High Noon for Salesforce and Dynamics CRM


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If you search Google or Bing for “Dynamics CRM 2011″, two of the top ten results are for different articles with the exact same title, Will the Upcoming Dynamics CRM 2011 Beta Challenge Salesforce?

It turns out that this one, written by Salesforce blogger JP Seabury (a.k.a. Forcemonkey) is a rejoinder to this one, authored by David Roe on the CMSWire blog. It’s an interesting exchange and you should read them both. But in the event you’re too busy, here’s my summary of and take on the discussion.

David Roe’s article is a good, concise summary of what we can expect to see in the upcoming upgrade of Dynamics CRM. And apart from the title and this comment – “the new release due for public beta in September looks set to challenge Salesforce.com’s (news, site) dominance in this space” – it’s hard to find another mention of Salesforce in the article.

Forcemonkey’s rejoinder is based on a rant from a Salesforce LinkedIn group. He starts with an extended quote from it, from which this is a typical comment:

I have a hard time believing MS will be able to challenge salesforce.com. The inherent difference that I see is Microsoft is still too concerned with maintaining control of the CRM through IT Departments and IT consultants…
The reason so many business users/departments now pay for their salesforce.com licenses and the support staff is that they want to quickly respond to changing business climate. They do not want to go through 2-4 weeks of CABs, written requests, funding allocation and final review while waiting to have the dropdown choices in one field change.

After declaring those and similar comments “spot on”, Forcemonkey adds his own comments, what I think he intended as some fair-and-balanced ones about how competition is good, Microsoft Office is a good product, and although there are signs Microsoft “gets it”, he concludes with “Can they do it? Not soon enough.

At the risk of sounding like a geezer, Salesforce and its partisans ignore history at their own risk. At various points in the last fifteen years, you could have substituted “Sybase”, “Lotus 123″, or “Netscape” for “Salesforce”; and “SQL Server”, “Excel”, or “IE” for “Dynamics CRM” and made the same argument.

Will Dynamics CRM 2011 Challenge salesforce.com? Are you kidding me? Dynamics CRM 2011 will definitely absolutely challenge Salesforce. In fact it already is and has been for some time. Here’s an article I wrote a year ago summarizing Gartner’s CRM market share report analyzing changes from 2007 to 2008. I make the point in the article that market share studies should be taken with a grain of salt, but clearly the 4.0 release built momentum for Dynamics CRM. To me, the most important message from the Gartner study is that precisely two CRMs are gaining share from all the others. Over the next couple years, the CRM market will be a two-horse race.

Salesforce is a great product, no question about it. But like a lot of great products that carved out an early leadership position in a new market, it’s got vulnerabilities. In the past six months I’ve been involved in three CRM Online rollouts for clients, each of which started with a migration from Salesforce to Dynamics CRM. In each case the primary reason was price; customers telling they couldn’t justify paying Salesforce three or more times as much for functionality they could get from CRM Online. (The Salesforce pricing model is complicated. Microsoft’s is simple and I don’t need to link to a pricing page to tell you it’s $44/user per month.)

In fairness, Dynamics CRM currently comes up short in some important functional areas. For example, reports and analytics in the Salesforce professional edition are better than anything Dynamics CRM has out of the box. For some customers, features like that may even have justified the price delta. But that’s what upgrades are for, and from what we’ve seen so far, the next release of Dynamics CRM will address the most important feature gaps (e.g., dashboards), continue to build on the momentum of the xRM platform, and – I hope! – continue to be sold at the same simple pricing model.

And by the way, I’ll admit that I don’t really understand the quote I included above about Microsoft being “…still too concerned with maintaining control of the CRM through IT Departments and IT consultants…“, but partly I take it as a left-handed compliment, acknowledging Microsoft’s success in leveraging its enterprise relationships in selling Dynamics CRM through IT. Personally, I like IT departments, and I don’t think I know any – at least, not any that are rolling out Dynamics CRM – with a 4-week process required for a picklist option change. In this context, the IT departments I know like the same things about CRM that business users/departments do: It’s a good value and a great platform for quickly developing custom apps. Plus, unlike the competition, it gives you a choice in deployment models.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Knudson
Richard Knudson is a Dynamics CRM consultant and instructor, and has a special interest in cloud computing and helping organizations realize the potential of social CRM. His company, IMG, specializes in helping businesses implement and customize the Dynamics CRM platform.


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