• March 4, 2014
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

At Convergence 2014, Microsoft Previews New Dynamics CRM Functionality

ATLANTA—During his keynote Tuesday, which opened this year's Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2014 user conference, Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions, called on businesses to adopt a customer-centric view that would enable them to deliver meaningful customer interactions.

All businesses today, regardless of their industry, Tatarinov told a crowd of 12,000 attendees, are P2P (people to people) rather than B2B or B2C. People, he said, "are much more interdependent than ever before."

As evidence, he pointed to recent statistics that show 1.4 billion Internet users around the world and predictions that there will be 15 billion intelligent connected devices by 2015.

Tatarinov then underscored the importance of technology combined with cultural changes within organizations. "Technology has changed the social fabric, transforming how we engage, connect, and interact with one another," he said. "In this era of the customer, experience is the new currency."

Tatarinov also pointed to the melding of CRM and enterprise resource planning systems, saying in a few years the two will function seamlessly together as a single business solution.

On the technology side, Microsoft used the conference as an opportunity to preview several new capabilities across its Dynamics portfolio. The additions will allow organizations to take advantage of cloud services, run agile operations that exceed customer needs, and help engage customers on their terms across the Web, social media, apps and mobile devices.

The latest release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, expected in the spring, will contain Microsoft Dynamics Marketing to help businesses drive and manage their marketing campaigns, Microsoft Social Listening to empower more employees with deeper insights, and the Unified Service Desk to help businesses engage with and care for customers more personally on any device, at any place and time.

According to Tatarinov, Social Listening follows Microsoft's acquisition of Netbreeze a year ago. It will be offered at no additional charge as part of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online professional licenses; on-premises customers will be offered Microsoft Social Listening for an additional $20 per user, per month.

Wayne Morris, chief marketing officer for Microsoft Dynamics, said Social Listening will "democratize social media for everyone."

The solution, Tatarinov added, will enable businesses "to listen on every channel and make it available to everyone."

Other new features in the Dynamics CRM product incorporate technologies from Microsoft's other two big acquisitions in the past year or so—Marketing Pilot, which Microsoft acquired in October 2012, and Parature, which just closed in January.

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, contains many of the application fundamentals from MarketingPilot, but also now features a visual campaign designer and business intelligence solution that will enable organizations to analyze their campaign budgets against campaign results.

"Marketing smarter creates more opportunities to reach people," Tatarinov said, "without annoying them and giving them what they need at exactly the moment they need it."

Marketing, he added, has experienced the largest organizational change in the past few years, commanding greater buying power and budget priorities.

For customer care, Microsoft Dynamics is also introducing Unified Service Desk (USD). With the application, agents can handle multiple interactions at the same time, with increased automation and the ability to display scripts to guide agents' interactions with customers. With the USD, an agent can run multiple apps, making it easier to connect to back-end systems to look up returns or a back order quickly, the company said.

Microsoft is also introducing a new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Enterprise license, priced at $200 per user, per month. This offers customers all of the functionality offered in the professional license and access to Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and Unified Service Desk.

Both Tatarinov and Morris highlighted the success that Microsoft has had with its Dynamics product line, culminating in 38 straight quarters of growth. "We are very pleased with where we are," Tatarinov said. ""It's a very exciting year for Microsoft Dynamics."

And it's equally exciting for Microsoft as a whole with the recent appointment of Satya Nadella as its new CEO. Tatarinov called it "a new era" for Microsoft.

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