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How does Microsoft stack up against its competition in the CRM SMB market?

As a newcomer to the CRM market, Microsoft has strong competitors in the midmarket, but Dynamics CRM has a lot of unique assets, says Richard Smith in this expert tip. Learn more details about how Microsoft competes in the SMB market here.

In your opinion, does Microsoft have any clear competitors in the SMB CRM market right now? What about in five years from now?
Microsoft is a newcomer to the CRM market and is competing with a variety of established CRM products. The traditional CRM players in the SMB market include SalesLogix, Siebel, Pivotal, Onyx and Salesforce.com.

Salesforce.com has experienced explosive growth over the last several years, typically because of its ease of use and limited need for internal support via its hosted offering. Microsoft is directly competing with Salesforce.com with the announcement of Dynamics CRM Live, which will allow customers to host their Dynamics CRM environment. Dynamics CRM also competes with the on-premise SMB players by offering advanced customization capabilities and tighter integration with the Microsoft family of products. This includes:

  • Outlook: Dynamics CRM not only synchronizes data with standard Outlook contact, appointment and task folders, but allows users to access all CRM functionality directly from within the Outlook interface, whether connected online or working offline out of the office.

  • Office: Dynamics CRM has direct integration with Microsoft Word for generating form letters and mailings and Microsoft Excel for creating dynamic, updatable business reports in Excel Pivot Tables. CRM also integrates with Outlook for sending bulk email campaigns and polling inbound email messages from customers and prospects.

  • BackOffice: Dynamics CRM runs on Microsoft Windows 2003, Internet Information Server, SQL Server 2000 / 2005, and Exchange Server 2000 / 2003. It leverages Microsoft SQL Reporting Services for reporting and analytics and is tightly integrated with Active Directory for user access and administration.

    Microsoft's business proposition in the SMB market is simple – Dynamics CRM is easier to implement and support than the traditional CRM players. Business models need to change on a regular basis to adjust to market realities and opportunities. In order to stay relevant, CRM needs to be able to be altered to help organizations to take advantage of these market changes. Microsoft has focused on making CRM easier to use for the end user and providing CRM administrators with a flexible set of tools for extending CRM to support key business processes – from workflow to reporting and analytics to custom fields and screen design. Over time, we expect Microsoft to continue to develop more advanced business process tools that model common organizational processes, making it even simpler for customers to leverage best practices.

    It's not clear who will be competing with Microsoft in the CRM market over the next five years. We have seen incredible consolidation in the CRM market since 2000, and market experts expect this trend to continue. What is certain, however, is that Microsoft is committed to the CRM platform and market and will continue to invest in the development of the product to make CRM easier to use and simpler to implement.

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