Recently, Microsoft combined its CRM system functionality with ERP functionality. The goal is to make it easier to see a variety of customer data in one view and position the company to better compete with the other big guns in the market: SAP, Salesforce and Oracle.

microsoft dynamics 365

Known as Microsoft Dynamics 365, the portfolio combines the customer-related data that resides in a CRM database with the ERP transactional data to give a richer, fuller view of customer interactions with a company, customer purchases and preferences, and customer issues. Combining this data gives companies a more comprehensive view of their constituencies. Microsoft Dynamics 365 stands in the service of pursuing that elusive 360-degree customer view. It also helps companies save time by eliminating the need to re-enter duplicate data in two systems.

“It makes a lot of sense,” said Brent Leary, a principal at CRM Essentials. “It makes it easier to have an overall grasp of what’s going on with the customer — from the front office to the back office, from transactions to engagement. The easier it is for companies to have that view, to analyze the transactional data along with the engagement data … it provides a competitive advantage.”

Leary said that Microsoft’s efforts to integrate the front and back offices differs from, say, the Salesforce approach to combining various departmental data (sales, marketing and service) by combining the data from the Salesforce Sales, Marketing and Service clouds.

These are two companies that are playing to their individual strengths. Salesforce goes much deeper into the customer engagement, with things like the Demandware acquisition. Microsoft doesn’t have that. It isn’t on that level. But their advantage is they have other business apps focusing on ERP. It makes it easier to pull the data together and analyze what’s going on with a customer. Both are playing to their strengths and doing what they need to do.

Leary also said that Microsoft’s recent purchase of LinkedIn and the social networking data that resides there could further enhance the combination of data that resides in Microsoft Dynamics 365. “There are some serious opportunities there,” he said.

Author: Lauren Horwitz, Executive Editor, Business Applications and Architecture