Microsoft reveals tighter integration with other enterprise applications; an analyst wonders if will it will be a big enough selling point.
Posted Oct 20, 2006
Microsoft is making integration with back-office ERP systems easier as part of its enterprise CRM strategy. The software leviathan made available two prepackaged solution accelerators designed to simplify the integration of Microsoft Dynamics CRM with existing legacy applications. The integrators were made available at Microsoft Dynamic's first-ever CRM North American Summit in San Diego yesterday.
The tools, called solution accelerators, simplify the process of connecting Microsoft CRM to other ERP and CRM applications, according to the company. The BizTalk Server allows for tighter integration with Siebel CRM systems and allows customers to use Microsoft CRM to deliver added usability to groups of end users across an enterprise. Another version of BizTalk will allow Microsoft CRM to integrate with ERP applications from SAP and Oracle's product line, which includes PeopleSoft and Siebel. This will allow customers to integrate ERP data and processes with Microsoft CRM.
Microsoft announced the integrators in July after hearing a great deal of interest for such solutions from its customer base, says Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Later this year the company will also reveal tighter integration between its CRM applications and Vista, Microsoft's replacement for Windows. "More and more companies are integrating processing and order and inventory management into their CRM applications."
Wilson expects the tighter integration with other applications will only help Microsoft CRM to grow from the already 250,000 users in 8,000 companies. "We think it will continue to grow at a 100 percent year-over-year rate for the next couple of years."
Despite the strong interest from Microsoft customers, some industry pundits doubt whether the connectors will be a big selling point for Microsoft, given most CRM applications already come with strong integration to Microsoft Office. SAP and Oracle already have Outlook connectors. Liz Roche, managing partner at Customers Incorporated, says that Microsoft CRM will continue to improve its integration capabilities, "but who will really care?" she says. "The integration between Microsoft applications and other solutions may already be tight enough that this will not be a strong selling point."
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