Business, it seems, is divided into two parts: front office and back office. Those are not natural divisions.

The functions that software performs in the names of these locations is part of the same process--finding business and turning that business into money that can be recorded and tracked. Software should be able to do it all.

Maybe some people are split-brained enough to perform without making the connection. Most aren't. The only real reason for the distinction has been the limitations of technology. Business had to be reduced to digestible sizes, and of course, a lot of corporations were fragmented for the same reason.

Now, technology can bring these parts together. And, given the choice of buying two products that effectively perform accounting and customer relationship management functions, or one, which would most companies choose?

The idea that business would rather have a single product is the basis of SAP's Business One, and of what Exact Software tries to accomplish with the convergence of its Globe ERP and eSynergy, which is something of a CRM-plus package. From conversations with some people at Microsoft Business Solutions, their endorsement of the concept has led me to believe that Project Green, the product that's supposed to unify its four accounting lines, will also tie in CRM. And I can't picture Sage Software missing this development.

The major wrinkle on this could be that Microsoft--which tries to sell the stack, its office applications and operating system and networking tools--might try to link all this together via the emerging Outlook platform.

However this comes about, it is easy to believe that in five years, mid-market businesses will wonder why anybody did anything so silly as buying separate products for accounting and CRM.

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