Microsoft’s Convergence conference got into full swing today in New Orleans, and with it came news of a number of releases and upgrades that are on their way for the coming year. But before the releases, the first key note speech from Business Solutions President Kirill Tatarinov, who outlined where Microsoft sees the Dynamics product going.

Microsoft Convergence

It’s been a tough year for everyone in the technology sector with a number of reports over the past three months citing tough times ahead and probable tough times for some time to come. Only yesterday, for example, we saw that the IT Services industry has had its worst year in a decade.

With that in mind, many of the bigger companies have used their conferences to give the footsoldiers a bit of a buck-up, to get them motivated and underline that business software is still big business.

Tatarinov was no different. He pulled out some of Dynamics’s bigger customers to explain just how great the Dynamics product line really is.

He also addressed one our favourite topics here -- the coming together of business and IT. He pointed out that given the importance of marketing and other business areas over IT spending, it is probably a good idea if everyone worked together.

And what better way to unite the two than investing in one of the Dynamics products? But it’s not just PR. Over the new few days Microsoft will undoubtedly unveil a number of new offerings around Dynamics that will help both sides of the enterprise work in tandem.

He talked up new advancements in integrated marketing, better embedded social capabilities, and new mobile and cloud capabilities that will offer businesses deeper contact with their customers, and pull the disparate departments in an enterprise closer together in a way they haven’t been able to before.

Dynamics CRM Upgrade

So the troops cheered and with the conference underway, the release announcements are starting to emerge. Fortunately, CMSWire was able to sit down with David Pennington, Director of Product Marketing for Dynamics CRM and Kees Hertogh, Director of Product Management, Dynamics AX late last week to talk about two that are being highlighted today.

Microsoft MarketingPilot Homepage.jpg

Microsoft MarketingPilot  Home Page

You may recall some time ago that Microsoft bought MarketingPilot, a vendor that specializes in marketing automation. Well, at this Convergence it has appeared again in a brand new, revamped version that aims to integrate the marketing, sales and customer experience.

In practical terms, according to Pennington, this means that businesses will be offered a complete marketing solution with business intelligence that enables users to plan, track and optimize customer interactions across digital, social and traditional channels.

But more than that it also seamlessly integrates with Dynamics CRM. The final result is omnichannel marketing that pushes revenue growth while monitoring costs and measuring returns.

The new version of MarketingPilot will be available to customers in the United States this month with plans to make MarketingPilot available to additional international markets later this year.

Dynamics AX Mobile Apps

But it’s not all about marketing today, it’s also about technology and this time Dynamics AX with the benefits. Designed to be social, personal and immersive, the new applications are for mobile devices -- both phones and tablets -- and enable users connect with their social networks based on their roles and needs.

Microsoft Win8_expense report.jpg

Microsoft Dynamics AX expense tracking

In addition to the Business Analyzer application, which is already available in the Windows Marketplace it has also announced:

  • Expense management: Enables users to capture and reconcile expenses while travelling, enabling both users and organization to control expenditure.
  • Time: Enables users to measure time on projects as they work thus reducing billing cycle time.
  • Approvals: Enables managers to approve business requests like budgets, time sheets, expense reports and all other business documentation straight away.

These applications are available for Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, Windows Phone 8, Android phones, and iOS phone devices and are free of charge. The user just needs to be licensed appropriately for the associated processes in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.

Microsoft has also said that it will release a new CRM mobile sales app in the second half to 2013 that will be optimized for tablets and will enable users manage customers form lead to closing deals. More on Convergence as it happens.