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Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Latch Onto the Social Train

Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Latch Onto the Social Train

In addition to a new social interface, future updates of Microsoft Dynamics CRM will include more-unified administrative capabilities, stronger disaster-recovery processes, enhanced BI and data-management functionality, new charting and reporting features, and cross-browser support.

By Erika Morphy
09/02/11 5:00 AM PT

Shortly before Salesforce.com's Dreamforce conference kicked off this year, with its accompanying slew of new offers and products, Microsoft Dynamics CRM played a little offense: The company rolled out a "Cloud CRM for Less" offer, which grants US$150 in cash per user seat to any customer that switches to its application. A minimum of 50 seats are required under the offer, for a maximum of 500 user seats.

Microsoft will be pulling out its big gun in its battle with Salesforce.com in Q4 , however, when it updates its Microsoft Dynamics CRM application.

Dynamics Goes Social

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The update will include a feature called "Activity Feeds," Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, told CRM Buyer.

"It will be a Facebook-style interface that allows people to communicate across the CRM system," he explained. "A user can follow teams, records or accounts. This will be the first wave of social capabilities we plan to introduce over the next 14 months."

There will be a Windows Phone client, as well, added Wilson.

"A lot of people would compare it to Chatter," Wilson acknowledged, although it's not a comparison he draws himself.

12-Month Road Map

Microsoft Dynamics CRM revealed some of the new features users could expect in the product in July; the first upgrade is expected in Q4 2011 and the second in Q2 2012.

Wilson fleshed out additional details of the Q4 release for CRM Buyer. The changes focus on four areas, all of which are designed to deliver a more unified experience with Office 365.

One area is administrative. "Today, Dynamics CRM and CRM Online work well together from the user perspective," said Wilson, "but there are different interfaces for the back end, such as administration, provisions and billings. In Q4, we will unify those areas as well."

In Q4, Microsoft Dynamics CRM will also have stepped up its disaster-recovery processes, with new support from multiple data centers across several regions.

There will also be feature enhancements around its BI capabilities and data management, Wilson said.

"There will be new charting and reporting features," he noted. "For the dialogue feature, we will have more information that can trigger dialogues with customers. We also have focused on data duplication and data cleansing."

Microsoft Dynamics CRM will offer cross-browser support in future updates, according to Wilson. "Today we are delivering around IE -- but in the future, we expect to support Chrome, Firefox and Safari."

The social piece is the fourth area, he said.

Wilson declined to discuss the social enhancements beyond the Activity Feeds but said "it will be an ongoing focus for us."


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