Avaya, Microsoft Team on CRM


Avaya on Wednesday unveiled a pact with Microsoft's Business Solutions division to license Microsoft CRM and integrate it with Avaya's IP Office telephony product.

IP Office is Avaya's channel-only hardware and software communications offering for small and midsize customers that combines call processing with voice-mail, contact-center and data networking capabilities.

With Microsoft CRM integration, IP Office can provide enterprise-class functionality to smaller customers by linking incoming calls to customer service or sales representatives with detailed customer history, said Brandt Olson, director of business development for the SMB division of Avaya, based here.

"We're enabling the whole process to be tied together and providing visibility at any point into the customer life cycle," Olson said.

Solution providers will be required to earn both Avaya and Microsoft certifications to sell the integrated IP Office/Microsoft CRM product, Olson said.

Avaya plans to sell the integrated offering starting next quarter through a small group of solution providers, including six chosen by Avaya and six selected by Microsoft, he said. At that point, the product will include basic CTI integration.

By the end of the year, Avaya plans to offer a fully integrated solution that shares a common SQL database and reporting tools through a full array of solution providers, Olson said.

Avaya said it has not yet established pricing for the integrated solution.

IP Office targets contact centers with under 75 agents, which represents a huge chuck of the market.

According to research firm IDC, more than 70 percent of contact centers have 50 agents or less.

Microsoft chose Avaya as a strategic partner because of its focus on small and midsize businesses, said Holly Holt, group product manager for CRM at Microsoft Business Solutions. The deal is not exclusive, and similar partnerships with other vendors will likely follow, she said.

In fact, AltiGen Communications last month announced plans to offer out-of-the-box screen-pop integration with Microsoft CRM in its new AltiServ1 and AltiServ2 IP-PBXes, available this month.

At the DCI CRM conference this week in Chicago, Microsoft said it has signed on 850 solution providers to sell Microsoft CRM, which began shipping in January.

Also at the DCI Show, NetLedger is taking the wraps off of Advanced Partner Center, new partner relationship management capabilities for its NetSuite, also known as Oracle Small Business Suite.

The suite, a hosted service, now will enable reseller or integration partners to be treated as extensions to a company's internal employees. Thus, authorized partners can access leads, place orders, check inventory levels, the company said. These new capabilities are available now for $50 per user per month.

Zach Nelson, president of San Mateo, Calif.-based NetLedger outlined plans for these PRM enhancements for CRN last month (see story.)

BARBARA DARROW contributed to this story.