• March 18, 2015
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Microsoft Convergence Day 2 Brings Collaborations to Add Value for Customers

ATLANTA—Following a Day 1 filled with announcements about product launches, integrations, and partnerships, the second day of the Microsoft Convergence conference saw much of the same. Microsoft on Tuesday announced several partnerships that will further extend the reach and usability of its Dynamics CRM product.

The first was a deal between Microsoft and InsideSales.com. Through the partnership, InsideSales will offer its complete sales acceleration platform, which includes PowerDialer, PowerStandings, NeuralView, and Vision, to customers using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform. The availability of these solutions will allow customers to apply science to sales data.

Microsoft and FieldOne Systems also announced an agreement to bring the FieldOne Sky field service management solution into the Microsoft Dynamics global independent software vendor program. FieldOne Sky offers customers a holistic solution to enterprise field service organizations.

Deepening a strategic partnership with DocuSign, Microsoft announced that the two companies will bring DocuSign's Digital Transaction Management (DTM) platform to Microsoft Dynamics CRM users around the world. The partnership, which DocuSign originally disclosed last week, will help Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers leverage these digital capabilities to help sales teams close deals in the cloud.

Microsoft also announced the acquisition of intellectual property from Fusion Software, which will add voice-of-the-customer capabilities to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The new capabilities will include rule-based, multichannel feedback capabilities, allowing users to include customer feedback directly in service, sales, and marketing engagements.

Thunderhead announced the availability of a complete enterprise solution for customer engagement based on the integration of its ONE Engagement Hub with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The joint solution is the result of the strategic partnership between Thunderhead and Microsoft that was announced in November.

This integrated solution extends the power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, enabling brands to have meaningful and informed interactions with their customers whenever and wherever they interact with them. It connects customer insight, context, and real-time journey behavior on all digital and offline channels with customer and activity data in Dynamics CRM.

"The integration of Thunderhead and Dynamics CRM technology is a first in the market, bringing a purpose-built solution for customer engagement together with a world-leading CRM solution," Glen Manchester, founder and CEO of Thunderhead, said in a statement. "The real-time digital world has transformed everything about the way consumers communicate and transact with brands. Together, Thunderhead and Dynamics CRM have responded. We're set to transform the way brands manage relationships with their customers and make it easier and more rewarding for customers to interact with brands."

Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Dynamics CRM, called Thunderhead "a partner that is leading efforts in the market for customer engagement."

Teaming up with Microsoft, Ford Motor Co. will expand connected services for customers around the world with the creation of the Ford Service Delivery Network, powered by the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform. Ford and Lincoln owners will benefit from new connectivity services that will keep them better informed and in control of their vehicles at all times.

Building the cloud-based Ford Service Delivery Network on the Azure platform enables Ford to quickly bring new connected features to market, scale up global availability, and provide flexibility for future customer offerings.

Much of Ford's in-auto technology is based on technology originally developed by Tellme Networks, which Microsoft owned from 2007 to 2012, when Microsoft divested itself of most of its Tellme assets to [24]7.

If customers were a little overwhelmed by the flurry of announcements, they were also excited at the prospects that all the partnerships, product launches, and integrations will bring.

"All the announcements are really good for businesses," said Philip Kennedy, director of information technology at jewelry manufacturer and retailer Pandora. "The vision that [Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella] laid out makes complete sense to us and will be good for our business," he says.

Key to that appeal is Microsoft's vision for one platform that brings together many of Microsoft's apps and those of its partners. "We are not in the business of managing software. We would rather spend our IT resources on building the business," Kennedy says. "Having all of [Microsoft's] solutions working together across the board makes a lot of sense to us."

Analysts were also taken aback by just how busy Microsoft has been.

P.J. Jakovljevic, principal industry analyst at Technology Evaluation Centers, observed that Microsoft has finally gotten fully behind its Dynamics CRM product.

"Dynamics is now an important part of Microsoft," he says. "A few years ago, people were talking about Microsoft getting rid of Dynamics. That has definitely changed."

And, with the integrations of Office 365, Skype, and Azure, Jakovljevic also sees Microsoft becoming "a real cloud powerhouse."

The company, he adds, has many products that now rival those from Salesforce. "The only thing Microsoft is lacking is an app store," he quips.

"Microsoft was late to the game with CRM," Jakovljevic adds. "With the acquisitions of Parature, Marketing Pilot, and Netbreeze, and all that Microsoft is doing with them, it is really coming to the game ready to play."

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