Update Rollup 6 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 introduced a new system of real time notifications known as Activity Feeds. Users can view a common Record Wall of all the records they follow or for each individual record to get a quick overview of important events.
Out of the box, administrators can easily create rules to post updates when an important event occurs on a record. Just a few examples are:
- An account is flagged as on credit hold.
- A new $100,000 order is created.
- The expiration date on a contract is 30 days away.
Users can also use the Activity Feeds functionality to post their own status updates or comment on existing updates. This provides a useful way for users to be able to collaborate on records, and, in conjunction with the built in support for Microsoft Lync, each other.
Activity Feeds can be extended using the APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) Microsoft provides to include data from an almost unlimited set of sources. Data from popular social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, RSS feeds or other line of business applications are all candidates to enhance your data within CRM.
As an example, a Windows Service application could be created to run in the background and gather data from Twitter and post it to an account’s record wall. Taking this approach would allow users to view business related data from Twitter even if the organization is using a web content filter that would normally block access.
To facilitate the Twitter data retrieval, we’ll create two new fields on our account entity. One field will contain the Twitter handle and one field to record the last Tweet that was retrieved.
(Both will be text fields, by default CRM does not have an integer field large enough to hold the ID of a Tweet)
We will also use Linq to Twitter to handle connecting to Twitter and gathering the data we need.
Here is an example of retrieving data from Twitter and posting it to a CRM Activity Feed.
Our result is Twitter activity recorded inside CRM.
As you can see, this is a great way to incorporate related, outside information into CRM to create a comprehensive view and enhance the data already entered in CRM.
By, Jason Lattimer, Software Developer, Avastone Technologies LLC, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner – Fox Cities and Milwaukee WI