There’s really more than one reason to look forward to the release of the Dynamics CRM 2011. Apart from all the functional changes and upgrades that the product itself will undergo, I think what you will see in the 2011 edition is a perfect marriage of Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Outlook. I know, it sounds like an odd pair doesn’t it? At first I had the same impression – but then when I delved deeper into some of the specifics, I realized that it makes perfect sense for the customer. While using CRM there are certain tasks that the customer will need to perform through Outlook like looking up contacts, scheduling meetings, sending memos etc. Now instead of switching applications wouldn’t it be great if CRM is available within Outlook?
Well that’s exactly what you can expect in the 2011 edition of CRM. There will be a Dynamics CRM Outlook client interface which basically allows you to use your CRM application from within Outlook and the best part is that the user interface theme is identical to the Outlook theme so you won’t really feel like you are using a different application. It’s really great to see this in reality because it gives great flexibility to the user to work through various tasks without deviating from the application. So it’s not just the themes but the overall functionality of Outlook has been adopted very effectively into the CRM functionality. For example – the reading pane, the color coded categories, folder groupings, item groupings by date/category/location, setting follow-ups etc.
I think the success of the CRM Outlook client also indicates how the two major teams – Outlook client and CRM client – really came together and worked together to ensure that the customer has a seamless and efficient experience while working with the product. If you think about it, this integration of the clients makes good business sense as well. With this offering Microsoft is essentially ensuring that all CRM customers use Outlook as their primary mail client and from the Outlook customers perspective, I’m sure the sales team would be using this integrated functionality as a major reason to coax their customer not only to stick with Outlook but also to have CRM implementation in their organizations. So it’s a win-win situation for Microsoft.
Here’s another tidbit of information – With the 2011 CRM Outlook client what the customers will also be receiving is the Outlook Social Connector that comes standard with Outlook these days. So what that means is that if you or your contacts have presence in social and professional networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn then you can not only view that contacts social networking information but also any history associated with that contact in a particular networking site (for e.g. past emails, communicator conversations and so on). That’s cool huh? Talk about integrating various products to offer a great solution to the customers.
Well looks like this release is going to be exciting for the development team and the customers as well. It’ll be interesting to observe how the customers react to this integration. More on that later!!