Microsoft is working to compete in the Customer Relationship Management space on more than its technology. Microsoft is looking to compete on trust.
Redmond on Monday rolled out the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Trust Center. With the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Trust Center, the software giant is tapping into two critical considerations it sees for enterprises evaluating cloud services: data security and compliance.
The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Trust Center is a Web site that offers in-depth information about the privacy and security practices for its online CRM service. The site aims to offer high-level info about the privacy, transparency, independent verification and security features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
Dennis Michalis, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM at Microsoft, put it this way: Redmond wants to help "remove some of the anxiety" enterprises have as they consider transitioning into the cloud.
"Customers have to be confident that their business solutions are meeting their high-level security features and privacy needs," Michalis said. "The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Trust Center ensures transparency in how we operate Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and handle these critical customer needs."
Also along the privacy and security lines, Microsoft recently registered with the Cloud Security Alliance's Security, Trust & Assurance Registry program. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online joins Microsoft Office 365 and Windows Azure with their Trust Centers and CSA STAR registrations.
Customer-Sensitive Data Growth
Microsoft is taking measured steps with its Dynamics CRM Online Trust Center. Gartner reports more than 50 percent of Global 1000 companies will have stored customer-sensitive data in the public cloud by year-end 2016.
As Gartner sees it, many enterprises are reaping great benefits from cloud computing, primarily in added business agility and cost savings. However, Gartner added, as with any significant new form of technology, many eager new customers rush to take advantage of it before all the risks and risk mitigations have been fully explored.
"Enterprises should ensure that potential cloud service providers are trustworthy in areas of security, privacy and operational characteristics," said Gene Phifer, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
"Enterprises should perform due diligence on potential cloud service providers through the use of emerging cloud standards, certifications, cloud services brokers, questionnaires and interviews, and by generally 'doing your homework.' Transparency in a cloud vendor is key and security should be as big of a concern with online deployments as with on-premises deployments."
Convincing EU Companies
We caught up with Rob Helm, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, to get his take on Microsoft's latest CRM move. He told us Microsoft needs to convince companies, especially in the European Union, that customer data will not leak out because of anything that it does.
"The Trust Center is a way for Microsoft to document what it's doing to protect data. As of this month, Microsoft is saying that its data centers are conforming to a long list of certifications. A lot of them are concerned with privacy and European Union regulations," Helm said.
"In the U.S. we kind of play fast and loose, but private entities that handle customer data have to meet some pretty serious regulations in the EU. The Trust Center is important because Dynamics CRM Online is a majority of Microsoft's new customers for Dynamics CRM. Most of its new customers are coming from the cloud."