This post about Dynamics CRM Online 2016 Spring Wave is no sponsored advertisement (in case something like this exists at Microsoft at all):
The content of this post reflects my own impressions and practical experience with the Spring wave release.
I start this post with the „Big Picture“ to explain the context initially. Afterwards, I`ll cover all Spring Wave Features in a practice review. Here I show, who could be interested in what features and which things will not work with this release.
It is important to understand upfront, that I am not talking about MS Dynamics CRM OnPremise.
Dynamics CRM Online will be developed much faster and with many more features and modules than it can be expected for the OnPremise edition.
From my point of view, it fully makes sense that companies and executives start to accept that the cloud is safe. And it is more scalable, easier to operate and cheaper than any OnPremise approach.
On top, the Cloud delivers tons of features and services that will never be available OnPremise. Samples are Machine Learning, IoT, Cognition Intelligence, Office Graph and many more things that help you run modern IT.
Spring Wave Big Picture
Microsoft connects the most missing dots with the Dynamics CRM Online Spring Wave Release. Finally, it grows to really be an „Intelligent Customer Engagement platform“.
Why is that the case?
When I look at the former versions of Dynamics CRM, it was about traditional Customer Relationship management. The classic focus on sales and customer service was a good product already. In the latest releases, Marketing has got a stronger focus and has been enhanced by social stuff.
But, to be honest:
- How do you deliver customer-, supplier-, partner and employee satisfaction nowadays without delivering professional self-service capabilities through personalized portals?
- How do you take care of customer satisfaction if project services to deliver and fulfil your customer’s needs, if you’ re a project and service based company?
- How do you satisfy your customers field service needs if you’ re not able to manage field services and are able to manage the whole companies resources over the borders of the departments?
- How do you manage field services properly if you are not able to predict failure in your serviced customer offerings by IoT?
- How can you afford to manage all these micro automations that come up almost every day if you always need a development expert?
- How shall one manage the field-, project- and sales services on the road if there is no mobile AND offline support available?
Exactly. All these features have been missing and the Spring Release delivers relief.
These are the core additions to the well-known CRM stack.
On top of the core topics mentioned above, there are several refinements and enhancements in the integrations with SharePoint, Office 365, MS Azure and Power BI that ease the life of standard users and admins.
Not to forget the huge enhancements in the mobile and offline support that is delivered with the new generation.
A rough ride through the modules
Even though the name is still „Dynamics CRM Online 2016 Spring Wave“: Classic CRM is just one small part of the whole stack in the meanwhile. That’ s why they now call it „Intelligent Customer Engagement Stack“.
Some of you might already have built portals on top of MS Dynamics CRM. Those who did so might have used ADXStudio to easy their lives.
With the Spring release, Microsoft delivers ADXStudio as integral part of Dynamics CRM as Microsoft has bought ADXStudio several months ago.
For those who are using ADXStudio already, the bad thing is that ADXStudio and MS Portal are neither compatible nor is there a standard migration path available. If you look at the new product you fully understand that the seamless integration into Dynamics Online would not have been possible with a compatibility or migration approach.
For all those who start from scratch, you will be happy with what you get. Out of the box you can use ready to run templates for customer-, employee-, community- or knowledge portals.
Sure, you need to add your own content.
More details on the MS Portal in one of the next posts.
Like with ADXStudio, there might be several companies out there that run fieldservices based on FieldOne.
You see the same story like with ADXStudio here: Microsoft has bought FieldOne some time ago and has built a genius integration with MS Dynamics CRM Online with no Migration path. FieldOne and MS Fieldservice are not compatible.
I took a quick look at configuration options and the way ressources are handled over the module borders for project services, field services and customer service.
What I saw is enough to prove that the configuration has enough options to rate the product as complex and very complete.
More details on the MS Fieldservice in one of the next posts.
Microsoft Project Services
The integration of project services has been a positive surprise for me that I haven’ t expected yet. Still, this is the module that brings the most value fro us internally as we are now able to consolidate numbers of distributed tools into one single ecosystem.
We know that customers suffer the same issue with ressource and project management for skills or people based services.
Resource-and Skill-planning, Time-Management, Expense- and Project invoice management, Multi project management with all those delays caused by external factors and the need for continuous redisposition of resources and plans. All this is now a fully integrated module in the Dynamics CRM Online platform.
At first sight I assumed that MS Project Server must somehow be in the backend. But this is not the case. Currently there is not even an interface to Project Server available.
This is neither en issue nor a design error. From my point of view it might even be an advantage, as the complexity of project server might be simply too much for Customer Service Management. On top, I see several other advantages
- The integration with Dynamics CRM is seamless and independent form any customizations in your PM-Server
- Licences are bound and managed by the CRM
- The Ressource-Management serves over the borders of Project- , Customer Service and Field Service
- Complexity is lower than with MS Project Server
Read more in an upcoming post ion MS Project Services.
Even though I doubt that Machines will really be intelligent in the near future that I will experience in my life, the word is used all over when it comes to pattern recognition and big data analysis.
In this definition we see a lot of new support with the Spring release, especially for intelligent and context based live user guidance, machine learning integration in social listening features and in other areas where pattern recognition makes sense.
MY personal favorite is the seamless integration with Power BI that is spectacular and out of the box useful and impressive.
I think that this integration of enduser analytics and classic Reporting in Dynamics CRM Online is unique in the market, majorly driven by the impressive development and improvement speed of Power BI..
More about that in an upcoming post on intelligence in Dynamics CRM Online.
Social und Marketing
This is not really our core competence, even though we understand and use social media. Still, there are some highlights that even we like:
The Campaign- and Lead-Management with integrated surveys and even Gamification support probably covers everything that professional marketers will want to have. Even a Mass-Mail Marketing center is available out of the box.
The most interesting part for us is the new Marketing SDK, that allows developers to connect and integrate whatever marketing solution you might already have.
More about that in an upcoming post about Marketing in Dynamics CRM Online.
Even a rough ride through the modules can‘ t be finished quickly. And I haven’t talked at all about all the refinements and improvements in detail. And there are many of them..
I use Dynamics CRM Online 2016 Spring Wave since about 8 weeks now and test the modules and enhancements in parallel to our certifications for Dynamics Online.
Asides the really well built integration, I am really impressed by the very good documentation and the rich set of video training material that is available from begin on with this release. You can find everything, from communication over roadmap to training and certification. Everything exists already with the start of this release. This has not always been like this in the past…
Therefor I want to congratulate Microsoft for a great job done with this release, this is another prove for the massive change that happens inside Microsoft since Satia Nadella runs the company. Everything has turned agile, open and developer and implementation partner friendly – which is a huge advantage for customers, too.
The possible use cases for potential customers have dramatically increased with this release. And the integration of the modules really impresses me. Those who know me understand that this is not done easily.
For me, Microsoft opened a whole new business world by lifting Dynamics CRM to O365 and Azure and still offering the best Outlook, mobile and offline Integration in the market. Hats off!