I’m recently back from a Microsoft Analysts day linked to one of their events in Paris. There were some interesting developments with Dynamics 365 ( their CRM and ERP suite) which I thought I would briefly cover here.
Microsoft has a mature product with Dynamics which covers the ERP and CRM requirements in the enterprise – I cover mostly the CRM modules here. Dynamics is a mature product and has been very successful for Microsoft, however whilst it competes against Salesforce and is regarded as a suite – its not been a fully functioned suite. A full suite would typically contain sales, service, marketing and commerce as a minimum, especially form a mega vendor.
Microsoft Dynamics Product Range
As a mega vendor and provider of a CRM suite it was always surprising that Microsoft did not have a full offering. Announced in November 2019 was the availability of an E-Commerce function for Dynamics. After adding Marketing 2 years ago, Dynamics could now be considered a full suite with sales, marketing service and now commerce.
Microsoft looked internally and decided to productionize its own home grown e-commerce facility – Microsoft just happens to be one of the worlds largest e-commerce users. All of its own software and hardware products are sold through this homegrown platform, which is also now part of Dynamics. Scale-ability should not be an issue but it will be interesting to see in due course if this solution works for smaller enterprises and how well it’s integrated with the rest of dynamics.
So I look forward to finding out more but I think this is a welcome announcement.
My analyst colleagues have raised concerns as this is not the in vogue “headless” architecture, so it remains to be seen its impact on the market.
Dynamics Marketing Confusion
Until approx. two years ago Dynamics did not have a marketing component. It previously did have with Marketing Pilot but that was dropped some time ago. In Feb 2018 a Marketing component mainly focused on B2B and “considered purchase” ( large value consumer items like cars and financial products) was released.
The product was early stage and still has relatively limited traction ( and lacks some features) but this was a welcome addition to the Dynamics suite. A little disappointing was that the B2C capability was provided by a strategic relationship with Adobe. Not a bad decision as in many B2C brands, Adobe is/was the marketing platform of choice, particularly for analytics – with the Adobe Experience suite.
Adobe of course in the same time frame extended its B2B capabilities with the acquisition of Marketo and most recently the link between Microsoft Dynamics and Adobe was extended to include Marketo. See this blog from Adobe:
So the customer choices, other than to obtain the full suite from Microsoft, if you need any B2C.
Microsoft and Adobe, along with SAP also formed the Open Data Initiative (ODI) so that in time it would make it easier for CX applications to share customer data and recognised that most enterprises will have software from multiple vendors. Of course, Salesforce have thrown a bit of a spanner in the works as they are growing their Marketing cloud ( B2B & B2C) strongly and recently at Dreamforce 2019 announced their own Common Information Model ( CIM) – a direct competitive standard to ODI. At present this is little more than an announcement, in conjunction with the Linux Foundation, so it will be interesting to see what transpires.
Depth of functionality
Whilst Microsoft has a “full” suite it is still a bit light on some functionality compared to Salesforce and particularly Oracle ( and SAP). features like CPQ and PRM or SPM, to throw out a few acronyms, are not available natively in Dynamics. Microsoft does have an active extension market place with APpSource (https://appsource.microsoft.com/en-us/0 ) where additional functionality can be easily found.
Dynamics has in the last two years significantly built out the functionality provided in its offering. If this is taken in conjunction with the fact that rather than an integrated suite ( of acquired products) its more of a single uniform platform and data model. This comes additionally with Common Data Services ( CDS) and a workflow and process management tool (Flow) and an application builder ( Power Apps) as well as being integrated with Office 365 and Power BI, Microsoft has a compelling argument to be considered. In addition a strong Ecosystem of apps and partners, as well as Azure, ensure its a compelling proposition.
It will be interesting to see how well Microsoft continues to cross sell the new modules ( marketing and e-commerce) to its existing base and how well it can acquire new customers in a competitive market for CRM, CX and digital transformation.