• July 31, 2015
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmarCustomerService.com

The 2015 CRM Market Influential Leaders: Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

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When Satya Nadella took the helm at Microsoft in February 2014, some questioned his commitment to the company's Dynamics CRM product. A partnership announcement with Salesforce.com that integrated Salesforce CRM—and not Dynamics—with Microsoft Office 365 and Windows only fueled those concerns. But this move was the first of many strategic partnerships Microsoft would make in the past year that arguably proved the skeptics wrong.

Dynamics CRM is part of a "business transformation playing a huge role across Microsoft," Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president of business solutions at Microsoft, said at the company’s Convergence conference in the spring. "Microsoft is very serious about its CRM business. It's core to what we do."

In the past year, Microsoft integrated Dynamics CRM with most of its other business offerings, including Power BI, Office 365, Outlook, Exchange, Sharepoint, Azure Mobile Services, Skype for Business, Yammer, and even its Cortana virtual mobile assistant. "The importance of combining powerful productivity tools with business applications is something that Microsoft Dynamics has recognized all along," Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, said in a statement at the time.

That Nadella and Microsoft have come out firmly behind the company’s CRM product line is undoubtedly a reflection of its growth, which has been steady over the past 42 quarters.

"Since 2013, we've been updating [Dynamics CRM] pretty regularly," said Jujhar Singh, general manager of Dynamics CRM, noting that Microsoft updated the product seven times in 2014 and has eight releases planned for 2015.

The spring 2015 release delivered performance enhancements, knowledge management upgrades, improved efficiency, and collaboration. It also marked the introduction of Microsoft Social Engagement, a social monitoring tool.

Microsoft also introduced Power BI connectors, dashboards, and reports that can link to Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, Google Analytics, and applications from Marketo, Zuora, and other companies.

In addition, Microsoft inked a deal with Adobe to integrate the Adobe Marketing Cloud with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In essence, the alliance enables businesses to track marketing and sales efforts and access all of the different experiences associated with customer engagement—ranging from acquisition to retention—through one connected suite.

Another strategic partnership enables NetSuite to use Microsoft's Azure cloud platform and integrate Office 365 into many of its CRM and enterprise resource planning products.

During the past 12 months, Microsoft also announced integrations with 3C Logic, Jive Software, Thunderhead.com, and DocuSign. And a deal with Vertafore extends Dynamics CRM’s pipeline management, prospect and opportunity tracking, and email campaign management to the insurance industry, a new vertical for Microsoft.

Through all of this, Nadella can be seen as a force for change at Microsoft, altering the business model that for the company’s first 40 years was largely centered on its operating systems.

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