The Microsoft Dynamics products are growing, both in scope and number of people using them. Growth is not unnatural, but what's impressive is how quickly.
This year's conference is twice as big as last year, and the number of Norwegian visitors here is now more than 100 people, compared with about 50 last year. The number of vendors and solutions on display has also increased tremendously. The ecosystem surrounding the products is alive and well, and there is no doubt that this growth will continue. Competition between operators who used to be the only ones to create solutions based on Dynamics products is also becoming harder. This will clearly benefit customers.
IT people are very fond of talking about what's coming, but that is certainly not necessary now. Already today, Microsoft has a number of solutions that I know will create value for ProcessPilotene's customers. I was particularly impressed with the solutions that use "machine learning", or artificial intelligence if you will, to increase the sale of goods via the webshop and customer centers. This is a technology that gets to know your customers and then creates customized recommendations for upselling and/or cross-selling.
A concrete delivery is connecting the machine learning service to your existing order system and then present this in the screens to the staff who use CRM.
PowerBI is Microsoft's effort in the realm of reporting and analysis services. Microsoft is serious about the service:
- PowerBI is fully in line with other reporting and analysis services that cost far more. Just like Office 365 and CRM Online, PowerBI is free.
- PowerBI will be the primary reporting engine for Dynamics CRM going forward. This means that CRM reports can just as well be presented on an Intranet as in CRM.
- Excel is the tool used to create the reports.
ProsessPilotene have already used the service for a while and can demonstrate PowerBI together with data from CRM and data from Norway's open data sources (e.g. Enhetsregisteret).
On the customer portal side, there are many more possibilities now as well. An area that has long been dominated by ADXStudio, now has competition from, among others, Microsoft (Parature) and Pavliks (The portal connector). This means that it is now even easier to create great websites for customer service, seminars and course orders.
Parature is Microsoft's effort when it comes to customer service. Parature extends CRM with support for receiving cases through the web and social networks like Facebook. This has technically been possible for a long time, but now customers can rent this as a service, instead of developing it themselves.
Unified service desk is the heir to a little-known product in Norway called Customer Care Accelerator Kit. Unified service desk is an application that runs on the PCs of case managers in call centers. The product integrates CRM with your telephony system, Parature's knowledge base/chat log, and your order system. In plain language this means that employees at call centers will only have to deal with one work tool.
These two products will together create the ultimate solution for call centers.
On the field service side of things, Field One are consolidating their position, delivering a full package for industries with service technicians who work in the field.
Not surprisingly, Field One's solutions can be used with Unified Service desk, allowing service managers to only have to deal with one tool.
DocuSign was also demonstrated. ProsessPilotene are the Norwegian distributor, so this was not new to us. It is good to know, however, how tightly integrated DocuSign has become with the Office package, SharePoint and CRM.
Microsoft were able to point to some interesting statistics for those who use their products:
Microsoft also took the opportunity today to talk about what is in the plans for 2015. Dynamics CRM 2015 will be available to all customers in January 2015. Dynamics Marketing is being further developed, and the boundaries between marketing and sales processes are removed, with the intention of creating better collaboration between marketing and sales departments.
I also got to chat with technical personnel who work with Parature and Unified Service desk, to get some of the facts behind the market buzz. Parature is launched in January 2015. I am confident that this is a tool to bet on for the future.