Traditional CRM vendor fights back by integrating SharePoint, Outlook

Microsoft may be engaged in a price war with Salesforce.com, but traditional server-based CRM vendors

have hardly rolled over and cried uncle. Today, CDC Software announced that it is taking on the cloud vendors by one-upping Microsoft and tightly integrating with Microsoft's back office apps including SharePoint.

CDC Software's next iteration of its Pivotal CRM app includes embedded Microsoft SharePoint and Office applications. Pivotal CRM 6.0, which is based on Microsoft .NET, includes SharePoint Server 2007. CDC says this enables companies to easily deploy SharePoint Server 2007 with SharePoint Designer 2007. In this way, IT professionals can set up personalized portals based on roles. A portal can be created for sales people, customer support representatives or others. End users, including mobile users, can also personalize their home pages.

As you would expect, Pivotal is highly-integrated with Microsoft Outlook (including calendaring, tasks and e-mail), too. Users can see Pivotal contacts in their Outlook contacts database and the product supports bi-direction synching with the Outlook contacts feature called "Activities." Users that rely on Outlook as their main contact database can continue to use it as an interface with Pivotal, even while Pivotal handles the sales force automation heavy lifting on the back end.

Now here's the kicker. Pivotal is an old fashioned server-based CRM system, using a traditional software licensing model without a SaaS component. While Microsoft and Salesforce.com are slugging it out for about $45 - $100 per user/per month on a subscription basis, Pivotal 6.0 starts at $1500 a user, a company spokesperson says. The SaaS option is in the works for Pivotal, with a target date of summer 2009. So without the lower TCO argument of SaaS CRM, the lure here is obviously integration with Microsoft's most popular collaboration tools, SharePoint and Office. Can it beat Microsoft at its own integration game?

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