Over the past few years, the financial services sector has experienced extraordinary change due to shrinking margins, mounting global competition, and increasing regulatory scrutiny. Even prior to these challenges, many firms were hindered by an unmanageable and inefficient legacy infrastructure consisting of disjointed business processes and multiple non-integrated applications. In such an evolving marketplace, financial institutions must focus on core competencies and waste-cutting without sacrificing the need to innovate and adapt. As they desperately seek out cost-effective technology solutions that can streamline their operations and offer them greater agility, flexibility, scalability, and real-time data, many firms are now turning to cloud computing.

Firms drawn to virtualization and cloud services are looking to trim capital expenditures, achieve economies of scale, and reduce time to market. IT departments that have undergone a cloud-based transformation are investing less on optimizing servers and additional hardware and capacity because they now selectively purchase additional services and scale only when needed as demand dictates. Furthermore, IT departments that have embraced the cloud are spending less time on running, patching, maintaining, and reactively supporting large data storage centers, hardware, and software. As a result, they can focus more on strategic initiatives and developing better products and applications to better support the business side’s growth and straight-through processing automation objectives. Finextra further affirms the increasing momentum of cloud computing by citing research from Gartner, which shows that 39 percent of surveyed CIOs at financial services firms “expect that more than half of all their transactions will be supported via cloud infrastructure and software as a service (SaaS) by 2015.”

With over 15 years of experience in cloud computing, “Microsoft invests over US$2 billion a year alone into the development of its Microsoft Dynamics products.” Included in its industry leading portfolio of cloud assets is Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. Delivered over the Internet, CRM Online can be up and running quickly and cost-effectively. Also, it is easy to learn and use and it supports widespread adoption because it provides a familiar Microsoft Office user interface and experience and it even operates within the friendly confines of Outlook. Additionally, its powerful suite of marketing, sales, and customer service functionality gives organizations valuable visibility into customer, prospect, and partner information.

As a reminder, though, CRM Online is not the only deployment option for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. Besides, the on-demand online cloud hosted model, firms can still opt for an on-premise software installation or a hybrid solution of both the on- and off-premise models. Unlike its competitors, Microsoft provides its customers with the power of choice and recognizes that a firm’s business needs can change. Despite offering a superior CRM cloud solution, Microsoft understands that some firms may still want to extend investments in existing infrastructure, and thus they might have a more long-term timeline for transitioning CRM and other in-house applications to the cloud. Therefore, Microsoft grants firms the freedom to switch at any time from one deployment model to the other, regardless of what option was initially selected. Overall, firms are able to use their technology on their own terms and take advantage of the cloud when they are ready.

To better navigate the Cloud with Microsoft technology and explore your CRM options, please visit www.customereffective.com.