This session was unusual at a Microsoft SharePoint Conference for two reasons. Firstly, the session was part of the all new “Business” track for non-technical business decision makers. Secondly, it was about Dynamics CRM, and this is the first time I remember the Dynamics products making an appearance at a SharePoint conference.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are line of business applications for managing an organization's marketing and sales processes. I’ve been making the point for a long time that the key to business benefits with SharePoint and social technologies lie in associating the use of the technology with enablement of business process, so I was particularly looking forward to this session.

The session was presented by Reuben Krippner, Director Technical Product Management, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and David Pennington, Director Product Marketing, Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

The Social Revolution

Reuben led the session and kicked off with a brief overview of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which we were told enables sales productivity, marketing effectiveness, customer care and extended CRM applications across PC, browser and mobile devices. The key trends impacting CRM were described as being mobile, big data and analytics, social and digital, and cloud.

The discussion then turned to social, and the question was posed, “Why is everyone going social?” Reuben offered this quote from Clara Shin, author of, “The Facebook Era,” in response. “

The Social web appeals to innate human desires for self-expression, human connection, and a sense of belonging ... Social networking captures our pictures, feelings, and relationships, and it makes the web feel human again.”

To further emphasize the importance of social, Reuben presented some statistics that showed how many years communication technologies have taken to reach 50 million users. Radio took 38 years, television took 13 years, the internet took 4 years and Facebook took less than 9 months. If you’ll excuse the editorial, the figures I have say that Facebook launched in June 04 and reached 50 million users three years and two months later. Few of the presenters at these conferences provide any references so I can’t check!

Reuben went on to de-mystify social. He explained that human society is organized into communities, and that social is, “Just how things get done.”

Business Social Scenarios

He next presented a traditional enterprise model that illustrated marketing teams interacting with targets, sales teams interacting with leads, and service teams interacting with customers. Then we were shown a model of the connected enterprise where the siloes were replaced with a network of connected customers interacting with the connected enterprise network through multiple channels and multiple devices.

Reuben wrapped up his discussion of business social scenarios by drawing a distinction between internal social and external social. The former, he said, was about soliciting feedback, collaboration, broadcast of news and achievements, finding expertise, discussion of new products and services, and identifying discussion trends. The latter was about understanding sentiment, providing additional service channels, broadcasting news and offers, harvesting FAQ’s, democratizing R&D and measuring impact.

Microsoft Social Technology

Reuben introduced Microsoft’s social technology investment areas: Microsoft Research FUSE labs, Yammer, SharePoint 2013 and analytics for Twitter. He presented an interesting graphic showing Yammer, SharePoint, Office365 and Dynamics, linked together by a foundational social layer delivered by Yammer Enterprise Social Networking Services which delivers enterprise social networking, micro-blogging and document collaboration services. I think this illustrated Microsoft’s long term vision for Yammer, the social context linking together people, processes, information and applications.