Microsoft has laid down a strong marker in the highly competitive customer relationship management (CRM) market with the release of its Dynamics CRM 2011, with Microsoft South Africa's MD, Mteto Nyati, hailing the new solution a “game-changer”.

Nyati says the need to build deeper and more profitable relationships on a broad scale is a greater priority than ever for companies of all sizes, and that CRM 2011’s ability to offer the choice of an in-premise or cloud solution would open up CRM to a whole new market.
“We believe Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is a game changer. It’s the most global, productive, trusted and flexible solution in the market – and the feedback we are getting from analysts, our partners and early adopters bears this out,” says Nyati.
“We have gained acknowledgement from the industry as a strong CRM market player (one of the top four), with industry experts like Forrester viewing it as a serious threat to the competition.”
One of Microsoft’s selling points for Dynamics CRM 2011 is that it delivers greater productivity through what it calls “familiar, connected and intelligent experiences” that aim to provide sales, marketing and service professionals with tools that are natural and personal. By gathering information that is insightful and actionable, an organisation can become more unified and collaborative.
It’s a message that is resonating with local analysts and customers – like niche commercial and retail bank BancABC, which presented its experiences with CRM 2011 to 400 customers and partners in Bryanston last week.
Andrea Prazakova, group head of BanABC’s retail and SME division, highlighted a common pain point in the banking industry: banks often end up with details of their customers in different systems across the business – the credit card division, home loans and various other departments.
“What this meant was that if you you had to authorise a loan application, for example, you would have to run around with a lot of paperwork. With CRM, you consolidate all of your customer details into one central data system. So you simply send an approval request to the authorised person, and they respond without any hassle,” says Prazakova.
Carel du Toit, a director at CRM specialists Mint, says the new CRM 2011 is “de-risking” technology by delivering quick returns on investment, thanks to its underlying development framework, xRM.
“One of the things xRM does well is to help organisations quickly address shifting business priorities by supporting the rapid development and modification of applications when business needs change,” explains Du Toit.
“Microsoft has been able to commoditise the CRM market very successfully by lowering the barriers to entry, and we’re seeing real interest in the marketplace.”
Another happy customer, Indwe Risk Services, says it has seen returns already after only six months on the system. Simon Hudson, the CIO at Indwe, says Dynamics CRM 2011 was “helping to redefine the way we do business”.
“Our business is built on providing great customer service. Since we started implementing CRM 2011 six months ago, we’ve been able to couple it with a ‘golden record’ of the customer that allows us to understand – and service – our customers better,” says Hudson.
Hudson reels off the benefits of the new system: Indwe’s risk management is “light years” ahead of where it used to be, and thanks to the familiar interface – CRM 2011 operates like Outlook and other familiar Microsoft tools – the company’s staff are more efficient and effective, which means greater customer numbers, fewer complaints and lower costs.
For now, Hudson couldn’t be happier.
“Thanks to CRM 2011, we’ve gone from 18 business systems down to two. But more importantly, because of its looks, our staff have taken to the new system instantly, and are helping us use technology to drive significant competitive advantage in the marketplace.”