I did a podcast with Joe Horvath about MS CRM 3.0:

http://blogs.technet.com/cdnitmanagers/archive/2006/01/06/416962.aspx

His group are some on the top experts on the subject in Canada and received two national awards in 2005.

I received questions via e-mail (sibaraki@cips.ca) about the most common challenges faced by businesses so I asked Joe Horvath to provide answers through a guest blog.

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Hi Stephen,

First off, thank you Stephen for performing an excellent interview, I really enjoyed speaking with you.

Some of the most common challenges we see organizations facing today include:

  • many silos of information residing in different line of business systems (no central location for business data) forcing users to use multiple applications
  • continuous duplicate data entry
  • difficult to forecast revenue in a timely fashion
  • difficult to manage marketing campaigns and activities efficiently and
  • The ability to be more pro-active with their relationship versus reactive

If approached accordingly, Microsoft CRM can not only alleviate but eliminate a lot of these types of challenges.

We have a real mixture of case studies, with some organizations that were not using a system at all prior to Microsoft CRM and others that have moved from another CRM system to Microsoft CRM. Most organizations who were not using a CRM solution at all were tracking data in Outlook and Excel. No central repository and unstructured data. Organizations that we've seen who have moved off of smaller CRM systems has been primarily due to the fact the system was not able to grow with their organization both from a functional perspective and a scalability perspective. On the flip side we've had organizations come off of much larger CRM systems due to the complexity of the solution and high TCO.

The greatest immediate win that we're seeing amongst our customer base is the complete integration with Microsoft Outlook and the ease of use. If an organization is already using Outlook it is really a natural extension that can also act as your day-to-day information hub. Not only are customers leveraging a central location (Outlook) for Front Office related information but also accessing Back Office information and utilizing iFrames to pull Share Point into Microsoft CRM for managing documents. The "integrated innovation" at its best.

I hope this addresses some of your questions, and thanks again Stephen.

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Thank you Joe for providing added insights and thank you to the audience for sending me your questions.

Stephen Ibaraki