24 September 2002 Microsoft has announced a series of business applications designed for small to medium-sized companies that will show off the capabilities of .Net, its web services technology.
Designed to integrate tightly with other Microsoft products, the applications are designed for customer relationship management (CRM), professional services automation (PSA), retail management, data exchange and portal provision.
According to Simon Edwards, the UK managing director of Microsoft Business Solutions, the company sees an opportunity in the middle market for broad packages such as CRM that it believes are not yet well catered for and which will work closely with other Microsoft products such as Office XP and Project 2002.
“It [Microsoft CRM] is totally integrated with Outlook,” he said. “If you schedule a payment to a client, it appears in Outlook. There’s integration with Word’s ‘Smart Tags’ so that you can extract details from back office applications. And the system uses Outlook’s contacts.” In turn, Microsoft PSA will integrate with Project and Microsoft Business Solutions Project Accounting.
Edwards said that the applications will also showcase .Net, Microsoft’s web services framework which enables application and business process integration over networks and the Internet. “We realised it was all very well having a platform, but to drive adoption of that platform we need applications. Whereas office applications are the proof point of desktop and client server operating systems, we need business solutions to drive adoption of a business application platform.”
Microsoft CRM and Microsoft PSA will be available in the UK from Spring. The other applications will be available by September 2003, said the company.