An Independent Review of Microsoft Dynamics CRM in Southeast Asia
Microsoft has clearly emerged to become a leader in the Customer Relationship Management software market globally and in Southeast Asia.
Microsoft is exceptionally well placed in South East Asia with a regional headquarters in Singapore and country offices in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore which also supports Brunei, Thailand which also supports Myanmar, and Vietnam which also supports Cambodia and Laos.
Cloud CRM is growing in the region, and Microsoft is tapping into this growth with local resources, a strong partner network and significant promotion activities. Phil Hassey, founder of Asia Pacific research firm CapioIT, comments that "the market for on demand CRM is far from being saturated and mature and there is definitely an opportunity for vendors such as Microsoft to compete strongly in this space."
In general, Microsoft's approach is to deliver a horizontal CRM software solution along with a deep suite of software development tools which then permit partners and ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) to develop geo-specific, vertical market, industry specific or even micro-vertical CRM solutions.
So it was interesting to note recently that Microsoft and Nissan Motor Co. teamed in the Southeast Asia region to develop a new dealer management CRM system based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and designed to assist the auto manufacturer to enhance customer relationships and increase dealer sales. The system was initially rolled out to dealers in Japan.
Microsoft CRM Software Suite
Dynamics CRM is particularly strong in Sales Force Automation (SFA)—with key functionality such as sales management planning, lead management automation, account management, opportunity/pipeline management, bidirectional data syncing between Outlook and Dynamics CRM, workflow management such as automatically creating or assigning tasks and activities when rules are triggered, mobility functions such empowering the sales force with real-time access to customer data from any web enabled device, and analytics such as real-time key performance indicators and dashboards.
The marketing software is not as strong, but does include key feature sets such as campaign profiles, customer segmentation, lead management, marketing content creation within Microsoft Office or Outlook for improved productivity, workflow management such as dynamically assigning leads or tasks to the most appropriate resource using configurable rules, mobility functions for updating, qualifying or assigning leads while on the road, and marketing analytics.
The Customer Service software has shown significant advancement in recent years, and now includes capabilities such as individual, team based, or company wide account management, flexible case management assignment with escalation provisions, contract management, knowledge base, custom workflow business processes, mobility functions such as delivery of notifications and alerts to mobile devices, scheduling the delivery of services and resources to customers, and service-based analytics.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online costs US$44 per user per month based on annual contracts.
Dynamics CRM is offered in four versions for on premise installation.
- Workgroup Edition is limited to 5 client access licenses and is ideal for small companies that want to run CRM on an in house server. If more licences are required then you will need to upgrade to the Professional or Enterprise edition.
- Professional Edition has similar functionality as the Workgroup version but provides for an unlimited number of users. However, if the requirement is for multi-company or for a multi-server implementation, the Enterprise Edition will be needed.
- Enterprise Edition provides the same functionality as the Professional Edition but without organization limits.
- Service Provider Edition is normally used for Microsoft Partners that offer hosted CRM solutions.
Southeast Asia Support
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is supported in Southeast Asia by a network of global consultants and system integrators including Avanade, HP Enterprise Services, Hitachi, Logica, Ciber, Infosys and HCL.
For the larger number of SMB companies in the region, Microsoft leverages its vast local partner network which is very well represented in South East Asia. Unfortunately, it may be difficult for customers to identify the best Microsoft Dynamics CRM partners in the region as when accessing the Asia Pacific version of the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace web page, a search for partners in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand came up with no results—an error we hope will be fixed in the near term.
Customers are well served with an online community and online resources such as blogs, videos, an "ask the community" feature and executive insights. There are also role tailored communities for customer service, finance, sales and marketing, a specific product community for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and a specific CRM user group. Southeast Asia content and support is still light, but growing in large part from participants in Indonesia, The Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
CRM Software Cloud Delivery
Microsoft Dynamics offers flexible customer choice in deployment and software delivery. Customers may choose SaaS CRM to be delivered from the Microsoft cloud (i.e. Microsoft data centers), public clouds (third party data centers), private clouds or on-premise.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is available in 40 markets and 41 languages, but unfortunately, the cloud/SaaS CRM product is only available in Southeast Asia in the countries of Malaysia and Singapore. This is somewhat odd as one of the available languages is Thai. Other countries in the region will have to consider the on-premise version or wait for Microsoft to expand its cloud CRM software to the remaining countries, which is expected to occur over about the next year.
