Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2014 Release Schedule

UPDATE September 2014 : 15 Updates Arriving Soon in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

Microsoft has firmed up its Dynamics CRM 2014 release plans and presented the upcoming improvements that will be introduced in the coming months.

With as many as 8 releases scheduled it promises to be another busy year!

As the graphic above shows the core CRM feature set is expanding to create a suite of connected applications that will include social listening, multi-channel marketing and enterprise service desk capabilities. As will all pre-releases any of these features are subject to change.

The headline announcements are:

• 2 CRM releases in 2014 for cloud & on-premise editions in Q2 & Q4
• Microsoft Social Listening released in Q2 - free for CRM Online Pro Customers
• Improved CRM Service Tools including new SLA & Entitlements entities
• Dynamics CRM Marketing Module arrives in Q2
• New Unified Service Desk + Parature Integration
• Dynamics CRM Enterprise Licence plan announced
• Inbuilt CRM calculation fields arriving in Q4

First up is the Dynamics Spring Wave consisting of 3 updates across CRM, Social and Marketing tracks.

To learn more about the Spring Wave releases download the Microsoft Release Preview Guide and our Frequently Asked Questions Guide.

CRM Spring'14 - Leo Update (Dynamics CRM Online & On-Premise)

Improvements to Dynamics CRM service capabilities are the main focus in Leo:

** UPDATE 4 JUNE - Read our new post about the latest CRM servicing functions **

New Case Hierarchies for parent / child issues enabling frequently encountered issues to be linked to a parent record. This will enable customer issues to be separated into child cases between departments, or split into individual issues that are linked to main parent case. Initially this will be limited to 1 hierarchy level and a maximum of 100 child cases but could expand to support more complex structures in future releases.

Case Routing & Automatic Case Creation rules including email to case handling to automatically create cases from incoming emails using CRM workflow rules. For example, conditional rules can be applied that will automatically trigger a new case based on keywords in an email subject title. Using the same rule the case will be routed to defined CRM teams or users.

New option to Merge Cases into a single record including all activities, notes and attachments.

A new Entitlements Entity controls individual contact rights to log service cases. As part of this release the existing CRM Contracts entity will be deprecated as Microsoft see Entitlements as the recommended solution to manage case permissions.

Entitlements will be defined by product, contacts and date to more precisely control which people can log cases. For example, in instances where 2 products are supported on an account CRM will enable defined user groups to be associated with each so that cases can only be created on behalf of users specific to each product. No plans have been announced to remove the Contracts entity so it’ll still be there after Leo but it’s clear that Microsoft sees Entitlements as the future.

Another new entity introduced in Spring Wave will be Service Level Agreements. SLAs are associated with the new Entitlements record to trigger warning condition for items at risk of breach and alerts when KPIs aren’t met, both outcomes can include auto posts on Yammer as well as send email actions.

Each SLA record can be set to track different KPIs based on their unique attributes. This includes setting timer controls, the hours and days when each SLA will be active as well as confirming holiday exclusions. This even extends to personalised feedback rules so for example this could trigger feedback request specifically for platinum level customers.

The CRM Tablet App will be extended to include case managment enabling read / write for case records.

Membership Queues. New CRM queues based on defined membership rules will help users select the correct queue so rather than being presented with a long list of every available queue users will instead only see the queues that are specific to their permissions.

We understand all of the above service module improvements will be available to CRM Pro Licence users when the Leo update is applied.

For call centres and enterprise support the Spring Wave also sees the release of a new Unified Service Desk.

Bringing together previously disparate support interfaces for contact centre reps, the USD enables users to better handle multiple interactions simultaneously in a single configurable agent desktop and use increased automation to follow scripts and knowledge base posts that dynamically reference keywords in each case title.

The Unified Service Desk pulls customer data from multiple sources including CRM and Microsoft Social Listening (more on this below) as well as integrating with third party telephony services. The USD will be exclusively available with a new licence tier called CRM Enterprise (@ £130.40+VAT per user).


The Unified Service Desk combines CRM integration with enterprise level service tools including knowledge management

Leo Platform Updates:

Server-Side Sync - enabled as a cloud to configure and manage the sync of email, tasks and contacts between Dynamics CRM Online and Exchange Online. POP3/SMTP23 providers will also be supported for sending and sync of email.

Compatibility - support introduced for Windows 8.1, IE11, iOS7 Safari on iPad (web app), iPad Air using Safari (web app), app for Android 4.2 & 4.3 Tablet, Windows Server 2012 R2, iPad Air using CRM for Tablets.

Microsoft Social Listening

12 months ago Microsoft acquired Netbreeze and now these social tools are to be relaunched in a new interface with the same look and feel as Dynamics CRM to help organisations monitor social conversations, identify fans and critics, and respond accordingly..

READ MORE
Microsoft Social Listening Resources
How Microsoft Social Listening Integrates with Dynamics CRM Online

Keywords and phrases are tracked with the trends in volume as well as positive / negative sentiment shown across multiple data sources. These include Twitter, Facebook, RSS, News and YouTube (LinkedIn doesn't appear to be included yet).

