Microsoft storms the Marketing Cloud, blasts rivals as “tools of oppression”

18th Feb 2014

Microsoft has vowed to “democratise” the marketing automation arena with the launch of its new tool for CMOs, part of a programme of Dynamics CRM announcements that it says will “change the CRM game”. 

Based on its MarketingPilot acquisition, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing is intended to go toe-to-toe with the Marketing Clouds from Adobe, and Oracle, in what has become an increasingly hotly contested sector.  

Speaking about the reasons for the burst of activity in the marketing automation field over the last two years, executive vice president of the Microsoft Business Solutions Group Kirill Tatarinov told MyCustomer: “Frankly, it’s the space where people spend lots of money – marketing budgets have really ballooned. But while people are spending lots of money on campaigns, most can’t determine whether they were effective and can’t really calculate return on their marketing investment.”

With this in mind, the software giant says that Microsoft Dynamics Marketing helps CMOs to plan and execute campaigns, giving them insights into the impact of their activities and enabling them to optimise the marketing mix. Tools include a visual campaign designer, new lead management and scoring capabilities and deep marketing analytics.

Describing the marketing automation field as “a really vibrant and exciting place” for Microsoft to be, Tatarinov was bullish about how the new offering will fare against the competition, even if they have something of a head start.

“Really we are democratising this space, because when we look at alternatives that chief marketing officers have today, the solutions are incredibly expensive to maintain and operate,” he explained. “And as we have done historically in most other parts of our business, we want to democratise the job of marketer, by providing easy-to-use, inexpensive tools that help them drive very specific business outcomes.”

Tools of oppression

As well as announcing Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, other new capabilities were revealed.

Built on technology it acquired as part of the Netbreeze purchase, Microsoft Social Listening will enable users to analyse and act on marketing intelligence from social conversations across a variety of platforms, allowing brands to monitor product, brand, competitors and campaigns on the social web in real-time.

“The unique capabilities in this particular tool, compared to the rest of the industry, is that we’re the only ones that actually do true muti-lingual sentiment analysis - no one else does it in the industry,” emphasised Tatarinov. “Everyone else is essentially translating in to English and we’re doing it natively in six languages.”

Finally, boasting the fruits of its recent Parature acquisition, Microsoft has also announced that Dynamics CRM will also be enhanced with capability for customer care, with features including call scripting, special work flows and processes, and a unified service desktop that will allow agents to pull information from other systems to achieve a single command centre over all issues that can occur with their customers.

“The Parature acquisition is very exciting,” said Tatarinov. “We clearly see most of our customers wanting to increase the level of self-service engagement that they provide to their customers. They want better knowledge management, better ways to engage, whether it is through mobile devices or through the web. And Parature has been excellent in developing those capabilities over the last 10 years. They have really built the crown jewel that is highly competitive and they won a number of deals against Oracle and in the last six months and it is all built on Microsoft technologies already so it made it very natural for us to join forces for them. And now as part of Microsoft we’ll be able to scale it to even higher aspirations.”

The new Dynamics CRM release is expected in the second quarter of 2014, while both Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and Social Listening will also be available as standalone products.

“Together, these capabilities represent a very dramatic step forward for our Microsoft Dynamics CRM programme,” said Tatarinov.

“I think it is changing the game because when you look at the tools that are available today, in existing legacy CRM systems, you can think of them as tools of oppression. They are designed to impose something on the people on the frontlines, whether these are sales people or marketing people. Our approach to CRM is fundamentally different, our approach to CRM is one of empowering the people on the frontlines, which is very directly connected to our overall Microsoft approach and Microoft vision and mission statement, which is empower people to do more through technology, help people realise their full potential. So in CRM we’re empowering people through technology. Of course we enable organisations to manage business processes, but we put people first and that is highly differentiated.” 

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