On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 will be released in Q4 this year, which they’ve outlined as their “most comprehensive CRM release”.
We want to have a look at their key areas of progression, all the new features and functionality, how these updates fit for on-premise and online versions, what this means for current CRM customers and those thinking about deploying a CRM systems and finally, the roadmap ahead for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
The focus of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016
The key areas of progression and focus for Microsoft Dynamics CRM are aligned to the overall strategy of Microsoft under Satya Nadella’s direction, which is to drive a cloud-first mobile-first connected strategy to help productivity.
This coming release is focusing heavily on ensuring an immersive and integrated experience, allowing employees to fulfil all their duties within one screen. This is based on evidence that every time a user switches programs or applications, there is a 40% reduction in productivity and after all, productivity is Microsoft’s core aim. The key ways that they are increasing productivity in this release are:
- Seamless integration of applications
- Enhanced and connected mobile experience
- Increased business intelligence and analytics
Now let’s see how this is achieved…
New features and functionality
One connected Microsoft experience: Microsoft has really focused on bringing all its applications together. This release will allow users to open any applications, such as Word, Excel, OneDrive for Business documents, PowerPoint and SharePoint documents, within CRM so you can keep the CRM context and avoid opening multiple windows. This also applies to the CRM mobile app and includes the ability to open Microsoft applications across devices such as iPads or iPhones.
CRM app for Outlook: Users can already access CRM for Outlook through the desktop version but this is going to be enhanced by surfacing CRM information directly into your inbox. Mobile browser capabilities are being enhanced to include support for Firefox, Safari for Mac and Outlook for Mac and users will be able to track emails and add contacts to CRM within emails on mobile browsers. This update will only be available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
Office Delve in CRM: Office Delve is powered by Ofice Graph - you can read about these in detail in our article “What is Office Delve and Office Graph” here. Delve proactively surfaces trending and relevant content based on machine learning within your CRM to help you find relevant information more quickly – again, with the aim of increasing productivity.
Excel enhancements: The last release saw improvements in Excel integration with the ability to open data within Excel directly within CRM. This ability has been enhanced further to ensure a more fluid user experience and increased productivity by conducting analysis in familiar templates within the CRM context.
Cortana integration: Cortana integration is being extended, previously only being able to search for records and to create contacts and meetings. Now Cortana integration will embed sales activities, accounts and opportunities too. Please note, this will be a Preview feature for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online only.
Guided user experience: This new release is also bringing a guided user experience to help speed up training and user adoption by showing new users how to use CRM. All guided assistance is tailored to suit different job roles and will guide the user through different content dependent on their requirements.
Mobile UI update: The mobile user interface (UI) is being updated for an improved user experience. There will be 15 types of display controls that can be associated with data fields. This will help to show data more visually, such as showing date-related information in a calendar UI.
Auto Document Generation: Using pre-defined Word and Excel templates you can now create documents through minimal clicks to create personalised documents without any need for data extraction. You can customise and manage your templates to create branded material automatically.
Full offline mobile experience: Users will be able to enjoy the full and seamless offline experience via mobile apps, so you are no longer reliant on connectivity! This includes creating, editing and deleting records, which can then be synced when a connection is found. This could be particularly helpful for sales teams that want to be able to access and use CRM when they cannot find a connection. This will only be available for CRM Online customers.
Mobile document management: Users will be able to open any documents within the CRM mobile app to enjoy an immersive experience and avoid having to navigate through different applications. Combined with the document integrations with SharePoint and OneDrive this means users can enjoy a single mobile experience by viewing their documents in CRM and simply click back to return to where they were.
Mobile device management: As more work is achieved through mobile devices, security is an important priority. This next release will being the integration of Microsoft InTune, which can help secure data for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Other InTune policies can be supported, such as PIN enforcement and data encryption enforcement.
Updates outside of Microsoft Dynamics CRM
As well as making updates to the core CRM system, Microsoft is also updating Microsoft Social Engagement and Unified Service Desk for customer service, both of which are available to CRM customers with a Professional license and above. Microsoft are also extending the functionality of Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, which is licensed as a separate product to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, to give enhanced marketing capabilities to organisations.
We are Microsoft Gold Partners and help you gain the most cost effective license options for your requirements. If you would like any further information on any of these solutions or if you have any questions regarding licensing then contact us.
How does this affect Online and On-Premise customers?
The way Microsoft releases CRM updates has changed (we actually wrote a whole article on this called “Microsoft Dynamics CRM: Change your update approach”). Customers with CRM Online can receive automatic updates so they benefit from the latest functionality, but you can also delay the updates to perform important testing and development if required. The benefit of CRM Online is that you receive all updates as they happen (both minor and major), so all the features listed above will be available for Online customers.
In comparison, on-premise customers have to manually update their system – or their CRM partner will update it for them while carrying out the necessary checks and tests to ensure all existing functionality and workflows remain intact. Instead of receiving any minor updates, which occur approximately four time a year, on-premise will receive any previous minor updates when the next major update occurs, which can delay their ability to benefit from new functionality.
As this 2016 release is a major release it will apply to both Online and on-premise customers, however some functionality will not be available for on-premise customers yet - such as the new CRM app for Outlook and the enhanced offline mobile experience.
How does this affect potential CRM customers?
If you are considering adopting or switching to Microsoft Dynamics CRM then you must first decide on your deployment preference. You can read more about Cloud versus On-premise here. If you choose Dynamics CRM Online then you will automatically receive the latest functionality but if you are considering an on-premise solution then it may be worth waiting for Q4 before installation to benefit from the new functionality. However, choosing to deploy a CRM system is by no means quick process as you will have to undergo analysis, auditing, project scoping and system design before implementation, so the earlier you start, the better.
One of our favourite aspects of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is how rapidly it evolves and remains cutting-edge thanks to continual development, allowing its customers to stay ahead of the competition. We can’t wait to pass on these improved features to our clients! If you would also like to benefit from the improved release then we can help; whether you have an existing Microsoft Dynamics CRM system in place or not, contact us today to start capitalising on the benefits of CRM.