A couple of weeks ago Microsoft revealed their new Microsoft Dynamics 365 cloud solution platform which had been designed to, once and for all, overcome the conventional "CRM vs. ERP" paradigm. Microsoft now enables businesses with a fully integrated, customer-centric cloud solution for marketing, sales, customer service and business operations management.
At a closer look, Microsoft's latest scoop suggests more than the amalgamation of numerous previously acquired, otherwise independent software applications like Microsoft Dynamics CRM, AX, NAV, Field One, Parature, Microsoft Social Engagement and Microsoft Dynamics Marketing. The journey, which once begun with background data synchronisation processes between stand-alone software applications, now has evolved to the availability of a shared single data model, enabling true interoperability across various functional areas of Dynamics 365.
Achieving this level of deep integration is a Herculean task and it is evident, that even a large software vendor like Microsoft needs some time to fully integrate all the components comprising their new, universal solution platform. Microsoft's Dynamics 365 launch communication therefore already features native application modules like Sales, Customer Service, Finance and Customer Insights, while other functional areas like Marketing and Social Engagement are not yet mentioned.
Both solution areas are, however, freighted with a lot of customer expectation. Every organisation with integrated customer engagement automation needs surely wants marketing segmentation, triggered and broadcast emails, landing pages as well as lead nurturing campaigns right at the core of their business software application. Yet, Microsoft has not explained, what exactly their new marketing and social engagement solution strategy may be for Dynamics 365. Therefore, let's now start joining some dots ourselves.
The surprising recent announcement of Microsoft's partnership with Adobe, including the statement that "Microsoft will make Adobe Marketing Cloud its preferred marketing service for Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition" has certainly added an impressive new alternative for Dynamics customers with interest in marketing solutions. Meanwhile, we also hear, that Microsoft in Spring of next year will be adding its own marketing application to Dynamics 365 for Business, the SMB edition of their new Dynamics 365 solution platform.
But Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing will also be available to Dynamics 365 for Enterprise customers. Surely forming an interesting option for current Microsoft CRM and ERP customers, once they successfully updated to Dynamics 365. Once available in coming Spring, Dynamics 365 for Marketing is expected to transfer critical digital marketing functionality from the current Microsoft Dynamics Marketing software product to the Dynamics 365 solution platform.
So the challenge for current and prospective customers of Microsoft indeed is, to formulate a valid solution road map for the next 12 to 24 months to procure the optimal tools for their marketing and social media needs.
Based on what's already known, let's try to devise some high-level guidance for those stakeholders confused by Microsoft's dual solution strategy. The right choice no doubt will strongly be influenced by your intended implementation timescales, available budget and, more importantly, business requirements and functional scope. Let's now have a closer look at what's on offer!
Both Microsoft and Adobe are recognised by Gartner and Forrester as global leaders in their respective ultimate key disciplines, CRM/ERP and Marketing/Advertising, thus, once combined, promising a match made in software integration heaven. In that context, Adobe Marketing Cloud boasts some highly specific software modules. At first glance, the most obvious touchpoints with Dynamics 365 are Adobe Campaign, a segmentation and multi-channel campaign management solution and Adobe Experience Manager, an enterprise-grade Web Content and Digital Asset Management platform.
Taken together, and especially in combination with other modules such as Adobe Target and Analytics, this solution is offering robust, automated, predictive marketing campaign execution capabilities. In doing so, marketers can leverage dynamic, personalised text, image and video content across emails, landing pages and entire e-commerce and product websites.
Beyond Adobe Campaign, Experience Manager, Target and Analytics, there are four other expert tools in the Adobe Marketing Cloud, allowing marketers to define audience profiles, perform media planning and programmatic buying across search, display and social ads as well as using a fully-fledged TV and film delivery platform.
Add Adobe Social's relationship and offer management capabilities and you will quickly realise that the Adobe Marketing Cloud promises to be a great fit for globally operating, product-centric and marketing-led B-to-C sales organisations. The ability to rapidly convert repeatable multi-channel demand generation campaigns into measurable e-commerce or retail sales, while maintaining control over ever-changing brand and product marketing content to orchestrate digital advertising campaigns across varied audiences, therefore can be seen as an ideal Marketing Cloud use case scenario.
Ideal integration points between Adobe Marketing Cloud and Microsoft Dynamics 365 could be marketing segmentation and lead data exchange. Shared financial and product information and, last but not least, marketing, sales and service results and customer behavioural information can potentially inform machine learning-driven processes within and across both Adobe's and Microsoft's cloud solutions.
It will certainly be interesting to see some time next Spring, where Microsoft's product team will have taken the concept which started out as Microsoft Dynamics Marketing years ago. Of course, it is still too early to guess the exact nature and specification of the new Dynamics 365 marketing module, but I trust that Dynamics customers will be delighted with what Microsoft will have to offer as a worthy successor to Microsoft Dynamics Marketing. So far, confirmed features are email marketing, event management, landing pages and lead management. In combination with Dynamics 365 for Sales, the new marketing app will also enable end-to-end customer journey management.
The former product, short: MDM, once was acquired and positioned as an Integrated Marketing Management Platform, but over time and through the capable hands of Microsoft's R&D team, has been met with remarkable customer success and developed into one of the best multi-channel marketing automation solution Microsoft Dynamics customers have access to today. Thus, it is a little sad, that we will see MDM moving into maintenance mode as the new Microsoft marketing automation champion will take over its role.
Understandably, the remote release date and the still vague functional specification of Dynamics 365 for Marketing may leave those customers in the dark, who are not lucky enough to already have Dynamics Marketing (MDM) or alternative integrated marketing tools connected to their CRM system. Those who have, of course, will at some point want to start thinking about potential data migration needs, while simultaneously the beauties of Microsoft's new ubiquitous Common Data Model continue to unfold. But again, luckily: Current MDM customers will not have to be in haste to switch quickly, as Microsoft has acknowledged full product support for the next few years. For more specific information on proposed MDM migration timelines and support options, please give us a call or drop me an email.
It is certainly of some importance for Microsoft prospects and customers to get an early understanding of whether to wait for Dynamics 365 for Marketing or rather invest into the Adobe Marketing Cloud. So, what's the best plan forward?
Well: At this early stage, there can, of course, be no substantiated, universally valid recommendation. It nevertheless seems to be a realistic assumption that local or regional B-to-B and B-to-C sales & marketing teams will probably better and quicker benefit from the tightly integrated future customer journey management and intelligent insights features within Dynamics 365. So, the recommendation is, to for now to stick with, for example, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing until the new Dynamics 365 for Marketing module becomes available. Meanwhile, you may be interested to check out some of the MDM and CRM add-ons we have developed for our customers, which I trust will minimise some of the current product limitations you may be experiencing.
However, organisations planning to implement a global content, marketing execution, advertising management and delivery ecosystem across multiple geographies, want to get their heads around the Adobe Marketing Cloud. This even the more, if you wish to include a network of media, advertising and digital agencies as well as regionally varying brand implementation partners.
Your feedback: Please let me know your own thoughts and experiences around marketing solution options for Microsoft Dynamics 365. What works well? What are your learnings? What are your thoughts concerning Microsoft's dual marketing solution strategy?
About the Author: Wolfgang von Enckevort
Wolfgang is a customer engagement solution expert with a strong background in marketing and CRM processes and technology. A Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), knowledge-leader in Microsoft Dynamics marketing and customer engagement solutions and a frequent event speaker, he enables businesses to take full control over the increasing number of communication channels and marketing disciplines required to create tailored and compelling customer experiences.