CRM Software – Comparing Microsoft Dynamics CRM To Salesforce

CRM Software solutions are an integral part of the sales, marketing and customer service of most organisations. Today, CRM Software dwells far further than these functions to manage all business requirements. This has been termed by the people at Microsoft as xRM – (x) anything Relationship Management. Choosing which solution is right for your company is not easy and often companies compare different CRM offerings. Two of the major CRM software applications on the market today are Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.

There was a time with these two CRM software applications the choice was more black and white. You either looked at software deployed in-house (Microsoft Dynamics CRM) v the software-as-a-service model (Salesforce).

Now that Microsoft has moved into the cloud with their software as a service model and Salesforce now has a development platform with its “Force” offering your options are now blurred.

Salesforce was founded in 1999 with a vision to create an on-demand information management service that would replace traditional enterprise software technology. Salesforce calls itself “the enterprise cloud-computing company”. Sales Cloud™ and Service Cloud™ are Salesforce’s applications for sales and customer service. Their approach to the cloud computing deployment model has led to them developing the force.com cloud platform that allows developers and users to build business applications on top of the Salesforce offering.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM, created by Microsoft product team with vast resources was designed with a long-term vision that will allow Customers to use CRM with multiple Microsoft products and choose deployment options to meet organisational needs.

IT researcher Springboard found Australian and New Zealand was already the most mature market for SaaS applications in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to BRW Magazine the market is tipped to grow 45% a year in Australia and New Zealand from $UA 1.7 billion in 2008 to $US7.7 billion by 2012. The magazine also referred to customer relationship management software as the most popular SaaS application (35 percent) and that “companies in Australia are using SaaS because it’s cheaper, rather than because it’s easier to use. Only 9 percent cited “ease of use” as the reason for choosing SaaS.

Choice and Flexibility

With a multitenant CRM solution, Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers any number of deployment options, depending on your needs. On-demand, on-premise, and partner-hosted models are available for Microsoft Dynamic CRM. If your deployment requirements change so too can your CRM software deployment options as each deployment option is built on the same modern architecture and data model. For example, you can take your configurations and data hosted by Microsoft and move to In-House or to a Microsoft Partner web based CRM software hosted model. Salesforce platform offers SaaS by the Cloud and you don’t own the software and configurations. If you want to change to an in-house solution you need to move to another CRM application. You need to factor the cost of getting your data out of Salesforce. Depending on the level of subscription you purchase for Salesforce there have been reports of your data being held hostage. This is, depending on your level of subscription you need to upgrade your subscription in order to export your data.

Cost

Salesforce claims to cost significantly less but Microsoft Dynamics CRM insists that the comparison is not for like services. A-la-carte pricing that is additional to potential price hikes at contract renewal time can significantly affect the total cost of Salesforce. When assessing comparable online products between the two opponents, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is available for less than 50% of the Salesforce fee. The latest pricing in the USA indicates that “Microsoft CRM [Online] runs $44-59 per user per month, compared to $125 for Salesforce” Professional Edition.

Entry price for Salesforce is cheaper but if you want more functionality you obviously have to pay more. With Microsoft CRM you have access to the complete system from the moment you first purchase. Your purchase decision should never be based on solely on price as its only one component in the decision making process. Those that buy first time around on price usually call back 6-24 months later asking for help. From personal experience decision makers who purchase solely on price first time around re-purchase the second time around on service. To compare in-house versus hosted pricing you need to calculate over a 3-5 year period and not just 1 year.

Ownership of Data

Salesforce, as a software-as-a-service provider, does not own the data collected by its customers. Instead, its data centres are outsourced to Equinix, a third party company in the USA and Singapore. With Microsoft CRM for in-house, and partner hosted options, customers have full control over the security and physical location of their data. You can swap and take your data between these options. Microsoft CRM Online hosted by Microsoft will be released in Australia late 2010 and the data will be hosted in Singapore. Again, you will have the ability to move from hosted to in-house but the online model will have some restrictions around customisation code. In order for Salesforce customers to get development platform capabilities they must buy the unlimited version.

Ease of Use

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is designed for easy user adoption because of its similarity and compatibility with Microsoft Office and Outlook. Simply put, it is designed to minimize the need for training, reduce application switching, and produce high productivity. With the launch of Microsoft CRM 5 or 2011 its release name), Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 the GUI (interface) between the three product suites becomes very similar in look and feel. This provides users with an easy to learn experience and greater chance of user uptake.

