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Software Microsoft

Microsoft Offers Peek At Next-Gen CRM 100

4foot10 writes "As reported by VARBusiness.com, Microsoft's next release of its Dynamics CRM application, code-named 'Titan', is moving a little closer to completion. Today, the vendor is making the new software, which uses a single code base to support on-premise and software-as-a-service deployments, available to several hundred business partners for testing, giving them an early start on developing complementary solutions."
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Microsoft Offers Peek At Next-Gen CRM

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  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @02:07AM (#17553086) Homepage
    For those of us who haven't eaten alphabits in a few years, what's a CRM, and why do we care?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Henry 2.0 ( 1017212 )
      Customer Relationship Management.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11, 2007 @02:38AM (#17553304)
      Crap Released by Microsoft
    • You know all those commercials narrated by William H. Macy (a.k.a. The Shoveler), that all end in the phrase: "Software for the People-Ready Business" ?
      Those are about Microsoft's CRM.
    • by Linker3000 ( 626634 ) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:44AM (#17554278) Journal
      CRM is one of a broad range of software applications that can be purchased off the shelf, obtained through Open Source channels or implemented by a software consultancy firm that spends a lot of time with you to determine your needs, develops a draft spec, agrees a stonkingly large fee and then sends a team of developers to live with you for many months, drinking your coffee, attempting to get off with the secretaries and hacking your vending machines.

      Soon, the consultancy company realises they have underestimated the complexity of your requirements and that it is going to take much longer to implement, but they demand more money and time on the basis that YOU have changed the spec. After an extended period of development, a highly-personalised software application is handed over to you and you soon discover that it works pretty much to specification but with quite a few rough edges that will be "dealt with as part of the 5-year snags process".

      The system is so complex to manage that the only people who can support it are the original developers - but they are mostly working elsewhere on other projects by now or have left to become 'independent consultants' advising other customers who are having terrible problems getting their CRM system to work properly due to poor implementation.

      Even though the software consultancy firm cannot support your system to your satisfaction, you are locked into a support contract that means you pay an annual fee to them for the rest of your life. Eventually you begin to abandon parts of the software "'cos it's quicker and easier to do it in a spreadsheet".
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Funny, and mostly true, but there's another side to that coin.
        I just did a job rewriting a CRM for a company.

        Here's the requirements they gave me:

        Here's our current application. We need to replace it and all it's functionality.

        That's it. No details on what functionality that app contained and no source code. I begged for more information but they said there was none.
        I spent far more time reverse engineering that application to determine how it interacted with the database & user than actually writing/testing code. When I completed the project and we did a pilot, they came ba

      • CRM is one of a broad range of software applications that can be purchased off the shelf, obtained through Open Source channels or implemented by a software consultancy firm that spends a lot of time with you to determine your needs, develops a draft spec, agrees a stonkingly large fee and then sends a team of developers to live with you for many months, drinking your coffee, attempting to get off with the secretaries and hacking your vending machines.

        As someone who spent years developing CRM products, this

    • by hdparm ( 575302 )
      Interesting question! Second part of it ('why do we care?') sounds like you had a hunch that CRM has to do something with customers :o)
    • CRM = 'Consultant Revenue Massively'

      CRM is the perfect way to turn that nice little 6 month engagement into a 2 year gig resulting in a new home and car for the Consultant.

      First, you pitch the incredible benefits of being able to essentially share your contact list and tasks with others, but with the added coolness factor of being able to link contacts, accounts, activities, tasks and messaging inside MS Outlook, or over the Web. (yeah, I know, Outlook does this even WITHOUT CRM.)

      You can tell during th

    • We're a 10-year-old engineering firm with about 50 employees. Out current contact database is 15,000 individual contacts.

      CRM is when Outlook and Exchange alone aren't good enough. CRM software is a combination of an address book, calendar, and record keeping system. Basically, it lets you record all the information about every customer or potential customer you interact with, and it will then record every email, phone call, sale (won or lost), purchases, customer interests, etc. It then lets you manip

    • by jc42 ( 318812 )
      Hmmm ... That was my question, too. So I read TFA. I still didn't have a clue. So I read most of the articles in this thread and a few others here. Still not much of a clue. I think it has something to do with businesses and customers and keeping data about customers so you can target them.

      But somehow I don't yet think I'll be installing CRM on my home linux server.

      Maybe if I understood what it was supposed to do for (to?) me ...

  • Good for web apps? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Henry 2.0 ( 1017212 )
    At least in the instance of hosted applications, it's an opportunity for online application vendors to rub their shoulders with the huge vendors such as microsoft.

