I truly enjoyed attending the Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2014 this year, which took place from March 4-7 in Atlanta, GA. The biggest highlight for me was seeing Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM 2013 roadmap and the new enhancements coming in this year’s future releases. As a matter of fact, by the end of November, Microsoft ambitiously is planning for eight update release packages! The current focus and perhaps the biggest release will be the Spring Service Update (Codename Leo), which will official make our current version of Dynamics CRM 6.1 (CRM 2011 was 5.0 and CRM 2013 is 6.0).
Some of the biggest Dynamics CRM enhancements will be focused on around marketing and social media. For instance, there will be a new Campaign Management Console, which will allow campaign control and tracking all within one screen and allow leads that are generated from it to be more easily seen. There will also be “Lead Scoring” incorporated into CRM. Lead Scoring, as the name suggests, enables you to give a lead a “score” in CRM. The higher the score, the hotter the lead. Different actions taken by the lead will increase the score (e.g. visiting the organization’s web page, downloading a white paper, watching a video etc would all be actions that would add to a score of a lead). There will also be updates that make mass emailing through CRM easier with a new email designer, which will make creating the email itself a more intuitive and flexible process.
Another big update to Dynamics CRM will be “Social Listening”. The impetus for this update is Microsoft’s acquisition of NetBreeze in 2013, which provides the foundation for this technology. It will accept incoming social media feeds from any source, which will aid in showing how much “buzz” (e.g. number of mentions on Twitter and likes on Facebook) there is around a product. Through social listening, social media user actions can be converted directly into leads. Social Listening can also be used as a tool for customer support. An example of Social Listening with Dynamics CRM in action was displayed by the Sealord Global Fishing company, which based out of New Zealand with offices in 60 countries and 1,500 employees. If a customer posts something negative about the company publically on social media, a customer support case is automatically created so the Seaford team can follow up accordingly.
Perhaps one of the most useful enhancements for our team will be the “Sandbox” feature that is coming this year. This will allow administrators and developers to test out all updates and enhancements added to CRM within a special environment before putting them into production. It’s something we, as users of Dynamics CRM, have been requesting from Microsoft for a while, and I’m excited to see it is now included in their update schedule.
Overall I always enjoy attending Convergence. Aside from seeing the future of CRM, I am able to meet Microsoft professionals I deal with remotely face to face and am able to network effectively. I look forward to all future events.