CRM's Expanding Vista
Microsoft launched its long-awaited, and long-delayed, Windows Vista OS for businesses Thursday. Vista represents the first major upgrade of its dominant OS in five years, with Microsoft predicting that over 200 million people will run the new Windows, Office, or PC server software by the end of 2007.
Vista upgrades the OS, used on more than 90 percent of the world's computers, according to the company, and features translucent windows to make it easier to view items on the desktop, an improved search system, and improved reliability and security.
While Microsoft looks to drive consumer sales with Vista, it's also looking to improve the computing experience for many business users. In November, the software giant announced that it would release a new version of Dynamics CRM in early December, with functions that will mesh with Vista and the forthcoming Office 2007. The latest version will mimic the look and feel of Office 2007, with a new Vista feature called gadgets. Gadgets will directly expose CRM data and applications, such as call lists, activities, and other CRM data points, onto the desktop.
There will also be role-based capabilities, data visualization, and BI enhancements, as well as unified communication with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. In addition to the retailored look and feel of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, a host of other business software vendors introduced products on Thursday that are designed to utilize the best of what Vista has to offer.
For SAP, the Windows Presentation Foundation in Vista is key to an upgraded service it will offer retail customers starting next year. SAP's zone optimization service includes delivery data that helps retailers make decisions about how to market and price items at various stores based on demographics, climate, location, among other variables. The upgraded service will deliver to retail managers' desktops an improved visual representation of this data, based partly on Vista's graphics strengths.
BI software provider Hyperion is announcing a new application environment that's designed to extend BI to more people throughout an organization by making it easier to use and access on Windows desktops--particularly if they're using Vista. Hyperion System 9 Smart Space lets desktop users create gadgets for specific functions, such as briefing book, where they can store the latest versions of their most commonly used reports. In Vista, those gadgets are found on the desktop's Windows Sidebar. "Smart Space does for BI in the new millennium what the mouse and graphical user interface did for personal computing in the late 70s and early 80s; it changes the way people work," says Rich Clayton, vice president of product marketing at Hyperion.
FrontRange Solutions announced that early next year it will release GoldMine Enterprise Edition 5.1 which works with Windows VistaT. The new version will have a new user interface, and will allow end-users to change drop down menus, making it easier to add dashboards, including Outlook inbox as part of the GoldMine screen.
The tighter integration with Office 2007 and Vista should increase end-user adoption, says Rob Bois, research director at AMR Research. "It makes a lot of sense," he says. "So many CRM end users are already familiar with Windows and Office, it will only be positive."
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