Microsoft Dynamics 365 Steps Up ERP and CRM

Brian Miller

Microsoft is continually refining its cloud-based productivity offerings, and those offerings go well beyond Office 365. This fall, they will offer an exciting new software bundle integrating features from their CRM and ERP cloud services, as well as new apps purpose-built for a wide variety of business needs.

The new package, dubbed Dynamics 365, is built on the existing Dynamics CRM and Dynamics AX apps. Analogous to Office 365 but targeted at ERP and CRM needs, it is composed of both existing and new apps for financials, sales, field service, marketing, operations, customer service, and project service automation. Like other Microsoft bundles, clients can pick and choose only the apps they need. This allows clients to create a customized package and avoid unnecessary expenditure on apps they will not use.

Dynamics 365 effectively leverages existing Microsoft technologies to enhance overall functionality. Data visualization with Microsoft Power BI and predictive tools with Cortana Intelligence are embedded into the Dynamics 365 apps, aiding in data analysis and overall effectiveness. For example, sales representatives can use Cortana Intelligence to predict a customer’s next purchasing needs, greatly increasing the effectiveness of cross-selling.

The software suite is intended to complement and be complemented by Office 365, Microsoft’s other flagship productivity app suite. Apps in both packages will use a common data model, and each comes equipped with connectors for custom APIs and integration with existing on-premise solutions.

From a business standpoint, Dynamics 365 takes a sensible, modular approach. In addition to licensing individual apps at the organizational level, clients can license apps for use by specific users. This means that, for example, the finance department of an organization can be licensed for the finance-related apps without wasting money on apps meant for use by sales or customer service representatives. This ability to tailor the package for different departments or individuals within the same organization helps streamline deployment and eliminate redundant spending.

As Jujhar Singh, Microsoft’s VP for Dynamics CRM, explained in a blog post,

“Our new role-based approach will give customers the flexibility they need to support modern, more agile, more diverse employee roles – enabling them to access functionality across all applications within Dynamics 365.”

Singh went on to assure existing users of Dynamics CRM and Dynamics AX that the transition to Dynamics 365 will be easy and seamless.

The new suite comes at the heels of Project Madeira, Microsoft’s announced but not yet released cloud-based ERP system for small to midsize businesses. Moving Dynamics to the cloud makes sense within Microsoft’s cloud-heavy business philosophy, which encompasses apps and bundles for every market level from SMB to large enterprise.

The tight integration with Office 365 ensures that users will be able to quickly make good use of the new features within their existing business processes and app usage. By leveraging the built-in connectors and hooks, Dynamics 365 should make a fine addition to organizations of every size looking to automate and streamline all of their business operations.

Alongside the Dynamics 365 announcement, Microsoft launched AppSource. Essentially an end-user style app store for the B2B market, AppSource currently features more than 200 business apps and add-ons, including ones from Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft Office. Organizations wondering how to make best use of the new connectors and APIs can peruse AppSource for inspiration, or for complete off-the-shelf solutions.