The Future of Microsoft Dynamics CRM – Then and Now
Within this time, the terms ‘Love’ and ‘Enjoy’ have been used frequently in relation to business software; not terms that would normally be associated with this field. I feel this positivity has developed from the likes of Apple and Google showing the market that we can enjoy the technology we use on a daily basis. With the release of Windows 8, we are seeing the beginning of a new direction for Microsoft’s business software, including Microsoft Dynamics 365.
In a U-turn from the 90’s attitudes toward design, Microsoft are now creating applications that are flat, plain, square and simply functional.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011’s Update Rollup 12 and 13 have allowed users to experience this updated new, flat interface.
The standard screen pop-ups for the primary CRM forms (Account, Contact, Case and Opportunity) have been cleaned to a single page view. In addition to this, new features have been added, such as mapping and process flow which actively enables users to track stages in a case or opportunity.
Future of Microsoft Dynamics CRM – More Agile Release Cycles
In days of old, a business could put a stake in the ground at a point in the Microsoft Update cycle satisfied that what they have works for them. This may continue to be the case with on-premise customers. However online customers will be given these updates as and when they come out. This is typically 6 months before they are available to on-premise customers with the new agile release cycle Microsoft has implemented. This may generate a certain unease in some of the more ‘traditional’ IT teams. However, it is now industry standard practice for any SaaS provider; other vendors, such as SalesForce.com, have been doing this to all of their customers for years. Some may believe that the movement to services in the cloud may not truly take off. Recent research by Gartner, the World’s leading IT research and advisory company, suggests that by 2016 over 50% of CRM business will be online. It’s time to embrace the change.
From Sales to Marketing
The next set of updates is still to be confirmed but in the interest of open communication, I will offer you my somewhat opinionated understanding of what’s going to happen. Dynamics CRM covers three areas, sales, service and marketing. We have seen the Sales management section of CRM take a big lead with the new process is driven look and feel plus mobile and tablet compatibility. Marketing is next. Marketing as a function within an Organisation is changing, no longer focus solely on the product, but the consumer, with visual and social media communications being very important in reaching out to consumers. Microsoft has taken this on board with the acquisition of Netbreeze, bringing social analytics and monitoring to Microsoft Dynamics CRM “- helping customers to drive sales, optimize campaigns and engender customer loyalty.” This will be available as an add-in with your CRM system. Microsoft have also purchased a company called Marketing Pilot who, as a stand-alone organisation, did amazing things for marketers. They could turn the most loathsome department for any finance director into the champions of the sales team by correlating multi-channel marketing activity into accountable leads, thus creating greater revenue.
Now available as an add-on for your Microsoft Dynamics CRM system, with this integration the leads created from marketing activities can be pumped straight into CRM and vice versa. Currently, sales and marketing, along with the entire CRM user-interface, are getting the biggest focus, but the service element of Microsoft Dynamics CRM will be updated in later releases. These are exciting times for Microsoft as an Organisation and for the Microsoft Dynamics family. I am looking forward to seeing how it develops.Note: If your Dynamics CRM deployment is on-premise and you want to take a look at this new user-interface, our website offers a free 30 day trial of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online which will have some test data included.