Microsoft is one of the few cloud CRM vendors rolling out large networks of data centers and content delivery networks (CDNs) in locations throughout the world. This increases performance for users in locations such as Southeast Asia or Asia Pacific in general. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online also comes with a flexible and financially backed Service Level Agreement (SLA). Should the service level fall below 99.9% for a given month, Microsoft will provide a service credit on the following basis:
- For downtime resulting in 99% to 99.9% availability, the customer receives a 25% fee reduction.
- For downtime resulting in 95% to 99% availability, the customer receives a 50% fee reduction.
- For downtime resulting in less than 95% availability, the customer receives a 100% fee reduction.
Delivering this type of uptime guarantee goes a long way in allaying concerns of using the cloud, which are still prevalent among many business and technology professionals throughout Southeast Asia.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Strengths
- When considering the capabilities of the application, Microsoft CRM is one of the lowest cost CRM software products available. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online costs US$44 per user per month, which is a strong value considering it includes sales, marketing, customer service, mobile CRM, social CRM and a suite of powerful reporting tools. This cost advantage is particularly important for small to medium sized businesses in South East Asia where the cost of software, and the support, is a significant factor when selecting solutions.
- Customer choice in deployment—including vendor cloud, public cloud, private cloud or on-premise—gives customers flexibility in how to consume software. Further, as MS Dynamics Online and on-premise versions use the same code set, customers can switch to or from the cloud if they desire.
- Microsoft operates data centers for cloud CRM delivery in the Southeast Asia region. Regional data centers improve online CRM performance due to proximity, fewer hops, less latency and reduced jitter. Regional data centers also aid cultural concerns of stored data location and can be favorable in accommodating regional or country-specific data privacy and regulatory requirements.
- A large and expanding Microsoft partner channel throughout Southeast Asia and Asia Pacific provides ample options for locally delivered professional services and support.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Weaknesses
- Microsoft's global roll-outs for new software versions or new technologies typically take some time before they get to all the individual countries in Southeast Asia. For example, Microsoft Dynamics Online coverage in Southeast Asia is currently only in Malaysia and Singapore.
- While the CRM software licensing or subscription costs are competitively low, implementation fees may be more significant depending upon your project scope and consulting partner. Dynamics CRM is a sophisticated application and therefore must be well planned in advance of the deployment in order to control effort, time and cost. Microsoft Asia Pacific partners tend to be smaller and younger than other global regions, which can result in less consistency or more variability when helping customers plan their CRM project goals, scope, budget and timeframe.
- Asia Pacific businesses looking for vertical market CRM systems may have fewer options with MS CRM. While Microsoft does have a broad and mature ISV and partner channel which delivers many industry-specific solutions based on MS CRM, that network of solutions often does not extend to all regions such as Southeast Asia.
Short List Microsoft Dynamics CRM Software When:
- You seek a sophisticated but easy to use CRM product that can be implemented and supported with local business partners.
- You want a cloud CRM system with hosting delivered from within the region, data stored within region and a Service Level Agreement (SLA).
- You use a Microsoft ERP product—such as Dynamics AX, Nav, GP or SL—and want an integrated CRM software solution.
- You are already a Microsoft technology shop, and use products such as SQL Server or SharePoint.
Consider Alternative CRM Software When:
- You reside in Southeast Asia and want a cloud CRM solution but are not in Malaysia and Singapore.
- You have an open source software or non-Microsoft technology strategy.
- Social CRM is a major part of your Customer Relationship Management strategy.
- You require a vertical market CRM system unavailable from Microsoft.
Next—NetSuite in Asia Review >>
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