    We've already begun using online spreadsheet tools to replace (almost) a few office applications, but the scope for apps like a centralised CRM database rooted in a b2b myspace style mashup is on the cards now - should be very interesting to see who gets there first.

    me first me first!

    erm hmmm... Web 3.0 anyone? :)
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The question is wether or not the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based version will be a web application, a "fat client" or a hybrid solution (like using ActiveX controls or other browser plugins).

      CRM is one of the applications that seem to play nice as web application (salesforce.com as a prime example, although I hate the slow loading interface of salesforce.com). But there are plenty of applications that are not possible with a web application, without extensions in the browser or a better alternative (I'm
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11, 2007 @02:42AM (#17553328)
    "which uses a single code base to support on-premise and software-as-a-service deployments"

    And after that, they're going to leverage their synergies!
  • start of this year.
    And now already they are already to release another version?

    I have a hunch they are using managed C# code.

    I have little confidence in a product which is not written in lean-mean native C++ based code.
  • by oohshiny ( 998054 ) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @02:53AM (#17553400)
    With Microsoft CRM, your customer relations can be as good as Microsoft's.

    (Note: the monopoly CRM module, including customer abuse and forced upgrades, costs extra.)
  • Typical CRM (Score:3, Funny)

    by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @03:14AM (#17553500)
    Microsoft CRM (Customer relationship management). Interesting idea. WGA. Deciding what can and cannot be played/viewed. Having a great help-desk that only ever gets used because people buy a new video card and need to reactivate Windows. In fact, I didn't even know that Microsoft had customer relationships (apart from, we give you a piece of crappy software and you pay us to try and use it). Last time I was involved in Microsoft CRM, it went something like this:

    Me: Hi. I just bought a new video card and now Windows is asking me to reactivate.

    MS: Thanks for calling Microsoft. How can we help?

    Me: I just bought a new video card and now Windows is asking me to reactivate. How do I do this?

    MS: Thanks for calling Microsoft. Your call is important to us. All our operators are busy at the moment. Please hold the line. **Microsoft jingle plays**

    MS Rep: Thanks for calling Microsoft. How can I serve you today?

    Me: Err... I need to reactivate Windows

    MS Rep: How many computers do you currently have Windows installed on?

    Me: None, it's broken

    MS Rep: The Microsoft(TM)(R)(C)(Patent Pending) XP Operating System is for use on one computer only. Because your copy is not installed on a computer, you are in violation of the EULA subclause 287.111, where it clearly says that you must install Windows (TM) (C) (Patent Pending) on ONE computer only.

    Me: Yes, I am trying to install it on this computer

    MS Rep: You cannot install it on that computer because you are in violation of the EULA by not having it installed on any computer at all

    Me: ....
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You sir are a tard without a clue. Calling Microsoft Support is a great experience (no I don't work for Microsoft). All calls I've ever made are answered within a few rings. You don't get a press this or that menu, you get a trained person to triage your request. After the triage has been made, the initial rep assigns you a casr number for tracking and they connect you directly to the engineer who assists with the request.

      I've also called Microsoft on a few occasions because certain MSDN license keys of min
      • I agree. Triage for reinstalling a video card is appropriate. All calls I make get answered in one one ring or less. No press this or press that. Just a parrot on the other end of the line who is an experienced triage nurse. Triage is most important. Using this metaphor, they can assess how critical your request is. How critical THEY think your reqeust is. THEY make the call. This isn't an emergency room; it's a customer support number that you ring because of non-critical hardware upgrades. "Triage" is a l
        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          You're either lying or mis-informed. Changing the video card will not cause activation to reset on a Windows box. I'm an avid gamer, I change cards every couple of months and this has never happened to me. Major hardware updates like changing the motherboard will cause an activation reset. It isn't Microsoft right to tell you what you can and cannot do with your hardware; however it is thier right to tell you what you can and can't do with thier software. It's called licensing and Microsoft license is just
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Adding an NVidia card to my Shuttle to replace the i810 graphics *did* cause me to have to reactivate my MSDN copy of XP.

            What bothered me more was a time when I disabled my network card to stop the netbios chattering while I was playing a game. I finished playing, shut down the machine and went to bed. When I tried to boot up the next day I was greeted with the activation message. Now, when it happened with my video card I was able to activate over the internet. Stupidly because my network card was installe
  • I have no idea what this product is, but let me guess: It's another "web" based application from our good friend Bill that only works in Microsoft Internet Explorer. Am I right?
    • I don't think its a web based app.

      At our company, we're using the Dynamics NAV (Formerly known as Navision) application for some financials and approvals. Its a lousy application. Bug ridden, hopelessly unsuitable for its purpose.

