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Microsoft Gains Enterprise Clout With ERP, CRM

Spotlighting high-profile customers like Revlon and Dell, Microsoft talks up its prowess with ERP consolidation, CRM-integrated marketing.
Much of the buzz in CRM and, indeed, in the larger IT market is about the growing tech spending power of chief marketing officers. Thus we've seen a string of related marketing technology acquisitions in recent years, with IBM buying Unica, Teradata buying Aprimo, SAS buying AssetLink, Salesforce.com buying Buddy Media and Radian6, Infor buying Orbis, and Oracle acquiring Eloqua.

Microsoft's response on this front was the October acquisition of MarketingPilot , which is to become a deeply integrated extension of Dynamics CRM. In a deep dive offered at Convergence, MarketingPilot was shown to be a very broad and deep product. The product's marketing resource management functionality supports marketing planning, digital asset management, budget management, and creative and project management. Cross-channel marketing functionality includes marketing analytics and dashboards for digital (website and keyword) marketing, email marketing, social media campaigns and traditional (print, direct mail, TV and radio) marketing. Campaigns are automated with supporting behavior analysis, so you know what happens with keyword buys, email response and trade show leads. There's sales enablement functionality for lead scoring and lead assignment.

In short, MarketingPilot competes much more directly with IBM's Unica and Teradata's Aprimo, Microsoft executives said, rather than the much more "limited" (social-focused) Salesforce.com Marketing Cloud or Oracle's recent B2B-focused Eloqua acquisition.

"It's a foundation for getting to a return-on-marketing-investment calculation, it orchestrates multi-channel campaigns and it will become an integral part of the CRM system, so you can go from campaigns to leads to opportunities to orders," said Tatarinov.

Microsoft also touted the fact that MarketingPilot was in Gartner's "Visionaries" quadrant for marketing resource management. But why, after more than 10 years in business, did the company have only about 200 customers (with about 90% using the online, hosted version of the software)? Tatarinov acknowledged that the company's technology and vision were better than its market execution, but Microsoft, he said, will turn that around.

"We're going to do a lot of MarketingPilot, and it represents the foundation for marketing in Microsoft Dynamics CRM," he said.

Microsoft released a new version of MarketingPilot at Convergence with more of a look and feel of a Dynamics product, but it has only been five months since the acquisition, so the deepest integrations to Dynamics CRM -- extending into shared workflows, security and authentication -- have yet to be built.

Couple Dynamics with strong SQL Server, SharePoint and Office365 results, and Microsoft's progress in the enterprise market is apparent. It has yet to be seen whether the company's foibles, fits and starts in the consumer mobile, tablet and operating system markets will blunt that momentum.