Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a great year ahead with 8 releases planned for 2014, showing that Microsoft are continually investing in their systems and ensuring Dynamics CRM stays as one of the worlds’ top CRM choices.
Dynamics CRM now has 4 million users worldwide (compared to 3 million in 2013) and Microsoft are known as being one of the top R&D spenders: investing over $9 billion annually into maintenance, development and updates of their products.
This year, Microsoft are continuing to develop the core CRM functionality but they are also particularly focusing on developing: Social Listening, Marketing automation and Service Desk improvements due to recent acquisitions– and in usual Microsoft tradition, all of these have their own codenames.
Overall, the roadmap shows three releases for Q2, one release for Q3 and four releases for Q4, making it an impressive year for Dynamics CRM. We want to give an overview of the year ahead for Dynamics CRM as we enter Q2 and prepare for the first three releases – Leo, Mira & Subra, but we have gone into more detail for these 3 upcoming releases in separate articles.
Microsoft stay on-trend by paying attention to what their customers want and need, in order to allow them to also keep ahead of the game. As stated in their preview guide ‘The explosion of the social conversation along with proliferation of mobile technology has changed our lives, more than we ever could have imagined.’ Businesses can feel the pressure to stay on top of social media, deliver effective marketing campaigns and ensuring all customers are happily dealt with through multiple channels. Therefore Microsoft Dynamics is being improved to allow for this by bringing in Social Listening abilities (Subra), Marketing Automation (Mira) and a Unified Customer Service experience (Leo).
Leo (& Vega in Q4)
Both Leo and Vega are confirmed to be updates for both on-premise and CRM Online, instead of just CRM Online as previously thought, although there has not been much information on the Q4 Vega release yet. The main changes through the Leo update will be to the Service module (as Marketing and Sales were the focus to the CRM 2013 release and are also being nicely covered by Mira & Subra). This is going to bring together the final Service element so that when potential customers (through Marketing and Sales) become current customers and have any issues, Customer Services can go above and beyond their expectation to ensure these current customers are happy, satisfied and loyal.
While there will be even more developments to the Service side in Q4 with the integration of Parature (see below) the Leo release will see a new Unified Service Desk – to allow service agents to do all their work (logging, research, resolution etc.) in one program. This has brought in some handy features, such as SLA (Service Level Agreement) timers to ensure timely responses, updated case forms with quick-views on important information, call scripts, improved parent/child case capabilities and case merging as well as a fantastic Knowledgebase within CRM to allow for quick research and the presentation of additional information to allow agents to go that extra mile.
For screen shots and more detailed changes, please take a look at our Leo article here.
Mira will become Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and is based on MarketingPilot technology bought in 2012. We’ve gone into a lot more detail of the Q2 Dynamics Marketing release here as there is so much involved but as an overview, the Mira release will bring Marketing Automation to companies to allow for a single repository for all communications. This will ensure consistent message delivery, single location to allow correct information to be in one quick-to-find place, simple campaign management and overview, email marketing automation and clear reports to demonstrate ROI and marketing/campaign effectiveness. As well as the Q2 release we will also later see another update in Q4, codenamed ‘Electra’.
This will be known and Microsoft Social Listening, using Netbreeze technology purchased one year ago. Social Listening in general, is being deployed to give customers an insight into everything social media: keeping track of buzzwords or campaigns, instantly seeing trends and sentiments associated with keywords/phrases and viewing competition to allow you to listen and analyse before going on to monitor and respond with intelligent insight. This is a key focus to Microsoft and as such we will be seeing another 2 updates this year – one in Q3 (Libra) and one in Q4 as well (Hydra – there’s a constellation theme to the codenames this year).
To read about Social Listening in more detail (with images) please click here.
Finally, in January of this year Microsoft purchased Parature, a leading customer service software company, to help further improve the Services side of Dynamics CRM. While the integration into Dynamics CRM is not expected until Q4 2014 we can look forward to more information on what it will bring, including improved Knowledgebase (quick answers and support issues along with helpful downloads), Real-time chat for instant online support and Facebook portal with FAQs and help desk tickets.
To conclude, CRM has always been about giving companies valuable insights to all aspects of their business but with the key priority going to insights into the customer. As customers have adapted and become more empowered in the current era, so must businesses, and these releases for Microsoft Dynamics CRM are ensuring just that. Whether for Marketing, Sales or Service – Microsoft is making sure its CRM system is adapting to work with and analyse information across all customer channels, giving its users more in-depth insights and allowing companies that use it to deliver targeted, insightful and smarter communications to customers – whether potential or existing.
As a Microsoft Partner in Customer Relationship Management, our team of CRM experts here at Chorus are here to help discuss any potential CRM projects or simply advise you on the latest available in Dynamics CRM, so please feel free to contact us here.