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Microsoft recently announced the upcoming release of its "customer engagement solution", the combination of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, and Microsoft Social Engagement (along with some dashboards in Power BI). Check out the details in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Release Preview Guide. The enhancements announced are focused around four themes: Productivity, Intelligence, Mobility, and Unified Service.

Below are the enhancements that I'm most excited about. As we learn more and get access to the new releases, we will provide more details. Note that some features are limited to CRM Online or are previews that are not supported by Microsoft and must be opted in by the user.

For the Marketer

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing has two key enhancements:

  1. SMS Marketing. FINALLY! Both inbound and outbound SMS marketing are included and enable integrated mobile marketing, including the ability to track performance of your SMS marketing campaigns.
  2. Email Marketing. Enhancements to the email editor make it easy to create attractive emails.

For the Sales Person

  1. CRM App for Outlook. Makes it even easier to track emails, add contacts, or create new records on just about any device and browser.
  2. Excel Integration. First Immersive Excel, and now even more power! Users will be able to view and analyze data in Excel templates, make changes, and upload the changes.
  3. OneDrive for Business. Do you have documents related to a CRM opportunity stored in SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, and Office 365 Groups? Well, now you will be able to see ALL those documents on the opportunity record.
  4. Document Generation. Another exciting enhancement that makes it much easier to generate documents such as quotes, orders, product sheets, etc. using Word and Excel templates. Document generation has always been a point of inefficiency for Dynamics CRM, hence the multitude of solutions from third-party providers. I have high hopes for this feature.
  5. Cortana Integration. Another productivity booster that surfaces relevant CRM information on any device so you can find what you want faster. Cortana is Microsoft’s voice-controlled, virtual personal assistant.  Similar to Siri on Apple devices, Microsoft's Cortana uses Bing plus data stored on the user's phone to give individualized recommendations.

For the Customer Service Representative/Agent

  1. Interactive Service Hub. A consolidated and clean view of work by either a Tier 1 (multi-stream dashboard) or Tier 2 (single-stream dashboard) simplifies the interface making it easier for the user to keep track of what needs to be done and what is being worked on.
  2. External Party Access. Enhancement of the CRM API and SDK for External Party Access to allow external users such as Customers and Partners to access CRM data (e.g., Customer / Partner Portals).  As portals become increasingly important, I suspect this feature will be valuable.
  3. Knowledge Management. I haven't seen enhancements to the CRM knowledge base in a long time, but Dynamics CRM 2016 will have some to enable the creation of a single source of knowledge.  In addition, creating and approving articles will be easier due to a new editor and editing experience.

Other enhancements have been made in the areas of Social (Microsoft Social Engagement), Mobile, Online Visibility and Control, and Platform. As Microsoft continues to release information we will provide our thoughts on how the enhancements and new features will help you.


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