In a sold-out Convergence 2014 Europe business conference, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq “MSFT”) on Tuesday highlighted the wave of innovation designed to enable organizations to benefit from the Microsoft cloud for business through the combination of Microsoft Dynamics business solutions, Office 365 productivity applications and the power of Microsoft Azure.
In the opening keynote delivered to business leaders from 71 countries, Microsoft Business Solutions executive vice president Kirill Tatarinov featured customers, including City of Barcelona, Ingram Micro, JJ Foods, Nagra, Onduline and the Spanish Association Against Cancer that are differentiating themselves with Microsoft Dynamics solutions through the power of the Microsoft cloud. Tatarinov showcased new technologies that bring machine learning and mobile capabilities to help businesses increase productivity, demonstrating capabilities of the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 release, the interoperability between Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015 and Office 365, and new capabilities to Microsoft Dynamics AX in the latest update to its flagship enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.
In addition, he announced a new partnership with Thunderhead.com to build interoperability between the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform and Thunderhead.com’s ONE Engagement Hub.
“To better engage with their customers, businesses are looking to the cloud for greater collaboration and the right insights to help them be more productive,” Tatarinov said. “Microsoft is reimagining and reinventing productivity by harnessing the power of the cloud through a flexible platform in Azure, a cloud productivity suite in Office 365, and customer-centric business applications delivered through Microsoft Dynamics solutions that are helping organizations transform the way they engage with customers and run their business.”
Breaking silos between sales and marketing
The company on Tuesday announced that the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 release will be generally available in December 2014. The new release is designed to address the growing need for businesses to deliver seamless experiences to their customers by helping them break down the barriers between divisions and collaborate like never before. New capabilities in this release, showcased on Tuesday, include advancements in natural user interface and integration with Cortana, the intelligent personal assistant on Windows Phone 8.1. With Cortana, users will be able to set up meetings and reminders; search for contacts, accounts and activities; view customer lists; and create new customer records — all with voice commands.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 will also include significant updates to its platform capabilities, enabling businesses to create predefined and configurable processes with enhanced branching logic for complex scenarios, near-real-time calculations and roll-ups for business information, and client API enhancements that will allow automation and consistency across devices. Using these design elements, Microsoft is adding new Industry Templates for a number of specific industries, such as financial services, retail, public sector, manufacturing and professional services. Twenty-seven templates will be available by the end of 2014, helping customers jump-start their implementation with industry-specific requirements.
Microsoft also reinforced the benefits of its Sales Productivity solution, which gives sales professionals the leading productivity tools that work seamlessly with business applications to enable them to do more and achieve more. The new solution is offered to customers at a promotional price of $65 (52.70 euros) per user, per month. Existing users of Office 365 can upgrade to the Sales Productivity solution for $45 (34.50 euros) per user, per month.
At the event, the company also announced a new partnership with Thunderhead.com that will bring to market a complete omni-channel customer engagement solution based on the interoperability of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform and Thunderhead.com’s ONE Engagement Hub. The solution gives chief marketing officers and customer experience leaders the ability to build customer engagement by tying together customer insight, context and journey behavior and enhancing omni-channel customer experiences with greater visualization and analytics capabilities across all touch points.
Transforming business with the cloud
Microsoft also on Tuesday introduced a new update to Microsoft Dynamics AX, its flagship ERP solution that harnesses the power of the cloud to help organizations transform their businesses and deliver amazing customer experiences. This latest update enables businesses to combine all the benefits of Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Azure in a full end-to-end cloud solution. It enables companies to run hybrid environments with an optimal mix of development, test and production instances, and it adds a new, modern Point-of-Sales client for Windows tablets and phones, giving in-store sales associates the ability to access product and customer information at their fingertips to deliver great shopping experiences. In addition, this update adds capabilities that streamline warehouse and transportation operations to help organizations fulfill orders quickly and flexibly to exceed their customers’ expectations.
Using the cloud, Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services (LCS), the Microsoft Azure-based application lifecycle management service for Microsoft Dynamics AX, provides new implementation methodologies, based on industry best practices, to help organizations drive business process innovation and implementation and get value from these projects faster. Giving businesses the ability to design, develop, test and deploy their projects in the Microsoft cloud, LCS is increasing agility and saving time for thousands of customers and partners. With the cloud-powered support service in LCS, Microsoft is reimagining the support experience for partners and customers. Businesses that currently use the service are realizing a significant 60 percent drop in days-to-resolution of their support cases.
The new update for Microsoft Dynamics AX will be available to customers in December 2014. More information on the update and LCS can be found at Inside Microsoft Dynamics AX.
Customers such as J&J Foods are benefiting from Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 as they use machine learning capabilities to turn automated processes into intelligent processes for a more personalized experience for their customers. The capability, demonstrated during the conference keynote, is based on the implementation of a machine learning algorithm in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 that is used by J&J Foods’ call center agents to engage with their customers directly on the Web storefront. The cross-channel implementation of machine learning-infused processes has helped J&J Foods improve customer service, better understand customers and in just four weeks increase its Internet sales revenue by 3.5 percent.
As part of the event, Microsoft also demonstrated the new Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015 release that adds a new tablet and touch-optimized user experience, enabling small and midsized business customers to access their company data and processes regardless of location or what device they choose to use. It adds faster access to information that matters with personalized home pages that let users view their most important business data and key performance indicators at a glance. New capabilities within this release also radically simplify invoice design and production through new interoperability with Microsoft Word. Power users can now create customized, branded invoice templates on their own in Microsoft Word without having to engage a technical consultant. The release also includes additional optimizations to deploy in the cloud on Microsoft Azure and, with Office 365 to lower costs, increase flexibility and boost employee productivity.
Advancements in Microsoft Dynamics cloud solutions follow closely on the heels of several enhancements Microsoft announced last month to its hyper-scale, enterprise-grade, hybrid cloud platform, as well as updates to Office 365, which now include unlimited storage with OneDrive. All these updates combined underscore the company’s commitment to its cloud solutions to help customers do more and achieve more.