With the recent release of Update 1 for Dynamics CRM Online 2016 and Service Pack 1 for Dynamics CRM 2016 (On-Premise), I thought it might be a good time to review what is new in Dynamics CRM and the related products. In the second part I will review what is coming up.
While in the past, Microsoft released preview guides, they now have a site where they post what is on the roadmap for Dynamics CRM (http://crmroadmap.dynamics.com/)
Here are some of the What’s New highlights which stick out for me.
CRM portals (Dynamics CRM Online for CRM Portals, Dynamics CRM On-Premise for Adxstudio Portals)
I am starting with one which is kind of almost released but not quite. What used to be called Adxstudio portals is now CRM portals. Unfortunately, you can no longer provision 30-day trials of Adxstudio portals and you cannot get a 30-day trial of CRM portals (but it is coming very soon I am told). You can download the Adxstudio portal components and run them on an Azure instance but, personally, I would wait until the CRM portals trial provisioning site is up and running.
Anyhow, we know from the roadmap site which portals are migrating across from Adxstudios to CRM:
- Community Portal
- Partner Portal
- Self-service Portal (previously known as Customer Portal)
and a general Portal framework allowing portals to be provisioned in Office 365.
There are a few missing portals from the Adxstudio list e.g. Retail Portal. The one I am really missing is Government Portal. I am hoping this is an oversight rather than a conscious decision.
Customer Field on Any Entity (Dynamics CRM Online)
If you have not been paying attention, you may have missed this one. You can now add a Customer field to any entity. The Customer field is the lookup on records like Opportunity which allows you to link to an Account or Contact.
Up until now this was not available for configuration. In an ideal world, we would be able to create a custom lookup with whatever entities we choose, but this is a good start,
I cannot remember the last time I needed a Customer field on a new entity but I am glad to have it. I am not sure whether it rolls up activities, like the system one does, but it would be nice if it does.
Field Service (Dynamics CRM Online)
Previously called FieldOne, this is the new Microsoft version of the acquisition. I have heard nothing but good things about this field service management solution but there is overlap with Project Service Automation (described below) and the out-of-the-box Service Scheduling for skills management and job allocation. Resources and time management are common across Field Service and Project Service Automation which means if you allocate in one, you see it in the other, which is good.
A few blogs could be written just on Field Service alone but, if you are interested, it is available via the preferred solutions in the Office 365 portal.
Improvements to Microsoft Social Engagement
Microsoft Social Engagement now supports Instagram (the social channel with pictures and positivity that the kids use). Geolocation support will also be available for Instagram and Facebook. You can also add photos to your replies in Facebook and Twitter.
The big improvement for Microsoft Social Engagement is you can automatically filter and link posts to CRM entities. Combined with the new automated intention analysis (determining what the poster’s intention is) and machine learning which improves the analysis as time goes on, you can then create an automated triage process. Not only does this complete the pull marketing-social media gap but it automates the process for you.
Improvements to the Interactive Service Hub (Dynamics CRM Online and On-Premise)
The Interactive Service Hub now supports:
- SLAs for Cases and other entities
- Case merging
- iFrame and Web Resource support
- Apple Safari support
Learning Path (Dynamics CRM Online)
This is a more interactive context-sensitive help that appears in the sidebar. Again, I have not played with this extensively but the idea of a ‘bouncing ball’ for new users sounds like a great idea. I have seen the equivalent in Dynamics AX and it promises significant reduction in user adoption and training.
Mobile Enhancements (Dynamics CRM Online)
Moving from Preview to General Availability, the offline capabilities of the mobile client have been improved so that records can be viewed, added and edited. There is still plenty to be done with the mobile client but this is a good start.
Quotes, Orders, and Invoices are also now available in the mobile client (also available for On-Premise) but, alas, not for offline access.
Project Service Automation (Dynamics CRM Online)
This is, as one friend put it, “Service Scheduling on Steroids”. This is a full project management module, built in Dynamics CRM. It has Gantt charts, resource utilisation, time sheeting, billing and some basic forecasting capability. This also can be turned on from the Office 365 portal.
As mentioned above in the Field Service section, there is some overlap in the acquisitions at the moment but, hopefully, the common areas will merge over time, as they have already started to do with the common resource pool.
Server-Side Sync Combination Completion (Dynamics CRM On-Premise)
It is now possible to use Server-Side Sync for Dynamics CRM On-Premise with Microsoft Exchange Online.
SLAs for Custom Entities (Dynamics CRM Online and On-Premise)
As inferred in the Interactive Service Hub section, SLAs can now be added to custom entities.
There is really a lot here given the short cadence of releases Dynamics CRM operates under, with a nice balance of acquisitions and home-grown innovations. I am really impressed given this amount of enhancements used to take literally years to deliver.
Other than CRM portals, which is in limbo for a few weeks and Social Engagement, pretty much everything else can be reviewed in a 30-day trial of Dynamics CRM so if there is something that grabs you, spin one up.