Microsoft has already started to dig in its heels in the customer relationship management (CRM) market, and has signed Alcatel ISV subsidiary Genesys to help it push into the SME call centre market.
David du Toit, solutions director at call centre integrator Datapoint, said this was an interesting move from the software giant.
"If you look at what Microsoft is trying to do with Nuance on the CRM side and linking into Genesys with computer telephony integration [CTI] it looks like one of the things it is trying to do is create shrink-wrapped CTI functionality," he said.
"Microsoft's strategy is to shrink-wrap applications and make them a commodity."
The deal with Genesys will see the ISV produce an adaptor for Microsoft's Business Solutions CRM product, which will be launched in the UK and 29 other countries by the end of the year. Business Solutions CRM is currently sold to SMEs in the US.
"We are already working with companies such as Avaya and Cisco, and we have had 20 months - since the product was first announced in January last year - to work on creating a channel for this product," said Dean Carroll, business development director at Microsoft's Business Solutions group.
"We will formally launch a CRM partner programme in November, along with training days."
James Governor, principal analyst at Redmonk, said last week that the Microsoft move would shake up existing vendors and existing channel networks as it entered the market.
"Microsoft is going to drive the cost of this down pretty hard," Governor said. "It's also going to happen pretty fast."
But du Toit said the results would not be seen immediately.
"We will see results two or three years down the line," he claimed. "What it is doing makes sense, and not because we saw this coming some time ago.
"Call centre functionality is converging on the enterprise space, but imagine having the same functionality in a small office as in a call centre."
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