Competitive positioning in the CRM software market is highlighted with the following weaknesses.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Weaknesses
- The upgrade process for Dynamics CRM can be taxing. It's not as bad as the fork lift upgrades from the client/server era, but is nowhere near the effortlessness of Salesforce.com.
- Microsoft lags in aiding social strategies or social CRM techniques to better engage prospects, customers and communities in social channels. Dynamics does integrate Yammer within CRM for an internal social network, but the company lacks both vision and tools to help customers engage external constituents.
- Yammer is poorly integrated with CRM and other Microsoft platform products (Office 365, SharePoint) resulting in the creation of a social silo that sits apart from CRM. Security roles in CRM have no integration to Yammer which can pose risks to shared content and documents. Dynamics CRM mobile app doesn't work with Yammer. The lack of an import function in Yammer challenges operation with other business systems. These lingering issues and the lack of product advancements have increased the speculation of Yammer's decline or even sunset. I think this is another case where Microsoft tried to play catch up to Salesforce's lead with Chatter, and although Microsoft successfully acquired the technology, they missed the mark in facilitating social strategies, understanding social use cases and integrating social content with CRM. The story is similar with SharePoint in that CRM integrates with SharePoint, but the two use separate security models which increases administration and can compromise business processes.
- In part because of the above mentioned lack of social business capabilities, Microsoft continues to lag direct competitor Salesforce.com in terms of growth. Dynamics CRM is the fastest growing Dynamics product line and is growing much faster than Dynamics AX, Nav, GP or SL. Unfortunately, Dynamics CRM low double digit growth is about half of Salesforce.com's growth, thereby suggesting the gap between the two is widening.
- Microsoft CRM has no business process routing and approval system. Workflow notifications can send email alerts but multiple person routing with approval processing remains a big gap for many companies.
- Microsoft struggles with large customers. The company's direct and channel sales model has grown up in the SMB market and has been slow to recognize the issues and risks that are most important to enterprise customers. Microsoft also has very few global system integrator relationships of any significance.
- Customers seeking a balanced CRM suite beyond SFA may require third party solutions, system integration and/or software customization to accommodate missing functionality in the marketing module or the limitation of only straight-forward business processes in the customer service module.
- Microsoft's mobile CRM solution has clearly evolved with its support for both iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android. However, mobile operation doesn't support several activity types and is not nearly as extensible as the web client.
- Microsoft's marketing software strategy is unclear. Whereas the company's competitors have stepped up their marketing capabilities with acquisitions that bring much needed lead management and marketing automation capabilities, Microsoft acquired MarketingPilot (now called Microsoft Dynamics Marketing) and much less desired MRM (marketing resource management) capabilities. It doesn't appear Microsoft will keep up with competitors in the marketing arena.
- Key sales processes such as lead management are lacking. For example, there is no round robin lead distribution capability and a rigid Lead to Account conversion process doesn't permit simple features such as optionally determining whether to also create an opportunity.
- The customer service module is improving however does not keep pace with the SFA module. Fortunately for Microsoft, with the exception of Oracle CRM on Demand and Oracle RightNow, most competitors also do not possess impressive customer support software.
- Despite Microsoft's business strategy of aligning along industry markets, Dynamics does not venture into verticals markets. Instead the company relies on its ISV and business partner channels to accommodate select industries. The strategy is not unreasonable, however, creates a layer of abstraction between the publisher and its customers.
- Microsoft supports an ISV and third party product portal called AppSource which is a decent online partner marketplace, however, lacks the breadth, social rating features and usefulness of other publisher eco-system destinations such as AppExchange.
- Microsoft has morphed CRM with the Outlook client providing a familiar and user friendly presentation layer. However, the server side sync solution is only available for customers using Exchange online and customers desiring to use Exchange to better scale the management of syncing contacts, tasks and calendar appointments may require third party ISV or partner solutions.
- Microsoft offers four market leading accounting and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications—Dynamics AX, Nav, GP and SL. While front to back office integration is powerful in delivering company-wide visibility of the customer relationship, such vision has been hampered. None of the ERP systems are native cloud applications and integration among Microsoft's ERP and CRM software systems is available, however, has always been clunky and unnecessarily complex. Prospects also find the differences and delineations between Dynamics CRM, AX CRM and Nav CRM unnecessarily confusing.
- The company is incurring increased channel friction. Microsoft is steadily transitioning from a partner sales and delivery model to a hybrid model whereby it now sells the bulk of CRM Online and Dynamics AX (ERP) direct. Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) delivers consulting services to a relatively small but growing percentage of the largest and most profitable customers.
- Microsoft does not provide Dynamics Online coverage for several countries.
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With a combination of impressive features sets and the lowest subscription pricing among all short listed CRM software vendors, Dynamics offers the best value proposition in the market.