The CRM world has been flooded the last few days and weeks with posts on the new Dynamics CRM 2016 from Microsoft. Let me recap them for you, discuss the most important new features and give you some food for thought as I certainly have doubts about some of the new enhancements.
New general features
Building a beautiful document based on CRM data is now simplified with Document Generation. With one click users can easily generate a document from CRM using pre-defined Word and Excel templates. Authors can manage the pre-defined templates and using a wizard like flow build custom templates in Word or Excel. Document templates are role based by entity to ensure users have the proper content to meet their needs. Word and Excel documents generated from CRM will open as a downloaded document with the exception of CRM Online where Excel documents will be rendered in the Immersive Excel Online capability.
Food for thought: How will these pre-defined templates be managed as the old way of managing templates in CRM, through the Dynamics CRM app for Outlook, wasn’t really user friendly. Building a Word template in the video looks easy to do for an administrator, but I’m doubtful an end user can do this. Furthermore, will this support older Office versions?
CRM App for Outlook
The Microsoft Dynamics CRM App for Outlook makes it easy to track emails, add contacts from within an email or even create new records to track emails against the browser on PC or Mac or mobile browser on phone. The CRM App for Outlook will expand support to include Firefox, Safari for Mac and Outlook for Mac in addition to the currently supported IE and Chrome.
Food for thought: will Microsoft also update and polish it current CRM for Outlook plugin? In my opinion, the current desktop version could use an extra update to make it more smooth and user friendly. Furthermore, if you read well, the CRM app for Outlook does not support Window’s own browser Edge.
Salespeople can now view sales data in familiar Excel templates, perform what-if analysis, and upload the changes, all while maintaining the work context. Export and analyze data in Excel from your mobile device with added support for the CRM for Tablets and Phones apps.
Food for thought: the current CRM Online has already Excel integration in a more basic version. You can export a view to Excel online and modify the data, which works quite well. I rather have my doubts on a possible “what-if analysis”. To create these kind of analyses, you would need to duplicate and recreate data (e.g. data A results in X, modify data A to become result Y). Why shouldn’t these kind of analyses not be created in Power BI or why wouldn’t you create these kind of calculations in the current CRM environment itself?
Information comes to you proactively by surfacing Trending Documents from Office Delve inside CRM. Find what you need and discover new content and connections on a dashboard in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Food for thought: another tool in the Office 365 portal, another integration. It seems everything needs to be connected with Dynamics CRM and so Office Delve will also be connected. Is this truly necessary? Furthermore, if you look closely, you’ll be able to share the post which has surfaced by Delve on Yammer, which in their turn is also integrated with Dynamics CRM, which in return is integrated with SharePoint and finally is being used by Delve for contextual information. I’m looking forward to these kind of circular arguments in the future.
OneDrive for Business
OneDrive for Business has been added to complement how users store and share contextual content in CRM. Get a consolidated view of documents across SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, and Office 365 Groups within the context of the CRM record.
Food for thought: Setting up the different security settings for a CRM environment gets more difficult if you start to add integration like SharePoint and now OneDrive for Business. I’m wondering if we’re going to see a central security hub in which all access to every integration can be managed.
Microsoft is taking the Cortana integration to the next level by embedding sales activities, accounts and opportunities into Cortana to surface what’s most relevant to salespeople at any time – across both personal and professional sources.
Food for thought: As I do not own a Windows phone, I have not been able to test out the Cortana integration. Therefore I’m not going to give any comment on this feature. If you have tested it, feel free to leave a reply in the comment section below.
Voice of the Customer
Dynamics CRM 2016 includes a new survey designer to create and send out questionnaires to collect feedback from customers about your products or services. Customers can take a survey on a phone, tablet, or computer. When a customer completes a survey, rules in Dynamics CRM can trigger follow-up actions that occur immediately. Survey responses are stored with a customer’s record in CRM, so your teams see the customer feedback history as they work a sale or resolve a service case.
