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With upgrade, SalesLogix aims for closer ties to Microsoft

The latest version of the SalesLogix midmarket CRM software includes a new architecture that's more compatible with Microsoft's .NET platform and allows for greater integration with Microsoft Office applications.

Midmarket CRM specialist SalesLogix officially delivered its Version 6 set of applications Monday. The software package boasts improved architecture, customization and integration capabilities.

With Version 6, Irvine, Calif.-based SalesLogix says it has made some 200 enhancements to its CRM platform, which is aimed squarely at the midmarket. Specifically, the firm is touting an array of new links to technology platforms built by Microsoft.

According to SalesLogix officials, the most significant of these innovations is the product's new architecture for open development and rapid deployment, which they say is more compatible with Microsoft's .NET development platform. The software also features improved integration with applications built on Visual Basic and Visual Studio .NET. In another nod to Redmond, SalesLogix claims tighter links to Microsoft Office applications, including Excel and Outlook.

"We know that there is a lot more here in terms of overall usability, and this will hopefully appeal to CRM customers looking for more than simple sales force automation," said Tim Fargo, general manager at SalesLogix.

Fargo said that the architectural improvements were designed in response to users' demands for easier integration with back-office systems. He said that Version 6 was tailored specifically to meet the business process issues SalesLogix encountered in some 1,800 customer requests during the product's development. While the company is hoping that its existing user base will upgrade, Fargo said that a major thrust with the release is in attracting companies just getting started with CRM.

"In the midmarket, it has become critical to build a unified architectural approach, as opposed to trying to meld different pieces," said Bruce Grant, senior director of product management at SalesLogix. "That's why we've focused so much on enabling technology underpinnings like .NET, Exchange, and Active Directory."

Pricing for Version 6 will range from $495 to $995 per user seat, depending on the complexity of customers' deployments, company officials reported.

SalesLogix, a division of Best Software Inc., is betting that this latest offering will help it maintain its distance from the growing horde of application vendors flooding into the small and medium-sized business (SMB) space. The company is currently recognized as one of the SMB CRM leaders, with an estimated 4,600 companies utilizing its software in the U.S. alone.

Analysts agree that SalesLogix maintains a strong position in the SMB sector but caution that the company will have to turn its efforts up a notch as deep-pocketed competitors, from CRM newcomer Microsoft to enterprise market leader Siebel Systems Inc. in San Mateo, Calif., push into its turf.

Karen Smith, research director at Boston-based researcher Aberdeen Group Inc., said that one thing SalesLogix must do to remain competitive is continue to broaden its range of channel partnerships.

"There is certainly an advantage for vendors, including SalesLogix, who have always built applications for smaller customers," Smith said. "If they can truly deliver integrated CRM and begin providing more powerful applications such as analytics, it will remain to be seen whether the larger players can take away their business."


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