Computing giant Microsoft has pledged to provide $1bn-worth (£700m) of cloud computing resources to organisations it deems to be working for the “public good”.
The resources will be shared out over the next three years to about 70,000 non-profits and 900 university research projects.
In simplest terms, cloud computing is the term given to storing data on the internet, rather than on a local computer.
As well as making data more easily accessible, the added promise for non-profits is that the resources will provide vast amounts of computing power that would ordinarily be out of reach for all but the biggest businesses.
In a blog post explaining the initiative, Microsoft’s chief legal officer Brad Smith wrote: “Cloud services can unlock the secrets held by data in ways that create new insights and lead to breakthroughs, not just for science and technology, but for addressing the full range of economic and social challenges and the delivery of better human services.”
The crunching of so-called “big data” is seen as a major opportunity for non-profits dealing in social issues that pose a cumbersome problem without the kind of processing power cloud computing can provide.
In that respect, Microsoft’s pledge isn’t for a tangible product, or cash, but instead access to servers and services that normal businesses would need to pay considerable fees for.
The money will also be spent on improving “last mile” internet connectivity – the hope is countries that are under connected will begin to enjoy some of the luxuries more developed internet nations have – such as broadband at home.
Other companies, particularly Facebook, have pursued similar goals.
Facebook’s Internet.org project is investing in connectivity technologies – such as drones – to fill that last mile, helping what founder Mark Zuckerberg refers to as the “next billion” people to access the web.
However, initiatives such as this aren’t always so well received. Facebook’s Free Basics scheme, in which certain mobile sites were accessible for free, has caused uproar in India, where local businesses say Facebook is giving itself an unfair advantage over local competitors.
Microsoft will invariably be hit with the same accusation – that a donation over three years will be made in the hope that organisations will become ingrained in the Microsoft cloud ecosystem for many more years to come.
That said, Microsoft boss Satya Nadella has gained considerable applause for his continually expressed desire to use Microsoft’s immense size and wealth in developing countries, including his native India.
As well as being a guest of Michelle Obama at the recent State of the Union address, the 48-year-old is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, seeking to stress Microsoft’s potential to provide computing power for initiatives beyond big business.
At Cloud2020, we’re always keen to keep on top of the latest news and updates around CRM solutions and how Microsoft Dynamics CRM compares to other Enterprise CRM products available. Here’s our update:
What’s the CRM market like?
According to a Gartner report, the CRM software market grew from 20.4 billion USD in 2013 to 23.2 billion in 2014 – a massive 13.3% growth. It seems An ongoing trend among enterprise is still the movement from on-premises solutions to cloud-based. More and more, larger companies are seeking easy deployments and quick ways to improve legacy systems with complementary functionality. In the report, Joanne Correia, research vice president at Gartner, noted that the demand for software-as-a-service continues: “with SaaS accounting for almost 47% of total CRM software revenue in 2014.”
Who are the big dogs?
NetSuite is going in the right direction – its high score in company direction demonstrates this. Jim Dickie, managing director at CSO Insights, a division of MHI Global, notes that though the solution is “not seen often for large enterprises,” the company has its sights set on larger organisations.
“We’ve been moving upmarket ever since we’ve gone public in 2007,”
CEO Zach Nelson said at SuiteWorld, the company’s annual user conference, in May this year. The company also got a really rather respectable customer satisfaction score of 3.8. Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of Nucleus Research, says:
“the strength of NetSuite still lies in its single database and ability for sales and other users to see not just CRM but order and other data.”
Like last year, Oracle scored the second highest in depth of functionality with 4.1. The company’s offerings, which include the Sales Cloud, Eloqua, CPQ, analytics, and mobile functionality:
“are…solid capabilities enterprises need,” but that Oracle “still needs some improvement in setup.”
She suggests changes are on the way, however, as the company “has made significant advances in usability.” Cost still do continue to be an issue for Oracle; the company had its lowest score in that area with 3.3.
Salesforce.com still stands out for its company direction and customer satisfaction, two areas where it scored a 4.2.
Analysts put this largely down to the to the company’s focus on an improved user interface. Wettemann says:
“the investments it is making in UI and in-app analytics will really pay off and make Salesforce’s offerings even more attractive to customers in the near term.”
