Chapter #5

Cloud CRM

In this chapter, we will explain what cloud CRM is and what are the benefits of having cloud CRM implemented for your company.

Try Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP & CRM Applications for your business.

cloud crm

We will also compare the cloud vs on-premises CRM solutions and what are their benefits, disadvantages, and capabilities. Then we will give you our list of top 5 Cloud CRM solutions in Malaysia to learn more about them.

What is Cloud CRM?

Cloud CRM also called SaaS CRM software is a customer relationship management software that runs on a vendor’s cloud platform or is managed on vendors’ servers as opposed to an on-premises server and network that is fully managed by the customer and their IT team.

This allows organizations to focus on their CRM strategy rather than managing and maintaining their systems to run it, which is a huge advantage in terms of fewer IT restraints and smaller upfront and OPEX costs.

Modern Cloud CRM software supports the same, or better functionalities as on-premises systems without most of the downsides, like upfront high upfront costs, managing backups, updates, and others that we will discuss.

How Does Cloud CRM Work?

Cloud CRM system works like any other SaaS product, which means that all the infrastructure such as servers where the CRM software and data are located are on servers owned and maintained by the vendor of the CRM software.

This means that everything that comes with running the CRM system is the responsibility beard by the CRM vendor. This includes, maintaining and updating servers, protecting your data, software, and servers against cyber threads, managing backups and updates, and ensuring stable connectivity to the servers and system. All that is looked after by the CRM vendor.

customer and vendor responsibilities to operate cloud crm

While on-premises software, this and more are managed by your IT team, which often brings a massive burden and huge responsibility. Things like hardware and software updates need to be done by your team, managing backups, or in a situation when the internet is down, your IT team needs to quickly respond to that, and we both know this usually doesn’t happen during office hours but in the middle of the night.

Therefore, running cloud CRM is way more attractive for businesses, especially for those with smaller IT teams.

9 Cloud CRM Benefits

CRM system is one of the most popular systems to help organizations manage and increase business growth and better manage their front-end activities as companies usually invest in CRM technology within the first 5 years and 91% of companies with 10 or more employees use a CRM.

According to IBM, 87% of companies used a cloud CRM. Contrast this to 2008, when only 12% of business CRMs were hosted on the cloud.

Unlike in ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, where on-premises versions are still very popular and implemented by many companies small and large, Cloud CRM software is often the preferred choice.

So here, we will discuss nine of the biggest benefits of the cloud CRM system and why it could be your first choice when you want to implement a CRM system:

1.  Quick Deployment

The first and one of the biggest benefits of a CRM system in the cloud is its rapid deployment as it allows you to limit the IT challenges of on-premises deployment such as program installation and server installment.

Cloud CRM does not require any hardware setup and configuration investment from you, which decreases the time required to implement the new cloud CRM software.

All this is managed by the vendor or the partner, including the installation of the cloud CRM system.

However, of course, then there are the other parts of implementing a new CRM system such as migration, customization, integration, and testing phase that can take some time depending on your requirements. But when it comes to getting your new cloud CRM ready, it can take only a couple of days.

2. High Security

Cloud business solution vendors are investing large sums of their profit to secure their products in order to protect their customer’s data.

And while CRM vendors are developing their CRM systems with cyber security and protection, so when you install the CRM software on-premises you still have the protection, but your servers and network can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

The difference between on-premises vs in cloud CRM software in terms of protection is that you and the vendor are having shared responsibilities of security which reduces the IT workload of your organization.

For example, if you select any Dynamics 365 CRM module in the cloud, then you will benefit from Microsoft cloud security. Microsoft is investing over $1 Billion every year into cloud security and is having over 5,000 cybersecurity experts to mitigate any risk.

Also, with a Cloud CRM system, it’s easier to identify any vulnerabilities and fix issues while using on-premises, this requires expertise and can be a complicated process.

And lastly, cloud CRM vendors often manage backups automatically across different servers in case of any disaster, so your data will not get lost.

