An effort, code-named Project Elixir, will take shape later this year as a way to promote Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail and contact program, with some additional fields, as a tool for viewing customer relationship data. Eventually, the plan could help the software giant elbow its way further into the customer relationship management market, where Siebel Systems, Oracle and SAP dominate.
While Microsoft doesn’t expect to generate revenue from offering Elixir, it does stand to benefit when companies tie Office deeper into their business processes. Since the Elixir code Microsoft has developed works only with Office 2003, the company sees the tool as a way to get customers to upgrade. Longer term, such tools may also spur sales of Windows Server and other software.
By making Office a de facto front end for customer relationship management systems, Microsoft hopes to boost sales of the software and slowly elbow its way further into the CRM market.