Microsoft Unveils Cloud-Only Dynamics 365 Business App Platform

Scheduled to launch in the fall, Dynamics 365 will offer customers an integrated, pay-as-you-grow platform that unifies the company's CRM and ERP ecosystem.

Dynamics 365

Dynamics, Microsoft's customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) product line, is getting a major new addition, the company announced July 6.

Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise, took the wraps off Dynamics 365, a new cloud-based software platform that is meant to help customers piece together integrated business app environments tailored to their customer service and business process requirements. "Available this fall, Microsoft Dynamics 365 evolves our current CRM and ERP cloud solutions into one cloud service with new purpose-built apps to help manage specific business functions, including: Financials, Field Service, Sales, Operations, Marketing, Project Service Automation and Customer Service," he stated in a July 6 announcement.

Customers can start small by deploying Dynamics 365 apps independently, said Numoto. As their business needs grow or change, they can add more. Since they share a common data model, apps can be used together to automate processes and facilitate collaboration.

Numoto added that Microsoft is embedding Power BI and Cortana Intelligence. The company envisions Dynamics 365 implementations that can help organizations predict when their customers will require their services or pre-emptively address customer service issues by analyzing Internet of things data.

Dynamics 365 will also offer "deep integration" with Office 365, bridging structured business application workflows with the unstructured nature of productivity software, Numoto said.

"For example, a sales person receives an email, and can respond directly in Office with a quote that is created based on information from both Finance and Sales apps, stored back to the right app, with right pricing, discounting, etc. All without the user having to leave Outlook," he offered.

For current Dynamics CRM Online and AX Online users, the transition to Dynamics 365 will be seamless, assured James Phillips, corporate vice president of Microsoft Business Applications, Platform and Intelligence Group, and Jujhar Singh, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, in a jointly authored blog post. Microsoft has no plans to offer a version of Dynamics 365 for on-premises or private cloud deployments, but the company will provide customers with connectors that support hybrid-cloud scenarios, they said.

Dynamics 365 will also add a new wrinkle to Microsoft's ever-shifting software licensing landscape.

"While we'll support the traditional approach and allow customers to license Dynamics 365 by application (Financials, Operations, Sales, Marketing, etc.) they will also be able to license users by 'role,'" wrote Phillips and Singh. "Our new role based approach will give customers the flexibility they need to support modern, more agile, more diverse employee roles—enabling them to access functionality across all applications within Dynamics 365." Microsoft will release pricing details when the product's official launch nears.

Microsoft also announced the launch of AppSource, an online hub for line-of-business software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps from the company and its partners. Currently it contains listings of more than 20 applications, add-ons and content packs. Visitors can request trials of selected offerings and search for solutions by industry, function or compatible Microsoft product (Dynamics CRM, Office 365, etc.).

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...