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Cisco on Monday announced the release of the Cisco CRM Communications Connector for Microsoft Business Solutions CRM.

This new software program, which is available at no cost to qualified Cisco Systems Inc. channel partners, integrates Cisco IP Communications—Cisco’s suite of VOIP (voice over IP) technologies—with Microsoft CRM. Its target audience is SMBs (small and midsized businesses) and branch offices.

Cisco developed the Communications Connector with Microsoft. The first IPC (IP communications) application to receive certification from Microsoft, it integrates best-in-class IPC solutions with a leading CRM application for SMBs.

With the Communications Connector, an integrator can integrate Cisco IP Communications and Microsoft CRM at the desktop with no additional hardware. The Communications Connector uses Microsoft Outlook or Internet Explorer as the primary client for managing tasks and contacts.

Click here to read about a large Cisco VOIP project that has run into trouble.

Cisco says the new package should help SMBs easily pick up VOIP and CRM functionality.

“We’re excited that we can now offer growing businesses a Cisco IP Communications and Microsoft CRM solution that benefits everyone in the business,” Gia McNutt, CEO of Special Order Systems, a Rocklin, Calif.-based Cisco and Microsoft partner, said in a statement. “We’re able to drive incremental revenue and deliver significant new value to our customers.”

The software pairing aims to improve SMBs’ business practices by using the Communications Connector to link Cisco IP communications platforms with Microsoft CRM. For example, Coleman Technologies Inc., an Orlando, Fla.-based systems engineering company that is a Communication Connector beta tester, is using it to integrate its Cisco CallManager-based IP telephony system with Microsoft CRM.

“Our account managers and engineers interact with customers daily regarding project status and service delivery schedules,” said Randy Olsson, Coleman’s director of engineering services.

“The Cisco-Microsoft solution enables incoming calls to automatically trigger screen pops with customer account information and contact history,” he said. “This allows all our employees, not just help-desk personnel, to more quickly and effectively respond to customer needs, resulting in more productive employees and more satisfied customers.”

Click here to read about how Microsoft is integrating CRM into its Office suite.

To make this new package more attractive to resellers, Cisco is designing the CRM Express Solution Specialization around it. The solution specialization is meant to help resellers grow their grow IPC revenue and differentiate themselves from competitors.

“CRM brings the power of customer information, traditionally only available to the contact center, to every employee desktop,” Edison Peres, vice president of advanced and core technologies in worldwide channels at Cisco, said in a statement.

“Channel partners that want to offer a comprehensive IPC solution based on Microsoft CRM can now get recognition for this expertise with our CRM Express Solution Specialization.”

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