Does the CRM software war prove the sector is technology dependent?

With Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Salesforce now at loggerheads to produce the most comprehensive customer relationship management software, CRM professionals can be left wondering whether they still possess unique and valuable skills, or are being gradually replaced by sophisticated cloud technology.

Gone are the days of the traditional customer relationship manager, attending networking events and giving weekly courtesy calls to existing clients. The reality is that a CRM is now expected to do much more, managing everything from potential sales leads to data collection for the purposes of targeted marketing. With the majority of new data now coming from online sources, it’s only natural that CRMs have embraced technology to perform their job more easily and effectively.

CRM software and cloud integration

CRM software is now its own animal, with several market leaders racing to create the most comprehensive and user-friendly platform. What’s more, with data management gradually moving towards being completely cloud-based, the emphasis is now on holistically integrating the most popular online services and using them to your advantage.

The recent integration of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and LinkedIn combines the primary social network for professionals with a means of specific targeting for businesses. This serves to complement the software, which already boasts successful integration of Outlook, Office, and PowerBI data visualisation. It seems that Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to close the gap on market leader Salesforce, which enjoyed a total market share of nearly 20% in 2015.

A CRM software war on the horizon

While Microsoft and Salesforce are technically partners, they are both battling for a slice of the same pie. Businesses need CRM software solutions, but only one solution is necessary, leading the two into a war that can surely only end by one consuming the other (and we both know which way that will go).

While Salesforces consistently produces higher user satisfaction rates across the board, Microsoft has a clear financial advantage, being one of the world’s richest companies. This allows them to invest more into developing the software, and also enables them to undercut their competitors, which can act as a huge factor considering that Salesforce can cost up to $300 per user per month. While Microsoft plays catch-up on the quality of their software, they’re clearly looking to hit Salesforce in the pocket by offering cheaper rates. Meanwhile, the CRM sector is left wondering where it stands.

What does this mean for CRM professionals?

This apparent reliance on technology doesn’t necessarily mean the death of the CRM, but rather a new approach to how CRMs develop their career. Instead of training to identify sales leads from manual market research and networking, CRMs are instead being trained to use specialist software, giving them a skill that is in high demand as more and more companies adopt a CRM technology solution.

In essence, this means the sector is less than threatened, with an abundance of Dynamics CRM jobs and Salesforce jobs to accommodate the adoption of new technology. After all, no matter how comprehensive CRM software becomes, we will always need people qualified to operate the software. We might be moving further towards a dependence on the technology, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.