A Comprehensive Guide to the Two Largest CRM Platforms

Microsoft Dynamics & Salesforce

“Customer is King” is an old saying but remains true today. Any organization that relies on knowing customers needs and addressing those needs knows the value of having a robust Customer Relationship Management System. Having the wrong CRM is devastating to the bottom line. CRMs have been integral for years and the trend is that many organizations are reevaluating their legacy systems to make sure their are able to meet the needs of their clients and ultimately increase their bottom line.  In 2017, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) emerged as the largest software market and all signs point to even more growth in 2018.


The CRM marketplace has quite a few players, but two platforms are mentioned consistently at the top: Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.  While other players, Oracle and SAP, which were consistently among the top platforms, they find themselves with decreasing market share year after year.

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Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce are pushing the limits of innovation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and functionality, which makes them poised to become the two dominant CRM providers. The purpose of this guide is to share the advantages of each platform, so you can determine which would be the best tool for your business.

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Background and Evolution:


The CRM industry was a natural fit for Microsoft. In 2001, Microsoft Dynamics CRM was founded with the acquisition of iCommunicate. Two years later, Microsoft CRM 1.0 was released aimed at the small business market. Through applications like Microsoft Office and Outlook, Microsoft benefited from significant “mindshare” as a leading “business” software provider. One of Dynamics core strengths has always been the integration with these other Microsoft Applications. If a business is already invested in other Microsoft suite products, Dynamics offers a seamless integration process.


Over the next few years, Microsoft built on the success of its original CRM with updates from 2005 to 2016. Then in 2017, they rolled out their most comprehensive CRM solution yet: Dynamics 365. Unlike previous versions, Dynamics 365 has a suite of apps that allow businesses to go far beyond just basic CRM functionality, including finance and operations, talent management, and marketing.


Dynamics 365 was built to enable organizations to incorporate Digital Transformation. This allows businesses to start with only the applications they need, and then as they grow, add additional apps. Included in the Dynamics 365 rollout was Microsoft Flow and PowerApps which have created a platform for users to build their own 3rd party apps.  This app building platform has allowed additional services to evolve much faster. AppSource, it’s online destination for apps, now has a library of over 700 applications. While it began as an SaaS-only product, Microsoft Dynamics now is available in the cloud, on-site, or a combination of the two, allowing businesses the flexibility to choose what works best for them. In 2016, Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn has given them direct access to over 500 million users in the online business community.

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Key Features:


  • Integration with other Microsoft software including Office and Outlook are seamless. If your IT department is well versed in Microsoft products, Dynamics would be an easy choice.
  • Dynamics 365’s suite of apps allows businesses to pick and choose what’s most important, and add additional apps as they grow and their needs expand.
  • Generally considered to be a lower cost option as compared with Salesforce. Many Salesforce users have noted that between the variety of cloud options, costs can add up quickly.
  • The Campaign Analysis feature allows users to track marketing budgets, results, and their return on investment. Dynamics 365’s reporting system is recognized as one of the best in the industry
  • Through its acquisition of LinkedIn, Microsoft has integrated LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365 through a service called Microsoft Relationship Sales.


Whats Next?


Dynamics 365 has been one of the largest contributors to Microsoft’s revenue growth in 2018. According to Microsoft 2017 Annual Report,  “Dynamics 365 customers grew more than 40 percent year-over-year. A new technology paradigm is emerging, one with an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Microsoft will lead this new era.” In the most recent Earnings Release for Q4 FY 2018 Revenue in Productivity and Business Process was 9.7 billion and increased 13%. Dynamics products with cloud services revenue increased 11% driven by Dynamics revenue growth of 61%.


As Microsoft continues to invest large amounts of capital into Dynamics 365, there will get a number of advances on the horizon including continued growth of the app platform AppSource and the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Microsoft’s continued leveraging of LinkedIn also opens up a world of possibilities.

Learn more about Microsoft Dynamics and whether it’s right for your business...


Background and Evolution:


Salesforce was founded in 1999 by former Oracle Executive, Marc Benioff. As outlined in Behind the Cloud, the idea was to “make software easier to purchase, simpler to use, and more democratic without the complexities of installation, maintenance, and constant upgrades”. To date, Salesforce has grown to become the leader in cloud based CRM solutions.


Salesforce pioneered the concept of truly comprehensive enterprise solutions by offering a variety of “cloud” services beyond just the basic CRM: Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Commerce Cloud. These verticals have allowed Salesforce to grow substantially and made it the number one choice for large enterprises. In 2006, Salesforce offered a platform for 3rd party applications named “AppExchange”. When AppExchange was released, there was nothing in the marketplace like it. Today every competitor’s goal is the replicate it. Salesforce’s platform is now home to over 3,000 apps.

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For the last 10 years, Salesforce has gone on a mission to acquire a range of companies that diversify its consumer offering.


ExactTarget (2013) – a marketing platform which evolved into “Marketing Cloud”

Demandware (2016) – an e-commerce tool that became “Commerce Cloud”

Quip (2016) – a project management platform in 2016

Mulesoft (2018) – designed to easily integrate applications together.


