Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Microsoft CRM 3.0 Mobile Info

The Freaky Microsoft Dynamics 3.0 Blog posted information about the Microsoft CRM 3.0 mobile edition stating that it will be compatible with Windows Mobile 2003, Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition and Windows Mobile 5.0 devices.

The application is a .NET CF 2.0 and SQL CE 3.0 thick client and works in both connected (Wireless, cellular data or cradled) and disconnected modes.

The software will be localized to German, French and Spanish.

I haven't seen this information released form any of the "official" Microsoft channels so I don't know how accurate or true this information is. The unnamed "freak" says he works for Microsoft in the Netherlands and his blog is hosted on a MSDN.com domain so he appears legit. If this information about Microsoft CRM 3.0 Mobile is true...

YEA-HAH!

Microsoft CRM 1.2 offered a Pocket PC option but I never personally cared for any of the Pocket PC hardware. In addition, you could only connect wirelessly if you used the Pocket PC Phone Edition. As much as I don't like the Pocket PC hardware, I REALLY don't like the Pocket PC Phone Edition hardware. I always felt those devices were much too large and clunky.

With the news that Microsoft CRM 3.0 Mobile Edition will support Windows Mobile 5.0, well that opens up a new range of cool and exciting hardware options such as the super slick Motorola Q phone.

In addition to offering customers better hardware choics, Windows Mobile 5.0 includes software options such as the ability to switch between potrait and landscape modes (as shown below).

(photos from Freaky Microsoft Dynamics 3.0 Blog)

Improved Installation Wizards

One of the great new improvements in Microsoft CRM 3.0 is the addition and/or enhancements related to wizards that help you install the product. Microsoft CRM 1.2 included installation wizards of course, but the 3.0 wizards do more than just allow you accept a license agreement and click "Next". The install wizards run through a series of pre-requisite checks to make sure everything will install smoothly. If there is a potential problem, the installation wizards warn you and tell you to how resolve the issue.

Today I was installing the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook on a demo computer so I grabbed some screenshots to show everyone what the install wizard for the Outlook client looks like:

Microsoft CRM 3.0 checks pre-reqs and warns that Outlook is open

Re-ran the wizard after closing Outlook. All systems go!

Microsoft CRM 3.0 client for Outlook installs with no problems.

This same type of wizard installation applies to various areas of the application, which will save project managers and network administrators tons of time because it checks for problems BEFORE the install...instead of finding problems after you install and try to run the application.

Microsoft CRM 3.0 Hosting and FUD

Phil Wainewright of ZDnet recently launched a FUD (Fear, Uncertainity and Doubt) campaign in regards to Microsoft CRM 3.0 hosting. In this blog post, he gets his information about Microsoft CRM 3.0 hosting from RightNow CEO Greg Cianforte and Salesnet president Jonathan Tang, both of whom are direct competitors to Microsoft CRM.

Not surprisingly, Greg and Jonathan poison Phil with some negative information about hosting and Microsoft CRM 3.0...but unfortunately they're not anywhere in the neighborhood of the truth! Phil wonders:

"After adding up all these costs plus an operating margin, what is the likelihood that partners will be in a position to compete with on-demand competitors offering slicker solutions for between $59 and $99 per month?"

Well Phil the chances are pretty darn good! I spoke with two different companies that will offer Microsoft CRM 3.0 hosting and both of them quoted me prices in the $80 per month range (plus $12 or so extra to host Exchange if you want). Since Microsoft released the 3.0 version about 2 months ahead of schedule these two hosting companies aren't live with their service offerings yet, but both of them plan to go live in mid to late January.

His article is clearly biased against Microsoft, and the fact that he doesn't reference at least one pro-Microsoft source to provide an alternate point-of-view tells quite a bit about Phil's FUD agenda. At a minimum, you would think he would like to least confirm the facts that these competitors are feeding him!

In summary, hosting Microsoft CRM 3.0 will be a solid option for companies to consider, and the pricing I've heard from hosting providers will be very competitive to other CRM hosting options.

More TypePad woes

Unfortunately, I have to report that TypePad is having more problems hosting their blogs, including our blog. If you visited us in the past few days, you might have noticed that several of our recent posts were missing. In addition, we were not able to login and post new content. This problem wasn't isolated to us, as eWeek points out that all of TypePad's customers were down.

TypePad has experienced similar outage problems several times in the past few months. At this point, my patience is starting to run thin and they're definitely on "strike two". One more strike and I'm going to start researching new suppliers to replace TypePad!

One thing that really outraged me regarding the TypePad outage was this quote from Anil Dash, VP of Typepad:

"It was one of those perfect storm moments when everything that could go wrong did."

