Microsoft and Salesforce battle to control UK CRM

Tom Allen
clock • 6 min read

Customers praise the technology giants' integrations and cloud strategies, but criticised SAP and Oracle for the same

Microsoft and Salesforce dominate the UK CRM market, with their awareness, trialling and adoption far ahead of any competitor, according to Delta's report in the CRM space.

Delta is a new market intelligence service from Computing, based on end-user research and designed to help IT leaders make smarter, vendor-agnostic purchasing decisions. Last week, we showed that CRM customers expect consolidation between CRM and ERP in the near future.

Both leading vendors perform well in multiple areas, while customers told us that third-place SAP has no particular strengths and several areas of weakness - implying that it is popular because of its size and history rather than its product. Oracle, another well-known brand, has three solutions in the market (CRM On Demand, PeopleSoft, NetSuite), but none compete with the leading vendors

Customers believe that Microsoft is an "up-and-coming" vendor, while Salesforce has led the CRM market for years. Competition is strong: end users praise Salesforce's integrations with third-party solutions, and the vendor performs well in areas that touch the customer, like support and account handling. Microsoft's product, Dynamics, also enjoys strong integrations, although these tend to favour Microsoft products. Its speed of new feature rollouts, "on a one or two month basis," is also seen as a strength.

The Head of IT at an NGO said: "I think Dynamics has shaded it because of its breadth and the time that it's been around, it's always been a CRM option… Two or three years ago I probably would have flipped the two because Salesforce was really pushing ahead doing some really exciting [things]…and the integration, for instance, was great. Now that Microsoft have done the big cloud push, and they are rolling out new features on a one or two month basis rather than a two or three year basis, perhaps that's why Microsoft are taking that edge as a leader again, because they are delivering new products on a much tighter timescale."

Which of these vendor solutions have you trialled or evaluated (i.e. hands-on practical experience)? Choose up to three.

Source: Computing Delta

Which of these did you take into production, if any?

Source: Computing Delta

As for SAP, which trails behind Microsoft and Salesforce, end users said that the cost of its products, cost of ownership and integrations were the worst of any vendor; the only one to have more weaknesses is Oracle PeopleSoft, which is very much a legacy tool.

The market has several vendors operating tools that are not traditional CRM, but have similar functionality. These include ServiceNow, Zoho, Oracle Netsuite, Agresso, Pegasus and Hubspot. Their main customers are SME companies who would struggle to justify paying the subscription fee of a product like Salesforce.

Here we look at how much each vendor impinges on the consciousness of end users.

Are you aware of the following CRM vendors/solutions?









Oracle PeopleSoft






Oracle CRM On Demand


Sugar CRM




Oracle Netsuite


Notes: Respondents were asked to pick all companies they were aware of
Source: Computing Delta

No other vendors came higher than 16 per cent awareness.

Leading vendors

Both Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics support integrations with other services - albeit with some limitations, like a preference for Microsoft products - and this is critical for CRM customers. One respondent said:

"[Salesforce] are a lot more forward thinking in dealing with people who are creating solutions against their CRM, and therefore have a greater market share as you can bond other systems that hang off it. So there are greater opportunities with regards to integration when it comes to Salesforce.

"I think with Microsoft...the level of integration is much tighter with other Microsoft solutions, so that is a clear winner; and then the options to deploy on cloud as well, whether it is on prem or private Cloud, that is better with Microsoft."

The market is moving towards cloud and SaaS deployments rather than managing on-premise installations, and so a cloud strategy is also vital for a vendor to be considered a market leader. A Test Manager in the transport sector said:

"[Salesforce] were prescient in that they saw the whole cloud computing thing way before anyone else… Even in the first generation of their products it was mostly cloud-based. They could do on premises and hybrid, but it wasn't the default installation. They had a head start on everyone else."

Which of these CRM vendors do you believe growing in importance? Choose up to three.

Source: Computing Delta

Falling vendors

Conversely vendors without a clear cloud strategy, with overly restrictive licensing models or poor integration with other products are likely to fall behind their competitors. Even vendors that meet these criteria, however, can struggle for other reasons: SAP has committed to its cloud transition by 2025, but having announced that, is having difficulty signing up new on-premise customers.

"If you're not driving down that road and trying to migrate across onto their cloud platform by 2025…now or in the next couple of years, then you're probably going to be moving away from SAP. By 2025 they are going to discontinue support for the local version completely, so you'll probably be able to go and buy it from a third party to maintain it and just carry on but not doing any enhancements. So people are looking towards that and maybe thinking, ‘Are we still going to be SAP?'" (IT Director, NGO)

"I think two or three years ago when [Oracle] did that licensing, they lost a whole lot of people - whether it was arrogance or whatever. When I was in my previous role as regional head of IT, they kind of just walked in and were very brash, and I checked out in that sense. I think a lot of CIOs have the same thing. They haven't recovered from that. That's why you need a CRM solution - it's not about the product per se it's about the perception." (Global Head of Infrastructure and Operations, manufacturing sector)

Vendors that have grown mainly through acquisitions, or without consolidation of new product offerings, suffer from accusations of poor management and unclear use cases. The Oracle umbrella impacted on PeopleSoft, for example.

End users also place the market's leading vendors amongst the top-five falling vendors, likely because it is easy to identify areas of weakness in a product they are familiar with.

Which of these CRM vendors do you believe are losing ground? Choose up to three.

Source: Computing Delta

Delta is a new market intelligence service from Computing to help CIOs and other IT decision makers make smarter purchasing decisions - decisions informed by the knowledge and experience of other CIOs and IT decision makers. 

Delta is free from vendor sponsorship or influence of any kind, and is guided by a steering committee of well-known CIOs, such as Charles Ewen, Christina Scott, Steve Capper and Laura Meyer. 

Ten crucial technology areas are already covered at launch, with more data appearing and more areas being covered every week. Sign-up here for your free trial of the Computing Delta website.

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