Microsoft Forges Deeper Ties Between Dynamics CRM Online, Office

The Dynamics CRM Online Spring 2015 update makes it easier for Office users to access and edit CRM data.

Dynamics CRM Online

Microsoft Office and Dynamics CRM Online offer users a more seamless way of accessing customer information after this week's release of the Spring 2015 update for the cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software platform.

Given the overlap of Office and Dynamics CRM users, Microsoft is in the midst an ongoing quest to integrate the platforms. In addition to designing its software for a "mobile-first" world, the software giant has been working to reduce friction by allowing users to access and modify CRM data in popular Office apps such as Outlook, enabling sales and customer service organizations to pursue leads or tackle issues faster.

"We continue to unlock the potential of business productivity with solutions that work seamlessly together, leveraging familiar tools that sales professionals already prefer to use," said Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, in a statement. "We are now making it even easier to deliver personalized customer experiences using contextual customer information, anywhere, anytime, from any device."

Along those lines, the Dynamics CRM Online Spring 2015 update includes the new CRM App for Outlook. "This new Office App surfaces contextual CRM information in Outlook desktop and browser, making it easy for users to create new records directly from Outlook and to see relevant, contextual information such as sales activities, cases, and opportunities for the email sender," explained Stutz.

Microsoft also took the step of incorporating the OneNote note-taking app within Microsoft Dynamics CRM, allowing salespeople to share notes that contain text, photos and scribbles, among other embeddable content. Similarly, users can now crunch numbers in Excel without leaving Dynamics CRM.

"This eliminates the frustration, time and effort required to switch between applications in the middle of completing a business process," said Stutz. "Salespeople can now view sales data in familiar Excel spreadsheets, perform what-if analysis, and upload all the changes with one click, all while maintaining the sales workflow."

A new mobile app for the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone requires fewer taps to get to the desired CRM information. "Mobile users are guided by the same contextual business process, providing a consistent experience across devices," Stutz added.

The update also "marks the start of Parature's integration with Dynamics CRM," Stutz announced.

Microsoft acquired Parature, a cloud-based provider of customer support software, in early 2014. The platform enables businesses to deliver customer-facing, self-service capabilities along with social customer support and mobile customer care. "Customer service agents will have knowledge integrated into their daily service interactions out of the box, including the ability to both search and receive automated suggestions," Stutz said.

Following the release of new connectors that link the Power BI business intelligence tool with Dynamics CRM Online, Microsoft is ramping up its efforts to bring big data analytics to the masses. "To help organizations get up and running quickly on Power BI, Microsoft provides out-of-the-box connectivity to Microsoft Dynamics CRM and pre-built Power BI Sales, Marketing, and Service Templates," Stutz said.

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 network of...