Microsoft tries to lure CRM customers with cash payments

Integrates social networking capbaility, integration with Android, Apple devices

Microsoft Australia is hoping to lure IT managers away from Salesforce.com and towards the company’s recently launched Microsoft Dynamics CRM with cash incentives and the promise of social media integration.

Lead product manager, Ross Dembecki, said Microsoft hoped to enter the booming customer relationship management (CRM) market with the new product at a journalist briefing in its Sydney headquarters today.

“The [CRM] marketplace worldwide that we’re serving is estimated to be around $9 billion in growing single digits,” he said. “You can see the proportion of the overall CRM market that’s moving to the software-as-a-service or cloud CRM is growing faster than the total CRM market.

“Obviously we’ve themed this release to capitalise on that.”

Dembecki said Microsoft would be offering cash payments for businesses interested in moving their CRM away from Salesforce.com and to Microsoft’s Dynamic CRM cloud.

“We’re offering an opportunity for Salesforce.com and Oracle customers to switch to Microsoft Dynamics Online from now until June this year,” Dembecki said.

With IT managers scratching their heads as to why Microsoft Australia would enter the clear territory of Salesforce.com and other established CRM vendors at such a late stage in the game, Microsoft’s senior product manager, Jon Farmer, said it was a natural progression for the company.

“We’ve been in the US and Canada for quite a bit longer with Dynamics CRM online,” Farmer said. “There’s a different level of responsibility between Microsoft and Salesforce.com.

“Obviously, there are a whole set of things we have to do that they don’t.”

CRM solution expert, Craig Steere, said that while the move to CRM has been aimed at establishing Microsoft in the market, it also recognises the value of social networking sites, with Steele giving a stern warning to IT managers about the power of sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“It has the ability to plug into social things like Facebook and LinkedIn,” he said. “We can start leveraging all of these social network paradigms.”

“It doesn’t matter where you are internally – your customers are out there talking about your products and services [online]. They are communicating through these tools.

“You can choose to be a part of that or you can choose to ignore it.”

Dembecki continued the theme of integration, saying that Microsoft has enabled mobile access to the CRM on Blackberry, Android and Apple devices.

“Despite some myths that Microsoft may be willing to spread, we do have a wide range of mobile options available for CRM 2011 that once out of the box, is ready to go.”

Follow Lisa Banks on Twitter: @CapricaStar

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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