mikkolem - Fotolia


What you can expect in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 spring wave is about to hit, offering social engagement features, integration with recently acquired technologies and more.

Microsoft is about to update its ever-growing Dynamics CRM portfolio in three important areas and integrate technologies...

from two recent acquisitions.

The spring wave of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 updates includes technologies from the recent acquisitions of FieldOne Systems LLC and Adxstudio Inc., along with other significant enhancements.

The main areas of improvement revolve around transformative service, community engagement and intelligence, and include updates to all CRM online services -- Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2016 Update 1, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing 2016 Update and Microsoft Social Engagement 2016 Update.

Dynamics CRM community engagement

In September, Microsoft acquired Adxstudio -- the tool of choice of CRM implementation partners and developers to create Web portals and online engagement tools for Dynamics CRM. As an add-on, Microsoft aims to provide the community with self-service portals for CRM implementations. Initially, it will be available with several preconfigured portal tools, including the following:

Customer service. Includes self-service information and support resources to increase customer satisfaction, reduce call center volumes and ultimately allow service agents to focus their efforts on issues that have the greatest impact.

Employee self-service. Streamlines common workforce tasks and empowers employees with a definitive source of knowledge. The self-service portal development options will also offer customers the ability to create something completely bespoke to their needs.

As an advertisement for its portal features, Microsoft rolled out a new Dynamics CRM roadmap page. It's a good resource to find upcoming releases and features under development.

Service management

Microsoft also acquired service management software provider FieldOne last year. This technology has been integrated into Dynamics CRM 2016 as part of the spring wave and offers support for field and project services. Organizations can schedule, manage and deliver on-site service to their customers, from field technicians who support multiple customers in a single day to more complex, multiday projects.

With the field service tool, companies can set proficiency and competency levels and set them against work orders to match appropriate resources against a task -- the right person for the right job. Being able to trace incident creation in CRM right through to completion of work orders gives organizations a complete picture of customers.

Project Service enables complex, multiday engagements and optimizes resourcing with intelligent, skills-based assignments. A familiar visual project planning interface will allow the user to include predecessors and task scheduling through to sales and cost information. All this is accomplished with the Dynamics CRM 2016 framework, giving companies a full view of customer interactions, from sale to service and beyond.

Dynamics CRM has provided a rich social engagement product for some time, and the spring wave builds on this.

Project service will also greatly support the need to estimate and quote contract work. It allows companies to capture expenses, time and progress in real time.

Along with these two major improvements, Microsoft will also roll several other enhanced features. Guided navigation options will offer context- and scenario-based tasks to users. This will not only greatly aid onboarding of users, but will also apply business rules for all users.

Social CRM updates

Social engagement with customers is becoming a business requirement, as opposed to a nice-to-have -- and with that, there are a number of social CRM tools for business.

Dynamics CRM has provided a rich social engagement product for some time, and the spring wave builds on this functionality with several new features to support marketing, sales and service, sentiment capturing and social engagement.

Microsoft Social Engagement remains available as both a standalone and integrated CRM app.

Some of the new functionality will include social engagement in discussion boards, Instagram and other blogs, including Tumblr and WordPress in all languages. Geolocation support will also be added for forums and discussion boards, Instagram and Facebook. Sharing posts from within Social Engagement has also been enhanced to allow for posts including photos to Facebook and Twitter.

Hand-in-hand with the social enhancements, machine learning from social engagement has been improved with two new scenarios: adaptive learning and automated triage.

Adaptive learning, powered by Azure Machine Learning, enables users to customize sentiment scoring models, and the system will learn from it to reach higher sentiment precision.

For example, a bicycle manufacturer receiving posts with slang expressions such as bargain or cheap can adjust the model to reflect language commonly used by its user communities. Going forward, sentiment analysis will understand that these expressions reflect either a positive or negative comment. With automated triage, Microsoft Social Engagement will automatically detect intention in social posts and, using machine learning, route them as cases or leads into CRM -- boosting sales performance and efficiency.

Mobile user experience has been greatly enhanced in Dynamics CRM 2016, and has moved from a preview to general availability for online customers. Offline capability will allow users to view, update and add records while not connected to the network.

Intelligence and more in Dynamics CRM

The Dynamics CRM 2016 spring wave also includes an improved Sales Analytics Power BI (business intelligence) pack specifically for sales managers who need a way to analyze sales performance, pipelines and activities, from lead to sale. The Power BI Service Manager pack also allows managers to analyze cases and team activities and includes detailed metrics around handling times and service-level agreements.

Other Dynamics CRM 2016 platform enhancements and improvements include the following:

  • Azure service bus integration enhancements
  • Portal framework to support the integration of Adxstudio Portals
  • Server-side synchronization

In addition, Microsoft added support for custom fields on any entity -- a seemingly small change, but probably one of the more requested features. This provides the ability to look up to both account and contact records in a custom field.

Next Steps

Microsoft-Salesforce partnership ushers in new era of interoperability

Dynamics ERP 2016 takes cloud-first approach

How companies are using Dynamics CRM

Dig Deeper on Microsoft Dynamics CRM