John Ragsdale, vice president of technology and social research for the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), agrees, saying that the solutions are becoming more usable and that the company’s focus on its Customer Success platform “is paying off with strong adoption and consumption by customers.”
SAP scored lowest in cost 3.4 and highest in depth of functionality with nearly 4.0. Ragsdale suggests that SAP’s embedded analytics:
“offer tremendous value” to buyers, who are “increasingly demanding sophisticated analytics and dashboards.”
Leslie Ament, senior vice president and principal analyst at Hypatia Research Group, noted that the company has improved its customer engagement and journey tracking capabilities.
“Encompassing sales, marketing, customer service, and commerce, SAP has delivered an enterprise-class CRM solution,” she told CRM magazine via email.
Despite this praise, it is notable that of the leaders, SAP ranked the lowest in company direction 3.6. Wettemann says that “SAP seems to have lost its way in CRM and doesn’t have a clear story on how it delivers value or how it can catch up on product road maps.”
And the winner is…!
Microsoft takes the title this year from longtime defending champion Salesforce.com.
the company was given high marks in company direction 4.5. Ragsdale said:
“Microsoft is heavily investing in its CRM platform, adding sophistication across sales, marketing, and service, and as a result is seeing increased adoption by large enterprises.”
Wettemann singles out as strengths the “Parature service capabilities and knowledge base” as well as “integration with Office 365 and PowerBI,” and Ament lauded the company’s improved suite of integrated customer engagement products. Its software enables companies to reach customers “via multiple touch points and to do so with enterprise-wide intelligence, supported by Microsoft’s Business Analytics platform (PowerBI and Azure Data Services),” Ament said via email.
And finally… the ‘one to watch’:
Infor stepped up as One to Watch this year and very nearly made it onto the leader board. The company’s acquisition of SalesLogix in August has bolstered its sales functionality, the category in which it scored the highest (3.8). “Infor has long had strong marketing capabilities with Epiphany and continues to build out its CRM offering with…SalesLogix,” Wettemann says.
As a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online partner, we’re proud we’ve invested in the leading CRM solution globally. Please get in touch if you’d like to hear how it can improve your businesses’ bottom line.
Springboard has been designed to provide rapid implementation and value. The powerful and flexible nature of MS Dynamics CRM often has clients unsure of where to start and that’s where Springboard comes in!
From our experience and knowledge of CRM software we have designed a new product aimed to assist SMBs and small companies. We have used our knowledge of CRM to come up with a pre-configured system that has the added ability to be customisable, giving business exactly what they need. With a scalable packaged product we will be providing business’s access to a CRM system with: a set price, integration with Office applications, quick deployment and sales automation to name just a few benefits.
Our aim is to make the benefits of CRM accessible to any organisation in any sector, whilst providing connectivity to external services like websites as well as integrating with a business’s current systems.
Ok, we know you didn’t love Windows 8… or 8.1, but now: we celebrate, Windows 10 is HERE.
Windows 10 is familiar and easy to use. It includes an improved Start menu and is designed to startup and resume fast. Plus, it’s packed with new innovations including Microsoft Edge – an all-new browser – personal files and apps you’ve installed will all be waiting for you. We’ve designed the upgrade to be easy and compatible with the hardware and software you already use.
As a valued Cloud2020 customer, we’d like to invite you to this year’s premier Microsoft technology event: Future Decoded. The event will play host to 10,000 of the brightest Decision Makers, Developers and IT Pros from across UK and Europe.
Attendees will be taken on a journey to decode the future of business and technology whilst gaining tangible insights on making sense of the latest social and economic advancements.
We’d be delighted if you could join the Cloud2020 team at either, or both! We’ll also be announcing, a little closer to the time, Cloud2020 specific events which will give is the opportunity to thank you for your business.
In the meantime, please do get in touch if you want to discuss anything else.
We know many of you are already massive ambassadors for Office365 and the myriad features that are included but often I have clients say to me: “I don’t know what I don’t know!”
Well, this blog post aims to get over that issue – so, grab a coffee and take a few moments out to read our top 20 favourite AWESOME features of Office365… you won’t be disappointed!
