Functions for the mobile apps for Microsoft Dynamics CRM include the ability to create, update or delete such CRM records as Tasks, Account, Contact, Lead or Opportunity, create appointments, assign records to other users, search for records, attach images to records, create and update notes, or make phone calls from within Dynamics CRM.
Microsoft recently released mobile apps for its Dynamics CRM, bringing that suite of services up to speed with such competitors as Salesforce. The new apps, for Windows Phone, Apple's iPhone and Android
phones, offer added convenience for on-the-go personnel who need anywhere access
to their customer
management tools and data.
In July, Microsoft had announced it was delaying the release of mobile clients for Dynamics CRM, which was originally scheduled for a Q2 release.
For BlackBerry users, the company has also released a browser app. For Windows Phone, Windows Phone 8 is required; for iPhone, it's iOS 6 or 7, and, for Android smartphones, versions 4.0, 4.1 or 4.2. For organizations using the cloud
-based version, Dynamics CRM Online Fall '13 is required, while on-premises companies require Dynamics CRM 2013, with a Net-facing deployment
. 'More Consistent Experience'
Core functions include the ability to create, update or delete such CRM records as Tasks, Account, Contact, Lead or Opportunity, create appointments, assign records to other users, search for records, attach images to records, create and update notes, or make phone calls from within the CRM.
Microsoft has also added a few functions that only exist in the app for its Windows Phone, including the ability to map customer addresses, view social activity feeds or take an offline look at already-viewed data.
Before these apps, Dynamics CRM was available on mobile devices through a browser. The apps add such functions are the ability to create appointments, assign records, or select values from pick-lists.
Brad Shimmin, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, noted that Microsoft is trying to create "a more consistent experience across devices, even as they make their Windows Phone devices' experience a superior one." Outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer has touted a One Microsoft vision that offers a greater unity among devices and services. On-the-Go Reps
Functional access to back-end systems via mobile devices has become a standard requirement for any apps involving customers, and is especially important when the whole idea is to manage your relationship with the people buying your product or service.
The more functional mobile apps allow sales reps, for instance, to have continual access via a smartphone to contact information, sales profiles, product information and other vital data, without having to set up a laptop
In October, Microsoft unveiled Dynamics CRM for Windows tablets, which requires Dynamics CRM 2013. It offers similar capabilities to the smartphone apps, although access to accounts, contacts, leads and opportunities are available from a dashboard, and key performance
indicators can be tracked visually with charts. Additionally, the most important informational tiles can be pinned to the Start screen or the app dashboard.
In November, at the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Convergence conference for Europe, the Middle East and Asia, the company released 18 new and free predefined and configurable process templates for such areas as sports management, healthcare and government.
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The future of customer relationships depends more on context than transactions. This trend is accelerating, driven by the integration of social media into CRM and rapid gains in usability of CRM.
What is the future of CRM? Better Integration of Customer Touch Points:
Businesses are realising that you have got to sell the way customers want to buy. CRM projects that don’t integrate customer touch points are destined for failure. Global companies who carry out direct mail/email campaigns invite people to respond any way they like, be it via the company website, call centre, branch office etc. but wherever they come in, that information should be automated so it is shown in the CRM. You don’t want potential customers knowing things their account managers don’t know. Verticalisation:
Vertical solutions are another trend. We are approaching the end of the one size fits all CRM market and entering an age of verticalisation and specialisation. There are different types of customers, different types of business models and selling strategies so the CRM software needs to support these different models. What you have is software companies developing a tool-set and letting users/resellers customise it for their industry.
In CRM, the most successful resellers reinvent the CRM application as a platform. They craft entirely new solutions on CRM that are installed with their particular experise in a vertical or a set of business processes that make CRM much more straightforward and easier to use. This innovation benefits business customers as the reseller is modifying the system to become a suitable commercial product and making CRM much more turnkey for the user.