Salesforce graphical interface is modern and should be easy to use for most users. The integration to Microsoft Outlook and Office is reported as not as strong as Dynamics CRM especially for MS Excel and Outlook. Those using Google Mail will find Salesforce to their liking.

Both Salesforce and Dynamics CRM have similar modules including sales force automation, customer service and support, marketing automation, document management, contract management, product catalogue management and reports. Although each module for each product has its strengths and weaknesses side by side you need to evaluate each application module against your business requirements (and not user likeability).

Often an organisation short lists three CRM applications to be presented to its users. Evaluation should not be based heavily (if at all) on the users liking the look and feel of the graphical interface. The users of an organisation tend to agree on one CRM application as by nature we feel most comfortable with what we already know. If you ask a salesperson who has been using a paper diary for 30 years, what is better? A paper based or CRM system the answer is always paper! Over the years I have witnessed three different systems put in front of users at different organisations and there is never a clear winner for the CRM application chosen.

At present, Salesforce has a lot of easy to use business add-on products for its core offerings built on its force.com platform. Microsoft has a host of ISV Partners who have built add-on products to Microsoft CRM but it’s not as easy to find these add-on’s spread out across the globe on various websites. Microsoft has just launched PinPoint that allows you to search globally for Partner software solutions. Also, Microsoft CRM Dynamics Online does not provide the same access to write custom code in a sandbox because Microsoft did not want outside code in its own application, but with Microsoft Azure, ISVs can execute their own code.

Access to CRM and Email

Microsoft CRM is available either through a web browser, through a mobile device or through a plug-in to MS Outlook. Salesforce integrates with Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, or Google App’s. Salesforce will run on a mobile device, through a web browser and if you want some level of Email (Outlook, Lotus Notes, or Google App’s) integration, however you will still need to download and install a Salesforce connector.

Scope and Support

According to Wikipedia, Salesforce offers support for 16 languages, while Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers support for 25. Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s ecosystem includes 750,000 solutions partners; 2,200 users groups, and 400 community web sites globally. Standard support included in Salesforce’s subscription fee allows for a 2 business day response time. With Microsoft, support is dependent on the licensing module used to purchase the software and the support offered by a Microsoft CRM Partner. You can choose from ad-hoc through to dedicated support.

The Future and Investments

It has been reported in online publication The Inquirer.com that Microsoft will spend US$9.5 billion dollars in 2010 on research and development making it the largest R&D technology spender in the world.

In 2008, Salesforce spent $63.8 million, or 8% of its revenue, on research and development, much of which went towards expanding the Salesforce’s cloud computing abilities. In addition, 91% of salesforce’s revenue comes from subscription and support fees from their cloud computing services.

The CEO of Zoho, Sridhar Vembu first made this good point in April 2008 by noting the disparities in R&D and sales & marketing spending by Salesforce. Using the financial data from the last 12 months, Salesforce’s sales and marketing spending of $605 million was almost 5 times its R&D spending of $131 million. It has been reported in businessinsider.com that Google, R&D spending of $2.8 billion was almost 1.5 times that of its S&M expense of $2 billion.

There is no doubt Salesforce is a leader in the SaaS market. The question will be whether the heavy weights including Microsoft (with Azure and BPOS) and Google with its GoogleApps MarketPlace will be able to stay in the game as the heavy weights begin gaining heavy market share in the cloud.

SaaS versus In-House

A note on SaaS versus In-House deployment. “In 2009, within enterprise applications, SaaS represented 3.4 per cent of total enterprise spending, slightly up from 2008 at 2.8 per cent,” said David Cearley, vice president of Gartner. This market will reach $8.8 billion in 2010, according to the company’s forecasts.

From a market perspective, most of the spending for SaaS is occurring in the content, collaboration communication, and customer relationship management markets. Collectively, they represented 65 per cent of the global enterprise applications software market in 2009. Many of the bad practices that occurred in the on premises world are now moving their way into SaaS.

The biggest example is shelfware. “Shelfware-as-a-service is the concept of paying for a software subscription that is not being accessed by an end user,” said Cearley. “This most commonly occurs in large organisations, but it could happen to any company, especially those that have downsized their workforce, or one that has oversubscribed to trigger a volume discount.” “SaaS may not have delivered on its early grand promises – of the current SaaS deployments we estimate that a total of 90 per cent of SaaS deployments are not pay-per use – but it has reenergised the software market and added choice,” Cearley said.