3. Upfront Cost Savings

When it comes to the cost of implementing CRM software, there are several things you should consider:

TCO of cloud CRM
  • Licensing: Is the price of the software. Often on-premises and in the cloud are having different pricing models. In cloud follows the SaaS type of pricing, which means, per user, per month, while on-premises it can be an on-time cost for the license or reoccurring like with SaaS.
  • Professional services: This includes any service-related work, such as implementation, migration, support, or customization. When it comes to more advanced cloud CRM software, your company will need to invest in professional services to set up its new CRM software.
  • Infrastructure: This includes the cost of servers and internet connection to run the system plus any maintenance and upgrade costs to keep it running. Usually, for the cloud version, it’s included within licensing cost unless you are implementing the system on third-party cloud computing servers. On-premises version, this is often the highest up-front cost.
  • IT: This includes the IT personnel to maintain and run the software when it’s on-premises, which can include updating the system, upgrade of the servers, doing backups, fixing issues during downtime, and other related issues. However, even if you have a cloud version of CRM software, you still need IT personnel to manage certain aspects such as customization and integration.

With that, cloud software’s having a lower cost of entry – especially compared to large upfront perpetual license fees, plus an initial investment of hardware for the on-premises version.

cost of ownership of cloud and on-premises cloud crm

(Source)

4. Flexible and Scalable

Cloud CRM application allows your employees to be more flexible with their own work as they can easily access information on the go, at home, or from the office using devices such as smartphones, laptops, or tablets. Employees can easily access and update information within the CRM using their own devices as well.

It also allows you to set up workflows to maintain the right connection between employees and the company’s business processes.

Another key cloud CRM benefit is the scalability of the system. If your business is expanding and hiring more employees, then you don’t need to worry about additional IT resources to manage the growth as most of the cloud CRM vendors provide this at no additional cost.

You only need to increase the number of licenses and your cloud vendor will take care of the rest to ensure your CRM application is running just as smoothly.

Of course, this works in both ways. For example, during the pandemic, many businesses needed to downscale. Using cloud CRM software is not a problem as you can easily reduce the number of licenses, thus saving your OPEX.

Cloud CRM allows you to respond quickly and efficiently so your business is ready for upscale or downscale.

5. Great Integration

When it comes to improving business productivity and efficiency one of the main keys to achieving that is by integrating existing systems so the data can automatically flow from one system to another with minimum human interaction.

This not only saves a lot of time but also reduces the possibility of human errors by duplicating data from one system to another.

Disconnected systems that don’t talk to each other are one of the biggest wastes of time dealing with multiple systems that companies often experience.

Therefore, this is another significant benefit of the cloud CRM system that is pointed out by businesses.

Cloud CRM application often comes with a wide range of built-in integration with third-party software’s enabling your organization to integrate your CRM system with existing apps.

It also provides connectors and APIs to connect in-house and other applications.

6. Automatic Updates

Another great cloud CRM benefit is the automatic updates that come with your subscription.

Like this you can always ensure you are running on the latest version of the software, having the latest protection, and benefiting from using the latest features your cloud CRM software has to offer.

But the updates aren’t only bug fixes, as we all well know. As said, updates can come with new capabilities that enable your company to become more productive and profitable. And in some cases, this allows you to replace your third-party tool, thus paying less for tools you need to use.

Automatic updates as well as backing up your data are handled by the cloud CRM vendor, and it requires minimum effort from your side.

Thus, you do not need to worry about downtime and preparing plans when is the best time to update your CRM system anymore.

7. Low IT Maintenance

When the Cloud CRM is up and running, most of the support and maintenance comes from your Cloud CRM vendor. Whenever there are issues with your system, or you are having questions, then you don’t need to schedule time for your IT team to look into the problem and fix it or answer your questions.

This is especially crucial for businesses where their IT team is already overloaded (which means most of the companies), as like this you can directly address the cloud CRM vendor or your partner. For example, Agile Dynamics Solutions is offering support packages for Dynamics 365 ERP & CRM applications and Microsoft Power Platform to help you quickly resolve any issues with your software and reduce any downtimes or productivity slowdown due to software problems.

This compares to traditional on-premises CRM software which needs manual and continuous maintenance to keep up with the hardware and software requirements, which of course impacts your OPEX and even more overload for your already busy IT team.

