First off, if you need a copy of the statement of direction you can get one from partner source or customer source. In your CRM org, go to the Resource Center, one of your links on the right is to customer source. Also, you can type into the search tool there “statement of direction” and you will get some good real time results pointing you to other places to find it and reviews (much like this one).
So Microsoft does this cool thing with Dynamics CRM (maybe other products too, but we know my focus) and releases statements of direction on a pretty regular basis. They give you strategy, business and feature planning updates. It’s pretty cool. One just came out and here is Julie’s take.
Overall, this one is a little weak compared to the past ones. HOWEVER, I believe it’s ok because one of the things here is a reduction in cyclical updates. No more waiting 3 years for a new product. You’ll be getting significant updates twice a year moving forward. With the shorter cycles you won’t be getting a totally made over new product that often, but what you will get is shiny new feature sets. This to me means that the product team can more quickly respond to demand and requests and get those new features out the door and on your laptop (desktop, phone, whatever) faster. This cyclical shift to me makes one helluva differentiator in the CRM world.
Now on to some nitty gritty from the document. In the executive summary we hear that business applications should be enablers. This one I totally agree with and see that Dynamics CRM does this. That’s why we do this right? Enable people to solve their business needs with software.
The Road Ahead section starts off by addressing Dynamic Businesses. I think this is a grey area of concern. Not outright wrong, but also a bit narrow in focus. Yes there are businesses that are truly not very dynamic that would greatly benefit (or maybe even become dynamic) from CRM. There are also businesses that would never call themselves dynamic but really are that would stop reading and stop considering this as a solution.
Soon we have a list of new innovative experiences that starts with micro-blogging (for now this probably just means Twitter, but not locked in for later newer options) and ends with social intelligence. I hate that phrase, but the explanation is pretty good. “Identification of data patterns and streams to enhance customer service and marketing decision-making.” This has value for sure.
From there we get into a list of items identifying rapid value take-aways. One of the items talks about an enhanced evaluation process of solutions and extensions from the Marketplace. While this is true, a great value-add that they can’t mention is that this is also great because of the ease of removing an add-on that just doesn’t work for you. No one wants to think about getting a lemon of a solution, but if you do, it is not devastating, remove the solution and tadah.
Optimizing decision-making is a great topic and relevant. My concerns here are with the extended self-service BI component and its capabilities with CRM Online and with potential performance issues with enhanced data visualizations with CRM on-premise. This list totally has value and relevance, but also a few concerns if they jump the gun and cut corners.
Consumerization of Business Applications- woohoo! CRM anywhere, Cross-device and Multi-browser. Yes pain points, yes just do it.
Extending of solutions and ecosystems mentions the Marketplace. It’s great but many say they have a hard time finding it. I will make it easy. Login to your CRM, go to Resource Center, click the Marketplace button on the top right.
Finally we go to innovation through an agile release model. This is a great thing, like I said before it’s an industry differentiator. Here’s just a rapid-fire list from that of things of value:
- Single codebase. I HATE that phrase like you couldn’t imagine. I understand the intent and don’t have a replacement. But what it means is something like….we want online and on-premise to be essentially the same experience but since the environments are potentially substantially different we can’t make it exactly the same, but we try our best and we do it better than someone else.
- Updates/upgrades/scheduled/automatic/huh? There is a fair bit of explaining of these things. They are still a bit confusing to me. I expect that as an online customer I will be notified and hand-held thru this experience, it’s part of the draw of being an online customer. As an administrator of an on-prem deployment I’d watch for blogs, tweets and what-not letting me know things are coming.
- Timeframe is communicated as calendar year, not fiscal year. Just be aware.
- There was one item about the marketplace and updates that I have asked for some clarification, watch for an update here when I get that.
Overall, this is a short but effective Statement of Direction from the CRM team. I know that many are watching for the new features and happy that they won’t have to wait 3 years. Well done.