We drank the Microsoft Kool-Aid
You may or may not be aware of the battles that are raging between Microsoft and Apple, Microsoft and Google, Microsoft and Salesforce.com, basically… Microsoft and everybody.
Over the years, Microsoft has proven to always be “late to the party”, but once they arrive, they historically seem to just take over. Anybody remember Lotus 123? The number 1 selling spreadsheet application untill Excel got its legs. Where is 123 now? How about Wordstar or Wordperfect… you get the idea.
Each front has ramifications that interest me. On the Apple front, Microsoft has fired off the latest Windows Phone and Skydrive, aimed squarely at the iPhone and iCloud. On the Google front, in addition to the Windows Phone squaring off against Android, Skydrive is a pre-emptive strike on G-Drive. But these are minor skirmishes compared to the Google Docs vs Office 365 battle for supremacy in the productivity realm. Then we have the salesforce.com front and Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM Online sniper attack.
None of these wars are won, in fact far from it, but Microsoft is a slogger with an army of over 750,000 partners carrying their banners into battle. We too, have been assimilated. We recently put aside our salesforce.com banner, and picked up the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online banner.
Why? The bottom line… cost. As you probably know Software as a Service operates on a subscription model. Instead of a large upfront Capital Expense for software, you incur a small monthly Operating Expense for software. At Forceworks, we believe this is the best way to access software, and we are committed to the SaaS model. So, back to our decision: Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM is just plain cheaper than salesforce.com… on every front. The monthly, per user, subscription cost is less than half, but that is only the obvious part of the cost difference. Most companies will eventually want to customize their CRM to better conform with their business processes. This is the main line of work that Forceworks provides. The cost to develop on Dynamics is orders of magnitude less than on salesforce.com. Clients not only get the customizations at a lower cost, but also, they can get done much faster so the client can put their investment into action sooner. What’s the catch? We have not found one yet. We have yet to run into a situation where Dynamics was unable to perform some task or function that salesforce.com could. In fact, quite the opposite. Just take the Outlook integration for example. Dynamics integrates with Outlook natively, right out of the box. Salesforce.com requires third-party extensions, at an additional cost, just to provide a half-assed integration with Outlook. I could go on, but suffice it to say, we have been converted.
On the Google Docs front, I have to first confess, I was never a Google Docs fan. I liked the anywhere access part of it, but I dd not like the tools. Having used Microsoft Office for too many years, I was just too comfortable with the fully featured products. I mean you can’t really compare any of the Google applications to any of the Office applications. Comon, Google Presentations vs PowerPoint… Get real. Then last year Microsoft catapults Office 365 right into Google’s camp. Again, changing to a SaaS model offered via the cloud. Google’s troop’s knees are knocking now. Exchange via the cloud vs G-Mail is a no-brainer. Plus, Microsoft is approaching this from a hybrid standpoint. Where Google is all or nothing (no connection=no work done), Office 365 includes the full desktop versions that continue to work offline.
Okay, I know I am sounding less like a Cloud Evangelist, and more like a Microsoft Evangelist, but from where I sit, Microsoft is doing a lot of things right, and I have seen what they have done in the past when they were late to parties.