Microsoft is running two big conferences at the same time. The SharePoint 2014 conference began in Las Vegas yesterday, while Dynamics Convergence kicks off today in Atlanta with a keynote from Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions. According to the pre-conference notes, this year will all be about customer views and developing top customer experiences.
As far as announcements of new releases there will be few surprises. Microsoft gave a complete run down of its new offerings -- such as Dynamics AX 2012 R3 -- at the National Retail Federation's NYC expo last month.
That said, it has offered more detail on some of those releases, as well as releases from Microsoft Dynamics partners, all of which will target the development of customer experience technology on-premises and in the cloud.
Organizations Must Change
The theme running across this year’s conference, and one which will be explored in Tatarinov’s keynote, is the idea that technology alone is not enough to ensure customer engagement.
According to the pre-conference notes, Tatarinov will be calling on organizations to change their approach to customer interactions.
This involves a wider approach to the customer -- one that will also require organizations to shift from a technology oriented culture to a customer needs oriented one. Only by doing this, Tatarinov says, will organizations be able to develop long-term relationships with customers.
This is not by any means a new theme. At Convergence Europe in Barcelona last November he pointed out that in a world where customers can connect to organizations at numerous different levels using numerous different technologies, it is essential that relationships with customers begin on the right foot. If they don't, it is unlikely that those customers will ever come back.
Microsoft Dynamics Upgrades
Tatarinov’s keynote, though, is only an introduction to some of the Microsoft technologies that will be on show this time around.
Last month, Microsoft announced more details about its Dynamics AX 2012 R3 ERP solution for enterprises. While it offered some tantalizing snippets of information on what will finally be made available in May, it is expected to give an early preview of its new end-to-end apps and services framework. These will allow businesses to develop and distribute modern apps for specific scenarios and mobile devices that can easily and securely connect with Microsoft Dynamics AX.
It will also give some insights into its deployment of Windows Azure via infrastructure as a service (IaaS), which provides a high degree of data and disaster recovery for those that are considering moving critical information to the cloud.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Microsoft will also be showcasing upgrades to Dynamics CRM, which it says is currently being used by nearly 4 million users,to be released in the second quarter of this year. One to watch for here is the addition of Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, which will offer organizations the ability to manage their marketing campaigns.
It will also be introducing Social Listening that will give business users access to tools that provide ‘listening’ across all channels, an ability that is still largely restricted to top-end users with many platforms. This includes new capabilities like the Unified Service Desk to help businesses engage with and care for customers in a personalized manner on virtually any device, anywhere.
Social Listening will be offered as part of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online professional licenses at no additional cost, while on-premises clients will be able to get it for $20 per user per month. However, for enterprises that are looking to offer these capabilities to all its workers, Microsoft is introducing a new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Enterprise license for at $200 per user per month.
Microsoft Dynamics GP
A final upgrade worth checking out is the of Microsoft Dynamics GP update that will also be released in the second half of 2014 and will come with new identity management and workflow capabilities as well as self-service companion apps. Microsoft will also preview new apps for Dynamics NAV that will enhance its mobile abilities, and which will also be made available at end of the second quarter of this year.
Of course, these are only the Microsoft announcements. There's a lot more expected from partners. so remember to check in over the coming days.