FrontRange Casts a Whole New (dot)Net
FrontRange will announce GoldMine Enterprise Edition on Friday, a new version of the CRM product that has been tailored to the M in SMB. GoldMine functionality has been rebuilt for Enterprise Edition to comply with and take advantage of Microsoft .NET architecture. The user interface has also undergone an extensive redesign, focusing on ease of use and configuration.
The two main features of FrontRange's new focus on medium business are the .NET framework and GoldMine's lower costs and faster deployment times than some bigger and fuller-featured suites. The company line on midmarket customization is that designing its applications to serve larger midmarket companies is "putting FrontRange on a collision course with big names like Oracle/Siebel and others."
Interoperability is another major theme of GoldMine Enterprise Edition. In addition to the possibilities opened up by .NET plumbing, the new GoldMine is tied in with other technologies that make integration easier, such as business process modeling language (BPML). "Customers can use BPML both inside GoldMine and in any application that can digest it," says Greg Anderson, senior product manager. This means that process automation doesn't have to be contained to one app or family of apps, but can reach across the entire system. GoldMine Enterprise Edition also works with IT infrastructure libraries (ITIL) to better enable service and support management, and includes interaction management in to form of screen pops, outbound dialing, and self service, according to Anderson.
With everything that's happening under the hood, FrontRange doesn't want customers to ignore GoldMine's paint job. The user interface has been overhauled with what Anderson calls action-oriented architecture, a click-to-configure presentation with no coding needed to customize. All of the dashboards and reports have detailed snapshot capabilities, so even a static version of an old report can be drilled down into, reconfigured, and adjusted to alter the view. Kevin Smith, vice president of FrontRange, says it is "a radically configurable new inferface, and gives you a good idea where GUIs are headed beyond 2007."
John Ragsdale, vice president of research with the Service & Support Professionals Association (SSPA), sees a number of smart things in what FrontRange is doing with GoldMine Enterprise Edition. "One of the ways smaller customers save money is to standardize their infrastructure on one platform; previously you couldn't do that with GoldMine, but you could with [FrontRange service solution] HEAT," he says.
Ragsdale says the new GoldMine is "slick, and looks really good," noting that FrontRange brought in outside UI design experts as part of the process. "With GoldMine Enterprise Edition, FrontRange has a product with functionality that will meet the needs of the midmarket," he says. The boxed version will soon have a SaaS sibling as well. "There's an on-demand version coming--I'm interested in seeing how that turns out," he says.
The interoperability is also not to be overlooked. "Windows Vista, with its better interoperability with other applications, is a huge selling point for GoldMine," Ragsdale notes. "On the Vista site, Microsoft provides a link to GoldMine as an example, rather than its own Microsoft Dynamics CRM."
CRM's Expanding Vista
Many CRM vendors, including Microsoft with its own CRM offering, have tailored their solutions to mesh with the anticipated new operating system.
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