Microsoft Promises Streamlined Workflows in Dynamics CRM 2016 Revamp

The new version of the company's CRM software will feature integration with Office and Microsoft's cloud offerings for in-app experiences that help eliminate alt-tabbing.

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

Microsoft wants to make the time-robbing ritual of switching between Dynamics CRM and other apps a thing of the past.

Today, the company announced some of the features in the upcoming cloud and on-premises release of its customer relationship management platform, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016. Less an update and more of an overhaul, the new software is emblematic of the ways Microsoft is "reinventing how companies think about productivity and business processes," Angela Bandlow, senior director of product marketing for Dynamics CRM, told eWEEK.

One of Microsoft's major goals is to provide CRM users with the tools to "manage their daily activities in a single immersive experience," Bandlow said. In the case of Dynamics CRM 2016, that means cozying up to Office 365, Cortana and Microsoft's ever-expanding set of cloud-based productivity software and services.

The new software will optionally link an organization's CRM system to Microsoft's Office Graph technology and its companion Delve application, which Bandlow described as the "common currency for collaboration and sharing among groups." Together, Office Graph and Dynamics analyze work connections, conversations and Office content to provide a prioritized, self-updating view of activities related to a user's role or projects.

In a Sept. 8 blog post, Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, wrote that Delve support surfaces "trending content that is most relevant to what a person is working on and what is trending around them. For example, Delve might show popular presentations or proposals to help our customers with their opportunity or account."

Cortana, Microsoft's virtual assistant, will report for duty, said Stutz. "We're taking our Cortana integration to the next level by embedding sales activities, accounts and opportunities into Cortana to surface what's most relevant to salespeople at any time—across both personal and professional sources."

While viewing a CRM record, users will be able to view Office documents stored on SharePoint, OneDrive for Business and Office 365 Groups. A tap of the Back button on the mobile app will restore the previous screen.

Dynamics CRM 2016 will also feature more seamless built-in support for Excel, along with new templates, like calculating commissions. No longer will updating sales forecasts and other Excel-based tasks require users to export their CRM data and import it into Excel, said Bandlow.

These are examples of how Microsoft is "streamlining the workflow," Bandlow added. And the time savings can be significant. When users are forced to switch between applications and manage data between them, they "take a 40 percent productivity hit," she said.

Another feature that helps workers reclaim time is Document Generation, which can be used to create personalized sales documents. "People no longer need to manually extract CRM data for documents such as account summaries, quotes/orders/invoices, product sheets in Word. Automation of this core sales task is another way we’re saving people time," wrote Stutz.

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...