If you’re used to the normal release cycle of big products - like Windows and Office - you’ll have become conditioned to a release cycle that is typically every 3 years, with a few Service Packs in the middle. Overall though, release cycles are getting quicker - for example, with cloud services they can be every few months. This is great, because it means you can have additional features added to the products you are running on a more regular basis.
One of the products to especially benefit from this, is Dynamics CRM - and it’s especially useful as end-users of these systems tend to be amongst the most demanding. They come up with questions like “How do I get social media in the CRM system?” or “Can I see my student recruitment prospect list on my phone?”. At the end of last year we released the 2011 Q4 update, which added enterprise social media integration. And we’ve just announced details of what is coming in the Q2 2012 release:
The update will include a new cloud-based, cross-platform native mobile client for Windows Phone 7.5, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices called Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile. If you’re using Dynamics CRM for student recruitment, it means that you can enable your recruitment co-ordinators and agents to access your systems online from anywhere on- or off-campus. So, for example, when you are hosting your university of TAFE Open Day, you could ensure that all your staff around the campus can look up students on their phone directly in a conversation, rather than having to hide behind a laptop screen, or scribbling notes and waiting until later to update or look up info. Or if you are using CRM for service desk management, you can ensure that your team can update their case histories in real time wherever they are on campus.
Dynamics CRM already has a web client that works across multiple versions of Internet Explorer, and in the Q2 update, we’ll be adding support for Safari (on desktop, laptop and iPad), Firefox and Chrome. This is especially important in universities, as you expand your use of CRM out to faculty and more staff, as I know you have a lot less control over the devices and software that these staff choose to use.
If “Business Intelligence” was the buzzword of 2011, then I’ve noticed that “Self-Service Business Intelligence” is likely to be the buzz phrase for 2012. And with CRM it’s pretty critical to get it right. Because we’re locking tons and tons of useful data away in our CRM systems, and the poor users who spend their time contributing data to the CRM system need to get quality information out. So the ‘self-service’ aspect is the bit that hands the control over to your users - to let them get the information they need, and mean that it doesn’t increase the workload exponentially for your analysts!