Last week at the DCI CRM show, Microsoft and Crystal Decisions jointly announced that Crystal Decisions will provide reporting, analysis, and information delivery for Microsoft Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
The product, included at no additional charge, will include 125 standard reports and additional tools for data analysis from Crystal Decisions' Crystal Enterprise. Customers will be able to upgrade to a more robust Crystal Enterprise for Microsoft CRM (or Crystal Reports with a built-in driver for Microsoft CRM) if they want to change reports or get into more advanced analytics.
The Hurwitz take: A definite move is afoot to include business intelligence (BI) tools and reporting capabilities in enterprise applications, especially CRM and supply chain management applications.
Enterprise applications have always been great repositories for transactional data but have fallen short in providing actionable information to end users on an exception basis. Larger enterprises have been able to build data marts and use analytical tools to provide the advantages of BI to their users. The small and medium-sized business space has been largely ignored, making do with report writers.
Hurwitz Group predicted that the existence of built-in analytics would become the benchmark for differentiating applications and a key selection criterion. The potent combination of Microsoft CRM and an industrial-strength BI tool with well-known ease-of-use characteristics will prove formidable competition for other midmarket CRM applications. Let the competition begin.