Looking Back At Microsoft Dynamics & CRM in 2016

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Wow! What an amazing year of change and growth in the world of Microsoft Dynamics and CRM.

Here is our pick of the most significant events in 2016 from our view in the UK.

CRM 2016

Back in January, early adopters were deploying Microsoft Dynamics 2016.

Some of the notable updates in this latest version included:


Following its acquisition of Mojo Surveys in 2015, Microsoft released Voice of Customer which added enterprise survey capabilities to Dynamics.

Field Service

Another sign of Microsoft Dynamics’s expanding footprint was the release of a new module that targeted the field service market.

The result of another acquisition, FieldOne was launched as part of the licensing for Dynamics CRM Online Pro before being released as an add-on.

Project Management

We had a new release too with our launch of Project Manager for Microsoft Dynamics. This adds entry-level project management functions to CRM including Gantt chart capabilities.

This was soon followed by an advanced project and sales management module from Microsoft as part of its Spring Wave update.

In contrast to many of the recent product announcements, this new project solution was the result of in-house development by Microsoft rather than the result of another acquisition.

Reflecting the breadth of this solution we needed as many as 6 posts to cover its main functions.

Social Engagement

Microsoft first launched its social listening solution in 2014 but at the start of 2016 there was little evidence to suggest this had gained much take-up.

Derived from another acquisition this wasn’t immediately a natural fit due to its lack of integration with Microsoft Dynamics.

Now renamed, Social Engagement, Microsoft released a series of improvements in 2016 to more closely align this with CRM processes.

Most notable were functions for creating Microsoft Dynamics cases and leads directly from social posts.

This was followed by new capabilities for automated rules to create Dynamics records based on matching social criteria including intent analysis.

CSP Billing

Since Dynamics CRM Online was launched in the UK in 2011, Microsoft exclusively owned the billing relationship. More recently they have sought to delegate control.

In 2015, partners were empowered to bill customer directly for Office 365. During the last year this arrangement was extended to Microsoft Dynamics cloud subscriptions.

Preact took up this opportunity through Microsoft’s new Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program and we were delighted to be awarded the highest Tier 1 status.

More significantly for customers, has been the increase in flexibility and billing support which partners can now deliver through this program.

Office 365 Groups

Another closer alignment between Office 365 and Dynamics in 2016 was the arrival of Office 365 Groups.

Using this new feature, non-Dynamics users could now be connected to opportunities, projects and other processes managed in CRM.

This enables all internal stakeholders to collaborate and contribute to these conversations, even if they don't all use Dynamics.

Business Intelligence

Power BI is an increasingly indispensable intelligence tool enabling business owners and managers to gain new insights from their data.

2016 saw numerous Power BI improvements. One of the most significant was the ability for Microsoft Dynamics users to embed Power BI tiles within CRM dashboards.

During the summer, two major stories emerged in the space of a few weeks.


The first was Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn for $26bn.

We shared our early thoughts, and what this deal could mean for Dynamics users. Numerous other posts speculated on how Microsoft would (or should) connect the prized LinkedIn data with CRM.

With the deal now officially sealed, Microsoft can get to work on the specific integrations outlined by CEO, Satya Nadella earlier this month.

Microsoft Dynamics 365

The second news item had a more immediate impact with the announcement of Microsoft Dynamics 365.

This would be a complex announcement with many pieces.

With the vision of helping organisations digitally transform their processes. And, the unofficial target of giving Salesforce a shove the main goals for Microsoft Dynamics 365 included:

  • Simplifying Dynamics licensing with a focus on role based applications promoting 'buy only what you need'
  • Breaking down silos between business apps - especially between Microsoft’s CRM and ERP solutions
  • Enabling users to easily build and discover apps
  • Utilising recent investments in Office 365, Power BI and Cortana Intelligence

The early result was:

  • Release of dedicated apps including Sales, Customer Service, Project Service & Field Service
  • A new model for licensing by individual apps, plans covering all apps, or a 'light touch' team members option
  • Introduction of Powerapps builder supported by a new common data model and workflow engine
  • Launch of Appstore
  • Processes to transition all Dynamics CRM Online customers to Dynamics 365 upon agreement renewal

The implications of this announcement would take some digesting for everyone in the Microsoft Dynamics community!

Our immediate focus was to share the licensing structure of this new service and we published a series of posts to unpack and explain Dynamics 365.

This included a licensing guide for CRM Online customers and a Dynamics 365 glossary that covered new terms such as the Common Data Model and Microsoft Flow.

As part of the Dynamics 365 packaging we were pleased to see the inclusion of more services that were previously licensed as add-on's.

We’ve already touched on Social Engagement and Voice of the Customer. Both are now significantly more accessible thanks to their inclusion in the new lineup of Dynamics 365 plans and apps.

Full knowledge management is another function that was somewhat fragmented with Dynamics CRM licensing. As a result of the licensing overhaul, this is now widely available in Dynamics 365 to help everyone collaborate and find solutions.

Self-Service Web Portals

Web portals that integrate with CRM have long since been discussed but relatively few have been implemented by small and medium sized businesses.

Earlier in the year, Microsoft introduced a new portal solution following its acquisition of ADXstudios.

Initially available as an add-on, this offers four template options for deploying portals to customers, partners, employees or communities.

With the arrival of Dynamics 365, entitlement to publish a single web portal is now available with every Dynamics 365 plan.

By including web portal capability in the subscription we look forward to helping more customers launch their own portals in 2017.

As the excellent turnout for our web portals webinar in October demonstrated, there is plenty of interest in this technology!

Editable Grids

An announcement that enhances the user experience for many, was editable grids as Microsoft Dynamics finally enables users to make inline edits from list views.

On 1 November, Microsoft Dynamics 365 was officially launched. Overnight, for new customers at least, the Dynamics CRM Online name passed into history.

We look forward to the prospect of working with the additional apps, processes and technologies that Microsoft has announced.

It has been quite a ride and 2017 promises more excitement as we see unprecedented levels of CRM investment and innovation.

Preact are a UK based Microsoft CRM Gold Partner implementing and supporting CRM solutions since 1993. 

Check our blog for more information about Microsoft Dynamics 365 and CRM.

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