At the end of the day, it isn’t about the particular CRM vendor or platform but more about the particular capabilities that a reseller has in their turnkey CRM offering. That’s a huge benefit to customers as they are now able to focus on picking the right reseller and their expertise to help their business versus being distracted and consumed with the nuts and bolts of hand-tailoring the CRM application to fit their needs. Knowledge Management Systems:
CRMs of the future should have more intelligent functionality to make them knowledge based management systems. For example, you could put a very powerful, functionally relevant view of the customer at your employee’s fingertips. We are already seeing that today with the ability to embed Google Maps, social feeds and the like in CRM. But think about how incredible it could be for CRM if you were able to do that type of embed with virtually any data source. Social CRM:
The internet has a vast array of information out there. People want systems that have intelligent APIs that pick up information from the web and add it to CRM. For instance a client tweets a problem with your service. How good would it be for your system to pick this up from your social feed and add to their record to let you know?
The future of CRM is bright. CRM will become more deeply ingrained as a business strategy for most companies. Technology will evolve while technical and organisational challenges are overcome. Much will change in the years ahead, but one thing is certain: CRM is a journey, not a destination.
If you want to learn more about CRM and find out which CRM solution is right for your business, contact us: www.censeocomputing.com
It’s day two of Dreamforce and the Box booth is buzzing with visitors learning how we’re working closer with the latest products from Salesforce. It’s encouraging to see enterprise technology leaders like Salesforce dedicated to delivering a more mobile and open ecosystem that enables businesses of all sizes to mix and match the best available applications to fit their unique challenges.
That’s why we’re excited about our latest offering – Box for Salesforce1 – our latest integration with Salesforce’s sophisticated content layer that can be incorporated seamlessly into existing salesforce.com apps and workflow processes. Built for today’s mobile workforce, Box for Salesforce1 allows organizations to leverage the power of Box from within Salesforce’s new mobile environment. Users will be able to post content stored in Box onto any Salesforce Chatter feed – across the web and mobile – to collaborate with colleagues, customers and partners, ultimately enhancing the customer relationship experience
CRM is a key part of every business, and the sales process involves a tremendous amount of content to manage an account. Box for Salesforce1 is built with today’s mobile sales force in mind, so that they can seamlessly connect with their content from any device or location.
In addition, Box was named one of the first apps available for Salesforce Identity
, which delivers integrated identity services to any app, on any device. With single sign-on across Box, Salesforce and any other web, mobile and on-premise apps, CIOs are now empowered to centrally manage the proliferation of apps and devices that are transforming how businesses connect.
Most people don’t realize that Microsoft Dynamics CRM and other Dynamics applications, as well as Azure and Office are doing very, very well these days, as all of them utilize cloud-based virtualization, new management functions and new levels of product support, said analyst Laura DiDio.
Microsoft Dynamics is converging on Spain. This week, the company’s Convergence 2013 show opens in Barcelona, Spain, showcasing its growing customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms.
The Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) show precedes similar ones being held in March in Atlanta and in New Orleans. Those wishing to attend Barcelona but who just can’t, at least not physically, will be able to attend via a free online event that will feature the keynotes and general sessions, as well as on-demand playback of individual sessions. The broadcasts will include integrated social media for global conversations.
The EMEA conference runs from the registration on Sunday, November 3 through Wednesday, November 6. Breakout sessions include connecting with a community through Dynamics AX, CRM or NAV, best practices for global Microsoft Dynamics AX environments, managing security, project management, a case study of Dynamics CRM and Danish National Sports, executive use of dashboards, and a look at how companies have approached their international deployments
Experience Center, Expo
A Convergence Experience Center will provide one-on-one product demonstrations, and an Expo will showcase leading Dynamics independent software vendors.
One of the keynote speakers is Kirill Tatarinov, Executive Vice President of Microsoft Business Solutions, who will focus on the latest perspectives of cloud -based business solutions. He previously led the Management and Solutions Division at Microsoft, which includes Microsoft System Center and Windows Server, and he has served as senior VP and CTO at BMC Software and head of R&D for systems and network management developer Patrol Software.
