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Real World Windows Azure: Interview with John Gravely, Founder and CEO of ClickDimensions

As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to John Gravely, Founder and CEO of ClickDimensions, about using Windows Azure for the company's marketing automation solution. Here's what…

As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to John Gravely, Founder and CEO of ClickDimensions, about using Windows Azure for the company’s marketing automation solution. Here’s what he had to say:

MSDN: Tell us about ClickDimensions and the services you offer.

Gravely: ClickDimensions is a marketing automation solution for Microsoft Dynamics CRM that is built for Windows Azure. Our solution provides email marketing, web tracking, lead scoring, social discovery, and form capture capabilities built into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Our customers are businesses that understand the benefits of personalized marketing and want to understand more about their prospects.

MSDN: What were the biggest challenges that you faced prior to implementing Windows Azure?

Gravely: We designed ClickDimensions from the ground-up on Windows Azure so the challenge for us was to develop the best solution we could to make marketers more effective and sales more efficient. The software-as-a-service model was important to us because it would enable us to scale our distributed architecture quickly.

MSDN: Can you describe the marketing automation solution you built for Windows Azure?

Gravely: Our solution provides easy-to-use and highly-available email marketing with full tracking capabilities, web form integration, and social data integration into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. By using this information we numerically grade each visitor’s interest with a lead score so that the interest level of each visitor is clear. To implement all of this, Windows Azure was the clear choice for us over other cloud services providers; we’re veterans in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM market, so it was an easy decision to go with another Microsoft technology. Our services are compartmentalized so that we can scale up different parts of the solution as needed.

ClickDimensions captures web traffic data and sends it to customers’ Microsoft Dynamics CRM databases as visitors are identified.

MSDN: What makes ClickDimensions unique?

Gravely: We are the first marketing automation solution for Microsoft Dynamics CRM that was built from the ground up for Windows Azure. By using ClickDimensions, our customers can see who is visiting their websites and who is interested in their products and services by getting insight into actual web activity-it helps ensure accurate, qualified leads and prospects. Because we capture tracking events and log them in Windows Azure, customers don’t have to worry about the availability the customer’s CRM system. If it is unavailable for any reason, we can wait until it is back up and running before sending the data to custom entities in the customers’ Microsoft Dynamics CRM database.

MSDN: What kinds of benefits are you realizing with Windows Azure?

Gravely: Scalability is important. We can scale up as much as we need without procuring, configuring, managing, and maintaining physical servers. That means no capital expenditures and lower operating costs. In addition, we can use familiar development tools, such as the Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 development system and programming languages, such as C#. We are also confident in the reliability of Microsoft data centers, which helps to ensure that there are no issues in our sales cycles, enables us to add new customers to the system quickly, and also gives our customers confidence that their data is protected.

To read more Windows Azure customer success stories, visit:  www.windowsazure.com/evidence