Love it, hate it, or fear it, Microsoft's impending entry in the small to mid-market CRM arena has received a great deal of attention from both in and outside the industry. According to Van Symons, vice president of sales for Clear Technologies Inc., Microsoft's foray into this part of the CRM market will in the long run be very good for the industry.
"Any time a bigger player comes in it legitimizes the marketplace," Symons says. "Microsoft's entry into this market will bring interest that wasn't there before, and that can only help drive customers to examine the types of solutions that are available."
Another thing that is certain about Microsoft's release of a mid-market CRM solution is that it will only intensify its competition with IBM and the companies that are using IBM-compatible technology. As one such company, Clear Technologies, is already making moves to both leverage its existing solutions and to expand its customer base.
Most recently Clear Technologies has partnered with Direct Data Corporation (DDC), allowing DDC to resell the company's C2 CRM applications. Symons explains that since Clear Technologies' CRM solution is fully compatible with other solutions that DDC offers, such as ERP and SCM, it will be a solid benefit for those customers already using IBM's iSeries.
Even after touting the benefits of teaming with companies using IBM-compatible technology, Symons says there are many potential benefits of Microsoft's presence in mid-market CRM.
"Microsoft is going to be great for the entry-level type of customer who has more general needs," says Symons, "but in the long run, more robust customers that have greater and more specific needs are going to seek out other options. Microsoft's is going to aid customers in becoming more sophisticated about the type of CRM they're looking for."