UpShot Adds Outlook Integration

Upshot Corp. announced Monday that its online CRM solution will now integrate with Microsoft Outlook email to ensure that messages sent or received via the popular email package will be attached to the appropriate contact, account, and deal in UpShot. The move is a response to demand from salespeople that spend much of their time using email at the expense of the CRM system, according to UpShot founder and Chairman Keith Raffel. "This lets sales representatives work they way they prefer, as opposed to adapting to how a CRM system functions," Raffel says. "If we adapt what we do to the way salespeople work, then we can make them more effective." Although users have been asking for years for streamlined integration of email and sales force automation solutions, vendors have been slow to respond, according to Sheryl Kingstone, an analyst with the Yankee Group, a Boston-based market researcher. This two-way integration enables Outlook users to have all the information from email move into the UpShot CRM system and vice versa by simply clicking on the specific email. Many previous attempts by vendors to integrate with email have been limited to bulk transfers that often result in unrelated and unnecessary emails clogging up the system. Kingstone also notes that Microsoft's entry into the mid-market CRM space by the end of the year has sent rival CRM vendors scrambling to stave off the software giant. By providing a level of integration similar to Microsoft, Upshot might be able to level the playing field, she adds. Others are also attempting to offer better integration with Outlook, including the latest release of FrontRange Solutions' Goldmine contact management application and SalesLogix 6, which started shipping last month. UpShot's Outlook integration extends the company's plan to offer tighter links to Microsoft products. In May UpShot began offering customers a two-way link between UpShot and Microsoft Office that allows for quotes, proposals, and presentations to be generated instantly. "We are preempting what they are doing," says Raffel, who claims that his company has gone further to leverage .NET, Microsoft's Web services framework, than Microsoft has itself. "We believe in .NET more than they do. We are more Microsoft than Microsoft" For its part Microsoft cofounder and chief software architect Bill Gates has publicly said the company was "betting the farm" on .NET. The Redmond, WA, software giant has spent more than two years pushing the .NET framework, which has started to gain momentum in the CRM space at the mid-market, although a recent high-profile agreement with enterprise CRM powerhouse Siebel Systems Inc. has also put .NET squarely in the enterprise CRM fray. In addition, Microsoft's forthcoming MS CRM offering, due out at the end of the year, will be Microsoft's first .NET application offering. UpShot's integration with Outlook will be available at the end of November at no additional cost to UpShot subscribers. For monthly customers, the cost will be an additional $25 per user per month.
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