I have written a lot recently about mobility but I haven’t forgotten that my business is software. As I mentioned in a recent blog, Microsoft are currently readying themselves for an all out assault on their home ground, the enterprise, by Apple and Google. With this in mind I thought it would be interesting to sit back and take a look at Microsoft Dynamics, their CRM offering, which has recently taken Microsoft out of their comfort zone and into more “cloudy” territory.

Pro: Familiarity

Dynamics CRM, as you would expect from a Microsoft product, has a very simple user look and feel especially for those familiar with SharePoint or Office, the UI is genuinely uncluttered and easy to use, meaning that adoption training and familiarisation should be at a minimum.

Con: We aren’t all Microsoft wall to wall

This is something more and more of my customers are highlighting to me. Dynamics has of course been optimised for compatibility with MS products and performance does tend to take a slight hit if anything else is used.

Pro: SaaS and on-premise

Dynamics from a users point of view is the same whether housed in the cloud on premise. Many of Microsoft’s competitors offer cloud only apps (Salesforce.com), or have separate products for on-premises and cloud delivery (SAP). This similarity between cloud and on premise can prove to be a benefit to many organisations where data sensitivity and the need to house data on site is key. It also means enterprises can adopt an application strategy which suits them rather than being forced to the cloud for better functionality. This also means Dynamics allows you to adopt a Hybrid Cloud Strategy mixing and matching for optimal performance and security.

Con: It’s a sophisticated offering

You may think I have made a typo here but the truth is that in many small to medium enterprises the sales process is not as slick and as defined as Dynamics needs it to be to function well. This can involve having to create predefined processes before implementing Dynamics.

Pro: Dynamics is a Microsoft product

Quite a few of my readers may take a double take at someone from a technical background implying that being a Microsoft Product is a good thing but in reality what this means is that Dynamics is backed by very deep pockets indeed and by a company that will be around for the very long term. Microsoft aren’t going to disappear over night leaving anyone stranded with an unsupported product. They may of course change their roadmap but that’s a very different con all by itself.

Con: Dynamics was not born in the cloud

Unlike many competitors in the world of CRM, Dynamics is not cloud born and bred, this has meant in turn that not only has Dynamics been late to the cloud it is also playing catch up, only adding social functionality quite recently. At its heart Microsoft are now a middle aged blue-chip fighting hard to play catch up with the new kids on the block.

There are of course many other pros and cons which should be considered when evaluating any CRM application including price, functionality, usability, mobile strategy but the above seem to me to be the most discussed in my company’s user base. For me its always fascinating to see how an on premise, enterprise driven giant like Microsoft will bend and react to assaults by young prentenders. The above, as always, are my general musings and I welcome your comments and thoughts on the world as I see it.