Chances are if you are reading this blog post you already use a CRM system. The biggest change in CRM over the last couple of years has been the transformation to the Cloud. Even if you still run CRM as an on-premises solution there are still pieces of data that reside in the Public or Private Cloud.
As the Cloud evolution continues we are also seeing businesses adapt to all of the new social technologies. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are just a few of the websites where businesses now advertise and communicate with their customers. Sonoma Partners developed Vibe for Microsoft Dynamics CRM to support social collaboration. Microsoft has announced that their fall CRM release will contain a native social CRM application. So with all of these trends what’s next with CRM and what should you know now to prepare yourself for tomorrow?
Mobility – Mobility – Mobility
Always connected – sound familiar? All the major technology companies are depending on it. Your world is evolving right in front of you and you may not even know it. Have you been on a flight lately? WiFi is starting to become the standard on flights. So even at 37,000 feet you can still track your CRM email activities real-time. Crazy!
In conjunction with mobility, “touch” interfaces have become the expectation of consumers. We are now starting to see these trends work their way into corporations. I was just on a call last week where a company purchased iPads for their entire sales organization (1,000+). Microsoft understands this trend is not going away and has been working for a few years to transition their product lines to support mobility and a more immersive end-user experience (like touch). Enter the “Metro” user interface. The Metro design concept has worked it’s way into Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox.
One of the core concepts to the Metro experience is Live Tiles. Live Tiles deliver real-time information to the user in an interactive type fashion. As an example, if someone posts a message on your Facebook wall that message will appear within the Live Tile for Facebook on your Windows 8, Windows Phone and/or Xbox dashboard. Think of Live Tiles as a notification engine but on steroids. Live Tiles allow developers to present real-time information to all of the hardware interfaces you might use on a daily basis (phones, computers and gaming consoles).
So how does this impact CRM? Simple – CRM is all about your customers. If your customers are communicating with you via email, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, etc. then your CRM system should support tracking this information in a seamless manner. Going one step further, your CRM system will need to push and pull data through these applications utilizing new mobility technologies.
I know, you are reading this and thinking “Xbox,” why is he talking about “Xbox?” It’s simple really. Gaming consoles are just another way to communicate with consumers. Creating an immersive interface that is the same across hardware platforms builds a cohesive ecosystem that becomes familiar to consumers and consistent to developers.
Microsoft understands our world is changing fast. If consumers are living on Facebook, watching Live TV on Xbox or conferencing via Skype then we need to be able to communicate and track relevant content with them. Mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and gaming consoles are here today. Tomorrow will be another new technology device. Microsoft continues to innovate with all of their existing products to support these changes and Microsoft Dynamics CRM is no exception.
To keep pace with innovation in the market, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM team will be delivering new product functionality every six months. I suspect that one of the key design pillars moving forward is providing a user interface that takes advantage of an “immersive experience.” I expect future product updates will take advantage of the Metro design concepts and more specifically, Live Tiles.
Sonoma Partners is highly invested in Microsoft Dynamics CRM because this is all we do. We eat our own dog food by using Microsoft Dynamics CRM to run our business (from A-Z). To help prepare our consultants for tomorrow we are attending the “Build” conference next month in Anaheim, CA. We are looking forward to building new and exciting CRM applications for Windows 8, Windows Phone and other mobile technologies.
If you’re not attending Build don’t worry about it. Just follow them on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date with all of the latest information. You can also follow us on Twitter and watch for Tweets about the next generation of Windows and how CRM will evolve.
Mike Snyder and Ryan Toenies