Microsoft and Avanade: Twice the CRM SaaS?

Microsoft and Avanade: Twice the CRM SaaS?

avanade saas dynamics crmMicrosoft is doubling down on the SaaS market through Avanade, the company's joint consulting and integration venture with Accenture. Avanade's SaaS platform, called Avanade Online Services, will initially focus on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. That space already has plenty of players -- including Microsoft itself. Here are the details.

NaviSite , SherWeb , and AgileWave CRM, to name a few, are all in the business of hosting Dynamics CRM. And let's not forget Microsoft's own BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) efforts. Will Avanade put the squeeze on third-party Dynamics CRM hosting or is there another work to go around?

The market appears to be fairly large and growing. Gartner Inc. last year listed CRM as among the largest SaaS revenue producers. The CRM segment produced $2.3 billion in 2009 compared with $1.9 billion in 2008. According to Gartner, SaaS represented nearly 24 percent of the CRM sector’s total software revenue last year.

SaaS CRM has also caught on with managed services providers. Roughly 19% of MSPmentor 100 survey participants say they offer SaaS-oriented CRM to their customers. (Complete MSPmentor 100 survey results will be announced February 10.)

Also, most MSPs are running their own CRM systems within PSA (professional services automation) software -- either on premise or in the cloud, partnering up with folks like Autotask, ConnectWise, Tigerpaw.

Just the same, Avanade plans to differentiate its service. The company’s announcement cited its Avanade Productivity Platform, which it described as “packaged functionality for CRM-based solutions including rules-based user interfaces, field-level security and Microsoft SharePoint integration.”

Avanade also pointed to its Microsoft expertise and industry-specific CRM solutions in such fields as insurance and grants management.

Avanade, launched in 2000 by Microsoft and Accenture, has roughly 10,000 employees. More recently, Accenture became Avanade's majority owner.

Additional reporting by Joe Panettieri.

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