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Keep Tabs On Customers

Midmarket apps from J.D. Edwards and Microsoft promise lower costs and easier integration.

Midsize businesses want customer-relationship management apps designed just for them--and vendors are answering the call. J.D. Edwards released version 2 of its CRM suite last week, just after Microsoft said its midmarket CRM software would be in the hands of customers this month.

"Our competition is manila folders, Outlook, spreadsheets, and index cards," says Lynn Tsoflias, product manager for Microsoft CRM. "There's a great demand for a solution that helps deliver great customer service." The tools offer simplified functionality for less than some high-end CRM apps. The professional edition is priced at $1,295 per user.

CRM 2.0 boasts 175 enhancements, including new customer-service functions. It also promises tighter integration with J.D. Edwards' supply-chain and enterprise resource planning software. That was important for wireless equipment provider Hutton Communications. Says director of marketing Brian Capone, "We're maintaining data in only one place, and that's where we want it."

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