Avaya last week unveiled a licensing 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. It combines call processing with voice mail, contact center and data networking capabilities.
"We find that a lot of small businesses have a need for contact center technology; they just don't know it," said Jarrod Sipe, president of Matrix Technologies, a solution provider in Washington.
Sipe cited one customer whose receptionist would field incoming calls by answering the phone and then standing up to see which of the eight customer service representatives sitting in cubicles behind her were free to handle them.
With Microsoft CRM integration, IP Office provides enterprise-class functionality to smaller customers by linking customer history data to incoming calls to service or sales representatives, said Brandt Olson, director of business development for the SMB division at Avaya, Basking Ridge, N.J. "We're enabling the whole process to be tied together and providing visibility at any point into the customer life cycle," he said.
Partners are required to earn Avaya and Microsoft certifications to sell the integrated product, he said.
Avaya plans to start selling the offering next quarter through six Avaya and six Microsoft solution providers, he said. At that point, the product will include basic computer telephony integration (CTI). By the end of the year, Avaya plans to offer a fully integrated solution through a full array of solution providers, Olson said.
The deal with Avaya is not exclusive, said Holly Holt, group product manager for CRM at Microsoft Business Solutions.
In fact, AltiGen Communications last month unveiled plans to offer out-of-the-box CTI capabilities with Microsoft CRM in its new AltiServ1 and AltiServ2 IP-PBXes, expected to be available this month.