At the conference, Microsoft is expected to announce new features for Dynamics CRM 2013 including new mobile capabilities such as sales applications for Windows 8 tablets and iPads, as well as embedded social capabilities. Redmond will also feature Dynamics NAV 2013 R2, which includes new cash management capabilities, hosting on Windows Azure Infrastructure Services and new business opportunities with Microsoft Office 365. Dynamics AX 2012 is featuring new Windows business apps, industry-specific enhancements and new Lifecycle Services.
Laura DiDio, an analyst with industry research firm Information Technology Intelligence Corp., told us that most people “don’t realize that Microsoft Dynamics, Azure and Office are doing very, very well” these days, as all of them utilize cloud-based virtualization, new management functions and new levels of product support
She noted that a recent survey conducted by her firm of global companies found that 78 percent are using CRM platforms, and that the “biggest impediment remains cost,” even when it’s cloud based.
The EMEA market, DiDio said, is “usually about six months or so behind the U.S., except in most cases for the U.K., Germany and France,” so this Dynamics conference may give a boost to the visibility of Microsoft CRM and ERP in those regions. She also pointed out that, according to her survey, Dynamics is currently second, behind Salesforce, in global market share.
What is most significant about how Salesforce is approaching its $1 million hackathon is that it is clearly making a play for the mobile app space, and sees a tremendous upside in it that far outstrips the cost of the event, the prize, or the Developer Zone it will set up at its Dreamforce conference, said security expert Kevin O'Brien.
Hackathons are making headlines these days but one cloud Relevant Products/Services provider’s contest is coming with the largest single hackathon bounty ever. Salesforce Relevant Products/Services.com is turning heads with a $1 million #salesforcehack during its Dreamforce event. Here’s the deal: Developers will create the next killer mobile Relevant Products/Services app on the Salesforce Platform for a chance to win a cool $1 million.
Salesforce has noticed a trend: with social networks rising -- and with the simultaneous proliferation of mobile devices - developers are looking to capitalize on the potentially lucrative technology shift to create a new class of enterprise apps.
How Serious is Salesforce?
“We’re in the midst of a mobile app renaissance,” said Adam Seligman, vice president of Salesforce Platform developer and partner marketing. “Developers are reinventing how business works, and how companies connect with their customers. With the Salesforce Platform, they have the proven mobile, social and cloud services to create exponentially more productive apps for the enterprise.”
Developers have to be on site at Dreamforce to participate in the hackathon, so Salesforce is offering a $99 Hacker Pass that will give them access to a Developer Zone, as well as the main Dreamforce keynote. The deadline is Nov. 19. The winner will be announced at Dreamforce, Thursday, Nov. 21.
We caught up with Kevin O'Brien, Enterprise Solution Architect at information security Relevant Products/Services firm CloudLock, to get his thoughts on the hackathon. He told us three key points are embedded in the announcement: Salesforce is serious about courting developers; the company wants mobile to be a key part of that; and the CRM Relevant Products/Services provider is willing to work with development environments that are most relevant today -- such as Heroku, ExactTarget and Fuel -- in order to get there.
Attracting Force Multipliers
“The focus on mobility especially is a strong indicator of how the ‘social enterprise’ message of 2012 has evolved, as well as a clue to where and how Salesforce will be connecting end users with their data Relevant Products/Services,” O’Brien said. “What is most significant about how Salesforce is approaching this hackathon is that it exists at this scale: they are clearly making a play for the app space, and see a tremendous upside in it that far outstrips the cost of the event, prize, or Developer Zone.” As he sees it, cloud platforms generally succeed or fail not only because of the infrastructure Relevant Products/Services Relevant Products/Services they offer, but also because of how well or poorly they are adopted by vendors and developers. That’s because vendors and developers serve as force multipliers for organizations looking to adopt them.
“Broadly speaking, Salesforce is clearly moving beyond CRM, and even beyond being a sales and marketing tool, into a space in which they are creating a true platform for business enablement in the cloud,” he said. “The model -- arguably one they started -- is a proven one. Google Apps, Microsoft Relevant Products/Services, Box, and a number of other vendors have tread this path before.”
