Microsoft will natively support Apple's iPad tablet computers with the upcoming new release of the company's CRM applications, and will support Apple and Android smartphones later this year.
Microsoft will launch new releases of its on-premises and online Dynamics CRM 2013 application suites this fall with the iPad support, the company said Tuesday. The release also will offer new communication and collaboration capabilities through integration with Microsoft's Yammer, Skype and Lync.
The iPad support is Microsoft's latest move to support mobile systems beyond the company's own Windows operating system. Last month, Microsoft began offering a native version of its flagship Office application suite for the Apple iPhone. (Native support for the iPad tablet is still lacking: The company said its cloud Office Web Apps suffice.)
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Fall '13 will natively support the iPad tablet as well as Windows 8 tablets, said Fred Studer, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics, in an interview. Shortly after those releases, Microsoft plans to provide support for Windows Phone 8, Apple iPhones and phones that use the Android mobile operating system.
"Mobile is just an expectation now," said David Kohar, chief customer officer at Zero2Ten, a Microsoft partner based in Alpharetta, Ga. "Obviously, this is going to be great functionality to have," he said in an interview, noting the demand his company is seeing for Dynamics CRM on mobile devices of all types.
Dynamics CRM Online competes head-to-head with Salesforce.com and Kohar said that with the $44 per-person, per-month subscription cost for the Microsoft applications, customers could subscribe to the service and buy every employee an iPad for what it costs to subscribe to Salesforce.com. "So we're seeing a huge opportunity to push into the whole mobile marketplace with this release," Kohar said.
The new Dynamics CRM will be closely integrated with Yammer, the social media for business software that Microsoft acquired last year for $1.2 billion, and with Microsoft's Lync and Skype communications technologies. This is the first time Yammer and the on-premises version of Dynamics CRM have been connected. There were "loose integrations" between the other products before now, Studer said, but now those connections are much more extensive.
"The Yammer piece is really significant," Zero2Ten's Kohar said, noting the increased use of social messaging systems within sales teams, the key users of CRM applications. "We're seeing tons of opportunities for this."
The new releases of Dynamics CRM also provide improved capabilities for creating and changing business processes and workflows. The applications are now integrated with MarketingPilot, Microsoft's marketing automation software. And the Dynamics CRM user interface has undergone a significant facelift.
PUBLISHED ON JULY 2, 2013