Microsoft has integrated its Dynamics CRM software with Twitter, in an attempt to exploit the wildly popular micro-blogging service for business purposes.
The social-networking accelerator - part of three new add-on modules Microsoft is releasing for Dynamics CRM - culls and catalogues relevant Twitter messages, such as a discussion about the Dynamics user's company, and provides various analytic tools.
The integration is also meant to help Dynamics users boost their sales databases. Twitter usernames can be converted into a Dynamics CRM customer record or sales lead, to which more data, such as a phone number, can be added over time.
So far the accelerator is only compatible with Twitter, but Microsoft is planning to connect with other social networks as well.
Microsoft's move to connect with Twitter follows a similar announcement made in March by rival CRM vendor Salesforce. And an entire software company, CoTweet was formed around the goal of tapping Twitter's potential for CRM.
Twitter itself could end up getting in the CRM game, such as through a paid service that tracks and analyses conversations around particular brand names, Forrester Research analyst Jeremiah Owyang speculated in a recent blog.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's ongoing accelerator strategy reflects another trend: How traditional software vendors are responding to the rise of SaaS, which is marked by frequent small updates, instead of a major release once a year or two.
The other two CRM accelerators include a module that helps customers manage sales opportunities along with partners, and one for connecting Dynamics CRM systems to company portals.
The modules can be downloaded at no charge and will be available within the next few weeks, according to Microsoft.