Mean while, Salesforce is moving beyond Do.com. The company is shuttering its task-management cloud service on Jan. 31, 2014. Without further explanation, Salesforce said it is working on an export tool so users can save their data for use with another project management service.
One of Microsoft's big priorities for this version -- and probably for the next couple of versions of Dynamics CRM -- is mobile. And that means having a good story on tablets and smartphones, both Microsoft and non-Microsoft. Microsoft is also trying to move faster than is customary because it has cloud competitors, said analyst Rob Helm
Redmond has released a much-anticipated Dynamics CRM Relevant Products/Services for Tablets app. Microsoft Relevant Products/Services customers can now download the customer Relevant Products/Services relationship management app from the Windows Store and Apple’s App Store.
Of course, you first need to buy Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. The app promises to help you stay connected and productive anywhere and specifically to help you stay up to date with customer information even while on the go.
With the Dynamics app, you can access your activities, accounts, contacts, leads, and opportunities from a dashboard and enter customer data Relevant Products/Services with a few taps. You can also track progress for key performance Relevant Products/Services indicators visually with charts and access your personalized views so that you see the data that's most important to you. Finally, you can access information by pinning tiles to your Start screen or app dashboard.
The news follows Microsoft’s announcement earlier this month that Dynamics CRM Online Fall ’13 is generally available. At launch, Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Dynamics CRM, boldly stated that the solution marks a turning point in the CRM software solution category and invited those on the fence to start a free trial.
Stutz was quick to remind legacy customers that Microsoft still has a Dynamics CRM solution for on-premises deployment Relevant Products/Services. But the online version is rolling out first in the fall wave. He also wasn’t shy about asking for feedback.
“We want to hear from you. Please let us know what you think of this product, either here in the comments, or on Twitter at #CRM2013,” he said. “Over the next few weeks on the lead up to our Global Premiere Event -- a virtual event where we will feature stories of customers using this new release to deliver exceptional customer experiences -- we are going to kick-off a blog series to examine the state of the market. We will be exploring how the sales process has changed and why companies need a new type of solution in order to be successful in this new age.”
Priorities: Social and Mobile
We asked Rob Helm, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, for his thoughts on the app and the next version of Dynamics CRM Online. He told us the company has two big priorities for this version -- and probably for the next couple versions of Dynamics CRM -- mobile Relevant Products/Services and social.
“On the mobile side that means having a good story on tablets and smartphones, both Microsoft and non-Microsoft. On the social side, to be continued, but with Dynamics CRM 2013 you are already seeing integration with Yammer and down the road you’ll start seeing more integration with public networks as well,” he said.
“Microsoft is also trying to move faster than is customary because they have cloud Relevant Products/Services competitors, in particular Salesforce Relevant Products/Services, that are on a much shorter schedule of updates. Microsoft really has to be thinking about developing its cloud first and then bringing that in a managed way to the customers who are still running the product on premises,” Helm added.
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Right now the community is very excited about the upcoming release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. Microsoft is really focused on improving User Experience across all devices and introducing process guidance with this release. Below are just some of my favorite new features and improvements that have been added. There are a lot of great features that will make it well worth the upgrade:Improved performance
There is a new version of Dynamics CRM 2013 for on-premise, but also for online. Microsoft is merging the entity base tables and the extension base tables for entities going forward. This should greatly improve performance as there will be a lot fewer joins, locks and overhead. Revamped UI and Navigation experience
CRM 2013 is going to fundamentally change the way the entity forms have functioned since the product began. In 2011 and previous versions you would open a new popup window whenever you would click anything. This gets cumbersome and is a terrible experience for mobile users. Microsoft has shown with CRM 2013 that they understand this annoyance by creating the flow of the CRM 2013 UI in such a way that there is almost no popups. This greatly enhances the touch enabled experience and keeps you from having to hung through windows.
