interview Thomas Gudman is Microsoft Australia’s new director of its Dynamics Business. In this interview, Delimiter questions Gudman about Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM business in Australia, which competes in the market for enterprise software with fellow industry titans like Oracle and Salesforce.com.
How would you characterise the performance of Dynamics CRM in the Australian market over the past 12 months?
In Australia, CRM is an active, growing market across businesses of all sizes. Overall, the CRM software market is growing around 5% in 2012. Microsoft Dynamics CRM continues to grow and we are seeing renewed competitive vigour in the enterprise space. Our cloud CRM offerings, both from local service providers and our public cloud service are seeing very strong growth. We’re seeing the CRM category is undeniably at the “bet your business” level of investment for success which is exciting to me.
What customer demographic is Microsoft mainly targeting with the platform?
We’ve designed our product to be as easy to use as Microsoft Office, while being a sophisticated enterprise ready CRM platform. Our ability to deliver the same code base across public cloud, private cloud and on-premises offerings, allows us to serve a broad range of customer types. The SMB space is an area benefiting from the cloud movement and is one of our strong growth areas. The larger mid-market customers (between 250 and 1,000 employees) have responded the most positively to what we have brought to market in the last year. From an industry perspective, we’re getting a very broad range of deployments, and our local certified partners play an important role in making that happen.
What deployment style are Australian customers typically choosing (online, on-premises or third-party hosted?)
All three! This is a great verification of our “power of choice” strategy where we release the same code-base for all three deployment models. Customers can also switch between models based on their current needs. Since the worldwide rollout of our public cloud offering, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, early last year, we’ve seen over 60% of new customers choose this deployment option. Australian customers are in line with this trend.
Who do you consider the key partner organisations for MS Dynamics CRM in Australia?
We have too many to name here, and we have great and thriving business partners who focus on the enterprise, the mid-market and the SMB market. Some partners align to industry and most can handle cloud and on-premise deployments, based on customer needs. Readers can easily learn about our local partners by doing an Internet search on “Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace”.
Can you name any high-profile Australian customer wins over the past 12 months?
We’ve had hundreds of wins across SMB, mid-market and enterprise spanning most industries in Australia. Some representative deployments are:
- Curtin University
- Coffs Harbour City Council
- Tim Davies Landscaping
- Capital Transport
- Relationships Australia
Have you achieved any ‘swap-outs’ of competitive software in that period, and if so, which platform were swapped out?
In the CRM space, I am seeing customers switch to Microsoft for the best Outlook experience which drives productivity and adoption; cost savings and overall value as well as our 99.9% uptime Service Level Agreement. Competitors like Salesforce.com do not offer an SLA and Oracle charges an additional license fee for their cloud offering.
As our customers switch from Salesforce.com, they often share with us the pain points they’ve experienced, things they really didn’t know when they started using Salesforce.com – the hidden costs –the things they expected the service to deliver, but wasn’t included. I believe current and potential Salesforce.com customers should know the facts about what they’re getting – and what they’re not getting – when they invest in a CRM solution.
If you take a look at what is included in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online for $54.75 user/month and compare that to what is in Salesforce.com Professional Edition at $95 user/month (which you need if you want support for role permissions) or the Salesforce.com Enterprise Edition at $180 user/month (which you’ll need if you want workflow and approval automation), then you’ll start to see why customers are questioning if Salesforce.com is the right choice.
What products do you believe are the main rivals to Dynamics CRM at the moment?
Salesforce.com and Oracle.
What impact on Dynamics CRM purchases does the fact that many customers use other portions of the Microsoft stack have in Australia?
Applications drive the requirements that make platforms great, and in turn, the platforms empower innovation in the application. This goes to Microsoft’s roots, with Microsoft Office driving Windows and the graphical interface of Windows empowering the growth of Office. It is equally true today, and as an application that consumes the full breadth and depth of Microsoft platform technology, Microsoft Dynamics CRM plays a critical role within Microsoft, helping to drive the platform to excellence, historically the on-premises server stack, and today, the various Microsoft Online Services. Microsoft Dynamics CRM adds value to customers existing investments in a broad range of Microsoft technology, making it easier for businesses to collaborate, connect and deliver results.
Equally, we’re proving with our Q2 2012 service update that you don’t have to have an end-to-end Microsoft approach to get value from Dynamics CRM. We’re expanding our CRM server (and cloud service) to support more web browsers, specifically, Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome and Firefox. In addition, we’re taking a leadership position in enterprise mobility by supporting all the types of smartphones and tablets that are starting to pop up in the workplace with device native Dynamics CRM clients that can work online, or offline when disconnected from the Internet.
What are the most common issues which you see customers having with Dynamics CRM, and how does Microsoft plan to address these?
Three years ago, we articulated a vision that successful companies need to be dynamic in the way they react to the world that they are in, by enabling their people, managing their processes, and connecting with their ecosystem. In reality, what makes a dynamic business thrive really depends on the people.
- Do your employees have what they need to do their jobs really well?
- Are they excited about the impact that they’re making every day?
- Are your employees in a position where they can drive the right relationships for the company with respect to the ecosystem where you do business?
This is the reason why we have developed and delivered Microsoft Dynamics CRM with customer productivity as a core focus of the product. We want to give individuals the right tools they need to not just do their best work, but to help them be passionate about their jobs. There are a number of factors that are changing the decision-making process for businesses looking to make CRM purchases: Social and mobile; Scalability and adaptability; IT infrastructure; Price; Deployment flexibility (SaaS or on-premises).
As part of our commitment to delivering rapid innovation to customers, we announced the next service update for Microsoft Dynamics CRM which will be released in Q2 this year. This release will enable businesses to be pervasively connected to their most valuable asset – customers.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile is one example of how we are leap-frogging the competition. This is, a cloud-based, cross platform, native mobile client service for Windows Phone, iPad, iPhone, Android and Blackberry Mobile Devices, that we are delivering to customers more flexibility in mobility than any other CRM provider. CRM delivered on the device people use, including devices the competition isn’t supporting. We are the only ones providing a native application for the iPad.
Has there been any impact on Dynamics CRM’s performance in Australia from the launch of locally-hosted SaaS CRM options from companies like Oracle?
No. Oracle use a 3rd party data centre in Australia. We’ve had a strong network of local service providers delivering Dynamics CRM as a cloud service from Australian data centres for over four years. These service providers are able to customise their offerings and the SLA’s to meet unique customer requirements. The ease of use and flexibility of Dynamics CRM, along with interoperability with the Microsoft server family that many Australian businesses have today, allows Microsoft customers to yield a lower cost of ownership vs. Oracle. Additionally, we deliver Dynamics CRM as a cloud service from our global data centres to many Australian customers.
Do you believe customers are refraining from using the online version of Dynamics CRM because it’s not (to my knowledge) hosted in Australia?
I am delighted with the uptake of Dynamics CRM Online. The percentage of new Dynamics CRM customers choosing our public cloud service is consistent with global trends, which is more than 60%. Our customers in general have different viewpoints on the suitability to their business on relying on a public cloud vendor. Each customer weigh up the pros and cons and then moves forward on what meets their risk profile. We encourage customers to educate themselves on how Microsoft builds and operates our public cloud services by visiting www.globalfoundationservices.com.
Image credit: Microsoft