This week Microsoft has made several announcements regarding new releases of its back-end business applications portfolio, covering not only its customer relationship management (CRM) offering but also its enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools. These announcements focus, in particular, on new applications, new intelligent capabilities, and substantial changes to the platforms themselves.
New Dynamics 365 Offerings
The first new announcement is the addition of a new version of the company's popular Dynamics 365 platform. Dynamics 365 for Marketing Professional Edition is a new marketing automation app designed for companies that are ready to go beyond basic email marketing at the front end of a sales cycle.
"Dynamics 365 for Marketing Professional Edition is really for organizations that want to go beyond basic email management and be able to have the ability to do campaign management, lead flow management, journey mapping, and event management," said Alysa Taylor, Microsoft Business Applications & Industry at Microsoft. "You have a connected sales and marketing experience for those organizations that want that type of connected experience but don't need the scalability or don't need the enterprise-driven offerings."
Dynamics 365 for Marketing Professional Edition is expected to launch in April. Pricing information is not available at this time.
Continuing the theme of releasing versions for everyone, the company also announced Dynamics 365 for Sales Professional Edition. Essentially, this version offers all of the same sales automation capabilities found i n the Enterprise Edition but is designed for customers who don't need the customization features of that version. Dynamics 365 for Sales Professional Edition is available now.
Additionally, Dynamics 365 for Business Central was announced last week and is launching on April 2. The company said it will offer organizations a complete solution for managing finances, operations, sales, and customer service features. "This is not only for financial management; it also brings in lightweight sales and service capability as well. So, in many ways, this will be an end-to-end offering for organizations that want that 360-degree view across their organization," said Taylor.
According to Taylor, these new initiatives are all about giving the customer more options in the marketplace. "Our intent with our existing product line and the new editions that we're bringing to the product is to provide as much customer choice as possible," said Taylor. "One of our core visions is to be able to meet customers where they're at. It was the original intent of being able to take the product portfolio and organize it by functional, purpose-filled applications. We want to continue to be able to provide as rich of a business application product set as possible, as customer needs are continually changing and evolving."
Artificial Intelligence Initiatives
It's no secret that Redmond has made big bets on all things artificial intelligence. The results of those investments will continue to make their way into its business apps. If you already use Microsoft's Power BI solution, then you may appreciate the ability to apply its business analytics capabilities directly to your CRM operations. Power BI for Sales Insights and Power BI for Service Insights are a pair of new tools that will be available for preview sometime this spring. According to Taylor, the new apps are analytics tools that can leverage data from Microsoft Graph as well as LinkedIn. They designed to complement the Dynamics product line.
Microsoft also announced new capabilities for Power BI in the form of what it calls "the common data service for analytics." According to Taylor, an extensive schema was written for the platform that will make it more effective at reading data from different types of sources. Essentially, this common data service is designed to make the task of integrating and analyzing data from different business apps and services much easier. The company also announced similar upgrades to its PowerApps service that will reportedly enable new enhancements as well, including server-side logic to model business process stages, and more workflow tools.