Microsoft Targets Business Network At SMB Market

Microsoft Business Network is designed to enable business partners to connect with each other over the Web and to facilitate data flow between applications without data re-entry, the company said at Convergence 2003 here last week.

The offering, slated for beta next month, is part of Microsoft Business Solutions' push to entrench the company's software stack in small and midsize companies. One goal is to enable connected businesses to pump data back and forth without having to re-enter it, as such re-keying can be a huge source of error, Microsoft said.

In addition, the company debuted Microsoft Business Portal, due in April, which promises applications such as human resources management and a flock of future offerings including Professional Services Automation and Key Performance Indicator suites, said Mark Jensen, group product manager of new solutions for Microsoft Business Solutions.

But top of mind of many attendees was Microsoft CRM. Partners said they hope the product will jump-start IT purchases in a sluggish environment.

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Integrator ePartners is putting its money where its mouth is, offering satisfaction-guaranteed implementations of Microsoft CRM to customers willing to do some planning. This "100 percent guarantee" includes implementation of all the needed technology, including Windows Server 2000, Exchange Server, SQL Server and Microsoft CRM, said Dan Duffy, president of Dallas-based ePartners.

The standard 10-user offering is $40,000, which includes training, support and all relevant licenses, plus some customization. The premium 50-user offering includes SharePoint Portal Server and reusable WebParts components, as well as custom views and customer-assisted data migration for $150,000, he said.