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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Online – What’s Happening in the UK

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will be available in the UK from January 2011. This is the first time a cloud-based version of the product has been available in the UK hosted by Microsoft. It will also be the latest version of the product, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, and will mark the point that the product is officially taken out of the beta stage.

Previously, Concentrix and a handful of other UK Microsoft Business Partners have offered their own cloud-based versions of the software, but they were hosted by the partners themselves, not by Microsoft.  

The release of the cloud-based version before the on-premise version is also something of a turning point (the on-premise version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 will be available later in the year). Up until now it was usually the other way round, with on-premise versions of business software typically being released before cloud-based versions. But cloud computing is becoming increasingly popular throughout the world and is highly likely to be the predominant way of accessing software in the future.

Microsoft has invested a massive amount (literally billions of dollars) in cloud-based infrastructure. In the UK market alone there is a dramatic jump in anticipated cloud software usage within the next 12 months, and for CRM in particular.

So why are so many organizations going down the cloud computing route for business applications? Well, using Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online as an example, it offers instant access from literally anywhere there’s an internet connection. It can be deployed rapidly with low up-front costs, and is managed by Microsoft, so you don’t need high levels of technical skills or resources within your business. Microsoft also supports Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online with a financially backed 99.9% uptime agreement. What this means is, if the product is unavailable for more than 0.1% of the time because of something to do with Microsoft, they’ll compensate you financially.

The pricing of cloud-based applications is also coming down significantly. The price of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online in the UK will start off at only £22.75 per user per month. Compare this with SalesForce.com at around £45 per user per month; that’s a major drop – especially considering the extensive features available in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, how easy it is to use, and the significant productivity gains you can expect from it.

In the past, one of the drawbacks of many cloud-based applications, CRM software included, was the difficulty in customising the products. Anything more than basic configuration would require an on-premise CRM solution, and it simply didn’t make sense to attempt complex customisations or workflows in the cloud. This put cloud-based versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM in something of a dilemma.

By its very nature Microsoft Dynamics CRM is an extremely flexible product, so much so that it has led the way with extended CRM (often referred to as ‘xRM’, where the ‘x’ means ‘anything). And modern businesses need to extend the power of CRM to build strongly on other relationships.

So here’s another major step forward conicding with the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online: Microsoft has overcome the technical difficulties involved in cloud-based customization. Whether on-premise or in the cloud, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is easily configured and customized to support extended CRM scenarios.

By Concentrix Ltd: a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner in the UK

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