This week, Microsoft announced upcoming changes to its Dynamics CRM product. The new product is called Dynamics CRM 2016.
"We have designed Dynamics CRM 2016 to allow customer-facing employees to manage their daily activities in a single experience," Bob Stutz, vice president of Microsoft's Dynamics division wrote in a Sept. 8 blog post. "We are eliminating the distractions people inevitably encounter when they bounce from application to application in the course of doing their job by taking away the need to export or switch applications, and by automating fundamental tasks."
Scheduled for fourth quarter release -- probably in December -- the updates to Dynamic CRM highlight the changes that have been gradually occurring in the cloud product but are just now hitting the on-premises version.
While cloud upgrades have focused on productivity, mobility, intelligence, and customer service as areas of improvement, the specifics in each of these areas for Dynamics 2016 are being released in a slow and controlled manner.
The main announcements this week were in productivity.
This means how well the suite integrates with other Microsoft products. Users can now access Excel data, PowerPoint slides, and Word documents without leaving the CRM app.
Now, given Microsoft's new vision of things all-cloud and all-mobile it seems likely that Android and iOS connectivity will be coming. That is, of course, you are using Microsoft's Office 365 suite.
CRM for Outlook was announced, as well. Users will be able to track emails, add contacts from within an email, or create new records to track emails through the browser on a PC or a Mac, or a mobile browser on a phone.
Again, this fits in with the strategy of not having to leave the app to do necessary tasks.
Support for Office Delve has been added into Dynamics. Delve allows for a search of document across Office 365. The user does not need to specify a document title or where it is stored. Delve can find items in OneDrive for Business or sites in Office 365.
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In his blog post, Stutz also hinted at how Cortana will be involved.
"We're taking our Cortana integration to the next level," Stutz wrote, "by embedding sales activities, accounts and opportunities into Cortana to surface what's most relevant to salespeople at any time -- across both personal and professional sources."
The exact way this will all happen remains unclear at this time, although Microsoft has said that in CRM 2016: "We're delivering intelligent processes for sales, service and marketing with the power of the Cortana Analytics Suite."
Microsoft's recent customer service acquisitions will end up in the CRM mix.
Stutz noted that while Dynamics had some services as a function in the past, "We expanded this [feature] with knowledge management and self-service capabilities when we acquired Parature in 2014. In July, we announced the acquisition of FieldOne to add field service capabilities to our customer service portfolio. In Dynamics CRM 2016, we will bring all of this together."