• September 10, 2002
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

NetLedger Preps Hosted CRM Solution

Salesforce.com is raising eyebrows with its early success in online CRM hosting services, but NetLedger is out to prove that it is no longer a one-horse race with yesterday's announcement of its hosted CRM solution called NetCRM, which will be available next month. In addition to Salesforce.com, NetLedger's announcement places the Oracle Small Business Suite manufacturer in direct competition with other mid-market CRM hosting providers such as Salesnet and UpShot. With more than 5,200 paying customers using over 20,000 seats, NetLedger is undoubtedly helping to validate the hosting market. While NetLedger's flagship Oracle Small Business Suite served accounting needs for companies with 50 to 100 employees, NetCRM represents the company's first foray into the mid-market by targeting a wider audience ranging from five to 500 employees. "NetCRM is specifically designed to fill the gap between low-end packages like ACT! and GoldMine to Salesfoce.com, Pivotal, and Siebel. We look at the whole process of the sale and provide a nice integrated tool," says Stephen Wolfe, vice president of product management at NetLedger. "NetLedger started out as an accounting solution and added a little customer service and sales force automation and then they started saying, 'Hey, we're a CRM play,'" says Joe Outlaw, research director at Gartner. Outlaw says there are two important things to note about NetLedger: "NetLedger might be a perfectly competent company, but in these times where companies are concerned about viability, don't be confused this is not Oracle." Secondly, he adds that while NetLedger is "light on CRM" it offers a fully integrated front-office and back-office solution: "Its functionality may be light on the CRM side but the company could enhance that easily over time because it's a hosted solution. Salesforce.com probably has stronger CRM functionality, but if you want accounting and HR, you'll have to look somewhere else. NetLedger has fully integrated accounting, HR, some CRM, order entry, and a variety of business applications that are useful to a small company looking to seamlessly integrate all those solutions in one place." In addition to sales force automation, marketing automation, and customer support, NetCRM offers sales order management, partner relationship management (PRM), marketing automation, and customer support automation features. The PRM feature enables partners to view leads, track orders, and submit and view support cases. "Competing solutions don't have a lot of options in terms of PRM tools to use. Providing a self-service portal for partners is key, because it allows them to gain information on their own," says Mini Peiris, CRM product manager at NetLedger. Regarding the PRM capabilities, Stephen adds, "customers and partners can log in when you're not there. They can pay bills online if you have the accounting integrated." Additionally, the solution can provide end-to-end marketing campaign management that spans system-provided templates to email campaign creation and distribution to results measurement and ROI analysis. The customer support tool, called NetAnswers, empowers customers to search an online knowledge base to answer their questions without calling customer support. NetCRM, which Stephen says has limited supply chain management capabilities, is competitively priced at $600 per user, per year, or $50 per month. The independently owned company is taking a unique approach to the mid-market hosting market by enlisting the support of third-party systems integrators, many of which have an accounting background. To spearhead this effort, NetLedger recently cherry picked a vice president from ACCPAC, which has over 5,000 systems integrations specializing in accounting software. NetCRM can be licensed as either a stand-alone package or as an extension to NetLedger's Oracle Small Business Suite, providing users an application service that integrates front-office and back-office functionality.
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