Salesforce has been a leader in the customer relationship management (CRM) solutions market for a long time. However, Microsoft has now unveiled its intention to combine its enterprise resource planning (ERP) and Dynamics CRM tools into one platform, potentially creating some stiff competition for Salesforce.
The latest announcement by Microsoft is extremely complex since there are many parts to such integration. Dynamics 365 has been developed to have strong links with the cloud office suite Office 365, as well as tapping into PowerBI data visualisation and Cortana voice intelligence. The entire system is based around a common data model and platform. Microsoft said it hopes that third parties will create applications to work on top of the solution, including specific tools to be used in sales operations, finance, field service, customer service and marketing.
In addition to the Dynamics 365 news, Microsoft also said it will open a new store called Microsoft AppSource. It is here that developers will be able to distribute their tools, as well as get other applications, enabling users to get a complete solution that meets their needs. It’s expected that there will be over 200 apps already in the store when it launches.
On the surface, both the Salesforce and Microsoft strategies look similar. However, the latter firm say that its use of data means greater functionality could be gained by consumers. Rebecca Wettemann, Vice President at Nucleus Research, explained: “The [advantage] of Microsoft’s approach is that it’s not just CRM data, but ERP data and the Office productivity suite unified, enabling users to access just the data and functions they need – be they from inventory, a customer record or e-mail – to get work done.” This differs from Salesforce, where a customer-centric approach is taken. Brent Leary, Partner at CRM Essentials, said: “At Salesforce Analyst Day earlier this year they were quite emphatic that they weren’t going to buy a traditional ERP app because there are way more things to focus on and go deeper in with customer engagement and customer experience.”
Despite the news that has the potential to raise competition between Microsoft and Salesforce, it’s important to remember that they are also partners. The announcement of Dynamics 365 is somewhat of a preview of what’s to come, with the platform not available until at least autumn. However, it is a large step for Microsoft, bringing together various pieces of software that have been in development for years.
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