Microsoft Dynamics CRM Q4 2011 Service Update to Get Office 365 Integration, Activity Feeds, Mobile SupportMicrosoft has earlier released a roadmap for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM suite. As part of a major Service Update this month, both the on-premise and SaaS versions of Dynamics CRM will get social features and mobile integration.

Microsoft has recently released a document detailing the company's roadmap for its Dynamics CRM suite, which include improvements in integrating activity feeds, as well as additional features such as unified provisioning, billing, administration and identity federation. The company had recently announced that these new features will be available by Q4 2011, which is in line with Microsoft's usual product cycle for Dynamics CRM. The update was announced October 25.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Service Update will include social activity streams

What's New in Dynamics CRM November 2011 Service Update?

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM November 2011 service update will feature close integration with Office 365 (for the online edition), identity federation, enhanced disaster recovery, dialog enhancements, business intelligence capability improvements and duplication processing. Microsoft highlights these features:

  • Unified Office 365 experience. Dynamics CRM -- at least the Online version -- will be integrated with Microsoft's Office 365 cloud-based office suite. Exchange Online users can track email, appointments, tasks and contacts in CRM Online. Lync Online is also integrated into CRM Online, through which users can see presence indicators, and can collaborate through CRM Online. SharePoint integration also integrates contextual information into CRM records.
  • Administration, billing and provisioning. Dynamics CRM Online will also transition customers to the same administration, billing and provisioning platforms used in Office 365, to simplify functionality and as an effort to integrate Microsoft cloud services.
  • Identity federation. Users can have single sign-on access to Dynamics CRM Online for organizations using Active Directory.
  • Enhanced disaster recovery. Microsoft has invested in additional region-based infrastructure for better disaster recovery. Facilities have been set up in the U.S., EMEA and APAC, offering system failover across data centers within their respective regions.
  • UI enhancements. Dynamics CRM 2011 introduced Dialogs that guide users through the business process through wizards. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM November 2011 service update will improve this interface by adding support to lookups and dates, and flexibility in generating hyperlinks to contextual records. This update is available to both Online and On-Premise users.
  • Business Intelligence improvements. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM November 2011 service update will enhance the suite's BI toolset by letting users overlay different sets of information charts for visual comparison. This update is likewise available to both Online and On-Premise customers.
  • Improved deduplication. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM November 2011 service update will make assessment of duplicate detection more flexible. This can be configured to ignore null values, which will help catch more duplicate entries.

Getting Social With CRM

Apart from these feature updates, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM November 2011 service update is also more social, with Activity Feeds. These are meant to improve collaboration among members of an internal community. Users can communicate through microblogging, which is meant to augment email and face-to-face communication. Activity Feeds can be posted through the Dynamics CRM web services API,  and can integrate activities such as phone calls, IMs, email and the like.

The system also includes availability of Mobile Activity Feeds, through a Windows Phone 7 application. The app lets users view subscribed activity feeds, as well as post status updates, questions, answers and comments from the mobile device.  The mobile app is not a full-fledged CRM client, though, but an activity feeds client.  Both desktop-based and mobile social activity features will be available to Online and On-Premise clients.