Microsoft also took the Left Nav and threw it out the window and replaced it with a touch optimized version that will make it great for mobile experience.Synchronous Workflow
Synchronous workflow is a huge enhancement that will empower the CRM consultant and users with the ability to do a lot of things through standard workflow that were only available via plugin. Workflow has always been powerful, but if you needed something to be happen at the time synchronously, you previously had no choice but to use jscript or a .NET plugin. Some examples might be decrementing inventory levels when orders are processed, or generating a confirmation or order number at the moment a sales is processed.Access Teams
The introduction of access teams is another neat feature of 2013, it will allow you to include a team of users, at a record level, to be able to work with a given record in CRM, regardless of their current roles in the system. These people could be a pursuit team on an Opportunity that crosses business units, or some sort of sales group working on an account. This is similar to sharing in some ways. One scenario this feature seems to lend itself to is the concept of having multiple record owners, or with a little development, automatic rule based-sharing with a group.Form Business Rules
This new rule-based wizard on all forms lets you specify, at a form attribute level, business logic that will allow you to calculate fields and perform simple data validation logic on field. This does not replace the classic jscript on-save or on-load events, but it does empower non-coders to create logic to address some of the simpler validation and calculated field scenarios that were typically done with jscript in an on-change event.Server Side Synchronization
This has been a long-awaited feature that is very similar to what you can get from third-party providers like Riva now. It allows you to move the synchronization mechanism for CRM to the mail server. Your CRM entities and structure now become a folder structure that will be completely mail client agnostic. This means people who might not have access to the Outlook client because they are using Apple OSX or Linux to have a high level of integration with Dynamics CRM in their mail clients as well.New Windows 8 Tablet App
This CRM release is not only going to see a better mobile browser experience in general, but they will also be providing mobile OS specific tablet application. They plan to start with IOS and Windows 8 and then also move to Android in the future. These tablet apps will be extensible by pulling down the customizations from the normal browser forms, making it a truly ubiquitous experience.
All in all this is shaping up to be a pivotal new direction for the product that should take us to exciting new places in the future.
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Most Customer Relationship Management or CRM implementations are governed by an incomplete vision, one that is far too internally focused, and as a result, they are quietly failing to live up to their potential. To get the most out of the massive investment that most companies have made in time and money, it is time to pursue a grander vision for CRM in which everyone who touches the customer is provided with help. This approach requires expanding the capabilities and the rewards that are typically associated with CRM.
The vision for CRM at most companies is too small because of the success of Siebel and then Salesforce.com, which defined CRM as a way to track and manage the sales process, essentially as sales force automation (SFA). In this model, CRM is inflicted on the sales staff for the benefit of the managers of a company. CRM becomes a big to-do list that does little to help increase more sales. This sort of tracking is a great help in running a boiler room operation in which the sales staff is driven to keep up a high level of activity without much regard for quality of the actions taken.
With the addition of social business capabilities like Salesforce Chatter or integrations between CRM systems and Jive Software or Microsoft Yammer, the information about the sales process becomes distributed to a wider audience through a news feed. The awareness that comes from broadcasting updates about sales activity for specific opportunities can provide for help in closing sales, but the process remains essentially internally focused.
In a recent conversation with Larry Augustin, CEO of SugarCRM
, who has a significant stake in the success of both CRM and customer-centric social business, I received the outline of a new vision for CRM, one that is far more focused on providing increased quality in the process of selling and of serving the customer. If your company writes a big check for CRM, but doesn’t do much with it besides track sales, this vision may hold the key to getting much more out of your investment. Larry Augustin’s Grand Vision for Customer-centric CRM
Augustin thinks that limiting CRM to sales force automation represents small thinking that vastly undersells the opportunity to use CRM effectively. “It is time for CRM to stop being so inwardly focused,” said Augustin. “Instead of sales force automation, CRM should live up to its name and start helping every single person who interacts with customers do a better job of serving them.”
Completing this vision means expanding what CRM typically does in several ways.
- The amount of information collected about the customer must increase dramatically, according to Augustin. “Instead of just having an order history, we must seek to expand the customer record to include everything that we know about the customer,” said Augustin. “In essence, we must combine the type of customer profile that is typically used by marketers or customer service apps and include that in CRM.”
