Microsoft Dynamics 2013 Gets Personal as Release Day Approaches

This fall, Microsoft will roll out a revamped, social-enabled CRM suite with new mobile apps in tow.

Microsoft announced July 2 that the newest edition of its customer relationship management (CRM) software, Dynamics CRM 2013, along with its cloud-based counterpart, Dynamics CRM Online Fall '13, will bow in the fall.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 will allow businesses to better engage with today's smarter, hyper-connected consumers, says Microsoft Dynamics CRM Vice President Bob Stutz. New features are meant to help sales and customer service organizations better contend with savvy shoppers who have ever-present access to the Internet and social media tools at their disposal.

Arguing that the same factors are affecting both the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) realms, Stutz wrote in a blog post that "it is no surprise to find that customers are almost 60% through the sales cycle before they actually make contact with the company that they are researching." With the bulk of the sales process taking place before customers even contact a company, Dynamics CRM 2013 is designed to help organizations "smartly engage them at this point," he indicated.

With the upcoming release, Stutz said his company can help sales departments achieve this by taking a personal approach to CRM. "At Microsoft Dynamics, we have reimagined our CRM solution to address these shifting fundamentals, giving your people the tools they need to be successful. To us, this means making business personal," he stated.

A new, "completely reimagined" interface adheres to the company's "fast and fluid" ethos and delivers in-context information and streamlined workflows. New social networking features, due in part to Yammer support, allow users to collaborate with colleagues.

Microsoft celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Yammer acquisition—a deal valued at $1.2 billion—last week. In a June 25 blog post, Yammer Vice President David Sacks informed that over the past year, user activity on Yammer has doubled and the platform experienced a 200 percent year-over-year increase in paid networks. Currently, Yammer has approximately 8 million registered seats, a 55 percent gain.

Eager to weave Yammer's successful enterprise social capabilities into more of the software maker's offerings, Microsoft has been making a concerted effort to bring the technology to its business applications portfolio, including Office. Now, Dynamics CRM is getting in on the act.

Suggesting that Dynamics CRM 2013 will offer deeper Yammer integration, the new release will provide "capabilities for people to collaborate with each other and share customer knowledge through Yammer right within the CRM solution, enabling them to deliver amazing customer experiences," boasted Microsoft in a statement.

In addition, Dynamics CRM 2013 will feature support for MarketingPilot marketing automation. Microsoft announced that it had acquired MarketingPilot, a provider of multi-channel marketing management software, on Oct. 17 for an undisclosed amount.

Also in the works are new mobile apps for the iPad and Windows 8 tablets that provide users with access to the platform's CRM functionality and analytics. Smartphone apps for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 8 will follow shortly after, said Microsoft.

Finally, the company's mission to connect its Lync and Skype communications technologies will start paying off for Dynamics CRM users. Seamless cross-platform support will enable "people to reach out to their customers and communities in real time, so they can be more informed and have more personal and lasting relationships," predicted Microsoft.

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...