By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated June 05, 2014.
After inking a strategic partnership with Salesforce last week, Microsoft is rolling out its Dynamics CRM spring wave. The latest iteration comes with Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, Microsoft Social Listening, and a new Unified Desk.
The spring wave integrates marketing, sales and customer care tools with Microsoft productivity apps like Microsoft Office 365, Yammer, Lync, Skype, SharePoint and Power BI for Office 365.
Bob Stutz, corporate vice president at Microsoft Dynamics CRM, said the company focused its development efforts on understanding what customers need. “We redesigned our user interface, implemented a six-month rapid release cycle, made three acquisitions and built many new features -- all culminating in the wave of releases we are bringing to market today,” he said.
This is Really Different
Social listening is a much-anticipated update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The tool lets sales, marketing, and service professionals tap into conversations on social media platforms to get real-time feedback on their brands, products, competitors, campaigns, and issues that could impact their businesses.
Microsoft points to a prime example of the practical applications of social listening at Sealord, a global sustainable fishing enterprise. Sealord uses Microsoft Social Listening to better understand its stakeholders, including their beliefs about key industry and sustainability issues, and the chatter from organizations and individuals influencing opinions in this area.
When the topic of shark-finning sparked social media outrage, for instance, Sealord listened in to social channels and leveraged the opportunity. The company took a clear stand on the issue and won global recognition and achieved a reach that it could measure, understand, and communicate internally.
“Without Microsoft Social Listening, we would not have had the opportunity to hear what was top-of-mind for our stakeholders and the community we serve, and ensure Sealord’s work to be sustainable in these areas was understood,” said Alison Sykora, public affairs and communications manager at Sealord.
We caught up with Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to get his take on the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM wave. He told us the company clearly believes a big part of its future lies in pursuing and capturing a strong position in cloud computing.
“Moving ahead, Microsoft can’t depend only on its traditional operating system and productivity apps,” King said. “It’s got to continue expanding into new markets -- and CRM offers a critical piece of that path ahead. In essence, Microsoft wants to be a full-service business applications provider. So continuing to develop and provide new applications on the Dynamics CRM platform is critical going forward.”
Microsoft and Salesforce.com last Thursday announced a partnership that will see the two tech giants collaborate on solutions to connect Salesforce's customer relationship management apps and platform to Microsoft Office and Windows. King called the alliance important for both companies and a new level of maturity at Microsoft.
“The new level of friendship and agreeability between Microsoft and Salesforce doesn’t mean that Microsoft is going to bow down before Salesforce and give up on Dynamics CRM,” King said. “This week’s announcement is a good way to underline that -- partnership agreements aside -- Microsoft will continue to play and innovate in this space.”