Microsoft’s Recent Investments Highlighted In CRM Statement of Direction and December 2012 Service Update

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Last week, the Microsoft CRM team released their vision of CRM in two important documents; the December 2012 Service Update Preview Guide and the November 2012 Statement of Direction.   These documents highlight Microsoft CRM’s planned transformation from a data and lists-centered approach to an experience that focuses on user adoption and valuable, insightful user experiences.  This is a refreshing move from products and features.  It’s also consistent with what the CRM product team has been preaching the last few months.  One change was a focus on business process, which I highlighted in this blog.  Then there was the addition of the recent investments, which if managed correctly, should converge to make Microsoft CRM the true best-in-class enterprise platform.  The charter notes that “Microsoft is the strongest unifier of Microsoft technologies in the business applications space and specifically CRM.”  Microsoft CRM General Manager Dennis Michalis recently acknowledged this sea change to a group assembled at CRMUG in Seattle:

Sometimes you have to take calculated risks - to think about where you are going to go to do something no one else has done. For Dynamics CRM we aspire to do something differently and the message that I have for you today is different from what I could have shared with you a year ago. It's built in part on what Microsoft as a company is doing, it's built in part from a technology perspective and what we want to achieve ... next


SNAGHTML1466a5cbCentral to the strategy has been acquisitions.  The most head-scratching was the MarketingPilot purchase; not because it did not make sense but because many in the channel were not familiar with the firm.  Some of the industry press was calling this a Marketing Automation firm.  A closer look at it’s offerings reveal a company focused on marketing management – both for marketing and advertising firms, and for marketing departments inside of larger firms. Their product offering is focused on Agency Management,  Media Planning and Buying, and Integrated Marketing Management.  An analyst for Gleanster commented that MarketingPilot, has “expanded to encompass an extremely broad range of marketing capabilities, including lead prioritization and scoring, and may have the most extensive list of marketing resource management capabilities of any vendor under the sun.”

Bob Stutz, Microsoft CRM Corporate Vice President, said in his blog, “This acquisition is a very exciting step forward for us, and will accelerate our ability to better meet the needs of CMO's through rich business intelligence, and better enable marketers to successfully plan, execute, monitor, and optimize customer interactions across digital, social and traditional channels, and measure ROI.”

Neither the Statement of Direction or the Release Document mention MarketingPilot by name, but the SOD lists brand management, multi-channel campaign management, and campaign analytics as focus and investment areas.


Microsoft’s purchase of Skype, which we highlighted in this blog last year, brings a great technology brand into this new integrated picture.  The Release Guide notes that with this new integration, users will be able to initiate outbound calls directly from CRM forms.  What’s exciting is that this is not just Skype to Skype, but from Skype to phones.  The Microsoft-created video about the Polaris release features a good video example (below) of collaboration via Skype from a CRM form.  The video appears to tell the all-to-familiar story of a project manager building an Ewok shelter with the help of a Surface tablet running the new release of Microsoft CRM.  It’s interesting to see the ‘Call Report’ pop-up when the call completes.  This is consistent with the Flow UI that is showing up everywhere in this new release.  As we noted last year, Skype is a very familiar consumer technology tool and the closer the integration is between Skype and an enterprise software system, the greater the user adoption will be.

In the December 12 release, Skype will need to be installed as a separate application on the user’s PC.  In future release, this will not be a requirement.


Last week we highlighted the deeper CRM-Yammer integration that was announced at YamJam ‘12 (Yammer wins best conference title!). The new integration allows CRM users to see Yammer feeds inside of CRM records. Follow and Like buttons are also embeddable in CRM records and once a record is changed in a predetermined way, a page is created in Yammer for further collaboration and discussion. The new integration allows true multi-point collaboration. Yammer execs point out that even when only one or two business areas use CRM, the entire enterprise can still collaborate because they are hooked in with Yammer.

The release preview guide offers more details around Yammer’s effect on document management collaboration and mobile accessibility.

Microsoft will enable the ability to post messages from Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Yammer and vice versa. These messages can relate to Microsoft Dynamics CRM records and events or even documents…….Users can participate in social conversations directly within Microsoft Dynamics, through the Yammer web and desktop applications as well as apps running on Microsoft (Windows Phone), Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) mobile devices.

by Customer Effective, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner

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