Social Listening attaches an influencer rating and automatically grades the sentiment on each post as neutral, positive or negative using a predefined engine. Users can overwrite individual ratings improve accuracy.


Assess matching social posts using keywords & review the sentiment of each entry

As well as tracking activity on your own social account, Social Listening can measure competitor activity enabling comparisons to be easily made.

Measure the activity of posts & comments across multiple social accounts, & compare with competitors

TEST DRIVE SOCIAL LISTENING
An interactive trial of Social Listening using archive data is available here.

Social Listening will roll out in Q2 to Dynamics CRM Online Pro Licence customers on the Office 365 platform at no additional cost for 10+ Professional licences. On-Premise customers and Online users with fewer than 10 users will be able to add this service for an incremental cost (UK price yet to be confirmed).

Administrators will manage user access to Social Listening and define which social accounts and keywords are to be tracked. We understand this will be subject to a maximum number of tracked posts each month so generic keywords or trending topics will of course be more likely to quickly absorb this allocation. The default limit of tracked monthly posts has yet to be confirmed.

More social enhancements will be added in Q3 (Libra) and Q4 (Hydra) that will extend these capabilities including geo analysis and automated social triggers.

To fully connect Social Listening with CRM integration will be developed allowing posts to be converted to CRM cases, leads and opportunities later this year for users on the new CRM Enterprise licence tier.

Social Listening Dashboards - arriving soon in CRM : )

Dynamics CRM Marketing

The 3rd pillar of the CRM Spring Wave sees the launch of a new Dynamics CRM Marketing Module.

Like Social Listening this is a separate service provisioned on Office 365 that has the same look and feel compared to the regular Dynamics CRM interface.

Dynamics Marketing is for any organisation that needs to manage B2B or B2C campaigns across print, online, event, sponsorship, email and other channels, this includes social channels to complete Microsoft’s vision of fully connected services between social listening, marketing, servicing and CRM.

The service is designed for teams that are currently using a different set of marketing automation services away from CRM.

The reporting features use Power BI as its analytics engine so it’ll produce impressive charts once you’ve entered your budget information.

The most impressive feature we seen so far is the Marketing graphical interface with drag and drop functions to create campaign processes, define sequences and actions for automated behavioural nurture campaigns which significantly reduces the complexity of configuring these steps compared to using regular Dynamics CRM workflows.

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing Screenshots:

Map each campaign activity using drag & drop controls
Apply rules to automatically score leads & drill down to see how each lead is scored
Personalised campaign reporting using Power BI
Set campaign goal targets for desired outcomes using clicks, tweets, email opens, downloads, attendees & other criteria

eBook: Increase Your Impact with Microsoft Dynamics Marketing

Dynamics CRM users who want these extended marketing functions will need to update existing Professional Licences to the CRM Enterprise plan. In addition to the Unified Service Desk component, Dynamics Marketing will be an enterprise-only feature included the £130.40+VAT licence plan.

The Enterprise plan includes entitlement to send 50k emails per month on an individual CRM instance, more email sends can be added for an incremental cost.

Non-enterprise users will still be able to use all the regular CRM functions including quick campaigns, lists, campaigns and integrate CRM with third party marketing solutions such as dotMailer and Click Dimensions.

Parature

In January Microsoft announced the acquisition of Parature.

Parature’s service desk technology includes mobile customer care, service scheduling, chat capabilities and knowledge base functions and represents Microsoft's first outward-facing acquisition for Dynamics CRM following earlier purchases of internal-facing technologies, NetBreeze and MarketingPilot.

Also provisioned on the Office 365 platform Parature will continue to be available as a standalone service but more widely integrated with Dynamics CRM via the new Unified Service Desk from Q4 as part of the Fall Wave.

Combined with the service module improvements already announced for Q2 this addition transforms Dynamics CRM’s service capabilities by including Parature knowledge integration with CRM and converting click to chat conversations to CRM cases.

VEGA Update (Dynamics CRM Online & On-Premise)

++ 18 September 2014: 15 Updates Arriving Soon in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 ++

Looking ahead to Q4 the CRM Vega release is scheduled to include:

• In built calculated fields without the need for custom code
• Improved process flows including branching logic
• Extended CRM offline capabilities for tablets
• New organisation hierarchies that graphically display the hierarchy & relationships between accounts.

IMPORTANT: Microsoft has announced several important changes to the supported CRM configurations for the Vega update. Read our post for more detail.

Conclusion

In summary, the addition of Social Listening, Dynamics CRM Marketing, Unified Service Desk and updated Service Function greatly extends the scale and capabilities of CRM. Clearly customers and partners will need to assess the capabilities of each new module to confirm which licence plans should be leveraged in each scenario.

With 8 updates announced there will be no shortage of product news in the months ahead and we’ll aim to keep this blog updated with the latest release news. In the meantime download our Dynamics Spring Wave FAQ's Guide.

As a Microsoft Partner Preact will be delighted to discuss your CRM plans, please contact us to request any CRM advice and to learn more about the Dynamics roadmap.