This also means more hires for the IT department, on top of that you will need to hire experienced personnel who understand the system and can effectively manage it, which comes at extra cost as well.

8. Improved Collaboration

Easily accessible information by departments reduces the number of emails, meetings, and WhatsApp messages to acquire the needed information.

Cloud CRM system allows you to synchronize data across departments and other tools in real-time so your employee can harness it. This allows them to be more productive and achieve their KPIs faster when they have all the necessary data to work with.

Another way cloud CRM helps improve collaboration is due to the use of rule-based workflows and automation that can be triggered according to predefined rules. For example, if a deal is large than X amount of money, it can automatically notify the sales leader about the deal.

The time savings and reduction of manual workload ultimately improve collaboration among team members.

9. High ROI of Cloud CRM

Nucleus found that for every dollar a company spends on CRM, it gets back $8.71 – 1.5 times more than it got just three years ago.

Due to improving collaboration, productivity, and reducing errors, cloud CRM is an excellent way to increase ROI. It can also help you better manage your front-end processes, standardize data to avoid any duplication or inaccuracies.

Microsoft has commissioned Forrester to analyze the cost and ROI of two of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM applications, Field Service and Customer Service.

Read the reports here:

Cloud vs On-Premises CRM

Despite, knowing the benefits of the cloud CRM systems, it’s also good to know the major differences between cloud and on-premises CRM versions in order to make better decisions when you are choosing which CRM deployment is right for you.

And because there are many opinions about which one is better, we will list the biggest benefits of each version and also its biggest disadvantages. As this should help you to further analyze your situation, thus deciding which version of the CRM system is more suitable for your business.

In the end, it all comes down to your business needs and special requirements from the system. Just because one business is hugely benefiting from one version of CRM software, it doesn’t mean you will as well.

So here we go:

Cloud CRM Advantages:

  • Upfront cost is minimal as it only requires the licensing cost and the professional services cost to implement and customize the system. You don’t need to invest in hardware.
  • You don’t need to worry about any maintenance and upgrades to keep the system up and running, all this is managed by your vendor.
  • Your data security is enhanced by the cloud vendor, including backups. Security audits and following the latest privacy and policies implemented by Government are managed by the vendor as well.
  • Vendors will take care of the upgrades for you as well any glitches and bugs showing up after.
  • Cloud version has better accessibility from anywhere by any device, yet still will a high level of security with mobile CRM version.

Cloud CRM Disadvantages:

  • You do not have absolute control over your data and the system. Your data are still hosted on the server of the CRM vendor and you share the responsibilities.
  • Upgrades are required and you will have to update your system on a regular basis which could disrupt any custom integration or customization and would need to be re-done.
  • Any customization and custom integration need to be done with the cloud vendor together.
  • Cloud CRM is less flexible in terms of customization to company needs, partially due to consistent updates.
  • When you are choosing cloud CRM, it’s for the long term, thus there is always the risk of cloud vendors getting out of business.

On-Premises CRM Advantages:

  • On-premises CRM version is more versatile and stable in terms of customization. If your company needs a more customized version, on-premises are often better for that.
  • You’ll get total control over your system, data, and upgrades. It’s up to your company when you will upgrade the system and plan your downtimes as well as customization.
  • If your company has a large number of users, it might be cheaper and better to use on-premises versions.
  • Higher level of integration with in-house and built-in software as well as any specialized or industry software.
  • It often provides great offline functionalities in case the internet is out.

On-Premises CRM Disadvantages:

  • Access to the on-premises is limited by the IP addresses and the location of connection, which could limit the access to the server.
  • Required skilled IT staff that can operate, maintain, and adjust the CRM system in case of any issues.
  • High upfront cost of hardware, staff, and the training of IT staff to be able to run the new software.
  • Upgrading your software may be expensive and perhaps will require hiring CRM vendor partners in order to provide necessary expertise during the upgrade.
  • Unless you keep investing in the system, the system will not grow with your business.

Cloud CRM vs On-Premises CRM Infographic

In this Cloud CRM vs On-Premises CRM infographic, you can learn the differences between these types of CRM. It gives you an overview of what are the capabilities and benefits of the specific CRM.

cloud crm vs cloud on premises infographic

(Download the Full Quality Infographic here)

5 Leading Cloud CRM Systems in Malaysia

1. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Cloud CRM

microsoft dynamics 365 cloud crm application

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a suite of ERP, CRM & AI applications used by small to large size businesses across the world.