- Contextual information must be expanded so that an individual customer’s behavior can be compared to the norm. “It is vital that the largest possible set of information, including external sources when possible, be used to create a more inclusive profiles to quickly reveal to users what is unique about the customer,” said Augustin. “For example, when a company shows that they ‘know’ me on a personal level without being creepy, I tend to feel more valued, and typically respond to those personalized messages.”
- The reach CRM of must be dramatically expanded to new populations of users who interact with the customers. “It is ridiculous to limit CRM to sales. In my view, every clerk walking the floor of a store, every customer service rep, every repair technician, receptionists – essentially everyone that interacts with a customer should have a view of the customer provided by CRM. Through our research we believe that for every user of CRM, there are at least 25 customer-facing individuals not using CRM, but they should,” said Augustin. “It’s not just about upselling, but about how to make the customer happier.”
- Real-time data, big data, and data from the Internet of things will all play a role in expanding the customer profile. “Some signals from this broader set of information will be volatile and only useful for a short time,” said Augustin. “Others will become part of the permanent record.”
- While CRM in its current form is used quite frequently from mobile apps, the new apps that are created to support the larger vision must also be mobile. “The ability to rapidly and affordably create custom mobile apps for each audience of the broader vision of CRM will become a differentiator,” said Augustin.
Customer Service is a new corporate battleground. Providing outstanding service is mission critical to building customer loyalty and a long lasting brand. That being said, the cornerstone of every company’s customer service strategy remains the telephone, and the customer service agent.
Innovations in cloud technologies have enabled the seamless integration between telephony and customer relationship management (CRM), making service agents much more productive—starting the “hello experience” with the appropriate information at hand. They are able to quickly review notes and client history, moving the flow of the call toward a solution. When deliberating between cloud-based computer telephony integration (CTI) solutions, consider the importance of these three factors in your decision-making process:
- Comprehensive Functionality and Flexibility
Consider the need for components that can manage both inbound and outbound calling. Blending agent workload and the ability to quickly scale a team should be a key component here.
- Extensibility and APIs
The speed and ease of integration with a central CRM is critical, but there are also many other applications that may benefit from integration. Consider the overall platform, and the ability to extend and customize through open APIs.
- Reporting and Visibility
Reporting and analytics are also essential. A well-rounded platform will sport a full library of pre-configured reports. Consider the ability to bring in CTI data into external reporting or analysis applications, and the opportunity for your organization to optimize performance through improved visibility.
Critical to the success of these initiatives is the tight integration between telephony and CRM. CRM systems like Salesforce Sales Cloud and Dynamics CRM 2013 provide a great deal of information and guidance to make every customer interaction successful. However, this information is not fully utilized if the person leveraging the information is not capable of applying this knowledge to the customer interaction. Integrated IVR, VRU, and CTI capabilities ensure that the customer is routed to the correct queue or person to own the interaction. What happens when you marry the right business process with telephony and CRM integration?
You ensure the right employee, at the right time, equipped with the right information, can make each customer interaction a success.
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CRM will be a top priority for enterprise IT spending according to a report released by the research firm Gartner. 2013 and 2014 will see an increase in CRM spending as the business software technology edged out ERP, which previously held the top spot. Office software came in third.
Businesses’ growing need for customer retention and satisfaction are the main catalysts for the rise in CRM spending, the Gartner report said. Many also feel the need to upgrade or purchase new software that integrates better with social media and mobile devices, which now dominate the technology landscape for both professionals and consumers.
Rather than simply tracking online sales, many companies are now adopting a more hands-on approach to customer relations. A basic marketing campaign that does not involve engaging the customers is simply not enough anymore. The competition is stiff, and businesses need a CRM system that can help them meet the customers where they are, whether it is in social media or on the web.
By 2014, a large percentage of organizations in “mature IT environments” like Europe and North America expect to deal with plateaued or even lower IT budgets than previous years. Meanwhile, emerging markets expect to see a large increase, according to Gartner. Those users in non-English speaking countries will be looking for CRM systems that can handle localization, both of the language and legal regulations, for their countries