Here's a news flash for Anil, if you have outage problems every few weeks you can't use the "perfect storm" excuse. Someone like the mayor of New Orleans can use the "perfect storm" excuse when he talks about Hurricane Katrina. TypePad can't explain away their problems this easily. Instead you should just admit the truth:

"We're growing much faster than we ever anticipated we didn't invest enough in our infrastructure. To make matters worse, our senior management is doing an incredibly poor job of reacting and solving these problems quickly."

So on behalf of TypePad, we want to apologize to anyone who experienced problems trying to access our blog in the past few days.

Upcoming Microsoft CRM 3.0 webcasts

Microsoft CRM 3.0 General Manager Brad Wilson will be a very busy guy in January. He's banging out one webcast per week to let the world know about the great new benefits in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 such as:

  • Native Microsoft Outlook interface
  • Powerful reporting and analysis tools
  • Web services customization and integration architecture

Below is the webcast information and registration links. Please make sure you attend one of these events!

Sales & Marketing Management Magazine - January 10th

  • Title: Redefining CRM - Announcing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0
  • Featuring Brad Wilson, General Manager - Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft CRM 3.0 customer Essex Medical

Registration page: http://www.bulldogsolutions.net/VNU/VNU01102006/frmRegistration.aspx?bdls=2937

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Selling Power - January 12th

  • Title: How Microsoft Redefines CRM with a solution that puts your salespeople in the driver's seat
  • Featuring Brad Wilson, General Manager - Microsoft Dynamics CRM and also featuring Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder and Publisher of Selling Power magazine, and Microsoft CRM 3.0 customer Corillian

Registration page: https://roi.on.raindance.com/confmgr/event_register.jsp?eventId=5186&invitationId=32159

_________________________________________________________________________________

CRM Magazine - January 18th

  • Title: Redefining CRM: Announcing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0
  • Featuring Brad Wilson, General Manager - Microsoft Dynamics CRM and also featuring David Myron, Editor-in-Chief - CRM Magazine, and Microsoft CRM 3.0 customer Euphonix

Registration page: http://destinationcrm.com/webevents/details.asp?eventid=127

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Peppers & Rogers 1 to 1 - January 25th

  • Title: Turn CRM Adoption into Real Value: The Four Best Practices
  • Featuring Brad Wilson, General Manager - Microsoft Dynamics CRM and also featuring Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief - 1 to 1 Media, and Microsoft CRM 3.0 customer United Way
  • Registration page: http://livemeeting.viewcentral.com/reg/carlsoncompanies/012506

CRM dashboard with SharePoint

Microsoft posted an article detailing how to "Create a Microsoft CRM 3.0 Dashboard with Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server".

You can use either Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 or Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services to create a dashboard to display essential data for your users. In this example, you will learn how to use SharePoint Portal Server and Microsoft Office FrontPage to create a dashboard to display a chart of the top open opportunities and their projected revenue.

The first section explains how to create a SharePoint Portal Server page with an Office Web component (a PivotChart), connect it to the Microsoft CRM database, and configure the PivotChart. The second section explains how to create a data view on the SharePoint site by using FrontPage. The final section explains how to replace the default Microsoft CRM home page with your SharePoint Portal Server dashboard.

I love the exact step-by-step instructions, but I wish they included at least one image of what the actual output will look like!

We'll test this out and post some screenshots to our website.

Microsoft CRM 3.0 pricing posted

With the official release of Microsoft CRM 3.0 yesterday, we updated our CRM license prices for the 3.0 version on our website. You probably know that Microsoft has a "list price" for the licenses, but each partner can sell the licenses at whatever price they want. Hopefully, customers and prospects will think our pricing is fair.

In addition, we created a simple table that outlines the differences between Microsoft CRM 3.0 Small Business Edition and the Professional edition. This table also shows how the two 3.0 modules compare to the six (yes six) different modules in CRM 1.2.

Of course customers also now have the option to rent the Microsoft CRM 3.0 software on a monthly basis with a hosting provider. Because hosting a mission-critical application like CRM requires a very unique infrastructure, we decided not to host Microsoft CRM for our customers. Rather, we are starting to research companies that will offer Microsoft CRM 3.0 hosting so that we can offer that option to our customers. I only know of two companies that offered 1.2 hosting, but it didn't really work too well because of the 1.2 license pricing and the software architecture.

Since 3.0 solves those hosting-related problems, we're hopeful we can find a great hosting partner to work with. If you know someone you would recommend, please let us know!

Yes, we're still here!

I know we've been light on our blog posts over the past few week, but an unbelieveably positive customer response to the Microsoft CRM 3.0 has our phones ringing off the hook from existing and new customers.

People are REALLY REALLY excited about Microsoft CRM 3.0 so it's been tough for us to create a blog post. We'll get you some good updates soon.

In the meantime, today was the "official" launch of Microsoft CRM 3.0 and here is the global Microsoft Press Release:

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2005/dec05/12-05CRM30UmbrellaPR.mspx

We're proud that Microsoft recognized Sonoma Partners by name in the "Strong Partner Momentum" section of the press release. Nice!