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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Independent Software Review

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Global Reach
Dynamics SaaS CRM growth has been stifled due to limited promotion, very cautious support from the VAR channel and limited North American geographic coverage. However, this last obstacle was removed in January 2011 when Dynamics CRM announced extended global support for 40 international regions and 41 languages. Multi-national companies can deploy CRM in local languages at business units around the world while still sharing a single, central database.

More recently, Microsoft is showing more of its marketing muscle and providing increased incentives for reseller partners to more assertively push the online version. This later push is no small objective. VAR channels of almost all on-premise CRM and enterprise software solutions are accustomed to 40% or better software margins, up-front revenue collection and professional service fees which exceed the software licensing amount. Coercing the channel to replace that up front revenue stream with dramatically smaller and deferred subscription fees, received in arrears and with fewer professional services is a hard pill for many VARs to swallow. Nonetheless, Microsoft shows commitment in educating those VARs and helping them adjust their business models for the next wave of customer demand.

Deployment Considerations
When implementing the Sales Force Automation SaaS version without modifications or system integration, a production-ready CRM system can be achieved in a few days to a few weeks depending upon the scope of configuration, user count and reporting requirements.

For trials or conference room pilot purposes, Microsoft offers a one month trial for small and midsize (SMB) organizations, and often agrees to trials of up to six months for enterprise pilots.

Implementing the broader CRM suite, including marketing and service, may require third party products or third party service providers such as system integrators. For example, the marketing module provides only simple campaign management so more advanced functions such as lead management will require a third party lead automation system (such as Aprimo, Eloqua or Pardot). Similarly, the service component may require an external service provider for environments beyond simple help desks, such as centros de contacto with deeper functional needs and integration to a host of systems and tools such as ACH (automated call handling), CTI (computer telephony integration) or IVR (interactive voice response).

Service providers will also likely be required for vertical market adaptations of the Dynamics solution. Dynamics CRM is a horizontal (non-industry specific) product and Microsoft relies on its ISV, VAR and systems integrator partners to extend its solution for the needs of specific industries, geographies or market niches.

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When implementing the SFA module online without modifications or system integration, a production-ready CRM system can be achieved in a few days to a few weeks depending upon the scope of configuration, user count and reporting requirements.

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