The latest version will have tighter integration with Office and Vista, and will be sold alongside Dynamics ERP.
Posted Nov 8, 2006
Microsoft will release a new version of its Dynamics CRM software with functions that mesh with its forthcoming Vista OS and Office 2007 software, the company announced yesterday. Microsoft also detailed a new licensing arrangement, where Dynamics CRM will be added on December 4 to the same price list as its Dynamics ERP software suite. The move will simplify how customers order CRM and other products in the Dynamics line, according to Brad Wilson, general manager of Dynamics CRM. The new version will ship when Office 2007 and Windows Vista ship at the end of November.
The latest version now mimics the look and feel of Office 2007, Wilson says, pointing to a new feature in Vista called gadgets. "Gadgets expose the CRM information directly onto the desktop," he says. "Users don't have to go into the CRM application at all," allowing them to view call lists, activities, and other CRM data points via the desktop.
Other Vista features in Dynamics CRM include role-based capabilities, data visualization, and BI enhancements, as well as unified communications with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. Companies will be able to download analytics data directly into Excel, or, with Exchange Server 2007, will let users store voicemail messages in Outlook and track them automatically in Dynamics CRM.
The tighter integration with Office and Vista will improve end-user adoption, says Rob Bois, research director at AMR Research. "Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the only Dynamics product to be organically built from within Dynamics," Bois says, referring to the fact that the other products, such as Dynamics ERP, were acquired from other companies. Microsoft hasn't released the revenue figures to prove it, but Bois says he believes Dynamics CRM is the top-seller and leader of the Dynamics product line, having become the "poster child" of Dynamics. "It makes sense to bake their CRM offering into Office and Vista. It will only be positive," Bois says.
For security Vista will come with upgraded features that are built into Dynamics CRM. Vista's new BitLocker is designed to prevent unauthorized users from accessing CRM data on laptops. All of these upgrades will be free to customers with active support agreements, Wilson says, and ultimately, Dynamics CRM will be available in 18 languages. By 2008 Microsoft plans to complete a process to mesh all ERP and CRM solutions into a single code base.
Customers will also find that both the Microsoft Dynamics ERP suite and CRM solution will now be sold on Microsoft's Subscription Licensing Model. Through its extensive partner network, Microsoft will let customers either license the applications or subscribe to hosted versions of them or do a combination of both. "We're making it easier for customers to buy both," Wilson says. "We've seen a lot of uptake in recent years from ERP customers looking to add CRM and vise versa."
"This makes a lot of sense," Bois says. "They're clearly reacting to their customers." With more companies looking to integrate CRM with ERP, Bois says the previous method of having to go through two channels "just didn't make a lot of sense," and was "counterproductive."
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