Automation, Social And Mobile Enhancements For Microsoft Dynamics

Microsoft unveiled new features for its Dynamics product portfolio Tuesday, including new functionality around marketing automation, social media and mobile communications.

"We are really recognizing the changes that customers are facing. These [enhancements] are driven by customer behavior and the consumerization of IT. Microsoft is positioned to bridge that gap between business and IT," said Seth Patton, senior director of marketing for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

The announcements were made at Convergence 2013 in New Orleans, with more than 11,000 attendees, the largest crowd in the show's history, Patton said.

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"Dynamics was refreshed last year, and in our Q2 the results for Dynamics CRM [revenue growth] was more than 30 percent," Patton said. "We also passed a key milestone -- more than three million users for more than 39,000 customers. On the AX side, we have more than 18,000 customers and more than 50 percent license growth in North America."

Microsoft expects to fuel further growth in 2013 thanks to the addition of marketing automation and more, Patton said.

Last October, Microsoft acquired MarketingPilot, a marketing automation solution to help manage products, budgets and resources, and execute and monitor marketing campaigns and customer interactions across digital and social channels, as well as television, radio and direct-mail campaigns. That functionality has been added to the Dynamics brand, Patton said.

"This is an important area for us to achieve our CRM vision. The new release brings together Microsoft CRM and MarketingPilot. It will have a more simple user experience that is more consistent with the RM user experience and will have a MarketingPilot Connector to unite the marketing and sales organizations," Patton said.

The new version of MarketingPilot should be available this month, he added.

"It allows organizations to do marketing planning, execution, measurement, but also bridge over to align marketing with sales in terms of leads," Patton said.

Meanwhile, another Microsoft acquisition is responsible for the social media enhancements within Dynamics CRM, Patton said.

Microsoft has acquired NetBreeze, a Switzerland-based company that specializes in social media monitoring and analytics.

"We've mixed the social integrated part of how people use the application and integrated it with sales, service and marketing. It shouldn't be a separate tool or app," Patton said. "It allows enterprise organizations to listen to what is happening across social media and news channels and take action. With this acquisition, we gain data mining, transactional and text-analysis capabilities and a team of data scientists in the social analytics arena."

NEXT: More Mobile Functionality

Meanwhile, new companion mobile applications for Windows 8, Windows RT, Android and iOS devices should be available in the next update to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 in the second half of the year, said Kees Hertogh, director of product management for Microsoft Dynamics AX. In addition, a set of APIs will enable users to build their own mobile applications for Dynamics, he added.

"Other enterprise vendors force customers to adopt additional middleware to allow business processes to go mobile. We'll take a more simple approach to allow those processes to go mobile," Hertogh said.

For example, an area of development might involve travel expense management, he said. "What we can deliver for your phone or tablet is to manage expenses more effectively. You could use your mobile phone to capture an expense receipt with the camera and submit it into an expense workflow," he said. "You can start reconciling expenses while you're still on the go."

A second area of development is occurring around time entry, he said. Through the calendar on a phone or tablet, you can capture time blocks and auto connect to the back office to help the company with billing processing, he said.

"Mobile applications can help reach a broader set of touch-first experiences with all these apps," Hertogh said.

Mobile functionality should be available before the end of the calendar year, he said. Additional functionality around wireless management and transportation is also under development, he said.