CRM Reaches For The CloudsBy Clyde Parsley
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions have, for years, been a very effective tool for attracting new prospects, increasing sales, and building better relationships with customers. Now, as more and more services are going to the cloud, companies are discovering the benefits of adapting their processes to cloud-based CRM and they are making this transition a major priority.
Cloud-based applications have made it possible to work more effectively without making major infrastructure investments. This, of course, is appealing to businesses that are constantly looking for ways to improve profitability in a difficult economy, but it is also leading to a change in the way the sales teams and customers interact. This is simply a result of both sides of the transaction having unprecedented access to important information anywhere they have an internet connection.
There are a number of options for online CRM solutions from different developers, which has led to a number of solutions when a company is ready to turn to the cloud.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online
Microsoft’s cloud solution was developed to balance flexibility and security. Many companies require a lot of scalability but are still justifiably concerned about the level of security around some very important data, and Microsoft’s online CRM is able to walk that line while still maintaining compliance with industry regulations.
Taking CRM online creates a system that is much easier to scale as the company grows or shrinks, and Microsoft Dynamics Online gives companies the ability to increase or decrease their service as needed, even on a monthly basis. Companies can add or remove storage, workflows or other elements as needed, and even change its deployment if it ever becomes necessary to switch to a private cloud.
Security remains an issue that every company must consider as they go to the cloud, and this online CRM system follows the Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle, which deals with security measures through the design, build and implementation phases. It employs SSL security on the web application, and users can set custom-defined security roles. There is also no co-mingling of customer data, and the information that is stored in the cloud will never be used for data mining activities.
Microsoft takes extra precautions to make sure valuable data isn’t lost to unforeseen problems. Many aspects of the system are configured in an N+1 redundant configuration which eliminates single points of failure. At the same time, the data centers perform a backup to tape every day (encrypting the data as they go) to avoid any major business breakdowns. These steps are extremely important because business won’t use the cloud if they don’t feel it is stable.
Salesforce is one of the pioneers in the industry, and they remain one of the biggest providers of CRM solutions. Their cloud offerings are split into a couple different products, the Sales Cloud and the Service Cloud, and they each offer different features.
The Sales Cloud can pull in information from popular social sites, generating valuable information about trends and opinions that the sales team can really use. It also has a mobile feature (like Microsoft Dynamics) which, along with its social network for employees, opens up a lot of possibilities for collaboration.
Service Cloud was designed to help empower customers and sales teams by providing the kind of updates they need all the time. Questions and conversations on social media channels are routed to the sales team to keep them appraised of new developments, and there are some tools for visual workflows to manage various support processes.
The Cloud Migration
These aren’t the only two companies that are providing CRM services in the cloud. Others, like Oracle, who have provided offline solutions for a long time, are now integrating sales and marketing in services that are delivered through the cloud. As more and more clients demand the security, simplicity, and cost-effectiveness of these solutions, we will start to see a much larger movement to get sales teams and customers to connect through these systems.