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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Sharpens Social Skills

By Erika Morphy CRM Buyer ECT News Network
Oct 21, 2013 1:05 PM PT

Microsoft on Monday announced the availability of its latest version of Dynamics CRM along with a new partnership with InsideView that adds social intelligence capabilities to the CRM system.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Sharpens Social Skills

Available for purchase starting Oct. 31, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 offers a number of new features and capabilities, including new templates for certain workflows and work processes, Bill Patterson, senior director for product and strategy with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, told CRM Buyer.

The biggest change in Patterson's view, however, is the alliance with InsideView and the Social Insights feature that it brings to the online version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

"This is the first time we have offered a partnership like this for our CRM platform," he said.

The upshot for users, he added, is an application "that combines transactional, customer information with relationship-oriented insights."

The Social Insights Piece

The new Social Insights feature offers users of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online real-time company and contact information from 30,000 sources.

This will allow them to access not only the information inside the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system but also data that is available throughout their entire network of connections, Umberto Milletti, CEO of InsideView, told CRM Buyer.

"These could be people you are connected to on LinkedIn or Facebook or people you know from encounters in previous jobs," Milletti explained.

The integration of InsideView into Microsoft Dynamics CRM is represented by an icon on the user's personal widget page. Clicking on it will sync personal contacts into the CRM system.

Users who want to connect with someone they don't know, or know only through other contacts, can render the data to show how many connections are needed to get an introduction.

The data also provides information about companies, which is very helpful to the sales process, Milletti noted: "If I am a sales rep trying to sell a product to a company that is launching a new cost-cutting initiative, that information, obviously, is very valuable," he explained.

It could prompt the sales rep to try elsewhere, for instance, or -- better yet -- tailor her sales pitch so it matches the goals of the new initiative.

Industry-Specific Templates

Also in this release, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is rolling out new templates with predefined and configurable processes in certain industries, including professional services, manufacturing and financial services. There are new process-oriented templates available as well, such as more event management and solution selling.

These processes also apply to Microsoft Dynamic CRM's mobile initiatives, Patterson said: "They can interoperate and provide a consistent experience for users. This is major step forward around business process design."

The new Microsoft Dynamics CRM release will come with mobile client applications on Windows 8 tablets and iPads as well as Windows Phones, iPhones and Android phones without a separate license fee.

A Focus on Simplification

The product code name for this version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform was "Orion." Besides the partnership with InsideView, the development driver behind Orion was a focus on simplifying the user experience, Patterson said -- a theme that he said is carried throughout the new offering.

"It is why we are introducing it, for the first time, as built from the ground up for the Chrome and Firefox browsers," he said.

It is also why the company is rolling out robust features for mobile, including touch, he added.

"It is no longer OK to just offer a smaller, lighter version of mobile to users," Patterson concluded. "Now mobile users want a more complete solution."

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