Each application is designed to remove barriers and eliminate silos within the organization and integrate business data and processes in one seamless way.

It also includes natural integration with other Microsoft products such as Microsoft 365 applications and Microsoft Power Platform applications to complete tasks using only one application and eliminate time wasted between switching apps.

Microsoft heavily emphasizes one integration across all of their Microsoft product ecosystem as well as with second-and third-party tools to ensure you can keep using your existing tools while implementing a new CRM system.

Dynamics 365 CRM applications include:

To learn more about Dynamics 365, visit our Dynamics 365 guide or our Dynamics 365 product page.

2. Zoho CRM

zoho cloud crm system for malaysian businesses

Another great option Malaysian companies can choose is Zoho CRM. It is great for various types of small and medium-sized businesses.

This easy-to-use and easy to set up CRM solution requires no prior knowledge of using a CRM system and it’s a great option for first timers deciding to implement a CRM system. However, they also provide guides and tutorials to help you maximize your potential with Zoho.

And because Zoho is mainly focusing on small to medium-size businesses, their pricing is super affordable starting as little as $12/per month.

3. HubSpot CRM

hubspot cloud crm software

(Source)

HubSpot CRM system offers free CRM system capabilities that are easy to use and integrate with your current systems including CMS and accounting software.

It’s a great solution for small businesses to start using entry-level cloud CRM software that has the ability to grow with your business.

The paid version can be more expensive depending on the number of contacts and users. However, they provide wide-range capabilities and features that allow you to completely track your customer interactions.

And if you are using or planning to use their CMS system, it’s arguably one of the best cloud CRM systems for digital marketers.

4. Freshsales CRM

freshsales cloud crm

(Source)

Freshsales is a cloud CRM software made for sales teams. It’s one part of the suite of tools called Freshworks which integrates seamlessly to unify processes across front-end departments and create powerful workflows.

This great option for small and medium-size companies offers rich features that are easy to use with an intuitive, user-friendly interface.

Freshsales also offers both mobile and desktop versions, making it easy to view, edit or add new data into the CRM system enabling your sales team to become more mobile and responsive wherever they are.

And what’s best about Freshsales is that they provide a free version with unlimited users which is rare in the cloud CRM world. They also offer many premium features for free as well.

5. SalesForce

salesforce cloud crm

SalesForce is one of the most famous cloud CRM solutions in the world and according to Statista, Salesforce is the leading vendor in the customer relationship management (CRM) applications market worldwide with a market share of 19.5 percent in 2020.

SalesForce offers many different advanced features for businesses of all sizes, including unlimited customization possibilities so the software fits your company’s needs.

They also provide many built-in connectors to connect your current apps, so you can create a single source of truth.

Definitely, SalesForce is a great option for fast-growing businesses that are preparing to standardize and improve their front-end activities.

Learn more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM Applications

Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM Applications are standalone business apps developed to help companies manage customer data, attract new customers, retain current customers, and improve business efficiencies. Microsoft CRM applications cover business processes including Marketing, Customer Service, Sales, and Field Service. Together with AI, you will get a 360-degree view in real-time of your customers and prospects.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales - sales management solution

Is Sales Management & Sales Force Automation CRM system that enables salespeople to build strong relationships with their customers, take actions based on insights, and close sales faster with actionable insights and a personalized approach.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing

Is a marketing-automation application that helps manage multi-channel campaigns and turn prospects into business relationships. The app is easy to use, works seamlessly with Dynamics 365 Sales, and has built-in business intelligence.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service

Is Customer Automation and Customer Management system. Differentiate your brand by taking advantage of built-in intelligence to deliver faster, more personalized service and add value to every customer interaction.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service

Provides complete field Service Management including service agreements, predictive maintenance, preventative maintenance, work order management, resource management, product inventory, scheduling and dispatch, mobility, collaboration, customer billing, and analytics.

Download the Latest CRM Ebooks

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Nine ways to make your field service organization a profit center

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