Stock markets dipped. Republicans conquered Congress. A lot has happened since last February, when Microsoft unveiled its plans to enter the CRM market. But the number-one software developer, which made its CRM package available on Jan. 21, through resellers and application-hosting services, isn’t planning to compete against the likes of PeopleSoft and Siebel Systems. Instead, Redmond is aiming its first business software built on the .Net platform at the small to midsize market. SalesForce.com, SalesLogix and others are the likely rivals in that segment.
Microsoft has two things going for it, CRM analysts say. One?the field is wide open. Fewer than 5 percent of companies with 20 to 150 people use CRM, says Barton Goldenberg, president of ISM, a research company in Bethesda, Md. And two?these are Windows and Outlook e-mail users, says Paul Greenberg, president of The 56 Group, a consultancy in Manassas, Va. “They will gain market share very quickly and become a major player at every level of the market in a few years,” Greenberg says.