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MS Dynamics CRM vs Salesforce

By Henning Lund - April 28, 2017

Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce are two of the most popular CRMs around, and there is a longstanding rivalry between them. Both systems allow users to pick and choose the modules they need, or to buy the whole package. They both offer very similar features, like account management and sales forecasting.

Salesforce is completely cloud-based and always has been, whereas MS Dynamics CRM offers a choice of cloud-based or self-hosted. Both of them offer good support for business users of all sizes.
Despite their similarities, it’s clear that many more businesses choose Salesforce than MS Dynamics CRM, even where they’re using other parts of MS Dynamics.

Can Microsoft Dynamics 365 prevent companies from using other CRM systems than Dynamics CRM? It is obvious that Microsoft wants to push Microsoft Dynamics CRM to the market by making it a conceptual bundle with their successful ERP products. And frankly, it is probably needed because Salesforce.com is the dominant solution, despite Microsoft’s efforts to push it’s own CRM. The fact is though, that Microsoft cannot force customers to choose its CRM over Salesforce (or indeed any other solution) and their efforts to encourage them to do so are failing.

I see this in my daily work – everyone seems to use Salesforce as standard, and while there are other options, it’s the one most companies default to. This is backed up by reading Gartner reports – Salesforce has a strong position, with other solutions like Pega, Zendesk, Microsoft and Oracle battling to gain market share.

It’s no secret that I have been both a Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com user for quite some time and even though the products, on a module level, are very alike and both systems will do the job, from an end-user perspective, I am in favor of Salesforce when considering MS Dynamics CRM vs Salesforce.
In my view, Salesforce’s strong position in the market is very much deserved. Sometimes, you get a market-leader that’s there just because they’ve always been there, but Salesforce is absolutely the best option for most businesses that I work with.

The expected benefits of Dynamics 365 vs salesforce

Having a product suite where everything comes from the same vendor should mean that the systems are seamless, integrated and work together perfectly in a thought-through universe. It should make sense to go with Dynamics 365 for everything, rather than picking and choosing products from different vendors.
However, it just doesn’t work like this with Microsoft Dynamics 365. There is a lot of redundant functionality in Dynamics CRM and the ERP solutions which is not logical. On the integration side it’s not much better, though you’d certainly expect it to be. If I didn’t work in this field, I’d assume that integrating between different parts of Dynamics 365 would be simple, but that’s not the case.

Confusingly, Microsoft has announced that Microsoft Dynamics 365 now comes with a Common Data Model – renamed as Common Data Service – because the systems contained in Dynamics 365 do not run with one single data model. It’s not the first time Microsoft has renamed cloud initiatives on the fly. Looking at it from the outside, I can’t help worrying that their market positioning is being developed on the fly.

Read also: 10 cases: Salesforce - Microsoft Dynamics integration

Why Dynamics 365?

I think that it is a little weird that Microsoft has decided to take this direction. If you think about it, the vision of having one product probably started all way back with the acquisition of Solomon, Great Plains and Navision (AX, NAV and C5). Since then, for almost 15 years, they have tried to align the positioning between these products. They have made some progress but they’ve never really succeeded, meaning that Dynamics 365 has never reached its full potential. It’s a good example of what happens when you build software to honor a business plan instead of building software because you have a passion for providing a service to your customer. If you know what your customer wants – or what they should want – then you will have consistency instead of taking one step forward and two steps back as you try and fail to meet their needs.

ARE THERE ANY BENEFITS OF MS DYNAMICS CRM VS SALESFORCE?

I care about what clothing I’m wearing. I care about which car I drive. But I don’t care about what logo my business applications are carrying as long as they help me meet my business goals in an effective way. I need systems that are robust and secure and I don’t want to waste time making them work together. That means I want my systems to be integrated, seamlessly. No double data entries on my watch. No manual quote-to-order just because the process is being handled in two different systems. No wasting time searching for customer related information across several different systems when I can share data across my platform easily and quickly.

Remember, when looking at the possible benefits of MS Dynamics CRM vs Salesforce, what we’re talking about here in terms of system integration is not science fiction or some kind of imagined future ware. Integrating ERP with CRM has been possible for a long time. The simple solutions have been on the market for 10-15 years – they are proven, affordable and flexible enough to deal even with the integration of customized solutions without writing a single line of code. Everyone gets it. Apart from, perhaps, Microsoft, though I suspect they will come to get it.

Using the NAV 2016/2017 integration to Microsoft Dynamics CRM still requires a developer if you want something more than simple fields mapping or the addition of code inside of NAV. In the meantime, multiple add-on providers made a highly effective, beneficial true cloud integration a long time ago. For example, with a RapidiOnline data integration solution, not a single line of code is needed.

Coming back to the Common Data System from Microsoft (which is basically an SQL database between two other SQL data), it is a little bit like a house built by a carpenter. You’d expect that everything in a carpenter’s house would be built out of wood. But a savvy carpenter would realise that there are some things that wood can’t do. For the water pipes, the carpenter might want to bring in a plumber instead!
At the end of the day, regardless of whether your personal preference goes to Microsoft’s CRM product or any other vendor’s, you need to find the solution that is best for your company and serves your business goals in the most optimal way. The Common Data System still needs to prove itself. It will only be truly trustworthy when multiple showcases can prove that it offers a more effective way of working. I think it’s a long way off being able to do that yet, though of course, it would simplify things for many businesses if it could.

In the meantime, I would advise any business to use one of the integration solutions already implemented in thousands of companies worldwide. Your sales people will love you for it.

Read also:  Get a step closer to your customers with a CRM-ERP integration

Integrating Salesforce with Microsoft Dynamics 365

Integrating Salesforce with Microsoft Dynamics 365 is no more difficult than integrating Salesforce with Microsoft Dynamics AX or NAV is. The logic is exactly the same. Take the RapidiOnline solution for example: our Salesforce – Microsoft Dynamics integration solution is designed to work in exactly the same way with Microsoft Dynamics 365 as it has always done with Microsoft Dynamics NAV or AX.

Read also:  MS Dynamics NAV - CRM integration: native connector vs data integration platform

Facts about Dynamics 365

Since the announcement of its release last summer, Microsoft Dynamics 365 has been at the center of many conversations in the Microsoft community, both at customer and partner level. Many people see this as a disruptive element. What is Microsoft Dynamics 365? To put it simply, Dynamics 365 is a cloud-based ERP and CRM enterprise system. Dynamics 365 isn’t an ERP or a CRM product. It is both and it is in the Cloud. On-premises users can still go with Microsoft Dynamics GP or NAV. In addition, Dynamics 365, Enterprise Edition can be deployed on-premises if desired.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 comes in two versions:

  • The Enterprise version is a newly developed combination of Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Microsoft recommends Dynamics 365, Enterprise Edition for companies with more than 250 employees. It has six modules: Operations, Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Project Service, and Field Service.
  • The Business version of Dynamics 365 is based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Microsoft recommends Dynamics 365, Business Edition for companies with somewhere between 10-250 employees. It has three modules: Financials (mostly based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV), Sales and Marketing.

While Microsoft Dynamics NAV and GP will continue to co-exist with Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Dynamics AX and CRM will be combined and replaced with Microsoft Dynamics 365.


About the author

Henning Lund

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With over 25 years’ experience in strategically propelling businesses forward, Henning is considered a business development entrepreneur with a passion for transforming businesses, sales and marketing operations through out-of-the-box thinking, concepts building and process automation to improve overall performance and scalability.

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