If you've been following the progress of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you will be aware that it is on a release cycle of two outings a year. Today, Microsoft has announced that second of those releases for this year will be available in December, and that it comes with enhanced device, collaboration, social and marketing support, not to mention Yammer and Skype integration.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Just before announcing the details of the release, Seth Patton, Microsoft Dynamics CRM product marketing senior director, sat down with CMSWire to outline what to expect in the release and where Microsoft will be going with it in the future.
The first thing to be said about this, and before jumping into the new functionality, is that this is the first release in a set of planned releases that will revamp the customer' experience in Dynamics and which, Patton says, will push Dynamics into the position of industry leader by redefining what it is business people expect from CRM products.
Undoubtedly, if you were to talk to any of the other vendors in this space at the moment, like Oracle or Salesforce, each would probably say the same kind of thing, as an elevated user experience is just about de rigeur in the industry at the moment and if you can’t boast about that, well then forget it!
But here, Patton has a lot of ammunition to back up the Dynamics CRM claim and this is even before this service update. Just to be clear here, while this is referred to as a service update, it is not a service update in the usual sense of adding some extra needed functionality; this is a full upgrade.
Dynamics CRM Social Business capabilties
Dynamics CRM User Experience
Going back to the beginning then, this will be the second of the Dynamics CRM releases for this year, continuing the Dynamics bi-annual release cycle. It’s clearly a good strategy as the releases have kept it firmly in the face of the technology buyers — Dynamics has just completed its 33rd consecutive quarter of double digit revenue growth and is getting close to its three millionth seat.
Focusing on the customer user experience element, Patton says that this update moves away from the approach of just offering data centered business processes to one where the new elements will guide users through the processes themselves using visual cues.
Dynamics CRM: Sales processes
Generally speaking, it comes with better business process guides that are configurable to enterprise needs, deeper connection with Yammer and Skype, cross browser support enabling better communication between users, and easier collaboration functionality. Specifically, the enhancements will fall under the following headings:
1. Business Process Definitions
The new release will introduce new role-specific experiences that will take users through pre-defined lead, opportunity and case management processes. It will offer suggestions and advice to achieve maximum productivity depending on defined roles. Part of this will be new process workflows that can track and manage leads, opportunities, contact and accounts for better customer engagement. For maximum penetration it will run on Firefox and Google Chrome running on Windows, and Apple Safari running on Macintosh desktop computers.
2. Social Collaboration
The integration of recent Microsoft purchases (i.e. Skype and Yammer) means that users will be able to collaborate with colleagues in their organization, or with third-parties outside the firewall without worrying about security.
Yammer will enable easy document sharing and social networking capabilities and, as a result, enable users to send CRM information, activities and insights across the enterprises almost immediately.
Skype will be accessible and operational directly from Dynamics CRM and will enable direct contact with leads and customers. This means that video and voice capabilities will be available directly in workflows enabling connection with individuals inside and outside the organization.
Dynamics CRM: Skype integration
3. Expanding Mobility
Microsoft will also be offering a Windows 8-based application that will provide users with direct access to all their CRM content and key information. This new Windows-8 Mobile Experience will not be available straight away, but is planned for mid-2013.
However, in the December release, Dynamics CRM is getting support for it so that users will be able to access the full capabilities of the application through their iPads.
4. Cloud Flexibility
Finally, for increased flexibility around their Dynamics CRM Online deployment, the new release will add new cloud extensibility options, as well as support for custom Microsoft .NET Workflow Services and new bulk data load APIs that will make it easier for customers to load large datasets.
That’s only a broad outline of what’s coming with this release, and there is a lot more. When it is released we’ll let you know and take another look at some of the other features.