Microsoft's move to the cloud is not only affecting how the company delivers its business software, but also how it charges for it.
Ahead of the next big Dynamics CRM Online update, expected to arrive in the second quarter, Microsoft revealed during its Convergence 2014 conference (March 4 to 7 in Atlanta), that it is taking an ax to convoluted pricing plans and the industry practice of gating software functionality—CRM in this case—behind additional licenses.
"The industry standard of offering separate licenses requires significant efforts down the road, as it is really hard to quantify investments considering license fees with separate terms, options, support plans and additional integration investments that are typically not evident at the time of the purchasing decision," explained Microsoft Business Solutions licensing head Paco Contreras in a blog post.
This approach leads to solutions that "require heavy lifting when it comes time to prove the return on investment," he added. Microsoft plans to make Dynamics CRM and its growing feature set easier for businesses to budget for. "As we are creating an integrated experience across sales, marketing and customer service with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it is logical that we also bring to market integrated pricing and licensing for these solutions," stated Contreras.
Dynamics CRM Online Professional costs will remain the same at $65 per user per month, despite a major new addition, namely Microsoft Social Listening based on the company's NetBreeze acquisition. After the update, on-premise customers can subscribe to Social Listening for $20 per user per month.
Social Listening enables marketers and customer service organizations to analyze sentiment surrounding their brands, evaluate marketing intelligence and help promote engagement on social media. The feature "also allows users to track product, brand, competitor and campaigns globally and in real time to gain true understanding of their customers and their business across the social Web," explained the company in a Feb. 18 statement.
The Dynamics CRM Online Enterprise plan, priced at $200 per user per month, adds Dynamics Marketing from the company's Marketing Pilot buy. The new component adds marketing automation and business intelligence capabilities to provide marketers with campaign tracking and planning tools.
Microsoft is kicking off a promotion for Dynamics CRM Online Enterprise customers (10 seats and up) that are also interested in self-service customer support tech from another recent acquisition, Parature. The integrated cloud service provides social customer support, support ticketing and mobile customer care capabilities. " For a limited time, customers in the United States and Canada, who purchase at least 10 seats of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Enterprise SKU through their Enterprise Agreement will receive an equal number of Parature seats at no additional license cost," announced Contreras.
The move, he hinted, could help set the company apart in a cloud-based CRM market that includes Oracle, SAP and Salesforce, an industry favorite. Microsoft believes in the "integrated value of Microsoft Dynamics CRM," said Contreras. "No disparate applications to license and keep track of—just Microsoft Dynamics CRM."