seen a recent push for on-demand applications, Bernhard suggests that there is still strong desire among users for desktop-based applications. In the future, he says, there will likely be a hybrid of the two -- but the industry hasn't yet mastered the art. "For the longest time, Microsoft Office suite has been the desktop standard, but a number of open-source applications have started to create a commotion," he says. Unfortunately, he notes, "they haven't been able to bring [Office's] seamless integration." Wong says his customers very much want that level of unity, attributing what he calls Prophet's strong focus on integration to customer feedback. Integration with Outlook -- especially in terms of contact management -- was a gap that Avidian saw needed filling. Prophet also addresses the needs of remote users, Wong says, by allowing for synching of mobile devices with desktop applications. As Prophet evolves, Wong says Avidian plans to continue to focus on mobility and keeping a close relationship with the Microsoft Office. "So far, the Avidian team has done an intricate job as to its integration with Microsoft," Bernhard says. "[Wong] has been focused on -- and true with -- Outlook," a major factor in the company's success to date.

Related articles: SFA for Outlook Will Be Prophetable Avidian releases the latest version of its Outlook-based sales and contact management solution, and looks forward to leveraging Office 2007 and Vista in the immediate future. Business Problem: Salespeople need on-the-road access to opportunity, lead management, and other SFA-related functions. Tech Solution: mobile sales tools. The 2007 Market Awards: Sales Force Automation SFA is evolving into something larger and more comprehensive than it has ever been. SFA for the Consumer Goods Industry Comes of Age New research cites positive changes, and sees a maturing market that still has fragmentation. An SFA Wave Hits a Crowded Beach The latest Forrester Wave for sales force automation shows that Siebel still has what businesses want; a number of other vendors are challenging its primacy.
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