Don’t get me wrong, CRM anywhere is a HUGE deal. This is by far the number one requested feature set I hear from everyone. But the reason I am not focusing this blog post on it? Everyone is focused on THAT and the pending R8 has so much more to offer than CRM on Smartphones, Tablets and non-MS browsers (you want details on that stuff, click the link at the bottom of the page for the official word from the team).
Great, so what else is new? The list is from Microsoft, the opinions are mine .
Rapid view forms- I think this is a by-product of some of the cross-browser functionality, but I will take it either way. Think of the CRM user that really only reads data, not much, if any, data entry on those records. This read-only form can really enhance their experience, make it more likely they will adopt CRM as it relates to them. Assuming we don’t hit performance snags, this is a win.
Enhanced Social- Social CRM is an enigma, seriously. No one can even define it, let alone build it. With that said, Dynamics CRM is making slow strides in the right direction on this one. Instead of jumping in with some huge all-encompassing attempt they are taking baby steps. This is certainly a viable approach to this undefined solution. This is still an inside/in view of CRM, not connecting it to external social providers like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. But for a business solution I’m ok with that, especially until we get some continuity of what social CRM should look like for a business.
Industry Templates- This is a cool concept, and might cost a few partners some business in the short term. That is not a complaint, I think competition is great, it makes us all step up our game. (The way partners can not take that potential hit? Learn the templates and the ways that your value add can be enhancing them.) But for businesses in Life Annuity Insurance Sales, Non-profits, Health Plan Sales and Wealth Management to have a fast to deployment solution really makes Dynamics CRM a stronger platform.
SQL 2012- I have heard many grumblings about the new licensing model form SQL 2012, but aside from that, I think it’s cool that Dynamics CRM is grabbing on to some new functionality. Let’s face it, Microsoft hasn’t always been known for product families working together, so we’ll take this win now. I wish that they weren’t splitting the on-premise and online versions so much to include this, but I understand why they did. Yes, the MS data centers will be on (or are already maybe?) this, but without exposing some new bells and whistles to the admins of CRM online customers, it loses some of its kapow (see the BI bit below).
Biz Intelligence- Everyone claims to know Business Intelligence. Does anyone really know what that is? Here it is bringing in Power View, an add-in for on-premise CRM customers. It allows self-service interactive exploration of data and all that goes into making data valuable. It sounds pretty cool. For on-premise customers. It sounds sad for online customers. Don’t complain that I don’t understand and blah blah blah. I understand, I get it. I don’t have to like the limitation. There is more data analysis on its way and since the core of CRM is DATA and the relationships of data, it is a good thing regardless of where it exists.
Certifications- No, we’re not getting new exams (phew!). This is the MS cloud getting common industry and government certifications. ISO 27001, SAS, HIPAA….and so on. If these are important to you, you know what they mean and how it impacts your world. Click thru below for the detailed list.
Portal Enhancements- I have always been a fan of the portals (yes, even after my awful awful session at Convergence last year where I bit off far more than I could chew). We’ve got new identity enhancements which will help extend right into the multi-browser world mentioned above. Sure the portals could be viewed like any standard website, but this extends into the non-MS world some more.
Custom Workflow Activities in CRM Online (!!!!)- Ok, I can’t believe this is not the headline making item, that it’s buried on page 13 of the 14 page PDF that gives details of this pending R8. But, this is big news. The built-in workflow capabilities in CRM Online have always been pretty powerful. But now we are overcoming one very significant limitation between the online and on-premise world, custom .NET Workflow activities in CRM Online. I will simple say thank you to the product team for this, I know many many developers that will be please.