Monday, February 28, 2011

Brad Wilson on Partners in CRM Online

Again, Software Advice continues their series of interview videos with Dynamics CRM GM, Brad Wilson:

Brad Wilson talks about the change in Microsoft Partner involvement with the advent of Cloud-based CRM.


Touching on the complaints I made in my last post about the absence of the Partner-centric CRM deployment option, Brad Wilson suggests rightly that the relationship between Partners and Microsoft have changed in the CRM arena.  Unfortunately, it seems that the only “out” for a Partner is to:

  1. become an ISV-development shop (subsisting on the new Dynamics Marketplace for revenue), and/or
  2. become consultants for business and data-management processes in the CRM space

As a point of topic, the improved turn-around for “trial” deployments of CRM Online seems to be ungracious at best, as Partners appear to have been reduced to glorified CRM Online sales agents; the knife twisting a full 360° when both the interviewer Don Fornes and Brad conclude: “change is hard.”

At this point, I should state that I’m uncertain if the Partner-hosted CRM option still exists with CRM 2011.  I don’t know why it wouldn’t, but it appears completely absent from these interviews.  I always assumed that “On-Premise” was a simple moniker, and that it didn’t actually necessitate on-site visits from a Partner to “drop in a CD”.  Granted, I’m certain the deployment of a CRM Online organization would be dramatically faster than an On-Premise installation, but haven’t we improved that process in the age of virtualization?

I understand that Microsoft is investing heavily in CRM Online, and for smaller organizations with immediate needs, it can hardly be beat as a robust, capable, and prompt solution.  What I fear, however, is that Microsoft is calling all chickens home to roost, and arbitrarily discarding the value Partners have established apart from CRM Online, and the differences in the capabilities, customization or otherwise, with On-Premise.

Nowhere is it apparent that the customer will have the ability to protect, optimize, or archive their data in CRM Online in ways that are intrinsic to CRM On-Premise, and it seems that such is readily sacrificed for the ability to move faster.  I don’t care how fast your car can go, if you have no way to stop it or correct your course without a fiery spectacle, you won’t find me in the passenger seat.

P.S.  I would love to be soundly debated and corrected if anything I have said is incorrect.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Brad Wilson on Cloud-Driven CRM

Software Advice follows up with their series of video-interview clips of Brad Wison, GM of Dynamics CRM at Microsoft, with their latest offering:

Brad Wilson talks about CRM in the cloud and how Microsoft leverages customer choice, between this and On-Premise, with Microsoft CRM.


While the clip format, as a trend, seems to be short, it’s the questions and answers themselves that are short.  While it’s nice to hear Brad Wilson offering up a bit of an official PR-stylized look into the element of choice Microsoft CRM grants between Online and On-Premise, and the ability to move between them interchangeably, he suggest that the key factor for this decision is the customer’s IT competency—in so many words.  (While the word “Online” is never used, he directly states that “in the cloud” means Microsoft data-centers.)

I think Brad Wilson has done CRM, the product, a disservice.  With my employer, CRM was acquired in its earliest stages while the company staff count was below 20, and IT itself was a single man.  Now that we’ve grown to well over 120 employees, CRM is still run by a single--albeit different--man:  me.  The fact that I’m an MVP is proof in the pudding that one person can learn enough about CRM in a growing company that is still relatively small to keep it running well all by himself.

As a product, the ease of customization and deployment really speaks to the capability of CRM On-Premise.  In fact, one of the most critical business decisions are how and when to make backups… and what concerns me most is the inability to do so in CRM Online.  However, CRM On-Premise does not disappoint, being contained nearly entirely within SQL Server.  It’s so easy to backup, a single guy can setup a simple job to do it for him.

The logistical impracticality of providing this capability to CRM Online, however, also does CRM, the product, a disservice.  I maintain resolute in my declaration that CRM is the best product Microsoft ever made, because of its flexibility and time-to-market for even moderately complex, customized solutions.  If there’s one factor I think should serve as a guide to a customer’s choice in deployment types, between Online and On-Premise, I think it should be where the two really differ:  how much control one has over the data.

Sure, this does assume you have some functionally capable IT staff, but even the bevy of Microsoft CRM consultants and hosted-deployment shops are capable of providing this data control for very reduced cost, and without the need for dedicated IT.  I think a customer of Microsoft CRM would be disadvantaged to believe that they only have two choices, overlooking the powerful advantages gained by finding the middle-ground between them that goes unmentioned in this discussion.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Brad Wilson on the State of CRM

The kind folks over at Software Advice have asked me to review their on-going series of interviews within the Microsoft CRM sphere, whereby they take a look at the offerings surrounding Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and include them on my blog.  The last time they requested involvement of this space, for marketing material, I must admit that I was unfriendly.  This space is not an advertisement platform—it’s an evolving personal experience shared with the CRM Community.

That said, I have reviewed this new material and found it more suitable than their last request for inclusion in this space.  Below is a video interview with none other than the GM of Dynamics CRM, Brad Wilson, and his thoughts on the state of CRM in the marketplace.  I believe this clip stands apart from any marketing purpose and provides insight into the experience Microsoft has had with CRM as a product.  Though the clip is painfully short for the amount of material I’m sure Brad keeps locked up in that large cranium of his, it is concise and to the point:

Brad Wilson, GM for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, discusses the evolution of CRM in the marketplace with Don Fornes of Software Advice.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

It’s Been Quiet

I’m not altogether certain how much of an audience my blog has.  If the Feedburner statistics are accurate, then it’s roughly a couple hundred.  That doesn’t consider, however, those who don’t use RSS or Atom to follow it.  However, some of you may wonder why this space has been unusually quiet recently, and I wanted to take a few moments to explain why.

In the first week of January, my daughter was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma.  It’s been a hectic and busy month for me, causing a great deal of absence away from the CRM community.  Now that I’m back to work and managing to recover some of the time I’ve dedicated to supporting the family during this trying time, I’m easing back into my usual community involvements.  However, limitations being what they are, I doubt that I will be able to return to my previous station completely.

I will not be attending the MVP Summit, and hope that my contributions so far, and what little I’m able to make throughout the remainder of my “cycle” will earn me a renewal, so that I may attempt to attend again next year.  I’ve made this information known to the MVP team already, but include it here for those who aren’t apart of the NDA-based conversation channels.  I will truly miss this opportunity at such an exciting time in CRM’s history (with the advent of CRM 2011).

My wife and I are blessed and fortunate to have a strong network of family and friends to support us during this challenge, and we look forward to our daughter’s complete recovery with great hope.  Though things will become more difficult in the months ahead, we know that we will not have to undertake its monumental burden alone.

I thank all of you who send us your support, prayers, good thoughts, and the like.