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Spring Wave (SP1) for Dynamics CRM has been out for a couple weeks now, and brings with it a breadth of improvements and fixes for CRM 2013 dynamics customers, both online and on premise. While you can read about the entirety of what’s included, as well as download the release here, I’ve picked out a few key items that we’ve seen our customers clamoring for, and are thrilled to see included in this release.

1. Microsoft Dynamics Marketing was released as part of the Spring Wave package and immediately becomes one of the leading players in the marketing automation game. You can read my detailed breakdown of MDM here, but at a high level know that you now have access to:

a. Drag-and-drop campaign design – a great visual way for non-technical users to design and manage powerful marketing campaigns.

b. Lead lifecycle management – follow your marketing efforts all the way through into your salesforce automation lifecycle. A great way to track effectiveness of your campaigns!

c. Improved BI and Dashboarding – Leverage CRM’s great built in dashboard capabilities and have the option to extend them even further using Microsoft’s PowerBI toolbox.

Not to mention the improved Sales & Marketing Connector, email marketing tools with open APIs that support 3rd party tools and a whole bunch of other goodies. Microsoft has come out of the gate very strong with their Dynamics Marketing launch – it’s definitely worth your time to at least check it out, especially if you’re already leveraging other Dynamics tools.

2. The native CRM Tablet App has gotten better. Microsoft was a little late to the game with their mobile applications for Dynamics CRM, but they appear to be trying to make up for lost time. With Spring Wave comes improvements centering on wider device compatibility, improved application responsiveness and the much-requested introduction of limited offline data capabilities, allowing reps to see their customer’s key information even without internet connectivity. The tablet app also now includes Customer Service functionality, allowing users to monitor queues, cases and route items as necessary, all from their compatible tablet.

3. Microsoft is putting a focus on Customer Service with Spring Wave.

a. Unified Service Desk is a new tool designed to streamline customer interactions and case management through a single interface. Unified Service Desk combines voice, chat and email in a single desktop environment while at the same time automating repetitive tasks such as launching applications and performing searches through the use of case context. A configurable interface allows administrators to design a desktop application that suits their users’ needs and interfaces directly into Dynamics CRM.

b. Improved case management included merging, automatic case creation, Service Level Agreements (SLA), entitlements and much more.

4. Social is a BIG DEAL! Okay, so you probably didn’t need me to tell you that, but Microsoft is now fully onboard the social train, and Spring Wave includes a bounty of tools to help organizations manage their social presence as well as monitor the pulse of their customers and competitors via their social networking accounts.

a. Social Listening allows brand managers to track their products, campaigns and key competitors across all social media channels and present the data in a unified format that allows for easy consumption. Social Listening is a tremendously powerful tool that allows customers to finally have a way to observe and track global sentiment towards their brands and products, in 28 (!) languages.

b. Microsoft has also rolled out a new dashboard feature they’re calling Social Insights. Social Insights can be displayed on user dashboards and tailored to fit their role, and they can also be made available contextually on Account records right within CRM – combining with InsideView to give Dynamics CRM users tremendous insight and visibility from a single account screen.

5. SharePoint integration is now easier. Dynamics CRM customers have long enjoyed the platform’s easy integration to Microsoft SharePoint. Previously, however, the SharePoint list component was required to be installed and managed within CRM. While this worked alright, it was a separate item to set up and maintain, and some customers chose to forgo the functionality to avoid the added complexity. Now, the integration is baked right into the software, and simply requires an administrator to “turn on” the integration and point the application in the right direction. A small improvement perhaps, but a meaningful one for any project manager or IT administrator juggling a couple hundred different requirements for a new CRM implementation.

This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of everything included in Spring Wave ’14, and I encourage you to explore the links provided above for more detail.

Microsoft certainly did not disappoint with their first Service Pack for CRM 2013, and many of our customers here at eLogic are already in the process of upgrading so that they can immediately begin enjoying some of the new goodies Microsoft has provided. This seems to be a very customer-feedback driven release, as it answers most, if not all, of the primary concerns we’d heard from our customers while performing CRM 2013 implementations and upgrades. In my opinion, Spring Wave is a must have, and really seals the deal for any CRM 2011 users on the fence about upgrading; with these new features and enhancements, the benefits of upgrading are definitely now worth the effort.

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