On 17 October 2012, Microsoft announced that it had acquired MarketingPilot Software, a vendor of integrated marketing management (IMM) solutions.
By acquiring MarketingPilot, Microsoft gains a set of IMM applications — on-premises, hosted and software as a service — that will enable it to become a viable vendor in the IMM, marketing resource management (MRM) and multichannel campaign management markets. Until now, Microsoft has focused on sales and customer service, but the acquisition will enable it to expand its focus to closed-loop processes across sales, service and marketing.
At first, Microsoft will run MarketingPilot as a stand-alone division, with sales and marketing handled by MarketingPilot's current team. This will limit its initial focus mainly to North America. It will need to improve its internationalization capabilities.
Gartner expects that, by the end of 2014, Dynamics CRM customers worldwide will have access to marketing applications as part of an integrated CRM solution, both online and in-house. Until then, the offering will be priced separately from the Dynamics CRM offering.
MarketingPilot is small, with limited resources, traction and visibility outside the U.S. Its ability to scale should now increase significantly. MarketingPilot focuses mainly on the midmarket, which was the traditional "sweet spot" of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. But as Microsoft strives to target large complex organizations, MarketingPilot will require sustained investment.
Clients and prospects should monitor the following as the acquisition unfolds:
Campaign management functions:
MarketingPilot developed campaign and lead management capabilities only a few years ago, so these are modest compared with those of more established players. Microsoft must continue to invest in these areas to close the gap with competitors.
We expect that Microsoft will migrate MarketingPilot's marketing solutions to the Dynamics CRM technology and platform by the end of 2014. In time, this will probably require clients to migrate to a new technology architecture platform and UI.
MRM is a strength of MarketingPilot. It must maintain its focus on product development in this area.
Deployment and support:
Microsoft sells and supports Microsoft Dynamics CRM through its global partners, many of which have little or no experience of marketing applications. It will take time for these partners to become certified. Until then, deployment and support quality could be low in many regions.
Partners such as Aprimo and Marketo that are aligned to Marketplace — Microsoft's approved partner database — and tightly integrated with Dynamics CRM will be concerned and could even abandon Microsoft.
Seek information on integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and its possible impact on your implementation over time. Devise a strategy to deal with any changes to the architecture or UI.
Consider MarketingPilot's solutions for IMM, but demand a road map for integration with Microsoft Dynamics and assess its potential effects on your investment. Evaluate the road map for marketing functionality investment.
Microsoft CRM clients and prospects seeking marketing capabilities:
Assess the benefits of Microsoft and its MarketingPilot solutions, but accept that an integrated solution is likely to be two years away.
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