Microsoft have been in the customer relations management (CRM) game for a decade, and on July 28th their latest product, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, went into closed beta testing in preparation for a release sometime before the end of the year.
So, what can CRM users expect from the software giant? So far, of course, we only have Microsoft’s view, which is – as you’d expect – that this is going to be a fantastic product. Their last release was in 2011, and that system did indeed get good reviews in general.
Microsoft promise a ‘reimagined’ user experience that will put practical, useful information easily at hand and even claim that MS Dynamics CRM will ‘reignite the passion’ sales, marketing and customer services workers feel for their jobs.
Microsoft says Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 release has been based around five themes:
- A cleaner, faster interface;
- Processes that allow quick responses to changing circumstances;
- On the go access;
- Collaborative processes between departments;
- Improvements to the user platform.
The upshot of all this should be that, “users recognise value, opportunity and insight immediately — either on the road or in the office,” says Microsoft.
The user interface should offer a single point of access to all information, with no pop ups or screen switching. Data entry and record creation is said to be super simple and customer records can be made more personal with images and map locations.
Users can now design processes and are guided through them with lists of options and with a clear idea of where you are going. Microsoft claims this is a breakthrough in CRM; a change from focusing on transactions to making outcomes the centre of the system.
You’ll get just one process already installed when you buy Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 along with samples, but new ones can be downloaded online. (See picture below, you can find more pictures here or here .
Everyone is going mobile these days and Microsoft have made sure this edition of Dynamics CRM is accessible from tablets and smart phones. There will be a slight lag between the release of the Dynamics CRM and its availability on phones.
Microsoft’s purchase of enterprise social network Yammer and Skype make sense now, as the use of both is integrated within Dynamics CRM 2013. Communications are a big part of this new release, which has (or soon will) email connectivity, the ability to Skype of phone call from within the CRM as well as chat and instant messaging. Webmail like Gmail and Hotmail will also be supported.
Microsoft also continue their shift towards cloud computing with regular updates which can be scheduled to suit users. Actions in the CRM can be created and edited even by non-developers.
Naturally, there is full compatibility with Microsoft’s office products with which the new interface shares many superficial similarities judging by the screen shots made available.
A release date for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 is yet to be confirmed, with two updates to complete some of the integration with email and phone systems due sometime in 2014.
As few people have actually got their hands on this new release, we shall have to trust what Microsoft is saying for now, but things sound promising and the interface shots look great. You can find out more and take a test drive here.