Food for thought: I’m very curious to test out this new feature, but I am wondering how the answer on the questionnaires will be captured in the CRM record. Will this be through a webpage?
Next generation search
This enhanced search experience provides a single list of results across entities, sorted by relevance to the search text, matched to any word across any search enabled field in any search enabled entity. This new search capability will be off by default for everyone. Once enabled, end users will still have the existing multi-entity Quick Find experience, which has been renamed to Categorized Search, available in the user interface.
Food for thought: I like this enhancement, but I’m worried that it may be becoming to powerful as it is going to look through every record and the lines within this record for the enabled entities. This way, you are going to receive too many possible matching results.
New features with the interactive service hub
The interactive service hub comes loaded with a multi-stream dashboard specifically targeted at Tier One agents. Users can view and act on their workload across multiple data streams. The streams can show data from Views or Queues (e.g.: My Activities, My Cases, Cases from Queues I’m a member of etc.). Interactive charts provide a visual snapshot of key metrics related to the work items, and also double up as visual filters which allow agents to slice and dice the data. An additional level of filtering is available with Global Filters to bring focus to the relevant items. Customizers/Administrators can choose from four layouts to build these dashboards.
The interactive service hub also comes pre-loaded with a single-stream dashboard for Tier Two Agents. It comes with a single data stream on the left which would typically show an aggregate view of the workload. The stream can show data from Views or Queues (e.g.: All Active Cases). Like the multi-stream dashboards, single-stream dashboards also come with interactive charts that can be used to filter data. The Tiles on the right side (shown in blue) show a count of records from a Queue or a View. Users can get a peek of the records by selecting the tile. Customizers/Administrators can choose from four layouts to build these dashboards
Food for thought on the dashboards: First thing that came to my mind was: “I do hope they do not use those colors in the final version!”. Furthermore, I’m wondering how easy to build these dashboards will be. The current dashboards are easy to build, but they do lack a proper “save and close” button.
Modern and intuitive design
The case form design allows agents to find and act on data with reduced clicks and navigation. It unifies customer interactions and pulls together all related information, enabling agents to be productive and view what’s most relevant at all times. The Guided Business Process is further enhanced to show process stage information as a fly out. The timeline (Interaction Wall) allows for rich time and record based filtering capabilities. Quick actions on search result, allow you to perform every day functions with ease, such as marking a task as complete or responding to a customer’s email. The Reference Panel is geared towards a highly
configurable experience that allows you to always show relevant related data. Agents have full access to the customer record and can see recent cases, eligible entitlement, and any other relevant information. With integrated Knowledge agents can deliver solutions to customers. This design pattern extends to other entities such as Account and Contact, as well as Activities.
Food for thought: the new design looks great! But I’m wondering why they only did this to the case forms? Is this a test to remodel the entire CRM organization in the future?
Enhanced knowledge base and global content model on CRM enables organization to create a single source of knowledge for the whole organization. A new content editor and editing experience helps teams keep knowledge articles approved and up to date. The curation process is inspired by a Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) methodology.
Food for thought: I wasn’t a big fan of the old knowledge management, so I do hope this enhancement brings the right improvements (easy content editing and iteration, easy search mode, …)
New mobile features
Mobile offline support
Users of Dynamics CRM Online will be able to get full offline experience with mobile apps. This provides the ability to get your work done even when there is interruption in connectivity. Users will be able to create, change and delete records while offline. Automatic playback of offline actions helps synchronize local changes with Dynamics CRM Online. The mobile apps provide a seamless user experience when switching between online (connected) and offline modes.
Food for thought: Resco has brought us a long time ago the ability of offline support so I’m a bit disappointed it took Microsoft this long to develop the feature. Nonetheless it’s a good thing Microsoft is starting to invest in the mobile experience of Dynamics CRM.
