Its official. Microsoft announced early Wednesday that it has agreed to purchase mid-range accounting software company Navision. The purchase was structured as a stock and cash purchase and is valued at approximately $1.3 billion. [Electronic Accountant]
Combine this with their announced development of Microsoft CRM, and things get interesting. They now own Great Plains (higher-end accounting, HR, manufacturing and supply chain management) and Navision (mid-market accounting, transaction management, business analytics). They’re building a CRM initiative (to be co-developed at Great Plains, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Navision fall under that umbrella) as well.
What’s the goal? Here’s my bet: Microsoft wants to be the middle-man for business transactions. It tried to make .NET My Services be the consumer offering, which was not well-received. But if it can get in through the back door – by owning the transactional software that these businesses run (tracking customer interactions at the web site, storing customer profiles for marketing and support purposes, handling vendor and supplier transactions), it will be the de facto standard for streamlining electronic interactions of all kinds. It’s not e-mail, nor is it web browser technology: it’s customer profiling. And .NET could aggregate some of that data (for a fee, of course).