Microsoft Dynamics CRM – Still In The Race

It’s safe to say that Microsoft has a long track record for using strategic acquisitions to bring together the ammunition it needs to go after a competitor. And their target this time is an old foe, Salesforce.

Three new Microsoft properties are lined up to take on SF’s Service Cloud, ExactTarget and Radian 6. Parature and MarketingPilot were acquired by Microsoft over the last two years, with the purchase NetBreeze announced in January 2014. Each aims at providing alternatives to SF services with MarketingPilot serving as the marketing automation, resource management, campaign management, as well as, budgeting, media planning and buying component.

Parature provides cloud-based customer service tools and allows Dynamics to now aid in engaging your clientele. The most recent purchase, Netbreeze, brings social analytics and monitoring to aid in driving the use and success of the other components.

Close race

The strategy itself was well laid out by Microsoft Business Solutions President Kirill Tatarinov in the Convergence 2013 keynote address.

Tatarinov addressed how business leaders can re-imagine the way they engage with customers, build brand relevance and collaborate with employees to stay ahead of the changing roles across all levels in business. Observing the increased influence of marketing and other areas of business over a company’s technology investments and the value of collaboration, Tatarinov reinforced the idea that business functions can work more effectively when they unite with their IT counterparts.

Tatarinov noted that Microsoft Dynamics is uniquely positioned to serve as a catalyst for unity, and he announced new advancements in integrated marketing, embedded social capabilities, and new cloud and mobile scenarios enabled through Microsoft Dynamics solutions that will help businesses unite with their customers, unite their organizations, and unite their people and technology.

“To realize the promises and possibilities of a world ahead, organizations must be united” Tatarinov said. “Microsoft Dynamics solutions re-imagine what’s possible for businesses, helping them unite to unlock innovation and creativity in people and to enable more meaningful experiences for their customers. When a business is truly united, great things happen.”

Marketing Pilot has been renamed to Microsoft Dynamics Marketing an integrates, as the other services do, with either cloud-based or on-premise deployments of Dynamics. Dynamics Marketing features a visual designer intended to make setting up campaigns easier for marketers as well as overhauled lead scoring and management capabilities that’ll integrate with Dynamics CRM.

Netbreeze also has a new name, Microsoft Social Listening. It will enable Dynamics CRM users to track the crowd’s opinion of brands, products, services, and competitors across various social channels. Netbreeze’s tech could naturally process sentiment across more than two dozen languages, which will translate to this new Microsoft offering. Cloud subscribers will get Social Listening for free but onsite customers will pay, according to Microsoft, an “incremental cost.”

Dynamics will incorporate Parature via a “unified service desk”. The “desk” provides customer service agents a single console for CRM and billing integration.

Whether your business is using Dynamics in the cloud or onsite, these new features will also require greater insight into how best to integrate and then use them to the benefit of your bottom-line. Microsoft insists that the expansion of the platforms capabilities will be a “uniter” of sales, marketing and IT, this can only happen if it is properly deployed, users are well informed and the system is well maintained.

For SMBs considering external experts with solid track records in both onsite and cloud based CRM, social and marketing automation platforms is a wise move. Although every new capability that each of the major CRM providers is aimed at improving your outcomes, not knowing how to bring these internal groups together can lead to unsuccessful outcomes.

Salesforce and Oracle still hold the top spots but Microsoft is coming on strong. Whether you use customer relationship management (CRM) tools or are planning to, Microsoft Dynamics CRM has certainly become a platform to consider after these new additions to its capabilities.