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Microsoft CRM enters beta-testing

21st Jun 2002
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Microsoft’s long awaited mid-market CRM offering has been released into the hands of key partners for beta-testing as the company put its product on display for the first time this week.

The lid was lifted on MSCRM at the DCI CRM Expo in Boston. Based on what was on show at the exhibition, it will consist of several sales and customer service applications of its own, but also provide integration to Microsoft Office applications, Microsoft Great Plains business applications, other business management applications and customer-facing Web sites, via XML Web services.

There will be three ways to access the software: a Microsoft Outlook-based client, a less full-featured Internet Explorer-based browser client and a Web-based customer portal for the customer service applications.

From a marketing perspective, the software will be heavily positioned as the first business application to be built using the .Net framework, while from a sales angle, it will be pitched at companies with up to 50 user seats.

Specific features of MSCRM Sales will include account and contact management, reports for sales forecasting and performance management, tracking of customer contacts, lead qualification and tracking, workflow rules for automation of leads routing, notification, escalation and pipeline management, order management and offline access via Outlook.

Customer service application features will include case and activity management, workflow rules for automation of service requests, a searchable knowledge base, reports for the knowledge base and performance management, contract and service level agreement management and the customer portal, which will allow customers to enter service requests, check orders, chat and search for support articles via the Web.

Where it will be lacking is in marketing functionality, which will come with later releases, although there will be basic email marketing capabilities on offer via integration with Outlook Express.

Release of the software is still scheduled for the third quarter of this year.

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