Microsoft has layered social features into Dynamics CRM with a new update that positions it hard competitively against Salesforce.
offering a service update for Microsoft Dynamics CRM with some new
social-networking and cloud features, in a bid to keep the customer relationship
management platform muscular in the face of significant competition from
Salesforce and other companies.
together new social-collaboration capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM with
familiar collaboration technologies such as Office, SharePoint and Lync, businesses
will be able to expand their relationships with customers and gain even deeper
insight and understanding," Brad Wilson, general manager of the Microsoft
Dynamics CRM Product Management Group, wrote in an Oct. 25 statement.
features include activity feeds, which offer real-time notifications on
important relationships and business events; micro-blogging, with status
updates and notifications of events and actions; and conversations, which let
employees post questions and status updates. Microsoft is also offering
automated activity updates, with information posted directly to the platform's
activity feed, and mobile activity feeds, an application for Windows Phone that
allows users to see their feeds on the go.
update also offers a common administration, billing and provisioning platform
with Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-based productivity platform-a natural move,
considering Microsoft's determination to sign as many businesses onto the
service as possible.
very much concerned with blunting competitive forays by the likes of
Salesforce.com and Google into the areas of CRM and online productivity.
have become increasingly intense. In December 2010, for example, Microsoft took
a hard swipe at Salesforce, posting "An Open Letter to Salesforce.com
Customers" in which it dangled a $200-per-user rebate for any organization that
switched from its upstart cloud-computing rival. That followed on the heels of
tit-for-tat lawsuits between the two companies over intellectual property, a
situation resolved that August when Salesforce agreed to compensate Microsoft
for its patents.
Microsoft has emphasized how customers who chose its cloud option could
leverage it in the context of other company software such as Office-in effect,
creating a software-centric alternative to Salesforce's emphasis on
Facebook-style social networking, or even Oracle's integrated
hardware-and-software stack approach. Microsoft Dynamics CRM interoperates with
Windows Azure, boasts certain contextual capabilities with SharePoint and gives
users access to the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace.
The new social
aspects in this service update, however, suggest that Microsoft is also
interested in competing on a feature-by-feature basis with its
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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.