Microsoft is zeroing in on a release date for Dynamics CRM 2015.
The newest version of Redmond, Wash.-based software company's CRM on-premise and cloud-based software will ship sometime next month, confirmed Microsoft. And Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant, is coming along for the ride.
Dynamics CRM 2015 will feature integration with Cortana, Microsoft announced in a Nov. 4 statement. "With Cortana, users will be able to set up meetings and reminders; search for contacts, accounts and activities; view customer lists; and create new customer records—all with voice commands," said the company.
Cortana is Microsoft's voice-enabled digital assistant for Windows Phone 8.1. Similar to Apple Siri and Google Now, Cortana enables users to search the Web and perform tasks with spoken commands.
The upcoming release also leans on Microsoft's massive cloud infrastructure, namely Azure, to enable more collaborative experiences across the company's Office business software ecosystem.
Kirill Tatarinov, president of the Business Solutions Division at Microsoft, noted in a company blog post that the software "works seamlessly with Office and Power BI across mobile devices to help increase sales productivity, deliver smarter marketing and boost customer loyalty," courtesy of Microsoft's cloud. "Advances in Dynamics CRM 2015 are designed to address the growing need for businesses to deliver great experiences to their customers by helping them break down the barriers between divisions and collaborate like never before."
Dynamics CRM 2015's barrier-busting capabilities include a new Sales Collaboration panel that encourages both salespeople and marketers to collaborate on marketing efforts. The new Unified Service Desk streamlines customer service workflows and eliminates the need to switch between windows. New social listening features, from Microsoft's acquisition of Netbreeze, allow organizations to monitor social media sentiment toward their brands.
To help organizations get up to speed, Microsoft is preparing 27 industry-specific templates for late-year availability. The new Dynamics CRM Industry Templates include Retail Banking, Cable and Telco Customer Service and Public Sector Case Management, among others.
Microsoft also announced that it had entered into a strategic partnership with Thunderhead.com, a provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS) based real-time, omni-channel customer insight and engagement services.
Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, explained that Thunderhead.com's technology enables sales, marketing and customer service organizations to "very simply develop and visualize a customer journey path, with relevant activities that cross multiple channels," in a separate blog post. "You will learn what journey paths people prefer, what are the bottlenecks and why, so that you can determine the best path for your desired outcome."
For Glen Manchester, CEO and founder of Thunderhead.com, the partnership will help heighten the London-based company's profile. "Customer engagement is now the front line of business, and integration with Microsoft Dynamics allows us to extend the reach of the ONE Engagement Hub to a very large audience."