Microsoft is gearing up for the release of the next major update to its customer relationship management (CRM) platform, Dynamics CRM 2015, the company announced today.
The revamped CRM software, along with enhancements to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Microsoft Dynamics Marketing services, is scheduled to ship during the fourth quarter of 2014. New features are aimed at exposing more of the marketing aspects of running a business to sales professionals and improving interoperability with the company's own ecosystem of productivity software and services.
Features include a new drag-and-drop email editor with predefined templates. For experts at HTML and CSS, an advanced editor mode helps marketers craft customized email communications. An updated Campaign Management Console supports A/B testing and embedded cross-campaign offers.
Key to Dynamics CRM 2015's goal of getting salespeople and marketers on the same page is a new Sales Collaboration panel. According to documentation from Microsoft, the interface gives sales teams "visibility into the campaign activities and can control communications targeting their customers as well as setup and receive alerts based on their interactions."
B2B marketers can capitalize on the product's improved lead scoring—plus the ability to leverage multiple lead scoring models—and Webinar integration. Integrated social listening capabilities provide sales organizations with sentiment analysis and insights on consumers' attitudes toward their brands.
The software's new social listening features stem from Microsoft's acquisition of Netbreeze in March. Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, said in a March 19 statement that the Swiss company's "technology is unique in the way it combines modern methods from natural language processing (NLP), data mining and semantic text analysis to support 28 different writing systems. ... This is a huge benefit over competing solutions that translate to a common language then analyze sentiment from there."
Rounding out Dynamics CRM 2015's enhanced feature set are new marketing resource management capabilities, guided sales processes, and hierarchical forecasting visualizations for territories and sales accounts. A revamped tablet experience for Windows 8, iOS and Android supports syncing of offline changes.
Customers can expect Dynamics CRM to blend more seamlessly into their Office software environments, according to Microsoft. The product "continues to deepen its interoperability" with Office 365 as well as SharePoint, Power BI for Office 365, Lync, Skype and the company's enterprise social networking platform, Yammer.
Dynamics CRM is Microsoft's answer to other software makers that force their customers into piecing together a comprehensive CRM software environment, said Stutz in a Sept. 16 statement. "Unlike vendors that want to separate businesses by selling them countless different clouds and solutions, we have designed Microsoft Dynamics CRM to facilitate the kind of collaboration that businesses need to thrive and grow," he stated.
Nonetheless, Microsoft's approach doesn't preclude the company from pursuing partnerships with its rivals.
On May 29, the company entered into a strategic partnership with Salesforce.com, the leading provider of cloud-based CRM software. Salesforce.com's CEO, Marc Benioff, said at the time that the companies' customers "want this partnership badly." Their shared customers, argued Benioff, "want to be able to work with Office 365, they want to be able to work with Excel, with Outlook, they want to work with all of Microsoft's apps, and they want to be able to work with Salesforce."