Microsoft's much-anticipated assault on the UK CRM market is expected to be a boon for voice resellers.
But the software giant will face stiff competition from web-based services, according to one industry watcher.
Tony Rice, chief executive of CRM portal InsightExec, said Microsoft Business Solutions CRM will compete against web offerings from Siebel and Salesforce.com.
But Canalys analyst Rachel Power said it makes sense for telephony vendors to align their small-business products with Microsoft CRM, because the company already has strong SME presence through its ubiquitous Office and Windows products.
However, SMEs are notoriously tough to sell to.
"There are particular business drivers that dominate SMEs' thinking, and these break down into four areas," said Rice. "They need to maintain existing relationships, keep up with demand, and their competitors, and increase efficiency."
Telephony vendors such as Avaya and ISVs including Genesys are linking up with Microsoft, according to Power.
"Being able to offer CRM as well as telephony is a good value-add for a VAR," she said.
Rice described Siebel and Salesforce.com's services as "excellent innovations", but warned that CRM installations had to start with customer requirements rather than the technology used.
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