Microsoft Business Solutions CRM Accelerates Global Availability

REDMOND, Wash., July 24, 2003 To meet widespread global demand from customers and partners for Microsoft Business Solutions CRM, Microsoft today announced that it is accelerating the global availability of Microsoft CRM. Localized versions of Microsoft CRM will be offered in more than 20 countries and in nine languages by the end of 2003. The global demand for a thin client and Microsoft Outlook based CRM solution, built on a single platform and developed with leading technologies, has been overwhelming.

Microsoft CRM was developed to offer businesses an easy-to-use and powerful tool for building lasting and profitable relationships with their customers. Microsoft CRM, the company says, enables businesses to take advantage of technology and related services that were previously reserved for big companies with sizable IT budgets.

The Microsoft CRM international release (version 1.2) will deliver enhanced functionality through improved reporting with Crystal Enterprise version 9, an improved set-up experience and compatibility with Microsoft Windows Server, Exchange Server, Small Business Server, and the Microsoft Office System with an enhanced development environment for the Outlook client. All of these enhancements, plus updates from early customer feedback, Microsoft says, will contribute to a more efficient solution that helps bring customers a faster return on investment.

Microsoft CRM works seamlessly with Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. In order to meet widespread, global demand for this product, VAT and multicurrency functionality was postponed in order to make the localized versions of the solution available more quickly. Business Solutions customers can choose to obtain Navision or Axapta today if international tax calculations and multi-currency are of the highest importance, with the option to migrate to Microsoft CRM when its functionality fits their needs.

To ensure that businesses around the globe have greater access to the solution, Microsoft will evolve its distribution strategy to make the product available through its worldwide distribution channel. In addition, Microsoft CRM will now be available in the Microsoft Volume Licensing programs such as Open, and the new Open Value program, to offer customers the opportunity to acquire the solution with a consistent licensing process for their Microsoft software.

Prior to the announcement, PressPass spoke with Jeff Young , MBS vice president; David Thacher , general manager, Microsoft CRM; and Don Nelson , general manager, channel development. Topics included the upcoming release, the strategy behind the revised product roadmap, and opportunities for international customers and business partners.

David Thacher, general manager, Microsoft CRM.

Press Pass: What prompted Microsoft Business Solutions to revise its product roadmap for Microsoft CRM?

David Thacher: There is significant global demand among customers and business partners for a product that automates their CRM strategies making them more efficient in their customer relationships. In response to that demand, we are accelerating our global delivery schedule for Microsoft CRM, as well as the distribution and programs from which customers can acquire the product. Microsoft CRM version 1.2 will include considerable enhancements that continue to expand the ease of use, integration capabilities and low total cost of ownership of the solution. Enhanced set-up, Microsoft Outlook development environment, broader reporting capabilities, and enhancements based on early customer feedback will be rolled into this Q4 release. While our original goal was to include VAT and multi-currency capabilities, we’ve heard from our partners and customers that the ability to have Microsoft CRM enter the global marketplace and enable customers to implement the solution as soon as possible outweighs the demand for additional functionality.

Jeff Young, Microsoft Business Solutions vice president, CRM & Retail.

Press Pass: What facilitated the changes to the overall solution pricing and distribution model?

Jeff Young: In terms of licensing, we want to ensure our customers have the best product experience possible. Because Microsoft CRM can be offered with other components that contribute to the customers overall business solutions infrastructure, it was sensible to roll Microsoft CRM into Microsoft’s Volume Licensing programs during the fall. We believe the offering we’ll provide can ensure high customer satisfaction with their solution, and a very strong ROI as customers evaluate their options.

Don Nelson, general manager, Channel Development.

Don Nelson: Microsoft CRM is built on top of Microsoft SQL Server and Exchange. By adopting a similar distribution strategy, customers can license Microsoft CRM in the same way they license the underlying server products. These changes were specifically made so Microsoft CRM customers can have a consistent experience with Microsoft partners.

Press Pass: How will the modifications to previously planned additional functionality in the international version affect European resellers and ISV partners?

Thacher: The timing here is what’s critical. Rolling out Microsoft CRM as soon as possible is key to meeting customers’ and partners’ expectations. Customer and partner feedback has indicated that demand for Microsoft CRM today exceeds the need to wait for the functionality. We will continue to enhance the solution both to serve different geographic needs as well as market demands.

Press Pass: How will the changes in planned additional functionality affect global customers who are interested in acquiring a localized version of Microsoft CRM?

Thacher: Businesses that require VAT and multi-currency functionality generally have those capabilities within their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions. Since they can continue to draw on those capabilities, Microsoft CRM will be a valuable tool for opportunity and sales management. In addition, of course, it will help them make the most of the relationships they have with their customers. Microsoft is committed to delivering products that help businesses build and maintain customer relationships that endure.

Press Pass: What have you heard from European partners regarding customer demand for a midmarket CRM product from Microsoft?

Nelson: Demand appears to be high. Strong customer relationships and superior customer satisfaction are critical to business success. Our European and Australia/New Zealand customers understand the importance of strong CRM tools to improve their relationships with their customers, and with a solution built specifically for their needs; we just can’t wait to get this product to those markets. We’re very optimistic about the success of the product given the early feedback we’ve heard from our partners.

Press Pass: How does Microsoft plan to support versions of Microsoft CRM in nine different languages?

Young: We’re taking advantage of Microsoft’s product support infrastructure, which is known for going above and beyond what’s considered standard across the industry. Drawing on the strength of the global Product Support Services (PSS) team coupled with Microsoft Business Solutions support and the Microsoft Business Solutions Sustained Engineering teams, Microsoft CRM customers will have access to a three-tier support organization that’s fully committed to the highest possible level of customer satisfaction with the languages and technologies to ensure success.

Press Pass: Who will be authorized to offer which version of Microsoft CRM?

Nelson: We won’t really be
anyone. Any Microsoft partner in the geographies where Microsoft CRM becomes available can deliver Microsoft CRM Standard and Professional editions to their customers. We strongly recommend that customers work closely with a certified partner they know and trust to implement their CRM projects to ensure that they receive the maximum benefit from the solution.

Press Pass: What types of businesses in which industries can expect to achieve business results and success by using Microsoft CRM?

Young: We developed Microsoft CRM to address the customer-relationship needs for a broad range of product- and service-based organizations and have seen a good mix of these customers licensing Microsoft CRM today. Microsoft CRM helps companies offer broad and more consistent service to their customers. We will continue to partner with our ISV community, which develops additional customization and industry-specific functionality that meets the needs of our joint customers. Outside of the largest companies, businesses have traditionally had to rely on homegrown solutions. With Microsoft CRM, that’s all changing.

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