Microsoft Dynamics on SMB CRM Trends
November 05, 2010
By Brendan B. Read
, Senior Contributing Editor
Small-midsized businesses (SMBs) need every tool they can get and utilize them to the fullest to develop, maintain and expand their advantages in today’s challenging hypercompetitive survival-of-the-fittest marketplace. To that end they are turning to and rightfully demanding ever-more sophisticated, feature-rich, versatile and at the same time affordable/easy-to-install CRM solutions.
Microsoft Dynamics is a leading CRM and ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions provider. TMCnet recently interviewed Bill Patterson, Director of Product Management, Microsoft (News - Alert) Dynamics CRM, on SMB CRM trends.
TMCnet: What new and what ongoing needs and trends are you seeing from your SMB customers regarding their CRM systems?
BP: For sales professionals, Microsoft Dynamics CRM simplifies the experience of managing contacts, appointment books, and opportunities - all through a familiar Microsoft Office or internet browser experience. For service professionals, Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps share knowledge and expertise within a service interaction to drive high-quality customer service. For marketing professionals, Microsoft Dynamics CRM streamlines the campaign development cycle and produces real-time insight to determine optimized marketing tactics, messaging and results. Our view is that by helping business professionals become more productive, the organizational benefit comes from the "sum of all parts."We see organizations today that are still challenged to maximize their business productivity using CRM systems. Even if they had deployed a CRM system to centralize data input or standardize data capture, their CRM systems previously used were heavily favored toward management, rather than helping an individual sell to or serve their customers better. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we are focused on delivering and increasing productivity to every user.
We also see CRM emerging into a broader category solution. It used to be that CRM focused entirely on the notion of sales automation, marketing automation or customer service enablement. [Yet] with organizations, large and small, now focusing on maximizing the value of every relationship, we are beginning to witness CRM branch out beyond those three core lines of business. As a result, we are supporting organizations as they optimize engagements and establish across all lines of business within an organization.
TMCnet: SMBs have traditionally used CRM for business-to-business (B2B) rather than business-to-consumer (B2C) whereas enterprises use CRM technologies for both B2B and B2C. Please discuss. Is this changing and if so what are the drivers. If not why not?
BP: We do see this changing. What we feel is driving this change is the emergence of the consumer as holding their own destiny. If we think about it for a moment - ten years ago, when most businesses were preparing for Y2K, consumers were pretty locked-in to where they shopped, consumed the same products and services, and paid the same prices for what they consumed. Today, with the Web becoming the way in which we do business, we can now use mobile devices to find the best price and nearest location open, or engage with others who have made similar decisions to be sure that is the right product or service for me. The shift toward convenience over conventional relationships is something that an SMB must to respond to and CRM is a key asset that can ensure an SMB is responding to the needs of their customers.
TMCnet: Outline the impact of social media on SMB CRM on both B2B and B2C. Are SMBs rising to the occasion? If not what is holding them back?BP: TMCnet: What is happening in mobile CRM? Have mobile CRM applications developed to the point where they are 'landline quality' i.e. in ease of access, updatability? Are there equal or less reasons for sales reps to return to base? Also what is your take on the iPhone/iPad versus BlackBerry (News - Alert) versus Droid in the business space? Who will be win the hand (literally) of business users?BP: Much like what we see from consumer's focus on convenience over conventional relationships, mobile devices are creating a convenience factor for business professionals to gain access to the information they need/want, where needed, and through a small and personalized form-factor like your mobile device. While devices are becoming the new medium for consumption, most applications we see have yet to go beyond consuming data lists or reports in a smaller form factor. This is why we’re focused on creating a more immersive, location-aware experience with Windows Phone7 to help our business professionals get more value from their mobile experience.Our take on the iPhone (News - Alert)/iPad/Blackberry/Droid market is that it's still early, and we're confident in our ability to compete and win mindshare with our upcoming set of phones and applications with Windows Phone7.Consumers are certainly rising to the occasion when it comes to engaging on social networks. A simple search for "Bad Service" on Twitter returns feedback about some of the biggest brands - and yes, even small businesses. The question thus becomes, are businesses listening? More often than not, we see SMBs intrigued by the idea of social, but are not yet social themselves. They have yet to establish an identity, incorporate social into their businesses processes, especially customer service, or use social networks and influence networks to increase brand awareness.
TMCnet: What new and in the pipeline solutions do you have that meets the needs and issues outlined above?With all of the aforementioned trends, Microsoft will be releasing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 by the end of the calendar year (2010) to help businesses take advantage of key trends and opportunities mentioned above. This new release will help businesses amplify their everyday productivity with a new application experience, develop and share real-time insights across line of business engagements, and help businesses connect with and optimize relationships with customers across traditional and social networks.For organizations that have never used a CRM system in the past, Microsoft Dynamics CRM promises to be the most natural, intuitive and personalized experience for incorporating CRM into your everyday operations. For organizations that have tried CRM in the past, but have yet to take it to the next level that could make the most out of their investment, Microsoft Dynamics CRM will help your users drive additional productivity and enhanced engagements with customers to help drive your business forward.Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Chris DiMarco