OK, so it's been a crazy few weeks (or most part of the month should I say), but I've finally found the chance to sit down and crank out some posts that have been backing up (bring on the blog'o'mucil!).

The first one on my mind is around CRM 4.

Now that it's been released, I'm getting a tonne of questions from customers and partners asking why they should care. Now, I'm not a great expert on the CRM side of CRM 4.0, I leave that stuff to pros such as Phil Richardson.

But what I do know is dev. And when I think about CRM 4, as distinct from previous versions, I think about its ability to reduce the time to market for building RM based solutions.

Take the standard approach to dev. Generally, you have to cook up a database ER, build all the tables, and the supporting data structures such as stored procedures etc. Then you have to build your middleware to handle data validation and business rules, then lift that into the SOA tier through web services. Add to that workflow, plug-ins for business processes, offline capability and security, and you've got at least 12 months worth of dev to get done before you can even get to the high value IP features.

With CRM 4, the whole application infrastructure that provides the base for the CRM functionality is now completely accessible to developers via tools like Visual Studio and a full blown, multi-tenant, multi-language and multi-currency back end is accessible through a full featured Web API.

Also, building new entities, with attached workflow and business process plug-ins is also achievable through the CRM 4 web based developer front end.

Now, add to that the out of the box, extensible CRM functionality, and you've got a great platform to start any relationship management style application upon. And what's more, you get to start pushing out the features that matter to your customers instead of dealing with yet another application infrastructure widget.

So, for me, when I look at a product like CRM 4, I see a platform. But here's the best part, it uses all the goodness from the rest of the Microsoft platform such as .NET, SQL Reporting Services and Windows Workflow Foundation; so instead of having to worry about what crazy and creepy bits of home cooked stuff you're taking on board when you build against your standard out of the box platforms, with CRM 4, you're just getting the standard Microsoft Application Platform goodness surfaced up with a CRM flava.

Anyhoo, as a famous international ambassador once said... "I like." :)