Microsoft CRM Titan '4.0' Previewed, Louisville Picks Visitar CRM, Kyliptix's SMB CRM

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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Microsoft CRM Titan '4.0' Previewed, Louisville Picks Visitar CRM, Kyliptix's SMB CRM

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Beatles' Rubber Soul:

"We said last summer that Titan will be out in summer 2007 and it will," promised Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM as That Little Ole Software Company From Redmond announced that it is previewing the next major release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM -- code-named "Titan" -- with what company officials said was "a broad range of partners through the company's Technology Adoption Program."

The new version introduces an advanced multitenant architecture, and uses a single code base to support on-premise deployments as well as software-as-a-service deployments through hosting partners and through the upcoming Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM service.

As industry observer China Martens writes "Titan, which will probably be officially known as Dynamics CRM 4.0, will be the first Microsoft CRM release based on a multitenant architecture and using a single code base to support three types of usage -- on-premise, hosted by partners or Microsoft."

Company officials say the Titan release is an evolution of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 product, and will offer "a smooth upgrade path" for existing on-premise and SaaS customers. It's seen within Microsoft itself as a continuation of  the vendor's long-term ambition to provide customers with the option of on-premise or SaaS deployments and access to CRM capabilities within Microsoft Office Outlook, through a Web browser, and from mobile devices.

Wilson said Microsoft's partners will get look at the upcoming release, as well as the upgrade path it will provide to current customers. With early access to the new release, he said, partners "can develop common offerings that span the deployment options -- on-premise, partner-hosted or Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM."

The Titan TAP program includes approximately 300 partners in the first quarter of 2007, and will include over 1,000 partners in the second quarter of the year. Partners in the Titan TAP program are building vertical applications, SaaS mash-ups, integration connectors and other solution extensions, as well as providing feedback to Microsoft as part of the program.

The Titan release of Microsoft CRM and the new Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM service are targeted for mid-2007. The Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM service will initially be available in North America; plans for international expansion of the service will be announced at a later time.

Taking a leaf from industry leaders' playbook, Microsoft is planning an online marketplace as part of the CRM Live service, where partners can -- tell us if this reminds you of anything available elsewhere today -- offer users technology extensions and as a way to build a community, according to Wilson said.

Hm, what does that sound like?

The University of Louisville has chosen to deploy Visitar's CRM product 360° Care viaVisitar to enhance information sharing with its student body.

Now if they can only get a computer program to replace Bobby Petrino. One that doesn't expire one year into a ten-year contract.

More than 21,000 students attend the university, which has a Health Science Center, the National Crime Prevention Institute, and the Belknap Campus, which houses seven of the university's 11 schools. The university's Student Financial Aid Office receives approximately 100 calls per day from students and parents inquiring about financial aid packages, and needed a better way to share information with these callers.

They also wanted to capture better statistical data about callers, although the university had a system that offered an automated menu and call routing, it could only capture very basic statistics about callers.

360° Care viaVisitar promises complete CRM capabilities to manage contacts, and comes with interaction facilities to enable inbound and outbound connections. The Student Financial Aid Office now can access an automated menu for updating financial aid announcements at a moment's notice. So when students or parents call in, they can choose to hear announcements and then be connected to the appropriate staff member for additional information. The staff person handling the call can instantly access the student.

The office also plans to add the ability to append notes to student records.

Matthew Borden, administrative systems analyst, Student Financial Aid Office at the University of Louisville said with Visitar, instead of sitting on hold with no knowledge of hold times, "callers can hear the latest financial aid news and queue times before they're transferred to a staff member."

360° Care viaVisitar is now being evaluated in additional departments within the university system. The IT department at the university is recommending the product to departments that something for managing interactions, company officials say.

Kyliptix Solutions Inc., a vendor  of Web-enabled SaaS-based products, has announced the release of its KiBS CRM Mini offering.

And here's how it reads on the company press release: "KiBS CRM Mini gives individuals and business users alike the opportunity to use functionality only previously provided to larger organizations at NO COST!"

Well, that's how it reads except for "use," which I put in instead of "utilize," one of the few perfectly superfluous words in English.

KiBS CRM Mini provides Contact Management, Lead Tracking, Account Management, Opportunity Management, Dual Calendars with Task and Appointment settings all within a browser interface.

"We're focused on reaching out to small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) and giving this large community the ability to grow in an effective manner without the costly operating expenses of traditional CRM products," said William Gast, founder, president and chief executive officer.

Kyliptix is hoping that its usage-based billing model and focus on what company officials call the "secure delivery of enterprise business applications" will prove its entrée into CRM for SMB success.

KiBS CRM Mini is an expansion of the Kyliptix offering, KiBS CRM Unlimited and KiBS CRM Team versions released in 2006.

KiBS CRM Unlimited is $19.95 per user per month and, according to company officials, "encompasses the entire breadth of functionality a small or medium sized business requires in a customer relationship management."

Again, I changed "solution" to "product" there. As I always do. You're welcome.

KiBS CRM Team is $99.95 per user per year, incorporates much of the functionality of the unlimited version and is really primarily for teams of  nine or fewer.

Happy birthday to Alexander Hamilton, who's on the $10 bill for a good reason: "In just three years, between 1787 and 1790, he served on the Constitutional Convention, wrote the majority of the Federalist Papers, which helped garner support for the new constitution, became the first secretary of the Treasury, and set up the U.S. National Bank," as Writer's Almanac notes, doing "more to design the system of government we now live under than almost any other man."

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