      Whats most ridiculous is that its so heavy on network utilisation, that its inpractical to use it in a wide network (ie. we're using around offices in London, Paris, Amsterdam, etc.). So the solution is that you have to use terminal services to connect to our head offices here i
  • The last time Microsoft tested CRM software, some Microsoft contractor called and thought our company was in New Jersey; that was in error by thousands of miles. Apparently Microsoft has a strict rule: Never release a first version that actually works well.
  • Beta Testing (Score:3, Informative)

    by LlamaDragon ( 97577 ) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:03AM (#17555000) Journal
    My company has been "beta testing" this fancy new CRM business for nearly a year. We've moved our customer info out of the old AS/400 and we've moved our help desk from Heat to CRM to track call tickets, projects, etc. I can't say it's been a smooth transition, but that may be due to the fact that the consultant working with us isn't the best. (I won't get into that much but we spent hours in "training" while he attempted to figure out what he was trying to train us.) On the bright side, because we got in so early, I'm told we've had a lot of input into what goes into the program.

    There are two sides to this CRM program that I can see. The first is how well it actually manages customer relationships. The second is more technical. As far as the first thing goes, it manages information pretty well (I'm no sales person, but it's pretty straight forward and easy to use). The technical aspect, though, is troubling.

    Due to our size, we don't use a hosted solution, we run our own server in house. There's a plugin for Outlook that gives access to the system, or you can use your favorite MS browser to access the system if you don't have Outlook, or if you want it to work faster and not drag your system down. The whole thing is just web based forms. There are two separate clients for Outlook. The "laptop version" and the "desktop version."

    The desktop version will do three things - 1. Allow you to access the CRM system. 2. Make starting and closing Outlook an excruciatingly long process. 3. Prevent your computer from shutting down unless you manually close Outlook, with no helpful error/warning messages. It just sits with outlook open, and you can tell it to shutdown over and over.

    The laptop version has all the "features" of the desktop version, but it installs a personal version of SQL Server so you can access customer info when you're offline. This has the added benefit of being an incredible memory hog. When I first tried it I only had 512 megabytes of memory, and it was more than happy to use 100-200 for the Outlook/CRM Combo even when I wasn't offline. It was so bad I requested extra memory, but they told me to quit using the laptop version (I don't need all that customer info at my fingertips anyway).

    Just recently we discovered that you can aim IE (but not Firefox...go figure) at the server and access the entire system that way without bringing Outlook to it's knees. This has the added benefit of loading the pages more quickly, however there is always lag from when you click on an item to when it creates the new window, to when it puts all the controls on the new window. Sometimes it's long enough to be frustrating, but other times it's just long enough to remind you it's a browser app. If they could make it snappy so it ran more like a local app, that would be a big improvement, but I haven't seen it yet.

    Wow, this got long... So in conclusion, with my personal experience the system works, and probably looks great on paper, but suffers from bugs and technical issues more than design flaws. That's not to say it's designed perfectly, but I would go so far as to say it's designed reasonably well. But I'm in the technical department, so I have limited contact with it. Our sales people might have differing opinions.
    • Try vTigerCRM (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DG ( 989 ) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:57AM (#17555574) Homepage Journal
      Open Source, php/Apache/mySQL based, not perfect but way better than any of the offerings from the Borg.

      DG
      • Too late now, we've been assimilated. As a personal defense, I'm too low on the ladder to have any control over any of it. I just work here.
    • For trouble-ticketing?

      OMFG. If you're doing trouble-ticketing, Heat just IS the app for you to be using.

      Yeah, there's a couple add-ons for various CRM programs that do some trouble-ticketing, but they're sorta poor-mans helpdesk.

      Question, which CRM app are you using?
      • We actually hated heat, with a fair amount of passion. I don't know that the program was the issue, but the people who were trained to administer it did a horrible job. It looked like crap, and continued complaints from users were ignored. Also, and I didn't deal with this directly, I was told that the database behind heat was very poorly designed. Whether that was the fault of someone here or the actual Heat system I can't say. But, since we were getting this new fancy-pants CRM program for MS, and He
        • by Chas ( 5144 )
          "We actually hated heat, with a fair amount of passion. I don't know that the program was the issue, but the people who were trained to administer it did a horrible job. It looked like crap, and continued complaints from users were ignored."

          "I was told that the database behind heat was very poorly designed. Whether that was the fault of someone here or the actual Heat system I can't say. But, since we were getting this new fancy-pants CRM program for MS, and Heat is so poorly thought of, we migrated away f

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