​Previewing Dynamics CRM 2016 Spring Wave

Just days after the first Dynamics CRM Online customers received their upgrade to CRM 2016, Microsoft announced its Spring Wave (2016 Update 1) will be released in the second quarter of 2016.

In line with its recent release cadence the Spring update will be exclusively available for CRM Online customers. On-Premise users will have access to these improvements as part of the next major upgrade, expected in the final quarter of the year.

Microsoft has yet to confirm the licensing requirements so at this stage it is unclear what features will be available with an Enterprise, Pro or Basic licence, or requirements for an additional purchase but we’ll provide an update when we hear more.

As with any pre-release this information is liable to change. As we’ve seen with previous Microsoft releases some features might be first launched in preview mode, or initially released to customers outside of the UK.

To check out what Microsoft are working on next check the new Dynamics CRM Roadmap portal to see what is in development, what’s in preview and learn more about what’s new.

Focusing on the upcoming Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2016 Update 1 we’re looking forward to:

Guided User Navigation

Originally announced as part of the previous CRM 2016 release the Spring Wave sees the introduction of guided navigation to help with the on-boarding of new users.

This provides guided tasks and support which can be personalised for users by job role making it contextual to drive CRM user adoption.

Pop-up prompts will be displayed to users accessing CRM in browsers, and via tablet and mobile apps to help them become familiar with the CRM interface and the organisation’s processes.

Guided navigation won’t reduce the importance of training but will provide new CRM users with added help where clarification is needed to understand what to click next to navigate Dynamics, or how to move forward with a process.

For organisations currently distributing training guides that are customised around bespoke processes this new functionality may offer a more effective way to follow up training and get new CRM users up to speed.

Customer Field on Any CRM Entity

With the Spring Update Microsoft will now allow any entity, including custom entities, to have a customer field.

Previously only standard CRM entities including cases, opportunities and leads could reference a customer look-up field as an account or contact. 'Customer' will now be available as a custom field data type that can be added to any CRM entity.

Social Engagement Automation

We recently touched on some of the expected Social Engagement enhancements in an earlier post and Microsoft has now confirmed these will roll out as part of the Spring Wave including:

Smart Social Tags & Intent

Social posts can be tagged using terminology that reflects an individual’s likely intent, frequently used tags might include, ‘purchase’, ‘complaint’, ‘support’, a charitable organisation could use tags to identify prospective beneficiaries or sponsors.

Microsoft Social Engagement will then detect the ‘intent’ in tracked social posts and automatically apply the correct tag. Through adaptive machine learning continual improvements will be made to identify social intentions as defined by each business.

Automation Rules

New social engagement rules enable posts that match your filter criteria to be linked to CRM as cases or leads. Criteria can be combined with social intention as shown above, for example this can automatically create a new CRM case for matching social posts where a strong ‘support’ intent is identified.

Further Social Engagement improvements include increased coverage across blogs, forums and Instagram.

Organisation Insights Dashboard

Available as a preview is a new dashboard giving database administrators and CRM project leaders added insight to understand how users are engaging with CRM and see a quick view of their CRM metric. The new dashboard also features redesigned charts that enable users to toggle between predefined filters. READ MORE

Self-Service Portals

Following its acquisition of ADXstudio in 2015 Microsoft is now adding this IP.

The Spring Wave includes an option to add-on an official Microsoft portal solution to extend Dynamics CRM through self-service management that is directly available to customers and non-CRM user employees. The initial release will include packaged portals for customers, employees and a community portal enabling peer to peer interactions through forums. READ MORE

Field Service Module

*** OCT 2016 UPDATE - Field Service is now part of Dynamics 365 ***

We’ve previously shared information about Microsoft’s acquisition of Field One and with the Spring Wave release this solution will now be fully built into CRM as a new Field Service module for Professional licences and higher.

To manage a mobile workforce this module and efficiently deliver products and services to a clients location CRM Field Service include advanced scheduling, inventory tracking, and asset management to fulfil work orders and manage field based teams.

With the ultimate aim of getting the correct people, with the right skillset, to the right place the new CRM Field Service module and mobile app gives them the technology and resources to fulfil the job.

Project Service

The 2016 Spring Wave sees the arrival of another service module.

The new Project service solution is for organisations that extensively deliver services over multi-day engagements and includes functions to plan and manage customer projects.

With a shared resource pool and schedule management tool it has inbuilt capability to work very closely with the Field Service module and extends Microsoft Dynamics to provide a single system for project sales, delivery and billing using skills-based assignments. Definitely a major advancement from the legacy CRM service scheduler!

We'll be sharing more information about this release as we receive further detail from Microsoft so be sure to join our mailing list.