The rise of Microsoft Dynamics CRM


If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands? Milton Berle

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has evolved at a frantic pace in the last 6 years I have been working with it.

The effort and development put into the product means it’s exciting to work with because Microsoft Dynamics CRM is constantly being improved, new features added, new companies purchased and add on’s created.

For people who use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to deliver customer projects it means you need to work hard to keep up

  • Understand how new features work, where and when they should be used
  • Create code correctly, so it can be upgraded
  • Learn new products Microsoft has purchased, ADXStudio, Parature, Field Services, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, etc, etc.
  • Take Microsoft Dynamics CRM certifications for each version
  • Learn the differences between CRM online and CRM on-premise

I have blogged why it’s important to keep up to date before and the benefits

Should you keep up with releases and how?

Rapid rise

Microsoft had arrived to the CRM game late and launched CRM 1 in 2003 and stuttered along slowly.  The Microsoft Dynamics CRM wikipedia page notes CRM 3 was the first which saw reasonable uptake by customers.

I started working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 released in 2007, which was a good place to start because the previous versions have been described as difficult to work with by colleagues.

Microsoft released a version of CRM Online and CRM 4 saw Microsoft pass 1 million users.

What I have enjoyed about working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the speed and breath of change in the product.  During CRM 2011 onwards Microsoft have developed the front end and back end of Microsoft Dynamics CRM at a frantic pace.  It makes working as a CRM professional challenging dealing with the new versions and changes, often leading to upgrades needed all customization to be rewritten.

Looking at the releases it struck me the speed of innovation and releases of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

In 5 years Microsoft has released 4 new versions of CRM

  • CRM 2011
  • CRM 2013
  • CRM 2015
  • CRM 2016

Screen shots

Looking at the screenshot of CRM 4, makes me feel nostalgic and glad I don’t have to use CRM 4 anymore


Here is the sexy CRM 2015/2016

CRM 2016

CRM 2016 form

The head start Microsoft gave it’s CRM competitors has had moved from challenger in 2007 to leader in 2015.

The post from Leon Tribe on Gartner Trajectories of CRM solutions shows the gradual move from Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  The picture is taken from Leon Tribe’s post in June 2007 was a challenger and the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online doesn’t even get a mention!

The Gartner Magic Quadrant shows Microsoft Dynamics having both its online and on premise versions in the leader category and recognized as winner in the CRM magazines Market Leader wards.  Microsoft kindly highlight these in their Analyst coverage page, below I have shown two

Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center – read report

In recent years Microsoft has focused on improving the CRM online functionality and administrator tools to where the differences in on premise and cloud are negligible.


Microsoft started behind Salesforce but have been catching up the functionality with every release and now the product functionality is similar, it‘s difficult to say there is one clear winner.  The advantages Salesforce has over Microsoft Dynamics CRM is its large customer base, created due to its head start.

There are some good comparisons between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce

Microsoft CRM Professionals view Salesforce as the main competitor to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, for tenders you are competing with Salesforce.  Microsoft made an unusual move in 2015 and partnered with Salesforce, causing confusion in the Microsoft Dynamics community.

I wrote a blog post – Why did Microsoft partner with Salesforce?

There were rumours Microsoft was trying to buy Salesforce

I can understand why Microsoft attempted to buy Salesforce

getting rid of the competition

stop wasting money competing agaisnt each other

Create shared services

Microsoft can create products/services to be used by both CRM services e.g. Azure services, Office products, PowerBI, etc.

It‘s the same tactics Resco used when buying CWR mobile CRM activities

Why Resco acquiring CWR’s mobile CRM is important

Microsoft CRM Online is growing

Microsoft is focusing on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online version and according this press release, Microsoft CRM is growing fast

Dynamics products and cloud services revenue grew 9% in constant currency with Dynamics CRM Online seat adds more than doubling year-over-year

Cloud solutions are growing in popularity with customers and CRM Online solutions are growing in complexity as developers understand the limitations of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and how do you work with them?

Solution architects are improving at designing cloud solutions and integrating with Mobile devices.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM has evolved as a product and the type of CRM projects are changing, there are lots more cloud solutions, mobile devices and portals.

In the future projects could involve machine learning, big data and integration with lots of devices and plugging into the Internet of things.  The social CRM functionality keeps growing in CRM.

With change comes opportunity but take advantage you must be prepared to learn new skills and approach CRM projects differently.

picture from thezoom 

9 thoughts on “The rise of Microsoft Dynamics CRM

  1. Andrew June 16, 2016 / 6:37 pm

    That’s a great summary. Have been on the CRM journey since being early adopter of 1.2 in the UK. I do wonder if Microsoft need to take a step back and consider the whole product as its rapidly becoming an unmanageable scattergun collection of products..

    Fixing some of the really annoying, and in most cases very well established issues in the product that make users stare at you in that ‘are you serious’ way would help.

    Bolting several varieties of UI together, new, old an positively ancient makes for a confusing collection of experiences. Lookups that require many mouse clicks to get to the entry you want, the fact you still can’t return a count of how many records you have due to how database, security and localisation conspire against you to kill performance – and sure everyone has some other feature they wish would get sorted.

    Don’t get me wrong, overall it’s a great product but stapling on newly aquired functionality at a rate of knots isn’t sustainable.

    CRM needs to evolve into a new platform – probably not called CRM as even its name is a distraction.

    Take the good stuff, turn it into a cloud based platform then add a modern, mobile first, cross platform adaptive UI and allow us to add or remove stuff so you get the system you actually need minus clutter and bloat. If I am never going to use marketing, or finance entities, allow that.

    CRM should then be just one of a number of Dynamics products that sits on the platform. If I need accounts let me add modules from a proper accounting solution, or elements of ERP, or an Event Management solution – all modular, extensible and integrated.

    The other core feature that’s needed is inbuilt integration and Master Data capabilities. I should be able to define one instance of contact, address, and account and share across multiple applications. Single version of the truth.

    It will be interesting to see how things evolve as it moves to an inevitable cloud only model – looking forwards to the journey..

    Thanks for a great blog…


    • Hosk June 17, 2016 / 2:45 pm

      Thanks for the comment, you raise some interesting points, which I have been thinking about myself.

      With CRM moving to the cloud, I am curious to see if at some point Microsoft redesign the solution to create a service more suited to the cloud, which would take advantage of Azure and scalability. Is the one database design creating a bottle neck in performance?


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