View documents in context of opportunity, case or any other entity, right within the CRM mobile apps. Users can seamlessly open various Microsoft Office documents stored in SharePoint or OneDrive for Business from within the CRM mobile apps (tablets and phones). For example, you can open a proposal presentation in the CRM app using Microsoft PowerPoint for iPad or the deal summary using Microsoft Word for iPhone. After reviewing the document, you can easily return back to the CRM app by just tapping the ‘back’ button.
Food for thought: As with the offline support, Resco has offered this feature already to users. I’m curious to see how easy it will be to enable the integration in the CRM app between Dynamics CRM and SharePoint or OneDrive for Business.
App-to-app deep linking
Enables other mobile apps (such as email or your custom mashup apps) to link and directly navigate to a record, view or dashboard within the CRM mobile app. In simple terms, this provides a URL addressable form/view/dashboard for mobile scenarios.
Food for thought: Ok, last time I’m going to say this; this feature has been offered by Resco a while ago! Microsoft is just playing ‘catch up’.
The mobile management story will be extended with the integration of Microsoft Intune. Customers will be able to secure the CRM data in BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) scenarios with Mobile Application Management (MAM) capabilities of Intune. This allows users to separate their personal data and corporate data on their own devices. The integration utilizes Intune App SDK and we will release policy managed (MAM-protected) apps for CRM in the Android and iOS app stores.
Policy managed CRM mobile apps can support Intune management policies such as: PIN enforcement, Prevent data leakage on the device (for example, disable copy + paste to personal apps), Enforce encryption of app data at rest, App-level selective wipe
Food for thought: I lied previous time when I would’t mention Resco anymore, but hey, “app-level selective wipe” is something I have been doing for quite the while with my Mobile projects in the Resco Mobile CRM app. But to be honest, I’m glad Microsoft is finally investing in the mobile experience it is offering to users. I have been able to fiddle around with Microsoft Intune and it does seem quite user friendly.
Data encryption for CRM Online (server)
CRM Online currently offers the ability to encrypt the full customer database by leveraging SQL Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) to perform real-time I/O encryption and decryption of the data and log files to provide data encryption at-rest. Through the approach customers can seamlessly protect the database without affecting any of the core capabilities of CRM Online. In this scenario, Microsoft manages the keys and handles the management of encryption. This is available today on demand. In addition to encryption at rest, a common ask from customers is the ability to have control over the encryption keys that are used for encrypting the database. This provides great control to the customer as it enables them change keys or revoke access on demand in a completely self-service manner. In this model, customers generate a key for encryption and upload it to a vault controlled by the customer. The CRM service then uses this key to encrypt the data for that specific customer.
Compliance and data protection
Continuing with the effort to be transparent, Microsoft has established the CRM Trust Center as a single location for you to access all information regarding our approach to security and compliance. Each time they receive a new certification information will be posted at this location. Microsoft has achieved a number of industry certifications which ensures that they are meeting the appropriate regulatory and country requirements.
Bulk Data Loader for CRM Online
Bulk Data Loader for Dynamics CRM Online is a new cloud service built by the Dynamics team. The main purpose of this service is to enable bulk import/export of data into Dynamics CRM Online. This tool will allow uploading large data files to cloud staging tables where you can perform lite data quality functions and then push the data into CRM Online. This service will also support recurring data import/export. The Bulk Data Loader will be accessed from a link on the CRM Admin Center website that will redirect users to the Dynamics LCS (Life Cycle Services) website
Food for thought: I do not believe anything about this new feature as it has not be shown anywhere. The screenshots going with the description are quite misleading as these screen captures show you the Dynamics Connector (which is quite honest, quite a bad product from Microsoft!).
The new features and enhancements look quite promising and will only offer extra added value to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Personally I’m always a bit pessimistic about the new integrations between Dynamics CRM and other Microsoft products, but I do have good hopes up for it. Next, it is good to see that investments are being made in the Dynamics app for mobile phones and tablets. As salespersons need to be more and more flexible and always ‘on the go’, the Dynamics app will help them maximizing the full potential of Dynamics CRM.
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