26 February 2002 Software giant Microsoft is expected to announce today the fourth quarter release of customer relationship management (CRM) software from its Great Plains software unit.
Pricing has yet to be confirmed, but the CRM product will be offered as both a web-based service and as more traditional licensed software. Great Plains was a business software vendor catering to the mid-market, which Microsoft acquired for $1 billion (€1.15bn) in 2001.
With the launch of Microsoft CRM, Microsoft will target the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector, competing with rival CRM vendors such as Onyx – an existing Microsoft partner – and SalesLogix.
Market leading vendors such as Siebel Systems are unlikely to be affected by the move, as the major CRM software vendors tend to primarily target major multinational organisations. Great Plains currently resells a scaled down version of Siebel’s software for SMEs.
“Microsoft Customer Relationship Management represents a substantial business opportunity for our partners to deliver an entirely new category of integrated solutions specifically designed for the unique needs of our small and medium-sized customers,” said Doug Burgum, a senior vice president at Microsoft, and the president of Microsoft Great Plains Business Solutions.
The product will begin shipping in the US in the fourth quarter, with a phased international roll-out beginning in the first quarter of 2003. It will also be the first Microsoft business product built on its .Net web services technologies.