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Convergence: Microsoft Dynamics Is All about CRM

Microsoft Dynamics is a lot of things -- really, a lot -- but it seems more clear than ever that the hook for selling the enterprise package isn't one of its four enterprise resource planning suites but rather its customer relationship management offering, Dynamics CRM.

Sure, Microsoft gave details last week about Dynamics GP 2010, one of the four suites, but when RCPU spoke to Brad Wilson, Microsoft's general manager of Dynamics CRM, guess what the first thing he mentioned was? A hosted adapter that links Dynamics CRM Online, Microsoft's hosted CRM service, with GP 2010.

And here we were thinking that Dynamics CRM Online already had native integration to the ERP suites. Actually, it doesn't, as partners have been providing adapters up to now. Wilson, though, said that native integration between CRM Online and the four ERP suites will be the way forward: "Now we're delivering native adapters both on-premises and in the cloud, and we'll be bringing them out for other Dynamics products."

At Convergence this week in Atlanta, Dynamics CRM -- and particularly CRM Online -- has been the star of the show. The four ERP suites kind of orbit around it now, though they are (little by little) more directly connected to CRM than the used to be.

Still, it's Dynamics CRM that gets the glory -- as well it should. Microsoft has priced the Online service aggressively, including offering licenses to GP customers for just $19 per user per month. (For the record, that's way less than what Salesforce.com, Dynamics CRM Online's main rival, charges for its comparable suites.) Microsoft will also roll out Dynamics CRM Online to 32 new counties later this year.

And Microsoft executives are now hyping up the enterprise applications and the cloud, talking about many of the same value points that their competitors stress. (Of course, all of this cloud talk still doesn't apply to the ERP suites, which partners host but Microsoft still doesn't, and doesn't want to -- at least as far as we know.)

Still, there's one thing that Microsoft has going for it that other companies can't offer. Well, two things, actually. One is integration -- the next version of the Dynamics CRM code base (which is the same for Microsoft-hosted, partner-hosted and on-premises offerings), currently dubbed CRM 5 and due at the end of 2010, will have native integration into Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010, Wilson said.

And then there's that old Microsoft trump card, user and IT familiarity: In the CRM market, "I think it's probably down to us and Salesforce.com," Wilson said. "We have a different value proposition. That value proposition is based around being able to use what people already have. Salesforce.com is a rip-and-replace product. If you've got some on-premises-based software, we'll work with that. We're helping a lot of businesses integrate more easily into what they're running today as opposed to doing a complete paradigm shift in IT."

If any paradigm has shifted, it's Microsoft's own; Dynamics has moved in recent years from being an ERP-centric, on-premises product line to being led by a hosted CRM service. With the momentum cloud computing seems to be building, that's probably not a bad shift for most partners. We want to know, though—is anybody actually selling Dynamics CRM Online? Or is it more hype than revenue stream at this point? Tell us at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on April 26, 2010 at 11:56 AM