Furthering its mission to turn its business email client into a productivity hub, Microsoft released a new add-in for Outlook that integrates Dynamics CRM data and functionality to users' inboxes.
The add-in, dubbed the Dynamics 365 app for Outlook, is part of Microsoft's newly launched Dynamics 365 ecosystem. Backed by the company's cloud, the unified CRM and ERP software platform integrates with Office 365 and uses a modular, app-like approach to help organizations piece together software ecosystems that fit their business needs.
Now, Outlook users can directly interact with Dynamics 365 CRM data without leaving their inboxes.
"With the new app, you can view Dynamics 365 information about all your email recipients, link an email message to a Dynamics 365 record with one click and quickly view your most recently used Dynamics 365 records," Ben Elad, senior program manager at Microsoft Dynamics CRM, wrote in a blog post. The app also supports Dynamics 365 email templates and allows users to insert relevant content quickly as they author emails to colleagues and clients.
"When you're composing an email message, you can also attach knowledge articles or sales literature from Dynamics 365," Elad wrote. The add-in also integrates with Outlook's calendar, enabling users to schedule Dynamics 365 activities, phone calls, tasks and other follow-up actions with in the software. Upon linking Outlook contacts with Dynamic 365, the add-in keeps them in sync, essentially replacing the old Outlook.com add-in.
The add-in works with the Windows, Mac and web versions of the Outlook app and supports on-premises or cloud-based Exchange implementations. Outlook iPhone app support is in the works, Elad said.
Outlook, traditionally used for its email and calendar functionality, is steadily evolving into a nerve center of sorts for the company's business software ecosystem.
Microsoft this week also launched Dynamics NAV 2017, the company's ERP software platform for small and midsize business (SMB). It features an Office integration that enables users to manage the entire quote-to-cash process from within Outlook.
Outlook compatibility helps third-party developers reach customers with the tools they already use. In May, Brainshark, a sales-enablement solutions company, announced a time-saving integration that allows sales representatives to find and distribute sales content directly in Outlook.
Even rivals are getting into the act.
In June, Salesforce announced its Salesforce Lightning for Outlook add-in, enabling joint customers to access customer records in a third pane that is displayed in Outlook; this eliminates the need to switch to Salesforce. Using the Lightning Sync feature, the add-in also automatically updates contacts across both platforms.
"Every Outlook user can take advantage of this new capability, but we see sales as the most common use case because 70 percent of a rep's time is spent sending or responding to email," Greg Gsell, director of product marketing for Salesforce Sales Cloud, told eWEEK's David Needle. "It does away with the old Alt Tab [that] people have been dealing with for years."