Is Microsoft Dynamics CRM best for you?
What exactly is Microsoft Dynamics CRM?
Microsoft Customer Relationship Management, CRM is not a new technology. In fact, it’s been around since the early 1970s.
Creating Great Relationships
Businesses have always wanted to ensure they create great relationships for their customers. With the invention of software, there was the ability to basically track and make sure that the quality, frequency and types of engagement were done on a regular basis.
Out of that came Customer Relationship Management. (CRM)
‘The first system I worked on was SAMS (no idea – I can’t remember why it was called that. It was a FoxPro database. There was no keyboard input. You had to use shortcut keys to navigate around the environment.’
My First Time
That was my first CRM experience. When you made a phone call to a customer, you would specify that it was a call. Before you could close out the activity, you needed to specify what the recall date was.
It was a clunky experience, totally tailored to the industry that I worked in. And then I experimented on things like GoldMine, Maximizer, and Sugar CRM. It was while I was this business, I looked at a replacement CRM system away from the clunky FoxPro type technology.
Now, what else is out there?
Going to the market I looked at other CRM systems. Being based in New Zealand, Salesforce wasn’t an option – they weren’t selling in NZ at that point. I explored Sales Logic, Act! and Pivotal which were the CRM systems that I felt with fit with us.
But what concerned me back then is that software was always released on a three-year cycle.
The 3 Year itch
The vendor would release a product and have all the new features that had been added in over the last three years. But if you had tailored the system to your requirements, you had to rebuild all the tailoring or the customization specific from your industry.
‘So – what a lot of people would do is not upgrade – you wouldn’t get the benefit of the new features because the cost of the upgrade would be developing out all the tailoring or the customizations that you’d done for the industry you worked in.’
What’s this Microsoft Dynamics CRM?
Then I heard about Microsoft CRM. At this point, it was CRM 1.2. At the end of 2003, CRM 1.0 had come out nine months earlier from Microsoft and it was Microsoft CRM – the word Dynamics wasn’t part of it at that time.
‘What I really liked, or what the compelling story for me is that it would allow you to customize the system to your needs, configure it, and then every three years when Microsoft would release a new product, it would upgrade and my customizations would go along with that upgrade.’
It Was Love at First Sight
I liked this. It solved the problem for me – that if I tailored the system to work the way my business did, it would not prevent me from upgrading. That is the reason I chose Microsoft CRM.
Crazy enough, I fell in love – then I pivoted my entire career to no longer just being a customer of the technology but implementing it for other people. That led me to form my own company, moving overseas and working at a very large publicly listed company to implement the Microsoft Dynamics CRM more and more.
Hitting the Bigtime
Why was CRM not necessarily mainstream? Because for every CRM system, often there was an associated finance system to carry out operational type, day to day activities.
You would have a CRM if you wanted to acquire and engage with customers, management and their life cycle, then you’d have your billing system. What you had were both CRM and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. Sometimes they would talk and work well together, but often they wouldn’t.
The separation Silos with Microsoft Dynamics CRM
So you had this separation. What happened in more recent times (let’s fast forward to the period in which Microsoft Dynamics CRM is Microsoft’s main product in this space)
Microsoft broke down the silos of CRM and ERP Enterprise Resource Management Systems and said, listen ‘businesses want or to build an application that manages the full lifecycle from acquiring a customer, to being able to invoice and engage with the customer, let’s reduce the data silos.’
This could be considered as a cradle to grave type experience.
It didn’t matter where that data resided in the organisation, but it should be available to staff at the right time in the right format and be highly actionable.
So as we move into an era of Artificial Intelligence (AI), where it’s increasingly going to involve large data sets, we need to have that data in a system that is accessible to all.
Why Microsoft Dynamics CRM?
If you’re an organization that mainly uses Microsoft software such as Office 365 and Windows it is a no brainer to use Microsoft Dynamics 365 as your CRM solution.
Do you trust me?
Some things to be aware of when considering a CRM system or a platform is trust and security.
One of the things that you find from Microsoft is that they are highly trusted for their data security and meet all industry and government standards in this area. They’re always pushing beyond that and developing their own test procedures and requirements from a security perspective.
Customers go to me – listen, it’s more secure if my data sits on-premise with me. It’s more secure than it is in the cloud.’
I think to a degree that’s an uneducated view because there’s no way that most companies could afford the staff, software and physical security to constantly monitor and validate whether anybody’s trying to hack or break into or deploy viruses into the environment to protect against the cyber threat as well as natural disaster risk.
In fact, there have been many cases referenced in recent times of major hacks that have happened around the world and customer data has been lost.
You’ll find on all of these scenarios, none of them has been in an enterprise-grade platform such as Microsoft Azure, where Dynamics 365 currently sits in.
From a trust and security perspective, governments are now putting some form of classified or high trust data into Microsoft’s environments, because of the security, trust and standards compliance that are implemented by the business.
If you have an IT team of 2, 3 or even 10, it will not come close to the thousands of IT staff that Microsoft uses to maintain and run their secure cloud offerings.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM (Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement)
Hopefully, that gives you an overview of what Microsoft customer relationship management is, and how Microsoft pivoted now to what’s called the Microsoft Power Platform, of which they have Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement for sales, customer service, and marketing, which are the three pillars of a traditional CRM system.
Microsoft has provided an environment called the Microsoft Power Platform that allows you to have a Common Data Model (CDM), overlaid with a Common Data Service (CDS) ( I’ll talk about these in future posts) that allows you to build any application that is tailored to your organization’s requirements.
I hope that helps.
If you have any questions, please ask in the comments below. If you’ve got feedback, or you feel I’m missing some information, once again, comment below. I’m really keen to hear what you have to say.