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Microsoft: CRM's The Next Billion-Dollar Baby

Microsoft is banking that its CRM, after a slow start, will become the company's next big money-maker. While it might not hit Office-type numbers any time soon, it could still be the next billion-dollar baby, executives say.

In a series of recent interviews, Microsoft executives repeatedly brought up CRM—the current Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 release shipped late last year--as the next big apps opportunity.

"CRM could easily be the next billion dollar business for Microsoft," said Margo Day, a regional vice president who just moved to that role from her post as vice president of the U.S. Partner Group.

Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., claims 7,000 CRM customer accounts and 180,000 CRM users worldwide.

Partners agree that the latest release, with its tight Outlook integration, has made great strides from its predecessors. They cite, in particular, easier navigation—it takes far fewer clicks to perform common tasks. And, the fact that it looks and acts like Outlook means that sales people, who often refuse to use complicated programs, actually use it, partners said.

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