Microsoft is pushing business intelligence capabilities into its customer relationship management software, following a trend by many in the business applications market to include analysis capabilities in their applications.
Microsoft announced Feb. 12 the availability of its namesake Dynamics CRM Analytics Foundation, tools that enable analysis and management of customer-facing processes.
The goal with Analytics Foundation is to make BI an integral part of a companys everyday activities—one that is also tagged as a goal by pure play BI providers who have been trying to proliferate BI throughout the enterprise for a number of years—with moderate success.
Microsofts CRM Analytics foundation essentially lets users track business performance through a dashboard and to create reports quickly, right from their CRM environment.
The Analytics Foundation itself uses unified dimensional models to build analytics that can deliver directly into Dynamics CRM. It offers a number of different capabilities, including real-time business performance management, business reporting and ad hoc analysis and predictive analytics.
Business Performance Monitoring allows users to access a graphical view of their business, and then drill into details. The reporting and ad hoc analysis capabilities uses analytical processing cubes to analyze CRM data—without IT input. The predictive analytics capability uses data mining algorithms within Microsofts SQL Server Analysis Services to detect patterns in customer information streams and then generate recommendations, officials said.
The Analytics Foundation is part of a larger BI program beyond CRM at Microsoft. It taps the companys other technologies, including SQL Server 2005, Office Business Scorecard Manager and Excel. Microsofts PerformancePoint Server 2007, and will also fit into the Dynamics CRM Analytics Foundation.
The Dynamics CRM Analytics Foundation is available through CodePlex, Microsofts open-source Web site, or through Microsofts CRM sandbox, for free download to customers and partners.