Microsoft Dynamics CRM Review
Microsoft CRM Review
Despite being a late entrant to the Software as a Service (SaaS) CRM market, Microsoft has acquired more CRM customers than any other vendor in its limited period and is using its momentum to alter the market in terms of deeper platform capabilities, more deployment options (cloud, on-premise or a hybrid) and lower subscription pricing.
Microsoft retains 10% CRM market share with a trajectory for continued increase. By 2009 Microsoft Dynamics CRM counted over 1 million users in just over six years; an accomplishment that took top rivals eight or more years to achieve. At the April 2011 Microsoft Convergence conference, the company announced it had over 350,000 Dynamics customers (mostly ERP), more than 5 million users and just over 27,000 CRM customers making up 1.4 million users. One year later at the March 2012 Microsoft Convergence the company announced that Dynamics CRM grew to 33,000 customers.
Microsoft's CRM product strategy is to deliver a complete Customer Relationship Management suite with accompanying platform support in a variety of delivery methods and at an aggressive price point. For cloud CRM, Microsoft has raised the bar by lowering subscription pricing and backing on-demand software delivery with solid Service Level Agreements (SLAs) complete with financial guarantees.
The company is clearly on its way to achieving its strategy, but unfortunately likes to take the long way. Even with all its resources and might, Microsoft's innovation in the CRM industry is not impressive. The company lags competitors in key areas such as user experience, mobile CRM, social CRM, platform as a service (PaaS) and analytics. While the Dynamics CRM 2011 is a serious step up and a competitive product, it's likely that competitors will continue to out-innovate Microsoft leaving the software giant a follower in many CRM growth areas.
Microsoft's history in responding to market movements which threaten its existing product lines is to first chastise or ridicule the movement, then endorse the movement with some type of proprietary alternative, and then when these measures ultimately fail, to join the movement with a new product offering that normally takes three or four versions to become competitive. That history was realized with its cloud CRM software, and today with Microsoft CRM 2011 the company offers a very strong fourth version product and is within striking distance of becoming a market leader.
Sales Force Automation (SFA) is Microsoft's core competency and the strongest module in the CRM suite. Marketing is the weakest module in the Dynamics CRM suite, but may actually become a competitive strength due to the Marketing Pilot acquisition. Customer service is advancing with each new release. Service also benefits from MS Unified Communications Manager, which routes calls and displays inbound caller pop-up windows as well as accelerators—freely available add-on solutions—such as eService or the Customer Care Accelerator which aggregates data across disparate applications into a single desktop view for agents. Interesting from a Microsoft perspective, the Customer Care Accelerator and other add-ons are freely delivered as open source software solutions from the CodePlex Open Source Project Community. Unfortunately, support for Accelerator products is a question mark.
Top Dynamics CRM strengths include a feature rich yet easy to use SFA module, impressive Business Intelligence (BI) tools, choice in software delivery models (including on premises, SaaS or partner hosted), flexible business process automation with its Windows Workflow Foundation platform, a global CRM solution that offers localized functionality in 40 regions, 41 languages and covers all the 'multi's' – such as multiple company, multiple currency, multiple languages and multiple time zones, and one of the lowest CRM subscription fees in the industry.
Customers seeking a balanced CRM software suite beyond SFA may require third party products, system integration and/or software customization to accommodate missing functionality in the marketing module or the limitation of only straight-forward business processes in the customer service module.
Other Microsoft CRM weaknesses include weak mobility, less than competitive social media tools, clunky ERP integration, a lack of direct support for vertical market solutions and limited support for CRM software running on non-Microsoft platforms.
When identifying and recommending the most relevant and direct Microsoft CRM competitors for comparison, we typically consider the customer IT platform, then align specific company objectives to Microsoft CRM software functionality and finally consider company size, user count, user types/roles, vertical market, geo-locations, internal resources, constraints such as cost and technical considerations such as integration and customization.
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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Evolution:
Microsoft CRM 1.0 launched January 2003 Dynamics CRM 3.0 released December 2005.
Version 2 was skipped and the product was renamed as Version 3 in order to include it with the rest of the Dynamics family.
Dynamics CRM 4.0 released December 2007. This was the first multi-tenant version and ushered in CRM Online, the first Microsoft hosted CRM product.
Dynamics CRM 2011 was released in February 2011. This version delivered code parity for on-demand and on-premise solutions.
Microsoft CRM Reference Sites