Dynamics 365 Delivers CRM Alerts With Relationship Insights

The December 2016 update includes capabilities called Relationship Insights helps sales professionals build productive customer contacts. 

Dynamics 365 Insights 2

Relationship Insights is now available in preview as part of the December 2016 update to Dynamics 365, Microsoft's unified customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) cloud service.

Ostensibly, the Relationship Insights capability is intended to help "salespeople work more effectively while nurturing and enhancing their business relationships," the software giant asserts in its online documentation. In practice, it may help keep sales staff tasks from falling through the cracks and preventing an oversight or two from becoming a deal-breaker.

"Relationship Insights leverages the data-integration and artificial-intelligence capabilities built into Azure to combine and analyze your Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Outlook data," wrote the Microsoft Dynamics 365 group in a Dec. 5 blog post.

"It uses the insights derived from this analysis to surface features that help guide your daily work, find critical opportunities, manage email communications, identify actionable email messages, and propose the best path forward."

Relationship Insights consists of three components. The first, called Relationship Assistant, performs much of the heavy lifting required to nurture those fruitful business relationships.

The Relationship Assistant analyzes a user's customer records, communications and other activities to generate "action cards" that suggest a timely and personalized course of action. On mobile devices or on the web-based Dynamics 365 dashboard, the cards may call attention to contacts that are being neglected or emails that are awaiting a reply. In individual record views, action cards are tailored to each specific customer.

Another feature, called Email Engagement, provides insights into how contacts engage via email and advises users on how to deliver effective email communications. The feature recommends the most effective email content based on past interactions, including email open and reply rates. It also suggests the best time to schedule delivery based on a recipient's time zone and when emails are mostly likely to get noticed.

By "following" an email, users are notified if the recipient opens the email, replies, clicks on an embedded link or opens an attachment. Working in tandem with Relationship Assistant, Email Engagement displays follow-up reminders as action cards.

Finally, Auto Capture finds emails that may be pertinent to a user's job by analyzing email stored in Microsoft Exchange. It scours Exchange for relevant email addresses and shows associated messages in Dynamics 365, allowing them to be tracked by the CRM system and shared among a sales team.

Both Email Engagement and Auto Capture include Outlook integration, courtesy of Microsoft Outlook Online. The on-premises version of the software only supports the Relationship Assistant and then only a subset of the action cards that are supported by its cloud-based counterpart. Dynamics 365 Online customers have access to the entire Relationship Insights suite, the company said.

The Relationship Insights preview is available now to North American Dynamics 365 customers (US English only). As with most preview software from Microsoft, the update is considered stable but still very much under development, the company's staffers reminded.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...