December 21, 2016

First look: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for CRM users



During November Microsoft unveiled and provided a first look at Dynamics 365, showing off the capabilities customers can expect from the latest generation of intelligent business applications. In this post I’ll focus on what these changes mean for Microsoft Dynamics CRM users.

A first look at Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM

At first glance you may notice a change in branding and positioning with a new “User Experience” for CRM. This is part of the story, but there are also larger, deeper and very exciting developments happening in the background.

First and foremost, for existing customers, nothing is changing with your CRM application, and all existing functionality will continue to work exactly the same as before. There are however some improvements to the main menu and initial navigation – making things cleaner, more obvious and consistent with Office 365.

The embedded intelligence of this new platform, its seamless integration with Office 365, an enhanced mobile user experience and the capability for intuitively moving between applications also marks a departure from what was previously available.

There is also market excitement about the accessibility of the wider Dynamics 365 platform, specifically for IoT frameworks, rich data analytics and smart analysis of voice, text and imagery. This is a platform for the future, the roadmap is in place and it looks great!

The first thing users will see with Dynamics 365 is that Microsoft is bringing business applications closer together in how they look, feel and integrate with each other. To better enable end-to-end business processes, there is a unified navigation and core user experience across each of the Dynamics 365 applications.

It remains clean and familiar and it gives you the ability to seamlessly move from one application to another without switching windows.

And when you log into Dynamics 365, the home-screen will show you all the business apps and information relevant to your role.

Simple, consistent navigation is only the beginning. Dynamics 365 delivers significant new capabilities across all application areas, moving proven industry-leading in-market solutions to the next level. The application has also been “modularized” to give business users the opportunity to work with just those parts of the system that are relevant to their work.

The new capabilities include:

Dynamics 365 for Sales

Dynamics 365 for Sales adds new social selling capabilities, enabling people to share knowledge and participate in social conversations. "Gamification" - the use of game mechanics and experience design to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals - is moving from preview to global general availability. Gamification will expand beyond sales scenarios to help teams across the entire organisation collaborate and compete in fun, engaging contests. With highly visible contest results, users are motivated to perform their best for themselves and their teams, leading to increased performance, productivity, and adoption.

Dynamics 365 for Sales also introduces a new Add-in for the Outlook app. Sales users can now get rich sales related information about their prospects right in the native Outlook app experience. Companies can now also use the Dynamics 365 Add-in with the Outlook client to get a quick overview of their contacts, and track the email, appointment, or contact in Dynamics 365 using the Add-in. The Add-in supports access to templates and knowledge in Dynamics 365 to quickly draft emails.

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service helps agents use relevance search to quickly find related content and use faceting to filter to the right record. Agents are now able to edit records directly in a grid while respecting the business rules for the entity.

Also added to Dynamics 365 for Customer Service is advanced analytics and machine learning scenarios to help agents solve cases faster by surfacing relevant knowledge articles and related cases while solving an inquiry, and text analytics bring insights and discovery to reported issues.

Dynamics 365 for Field Service

Dynamics 365 for Field Service helps organisations improve productivity. By automatically optimising technician schedules to minimise driving distance between appointments, service organisations can fit in more appointments each day. IoT connectivity is seamlessly integrated at the platform level, enabling connected device signals received to initiate many business processes, such as automatically dispatching a technician for preventative maintenance, as well as the ability to send back commands directly from within the application, for example resetting a sensor. And using Connected Field Service, service organisations can detect, troubleshoot and resolve issues remotely before customers are affected – ultimately improving customer satisfaction.

Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation

Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation is a new module that provides focused Project Management within the CRM application. For example, when opportunities are won and they generate a project, much of the project management can now be done in CRM. This also enables unified resource scheduling and service billing, so organisations can make the most of scarce resources and skillsets, not only across field and project-based services, but any source of resource demand.

Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights

Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights is a brand new customer analytics solution. It connects and analyses data from Dynamics 365 – plus other widely used business applications, web, social and IoT sources – and applies intelligence to it to create a 360-degree customer view with automatic suggestions to improve customer engagement.  

Productivity and Mobility

Productivity and Mobility remains the cornerstone of Dynamics 365.

Artificial intelligence

Microsoft has invested heavily into cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) research, Cortana, Bing Predicts and Skype Translator. In Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, the new relationship insights capability takes rich signals from Office 365, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 to automatically determine the relationship health of a customer and deliver contextual insights. This also helps sales people automatically capture related data from Office 365 and track email engagement, and provides alerts and suggests contextual actions to help improve engagement with prospects.

The roadmap for this platform includes many other business applications. We will be updating our blog with new items as they are released over the next few months including some new licence plans.

Microsoft’s mission statement is: “To empower every person and every organization of the planet to achieve more”.  With the release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 it is obvious to see the commitment to this vision, with barriers being removed and increased integration between different data silos in the organisation. This is going to be an exciting journey.