Sage has thrown down the gauntlet to Microsoft in the mid-market space with the launch of its Mid-Market Edition (MME) CRM software, the financial software giant's first new release since it acquired Accpac.
The vendor unveiled the software at its Sage Visions 2004 event in London last week. During the event it also revealed it has bought business intelligence vendor Intelligent Applications for an undisclosed amount.
Next year Sage will launch a hosted version of MME, which it claimed will attract first-time CRM users and boost channel coffers.
Richard Bee, director of CRM for Sage UK, said MME scales from 100 to 1,000 end-users.
"We already had our ACT! and SalesLogix brands, but we needed a product to bridge the gap between the two, which is what MME does," he said.
"The mid-market is seeing a lot of growth opportunity, and our hosting option will create demand in the marketplace as firms will be able to try it out and buy it if they like it."
Bee added that Microsoft's entry into the marketplace has "fuelled the sector".
"We think we are well-placed to compete in the segment that we operate in. We have mature code bases, our reputation is backed up and our brand is strong," he said.
However, Jon Hughes, director Microsoft business solution partner group is confident of Microsoft's success in the sector.
"Many Sage customers are smaller businesses. We believe we have a very strong product set for the mid-market, and also a very strong partner community," he said.
"Our momentum behind CRM in the mid-market is very big and partners are spending money and investing in us. Sage is strong competition, but our strength is our R&D commitment. We are investing over $2bn in our business solutions over the coming year."
Nigel Hudson, director of VAR Technology Services Group, said there is a market out there for both vendors.
"We are doing very well with Sage and are starting to sell a lot of MME. I think it's a great product. Sage is definitely putting a lot more focus on supporting its channel and is looking to work with resellers that are making investments in return," he said.
"As for Microsoft, we are finding that a slightly larger type of customer is going for its CRM products, so it is catering to the higher end of the market. However, the market is huge and there is plenty of business opportunity for both companies."
Security firm set to become part of acquisitive Shearwater Group
Distributor merges three northern sites into one new hub in Warrington
Activist investor puts forward five director candidates as turmoil continues at security giant
Nima Green asks what is driving public cloud uptake in Germany