Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: Analyst Round-Up, May 2012

CEOs to Gartner: CRM is the Most Important IT Investment for the Next Five Years

Two recent Gartner surveys of CEOs and CIO indicated that CRM is now a top technology priority. The CEOs who were surveyed said that CRM was the most important investment are to improve business over the next five years.  The CIO’s said CRM was the 8th biggest priority, up from 18th last year.  “Effective leaders use technology to strengthen the customer experience regardless of the economic environment, and they see customers as the key factor in helping their business deliver growth and operational efficiency in 2012,” said Jim Davies, research director at Gartner, in a press release. “They also understand that a new strategy is needed to embrace social and media trends.”  Read the surveys here.

 

Nucleus Research: Microsoft Dynamics Mobile Move is “Advanced”; Could Drastically Improve Productivity

Rebecca Wettemann, Vice President of research for Nucleus Research, recently commented on the upcoming release of native Microsoft CRM applications for mobile platforms. She said this move will put Microsoft CRM ahead of some of its competitors, and added that “native clients out of the box is pretty advanced.” Their research has indicated CRM applications on mobile devices improve productivity 14.6%. Read her comments here.

 

Gartner: Microsoft CRM is a Leader in CRM Customer Service Contact Centers

Gartner's 2012 Magic Quadrant for CRM Customer Service Contact Centers looks at vendors that are responding to the challenge of "any channel" customer engagement.  You can see the entire reprint here.  Business requirements for customer-centricity start with consistent customer service across all channels, including the social media.

Microsoft was recognized as a “Leader”, which “demonstrate market-defining vision and the ability to execute against that vision through products, services, demonstrable sales figures, and solid new references for multiple geographies and vertical industries.”  The report noted the following strengths:

  • When deployed by a skilled professional services team, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM product has powerful capabilities, including built in workflows, multichannel process integration, and blended sales, service and marketing.
  • The user interface has improved, as has integration with other Microsoft assets. The Microsoft Outlook look and feel, together with the integration with SharePoint and Microsoft Office, are commonly mentioned assets of the system for customers.
  • The latest release has improved business intelligence (BI) capabilities, visual guides and workflow support, together with improved dashboards.
  • Microsoft has a global reach of partners for professional services and complementary software.

The Cautions (Gartner-speak for weaknesses) were interesting in that they focused on Microsoft’s reliance on the partner ecosystem. As someone inside the ecosystem, frankly, I see that as a strength.  Because we are independent from Microsoft, our organization is free to specialize on certain vertical industries and certain technologies.  Ultimately, Customer Effective’s customers benefit because we are not only experts on CRM; we know their core business as well.  

Another interesting note on Saleforce.com’s Cautions list was that 4 of 6 were about scalability and performance, and one was about “long-term total cost of ownership” being too high.

 

Gartner:  Microsoft Unified Communication Scores High

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a cloud-based delivery of integrated UC capabilities spanning voice, messaging, conferencing and presence. This Magic Quadrant report looked at businesses of up to 3,000 employees that are now deploying UCaaS, with expansion to larger accounts expected in 2012 as offerings from larger UCaaS suppliers mature. Why does this matter to CRM?  Because Microsoft CRM is an integral part of Office 365, which is what Gartner was focused on from Microsoft.  This includes Lync, which is tightly integrated with CRM, as well as the upcoming Skype integration.  Gartner noted as strengths of Microsoft’s UCaaS offertng:

  • Microsoft is a strong brand and is marshalling significant corporate marketing, technical, support and channel resources toward UCaaS. The company has largely met its product release commitments and has a solid future product road map.
  • Gartner expects that the 4Q11 completed Skype acquisition will provide Microsoft Office 365 with additional OTT VoIP capabilities, with embedded functional integration available in late 2012 or early 2013.
  • Business users are attracted to the Office 365 pricing model (see "Vendor Focus for Microsoft: Office 365 for Cloud Unified Communications").
  • Other strengths are the role-based portal, ease of administration and employee familiarity with Microsoft applications.
  • User adoption has been significant, led by messaging, collaboration, presence and Web conferencing. Microsoft has been reasonably successful in scaling support services to match early demand.
  • Microsoft Office 365 is agnostic on the wireless front, supporting iPhone, Android, Research In Motion and Windows Mobile devices.
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