From the May 2nd, 2018 Press Release, “With Mulesoft, Salesforce now provides one of the world’s leading platforms for building application networks that connect enterprise apps, data, and devices across any cloud and on-premise- whether they connect Salesforce or not.”


Key Features:


  • Since its inception, Salesforce has taken a comprehensive approach to cloud computing. They want to be “everything to everyone”.
  • AppExchange apps are developed in “real world” businesses and are improved “live” over time to achieve the best results.
  • It’s wide array of applications, acquisitions, and cloud services make it ideal for any large company that is attempting to scale.
  • Salesforce’s “AppExchange” is an ever-evolving, library of applications, developed by businesses looking to provide solutions to their “real-world” challenges. If there’s a business challenge a Salesforce customer might encounter, it’s likely that there’s been an app developed to solve it.
  • The integration between clouds is seamless and allows large organization to stay agile when building customer relationships.
  • Salesforce is also viewed as the most mobile friendly platform, allowing sales and service people to access customer data on the go.
  • With it’s rollout of the AI platform Einstein in 2016, Salesforce is continuing to show it’s willingness to push the envelope on innovation. Einstein connects all business and customer data and offers predictive insights and recommendations.


What’s Next?


Salesforce runs the largest annual convention in the industry, Dreamforce, which in 2017 attracted over 1700,000 attendees and had an addition 10 million online viewers. The highlight of each Dreamforce conference is the new product rollout which enhances Salesforce’s already extensive offering.


In 2016, Salesforce launched Lighting Experience, which greatly improved Salesforce’s User Interface (UI), as well as offering expanded functionality. While some organizations are still using the classic version, it’s generally accepted that most everyone will be switching over to Salesforce Lightning Experience.


The fastest growing product in Salesforce’s history is now Field Service Lightning. This mobile platform has allowed field technicians from industries like telecommunications and construction to access the power of the Salesforce cloud.




The acquisition of Quip, in 2016, was a departure from Salesforce’s strategy to focus on growth in verticals. Quips acquisition was more of a horizontal move, as Quip is a productivity app, designed for mobile use. Salesforce COO Keith Block justified their acquisition by saying “Quip is compelling. Some people think it’s an unorthodox, but it’s in the context of driving productivity for customers. In the past when it comes to acquisitions, Salesforce is always looking for better ways to serve the customer – theirs and those of their users.” Salesforce continues to diversify in it’s goal to be “everything to everyone”.




With its huge portfolio of 3rd party apps and variety of cloud interfaces, Salesforce was in need of a system to seamlessly bring all of them together. Salesforce’s acquisition of MuleSoft in 2018 was a real game changer. Salesforce plans to make MuleSoft into its own cloud, The Integration Cloud.




All the major players recognize that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the wave of the future. Salesforce is clearly the leader of the pack. For nearly two decades, Salesforce has been spreading it’s reach across all aspects of running a large company. Salesforce’s AI platform, Einstein, is one more step in that direction.


Einstein is the first comprehensive AI for CRM. It’s an integrated set of AI technologies that makes the Customer Success Platform smarter and brings AI to trailblazers everywhere. Being that salesforce customers now have a system in place for collecting analytics from nearly every aspect of what they do, it only makes sense to come up  with a way to digest this data and produce insights to help decision-making. Einstein is an aggressive move in that direction.




Commerce Cloud is a cloud-based ecommerce platform powered by innovative technology that connects businesses and consumers like never before. It processes $21 billion in gross merchandise value each year and supports over half a billion individual shopper site visits each month, all across the globe. Commerce Cloud is endlessly scalable and can adapt to suit the needs of B2C and B2B sellers of any shape, size, and scope. With Einstein Artificial Intelligence, Commerce Cloud helps brands inspire and convert ecommerce customers with highly personalized journeys, seamlessly connected across channels.

Learn more about Salesforce and whether it’s right for your business...

Factors to Consider:

Making a switch between CRMs or upgrading to a newer cutting edge system requires significant resources, and should not be decided on a whim. Here are some factors to consider when deciding if a switch makes sense for your business:


  • How important are cost considerations?
  • Are you only looking for a narrow offering (just a CRM) or something more comprehensive?
  • Do you require on-site hosting, or is cloud computing an option?
  • Is your business already heavily invested in Microsoft products?
  • How important is flexibility and customization?
  • Is AI important to your business strategic objectives?
  • Is your business looking to scale at a fast rate?
  • What will your user adoption rates look like for each platform? Is there a platform more users would already be familiar with?
  • What legacy applications do you currently have? Will modernizing be worth the cost?
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At Ahaapps, we are not just experts in Customer Relationship Management Systems, and we don’t have a one size fits all approach. We are partnered with both Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce and understand legacy systems too. We take the time to understand the specific needs of each client and with a thorough review will offer recommendations and remain engaged as the needs of clients are ever changing, and can happen fast.


Any queries, please contact us

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