Microsoft Finally Demos Dynamics 365 For Partners
After months of hyping its upcoming Dynamics 365 platform, Microsoft demonstrated the integrated CRM and ERP for its partners and customers on Tuesday. The platform's selling points include its machine learning, business intelligence and advanced data integration features.
The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant announced that Dynamics 365 will be released next month, giving customers a cloud-based customer relationship and business management solution that delivers predictive insights by using artificial intelligence.
"Everything you saw today is real, and we'll start making Dynamics 365 available to you to start using November 1st," Microsoft Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie told attendees of the Microsoft's Dynamics-focused CRMUG Summit in Tampa, Florida.
"Dynamics 365 is a pivotal release for us," Guthrie said at the event, thanks to "tremendous new capabilities" that will create opportunities for partners to drive business transformations.
Dynamics 365 is fully integrated with Office 365 and the Cortana Intelligence Suite, making it work seamlessly with Microsoft's productivity tools, email and business intelligence solutions, he said.
The product, accessible through a mobile app, leverages machine learning algorithms to help sales, service, and marketing agents gain insights into their professional relationships, he added.
Microsoft showcased Dynamics 365 less than a week after CRM rival Salesforce debuted Einstein, an artificial intelligence technology infused into its sales, service and marketing apps.
The strength of the Microsoft solution, Guthrie said, is "we also provide the cloud and data analytics platform necessary to ingest all this data, combine it with the data you do store in your Dynamics 365 system, and combine it with richer intelligence."
Guthrie also introduced a variation on the product, Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights, which is built on top of the Azure public cloud and Cortana Intelligence services. Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights allows users to ingest data from almost any source to populate Dynamics and then gain insights by applying machine learning methods.
Existing Dynamics CRM Online customers can automatically upgrade to Dynamics 365—gaining access to the new features and capabilities—without having to make any significant changes or sacrifice any existing functionality, Guthrie said.
And while customers running on-premises CRM and ERP systems don't need to move to the cloud, Microsoft is offering new migration tools to aid that process for those who would like to, he said.
Reed Wiedower, chief technology officer at New Signature, a Microsoft partner based in Washington, D.C, told CRN the new Dynamics platform "massively expands the opportunity to the Microsoft partner ecosystem."
Transitioning from Dynamics CRM and ERP to Dynamics 365 delivers "a major leap in capabilities," Wiedower said.
Currently, sales agents, marketers and customer service reps must do a lot of work to generate any sort of business intelligence, Wiedower said. But Dynamics 365 can proactively make suggestions for increasing customer satisfaction, closing deals and effectively marketing to prospects.
Those professionals often distrust CRM systems because they force them to duplicate their activities between Outlook and their CRM, Wiedower told CRN.
"This integration of Office 365 and Dynamics 365 is what makes the Dynamics platform so powerful," Wiedower said. "Organizations can continue to use their powerful collaboration software and simply turn on back-office functionality around accounting, sales, marketing and customer service."
As an example, Dynamics 365 can enable employees to fill timesheets from their Outlook calendar with only a single click, he said.
And because the individual components within Dynamics 365 share a common data model, business processes can be integrated and automated without the need for developers.
"This creates a virtuous circle by which any process that is partially digital but requires a human today can be fully automated, which then means more business processes can be transitioned to the digital realm," Wiedower told CRN. "In the past, this automation and workflow was limited to Microsoft products, but with Dynamics 365, disparate systems across many providers can be linked together."
While Dynamics 365 liberates customers from relying on developers to build integrated systems, it certainly doesn't eliminate the need for the channel.
"These technologies are still so new that most customers will need to involve a partner to build capacity in each of these areas," Wiedower said.
"Unlike Office 365, which can be run by internal IT teams, Dynamics 365 provides a unique chance for partners to construct repeatable intellectual property in specific industry verticals, by segment, to help businesses continuously improve their operations," he told CRN.