Cortana - Voice Recognition in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015Welcome to the sixth and final part in our series on upgrading from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 to CRM 2015.

In the first five parts we had an introduction to CRM 2015, learned about the re-invented user interface, discussed 9 transformational features on forms, explored the sales, service and marketing feature upgrades and last time we discovered the new administration features.

Today we will look at how CRM supports multiple different devices (desktop, laptop, phone and tablet), and how it now integrates with other software to further improve on the ability of your team to work together better with the people inside and outside of your organization.

Mobile and Tablet Versions

CRM Mobile - with voice recognitionMobile and tablet versions are now included as a part of Dynamics CRM.  Almost every device app store has a Dynamics CRM now available (Android, Apple and Microsoft).  And, if your device does not support the app, you can navigate to a mobile user interface on your web browser.  Although all of the mobile applications provide excellent functionality, Microsoft has (of course) paid special attention to making the Microsoft device applications particularly powerful.  Windows 8.x tablets feature online/offline capabilities, dashboards, integrated business process flows – most everything that you would do as a user in the web version of CRM is available in the Windows tablet app.

Voice

In 2014 Microsoft introduced the voice recognition personality, Cortana, to their Windows Phone devices.  And with CRM 2015, Microsoft now includes the first generation of voice recognition built directly into CRM – courtesy of Cortana.  Tell Cortana, “CRM open account C5 Insight,” and she shows you the record.  Tell Cortana, “CRM remind me to call Geoff Ables,” and she will create a phone call for you.  Or ask Cortana, “CRM what should I do next?” and she will show you your task list in CRM.

The reality is that the number of things Cortana can do with CRM is still quite limited, and while the voice recognition is excellent, it is still far from perfect.  This is the first generation of a voice-activated CRM system.  Enjoy what is there, but expect to see a lot more in the future.

SharePoint Integration

SNAGHTML176cc566Microsoft has long included SharePoint integration as a part of CRM.  With the rollout of CRM 2013, this integration took a step forward with new capabilities that did not require installing an add-on into SharePoint.  SharePoint greatly expands CRM with the ability to deliver document management, partner and client web portals, and integrated business processes.  If you’re not using SharePoint with CRM, you’re missing an important part of the formula.

Lync/Skype Integration

If your organization uses Lync or Skype to make phone calls, then you have telephone integration built directly into Dynamics CRM 2015.  You can click on any phone number (just like you would click on an email address to open an email) and not only does Lync or Skype start, but a new blank phone call activity is created.  You can type notes directly into the phone call activity.

Yammer Integration

Activity Feeds, an internal CRM social conversation, first appeared in CRM 2011.  Shortly after introducing these, Microsoft acquired Yammer – a piece of software that enables social conversations across an enterprise.  And in CRM 2013, Microsoft introduced tighter integration with Yammer.  Your activity feeds are still there – but they are only used to track “auto-alert” types of activities.  Your team will use Yammer directly inside of CRM – so that the conversation can include everyone in your organization (not just CRM users).  Yammer also integrates with SharePoint, so your team has one familiar application to use for all of their social collaboration activities.

If your organization has not yet started to use an internal social tool like Yammer, you should really take a close look at it.  Yammer can save a tremendous amount of time that is typically wasted in email communications, it can help the team to collaborate to solve problems more efficiently, and it can contribute to a “corporate memory” of helpful information that can easily be searched.

One word of advice: if you’re considering using the Yammer integration, be sure to test it thoroughly before setting it up.  Once it is set up, you cannot go back to just using Activity Feeds – and you’ll find that some things may not work the way you want them to.  Hopefully Microsoft will continue to enhance this integration to make Yammer work even better with CRM.

We’ve Just Scratched the Surface

It took us six parts to go over all of the most important enhancements that have been added to Dynamics CRM since version 2011.  But we could have easily taken 60 blogs to explain exactly how all of these can be game changers for your business.  Take the time to experiment with these new features in a trial account (click here for instructions on getting a trial account).  Want more help?  Contact C5 Insight to discuss your upgrade.