Microsoft and Salesforce.com have both been actively developing competitive Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions for a few years now. If capitalism has taught us anything, it’s that competition generally breeds a better product for the consumer. There has been no exception here; the competition between
Enjoyment aside, how can consumers choose which CRM solution is right for them? Let’s take a look at some of the differences between the two products and then you can decide which product is right for you. Keep in mind, this is only round one of the CRM showdown, and each provider will get a second round to really square off.
Power of choice – Microsoft’s CRM offering supports all deployment models,
Dashboards – CRM Online 2011 dashboards feature several graphs, charts, reports, and lists that update dynamically in real-time, while Salesforce.com only offers reports and lists. Salesforce.com dashboards also do not update dynamically the same way CRM Online 2011 dashboards do. You are given a limited amount of refreshes in a time span depending on the edition you subscribe to, and these refreshes still experience a waiting period of 30-60 minutes.
Security –While I mentioned earlier that the showdown between CRM Online 2011 and Salesforce.com has been entertaining to watch, a not-so-funny story broke a few years ago by the Washington Post. Hackers successfully broke into Saleforce.com’s hosted system database and retrieved customer records which were subsequently used for spamming and phishing attacks (read the full story at The Washington Post, “Should email addresses be considered private data?”). Microsoft has been active in pre-emptively securing their CRM Online 2011 databases, keeping them safe from rogue hackers since launching their cloud based model.
Databases – Speaking of databases, CRM Online 2011 features dedicated databases for subscribers. In the very unlikely event that a hacker does break into a company’s CRM Online 2011 organization, they will only have broken into that company’s database. Salesforce.com does not offer dedicated databases.
Data Storage – CRM Online 2011 subscribers receive 5GB of storage. Salesforce.com users receive at max, 1GB of storage per user. That’s right, despite the three times price disparity between their “Professional Edition”, and their “Unlimited Edition”, users do not experience any increase in data storage without paying an additional fee on top of their subscription fee.
Service level agreement (SLA) – CRM Online 2011 is financially backed by an SLA of 99.9% uptime for all customers. Salesforce.com does not offer any kind of SLA, although they do offer a
Microsoft Office Outlook integration – Microsoft is still the only CRM provider that can offer native Outlook plug-in integration; the CRM Online 2011 plug-in runs entirely contained in Microsoft Outlook. Salesforce.com functions as a limited plugin with a limited feature set and requires that you load an extra application, no matter what. In fact, Salesforce.com has repealed some of the features available in the past with their Outlook plugin; you can no longer manage Opportunities or Leads inside of Outlook using their plugin.
Microsoft SharePoint integration – CRM Online 2011 features robust SharePoint integration. If you are a SharePoint subscriber, you can connect your document repository to CRM Online 2011, and upload or view documents directly in CRM Online 2011. This integration is a two-way street, allowing SharePoint users to upload documents to SharePoint which will subsequently appear in the CRM Online 2011 system. Salesforce.com does not currently offer any form of SharePoint integration.
Microsoft Office Excel integration – CRM Online 2011 users familiar with Excel’s powerful bulk-editing capabilities will benefit productively from the easy moving of records between the two programs. CRM Online 2011 data can be exported to Excel, where users can manipulate it and then import it again. New data can also be generated in an Excel spreadsheet, for example a list of leads from a trade show, and then imported to create new records automatically in CRM Online. Salesforce.com does not currently offer any form of Excel integration.
Microsoft Lync integration – Lync is the latest massive update to Microsoft’s wildly successful voice-over-IP (VOIP), conferencing, and messaging client, Microsoft Office Communicator. If you are a Lync subscriber, Contacts and Users in CRM Online 2011 that subscribe to Lync will show presence icons, indicating their availability for communication or conferencing. Salesforce.com does not offer any form of Microsoft Lync integration.
After round 1, things are quickly looking bleak for Salesforce.com. Will they be able to step back into the ring and knock CRM Online 2011 out? Find out in round 2!