Yesterday Microsoft unveiled what can only be called a Twitter tracker as part of a collection of "solution accelerators" for their midrange Dynamics CRM offering that will be downloadable in the next few weeks. Two of the new applications covered conventional customer relationship tasks – website integration and channel partner lead management, but the third, the Social Networking Accelerator is rather different:
The Social Networking Accelerator allows business professionals to monitor and analyze customers’ conversations on social networking sites, and as a result, provides real-time status updates about their products and services. This accelerator delivers integration with Twitter; other networks will be introduced in future releases. The Social Networking Accelerator can be viewed online at http://crm.dynamics.com.
If you follow the link, you’ll find that the demo is not currently working, but a Microsoft presentation summarizes the functionality as:
What it does:
The SeattlePI also has an instructive video.
Microsoft is not the first to try mining the Twitter vein for contact relationship management – their nemesis Salesforce.com and a start-up named CoTweet are digging into it as well and there is also speculation that Twitter would like to do it themselves. Whether there is actually some gold there is another question but the topic of Twitter reputation management is currently getting a lot of buzz.
Microsoft’s Convergence 2009 conference for users of their Dynamics line of software started today and the headliner is the announcement some new freebies for Dynamics CRM Online:
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online March 2009 Service Update. At no additional charge, Microsoft is delivering an industry-leading, financially backed service level agreement of 99.9 percent uptime to all Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online customers; new Internet lead capture capabilities that help increase sales pipeline while reducing costs; cloud integration services that provide multiple options for security-enhanced Web-based authentication with third-party applications; and new quick-start tools that familiarize new customers with the application so they can realize value quickly. Additional information can be found at http://crm.dynamics.com.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Accelerators. Also at no additional charge, Microsoft is offering eight software extensions that are available for download today. The CRM Accelerators are add-on solutions that can be deployed quickly and easily to extend marketing, sales and service capabilities. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Accelerators are Analytics, Business Productivity, CRM Notifications, Enterprise Search, eService, Event Management, Extended Sales Forecasting and Sales Methodologies, and can be downloaded at http://www.codeplex.com/crmaccelerators.
Also noteworthy was the discount offer to show attendees of "savings of as much as 75 percent on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and up to 20 percent on Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics SL." Even if you did not attend the show, I’m sure that your friendly Microsoft salesman would be able to offer a similar deal.
More related announcements including a quixotic new hosted Dynamics CRM offering from EDS by following the link.
Today, Microsoft threw open the doors on its long awaited “Salesforce.com killer” hosted CRM offering, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online:
Microsoft Corp. today announced the general availability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, an on-demand customer relationship management service hosted and managed by Microsoft. The new Internet service delivers a full suite of marketing, sales and service capabilities through a Web browser or directly into Microsoft Office and Outlook.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is initially packaged in two service offerings:
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Professional delivers a full suite of CRM capabilities with extensive configurability and extensibility options. Businesses get 5 GB of data storage, 100 configurable workflows and 100 custom entities. The Professional edition is priced at $44 per user per month, with an introductory offer of $39 per user, per month.
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Professional Plus delivers all the capabilities of the Professional version plus offline data synchronization with expanded data storage, workflow and customization options that give businesses 20 GB of data storage, 200 configurable workflows and 200 custom entities. The Professional Plus edition is priced at $59 per user per month.
More than 500 customers and 200 partners have used Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online over the past six months via the Microsoft Early Access Program.
Until recently this product was “Dynamics Live CRM”, but it’s still basically what was announced last July with some name changes. Head to head comparison of features and reliability remain to be determined, but Microsoft is undercutting Salesforce on price.
Back in October, 2007 Microsoft established a new branding policy for its online offerings and in keeping with that has announced that henceforth its hosted CRM Live application would henceforth be named CRM Online. No changes in the expected 2Q2008 general availability – just a name change from Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
The distinction is that hosted versions of Microsoft’s ordinary server software applications are now supposed to get the “Online” moniker while real Web applications for individuals and small businesses get the “Live” appellation. In the first rush of Microsoft’s “Live” enthusiasm, the hosted version of CRM ended up being named “CRM Live” and this was merely a realignment.