Microsoft has revealed plans to introduce enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) products for the small and medium-sized business market from next January.
Within the past three years Microsoft has acquired CRM software vendor Great Plains Software and ERP/accounts software supplier Navision and has been working to deploy their products to the SME market. It aims to achieve this through a twofold channel approach that would see branded Microsoft CRM and ERP products distributed through resellers and a strategy whereby local ISVs would tailor-make these products into specialised bespoke applications for SMEs.
Laurent Delaporte, head of Microsoft’s Small and Midmarket & Partners (SMS&P) organisation for the EMEA region, visited Dublin to talk about the move. Delaporte has helped lay the grounds for Microsoft’s SMS&P business model and was instrumental to the integration of Navision as Microsoft Business Systems.
“The transition of Great Plains and Navision products into our general product set for business is very important to us. Our goal is to get vendors to take these on and help integrated them in the marketplace where we can compete with the general CRM and ERP players,” said Delaporte.
“Our key goal is to bring all of these into one single customer base under Project Green [Microsoft’s e-business strategy] and we expect to have made considerable headway in the ERP and CRM marketplaces by 2010.”
Microsoft CRM will launch in Europe and the US around the January/February timescale. A smaller version of this product already exists in Office 2003 as a contact management system, Delaporte added. Microsoft CRM will be capable of scaling up to cover 10,000 seats in the enterprise.
“Fifty ISVs across Europe have already taken it to build applications on top of it for their customers,” he said. “We want to encourage that to fill any gaps and provide more value to customers, taking into account existing functionality and parts that need to be customised by ISVs.”
By John Kennedy