Like some other traditional enterprise software publishers who don't seem to have truly figured out social business strategies or social CRM (sCRM), Microsoft is much more talk than walk when it comes to taking advantage of social media and social CRM.
On the plus side, Microsoft's integration of Yammer to Dynamics CRM delivers an impressive internal social network. The Yammer enterprise license in not included with the CRM license, so extra costs may apply. However, for customers using SharePoint Online or Office 365 they may already have access rights to Yammer which is included those offerings.
Unfortunately, Microsoft is without good answers or tools for companies wishing to engage prospects, customers and communities externally, in social networks or other social channels. Microsoft CRM does offer Microsoft Social Listening. This product is in early days and shows potential, however, is currently weak in terms of social media coverage, separating signals from noise and calculating sentiment. The tool is also much more focused on social listening and not social engagement.
The company occasionally attempts to position SharePoint as a social solution, but such attempt is weak. SharePoint is well suited for document management, internal collaboration and enterprise search but does little to engage customers in the public domain and external communities.
As a possible work-around, back in the Dynamics CRM version 4 era, the company released a social networking accelerator to monitor social streams, engage sources and convert social incidents to leads or cases. It was a start, but limited in scope and social network coverage. Further, accelerators do not come with much support and have questionable implications during upgrades. For its inherit weaknesses, the social network accelerator provided the beginnings of social listening and follow-up. Unfortunately, at the time of this Dynamics CRM review, an updated version of the social network accelerator was not yet available.
In the Dynamics Statement of Direction, the company suggests it will pursue a two-fold strategy for upcoming social collaboration. First, new social tools and capabilities will tap into existing Microsoft products such as SharePoint, Lync and Office. Second, Microsoft CRM will support three core capabilities:
- Micro-blogging—including status updates and notifications regarding business events and actions
- Activity feeds—delivering real-time notifications regarding relationships and events, and
- Social intelligence—identifying data patterns and streams to improve customer service and decision making
With the Yammer integration, the first two goals are well satisfied. However, unless and until the company releases new externally facing social capabilities, it will take a distant back seat to more progressive CRM competitors such as Oracle, SAP and Salesforce.com. Buyers looking to take advantage of social plays for sales, marketing or service will need to seek out third party solutions or learn what Microsoft has coming down the pike to meet their objectives.
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