CRM Q&A with Microsoft’s Mike Ehrenberg

By Jelani Harper
Updated: March 21, 2011

Recently, Microsoft Technical Fellow Mike Ehrenberg, who heads the long term goals of Microsoft Dynamics Group, had a candid discussion about his company’s history with Customer Resource Management, its future and options for products, and the bevy of competitor’s which drive his company.

According to Ehrenberg, the versatility of Microsoft Dynamics Group has never been greater, as its recent release of CRM 2011 confirms. For the first time in the company’s history it shipped its product's online version before that of the on-premise variety, which indicates how far the company’s CRM has come since it was initially created as an on-premise product.

“We have parity between everything we can do in the cloud and on-premise, including the full aspects of customization,” Ehrenberg said. “But we’re maintaining the on-premise product and syncing innovation in the online environment into the on-premise one. Choice is something no one else has. We have the same experience whether its on-premise or in the cloud or hosted by a partner.”

Ehrenberg disclosed that the most important area for customer satisfaction with CRM across the market is time to value. In addition to Microsoft’s up-to-the-minute provisioning, the company’s focus on hybridizing the various forms of CRM should only aid in customer experience of this product.

“We see a lot of places where people have deployed CRM on-premise, and we’ve now opened up a lot of capabilities for them to customize and extend out of the Azure cloud,” Ehrenberg said. “You can develop a large custom application on Azure. We think the hybrid capability and the ability to have Azure with its elasticity, is a tremendous advantage in these things.”

By continuing to develop the company’s potential for hybridizing its service, Ehrenberg hopes to close the gap between Microsoft and Salesforce, whose CEO is Marc Benioff.

“Microsoft is always good at competing when there’s a named competitor,” Ehrenberg said. “We think a lot about SAP and Oracle in that space as well, but they’ve both come out with Cloud-based CRM recently. They’re not in the forefront. We think we’re the competitor that Benioff thinks about most often.”

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