Dow Chemical, the US multinational chemical solutions provider, has pledged to stay with Microsoft Dynamics CRM for the foreseeable future, as it believes the product has caught up with rival Salesforce.com's CRM suite.
Speaking to Computing at Microsoft Dynamics' Convergence 2014 conference in Atlanta, Georgia, Andy Clark, commercial excellence technology manager at Dow, said Microsoft was continuing to improve its product.
"I think their chief competitor is Salesforce. [Microsoft] was behind before and I don't know if they've caught up all the way but they are darn close and I think they are really trying to get there," he said.
"Salesforce push for people to sign up for three-year contracts, and these are starting to finish and companies are re-evaluating now. At Dow, we're happy and I don't see us re-evaluating anything," he added.
Clark explained that when Dow bought chemical manufacturer Rohm and Haas in April 2009, the manufacturer had an in-built CRM system from Lotus Notes and were also using Oracle Siebel and "other home-grown elements".
"My assumption is that there wasn't a true CRM strategy at Dow up until then, there were different stops and starts, different things used across the business but not necessarily a well-defined strategy," he said.
Clark wasn't involved in selecting Microsoft, but said Dow had help with implementing Microsoft Dynamics 4.0 from an unnamed third-party hosting provider.
Dow then upgraded the 2011 version of Dynamics in June 2012, and thereafter implemented single sign-on functionality using ADFS and DirSync to Office 365, which Clark said users "really liked".
In October 2013, Dow moved to the cloud version of Dynamics CRM, with the help of PowerObjects, which specialises in installing and updating Microsoft's Dynamics platform for businesses.
"They did most of the work. Our IT team still had some work to do, but PowerObjects had all of the tools to pick all of the data up and shoot it over. We didn't want to try to recreate these tools; there were some tools on the market but [PowerObjects] knew how to do it properly, so we just wanted to pay for that and have it done," Clark explained.
He said that the firm is still using the 2011 version of Dynamics but is looking to upgrade to the 2013 version in April this year. Although he was pleased about additional functionality that the update could provide, he is concerned about having to re-train staff to use it.
"I think the UI is very different so I'm concerned about change management; that's always our biggest hurdle, it is never the technology it is always change management," he said.
[Please turn to page 2]