First Steps in Choosing Your CRM Solution

Your first step in determining which solution is right for your company is to document your CRM requirements. Secondly, research to see what CRM applications are going to meet your requirements. Third, bring in a CRM consultancy firm and/or CRM Vendor to discuss your requirements and demonstrate their knowledge and application to you. Whether you go hosted or in-house should always come after you’ve gone through the above steps.

Top Software to Make Custom Websites

Custom website software comes as a complete package, which guides you through the different steps of a website creation. While some of them are steeply priced, several free software are also available to build custom websites that are specially oriented for amateur designers.

Custom websites are the rage today. Every business, small or big, is looking to expand its horizon and make its presence felt online. With the rising popularity of internet marketing, having a custom designed website for your business has become a necessity. It helps draw in new customers, while keeping the existing ones abreast about your latest business developments. Custom websites, with their unique design and content, help create your own niche among hordes of other similar looking sites.

Various web design software are available in the market, with which, you can design your own custom website. Good web design software comes as a complete package, with step-by-step guide for building a website that can turn even a novice into a web designer.

Some of the most popular software for building custom websites would be:

• Adobe Dreamweaver – Arguably the best web designing software available, Dreamweaver’s CS5 edition has been recently launched. The CS5 version of the software competently performs the entire website creating procedure like HTML creation, JavaScript, CSS, building files and uploading them on the Web. It has several new features that effectively manage the building of a site while also simplifying the troubleshoot process. The new inspection tools allow you to make adjustments to any portion of your webpage. The CS5 version is particularly helpful for creating PHP- based websites.

• WebPlus X4 – Without features like free hosting, built-in Photoshop, WYSIWYG interface, RSS tools, newer web design templates and applications to build videos, flash and podcast within the site, the WebPlus X4 is a very handy software for designing custom websites. Excellent features, a user-friendly approach, combined with simple language, makes this software stand out from the rest.

• Visual Site Designer 6.05 – This software enables you to create sleek professional websites without having to worry about complex HTML codes. Its WYSIWYG interface and HTML editor allow anybody and everybody to create a website. Other features include inbuilt FTP client, code snippets, site templates and onboard image editor.

• Web Studio 4 – Completely oriented for the novice, Web Studio 4 is a simple drag and drop affair. You just have to choose applications from a variety of galleries and place them on the page. It also has a very strong support feature with access to online tutorials, newsletters and several other options.

While the web is flooded with software for designing Custom Websites, many of them, like Adobe Dreamweaver, are quite steeply priced. Free software, like WebPlus, are not only easy on the pocket, but are easy to use too.

Software for Getting Free iPhone Ringtones

Free iPhone ringtones are easily gettable with the help of certain free software applications. So, you do not need to purchase ringtones for your iPhone anymore.

We are quite aware of the fact that there are numerous resources to get iPhone ringtones for a fee or charge, but you can actually get free iPhone ringtones from various sources these days. You can even get free ringtones for iPhone from iTunes library itself. But most of these free iPhone ringtones are 30-second versions. There are a whole lot of options that you can use to get ringtones for free especially for your iPhone.

In order to get free iPhone ringtones, you can use SSH/File Transfer, where all you need is to put a ringtone that is iPhone-iPod compatible inside the Ringtones folder of the Library and you can use the formats like AACs, MP3s and M4As easily. You can also use Windows compatible iBrickr, which is capable of transcoding old WAV media formats into an iPhone compatible format before you sync your iPhone.

Just like the SSH/File Transfer method, you can use iFuntastic, which is a Mac compatible application. With the help of this software application you can put a ringtone in the correct folder of the directory just by dragging it. You need to install App Tapp in order to use Sendsong, which will help you to pick and move any song of your choice from your iPhone to the ringtone section. These are some of the ways by which you can get free iPhone ringtones.

However, there are other options too for getting free iPhone ringtones from iTunes Music Store. You can put all the AAC media files into the proper ringtones directory with their proper file extensions. They also work with iTunes songs that you have purchased and also the ones that you have converted to AAC media format. MakeiPhoneRingtone from Rogue Ameoba, which takes the advantage of iTunes ringtone compatibility lets you get free iPhone ringtones by dropping AAC files.

There is also another option the iToner, which has the ability to copy ringtones directly to your iPhone without using iTunes. It is also capable of working with future updates of iPhone. Another popular software application is iPhoneRingToneMaker, which is compatible with Windows platform and helps to transfer songs to iPhone and also allows users to crop or edit long songs into shorter versions through its song editor. Using these methods you can get free ringtones for iPhone.