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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Independent Software Review

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Social CRM
Like many traditional enterprise software publishers who don't seem to have truly figured out social CRM (sCRM), Microsoft is much more talk than walk when it comes to taking advantage of medios sociales and social CRM. The company attempts to position SharePoint as a social solution, but such attempt is weak. SharePoint is well suited for document management, collaboration and enterprise search but does little to engage customers in the public domain and external communities.

With CRM version 4, 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, it appears accelerators do not come with 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 writing, an updated version of the social network accelerator was not yet available for CRM 2011. It is expected relatively soon, but no dates are provided.

In the Dynamics Statement of Direction published in May 2011, 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, Dynamics CRM will support three new 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

Unless and until the company releases new social capabilities, it will take a distant back seat to more progressive CRM competitors such as RightNow Technologies, 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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