Office 365 for Business offers many features (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc) that you maybe familiar with, plus additional tools to help you collaborate and be more productive. What does that mean? In short, Office isn’t now constrained to well, your office! From PC, Tablet to Phone you can access, edit, collaborate and save your files across devices and when on the go.
1. On or Offline Flexibility:
Yes that’s right you don’t have to be connected to the internet to use it. Use the available applications offline.
2. Unlimited Storage and Collaboration:
With the click of a button you can quickly and securely share files with people inside and outside your business with OneDrive for Business, from securely sharing and fine tuning a customer proposal to multiple people collaborating on the same presentation. That’s not all, Office 365 Business users get Unlimited OneDrive for Business Storage.
3. Notes to Never forget:
Create, read and share your notes across all your devices wherever you are with OneNote. For example, one person taking meeting minutes can share these automatically with all meeting attendees who can then view on whatever device they are using (See our favourite hacks for OneNote).
4. Capture and convert to digital:
Sketch your ideas and snap a picture for later. Don’t lose receipts or stray sticky notes again! Always find important documents or business cards. Office Lens is like having a scanner in your pocket. Like magic, it digitises notes of all kinds, even on whiteboards or blackboards.
5. Professional Video Conferencing included:
As much as I’d like to use tech for EVERYTHING, I do appreciate that there will always be the necessity for Face to Face meetings, but sometimes time and costs mean these just aren’t viable. Skype For Business provides the flexibility for you to offer your customers/clients the option for a video conference where you can present, collaborate – do pretty much everything you would be able to do if you were face to face!
6. Instant Messaging (IM) and Presence:
We’re now able to quickly see who is available online and easily invite them to attend a meeting using the IM and Presence feature in Skype for Business, even if they are a normal Skype user.
Right! we’re half way… don’t give up now, I know there’s a whole bunch more features you’re just going to loveeee….
10. Resume on any device:
The resume reading feature in in Word allows you to pick up where you left off, even on a different devices! Word 2013 automatically bookmarks the last place you were reading…no loss in concentration.
11. Just Share:
You can share your documents online with people who don’t even have Office installed themselves. They have the option to view it in a browser with Office Online.
Check out this video to get started:
12. Create Professional Looking Documents:
Microsoft Sway makes it simple to create and share polished, professionallydesigned, interactive content such as presentations, sales documents, tenders, online sales and marketing materials (saving your business money not having to pay an agency). Business features include instant co-authoring, creation of interactivecharts and the ability to embed Office documents (such as Excel charts and graphs).
13. Showcase Data:
The Auto chart feature in Excel makes designingcharts and analysing your data easy as well as offering options to help you illustrate your data! Getting closer interpreting & taking action not just looking at data.
14. Ditch the Macro:
Since I was told about ‘Flash Fill’ I haven’t been able to imagine how I lived without it! This tool learns and remembers data calculations so you can populate the rest of your data as you go along with no need for complicated macros, retyping 100 lines or calculations…
PowerPoint templates and alignment guides can help you intuitively design and style professional and uniquepresentations perfect for those pitches. Don’t forget to enable “Presenter mode” for the full power of ppts (read on for more!)
17. Present/Pitch with Confidence:
Presenter mode in PowerPoint enables you to nail that pitch, by projecting your presentation in a customer meeting with clients seeing the presentation, but you seeing your own reading notes as well as which slide is next and how long you’ve presented for.
18. Tweak those docs on the move:
Save a presentation in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint online and then feel free to edit those last bits whilst on the move on your mobile device. And if your battery dies and you forget your charger, don’t worry, use another device to access your presentation and present from there…
19. Working on a project together? Collaboration Central:
With the web app co-authoring tool, a team of people can work on the same document at the same time, in a browser or in the local application – getting more done, together, quicker!
20. No more Squinting:
Can’t see that teeny data in the chart in a PowerPoint presentation? With Slide Zoom tool you can smoothly zoom in and out or diagrams providing emphasis to charts or graphics on any slide.
You made it! thanks for sticking with it, I sure hope you have got some tips on how to best use your Office365 tools. (as many of you know, I could talk all day about these topics, but I’ve kept it as short as possible!)
Don’t forget, you can get in touch here if you have any questions. Thanks for reading! Lucy @Cloud2020