Recently, Microsoft held its annual Convergence conference which brings together thousands of business professionals and the Microsoft Partner community. The RBA contingent, most of whom have attended Convergence for years, noticed a new energy at this year’s event. The power and momentum of the true “convergence” taking place between business professionals and Microsoft’s services was more evident than ever before. What follows are the top four key takeaways from Convergence that will keep people talking in 2015 and beyond.
Seamless Integration of Microsoft Stack
“Microsoft is clear in their direction that Dynamics CRM is a leading platform at the heart of their strategy of seamless integration. Never before have we seen the level of integration in Microsoft’s products, which are enabling informed productivity in the work place while delivering experiences tailored to ease individual’s digital needs. This level of integration represents an exciting opportunity for our clients to power their Customer Engagement strategies through Microsoft’s products. Now Marketing, Sales, and IT groups can all work together to deliver innovative, scalable solutions in one ecosystem.”
Mitch Talbot, RBA Business Development Executive
“The public preview of Office 16 and Skype for Business were introduced!
Skype for Business will allow connectivity to both Lync clients and servers and Skype clients from the same UI, making it easier than ever to communicate with just about anyone on any device with the same unified client technology.
New ISV Solutions – There are two new ISV solutions for Dynamics CRM, InsideSales and Salesvue, aimed squarely at making the job of Inside Salespeople more effective and rewarding. They are definitely worth a look if your organization has inside sales reps.
Dynamics Social Engagement – The new update to the Dynamics Social Listening tool that’s slated to come out next month will include new capabilities to make it easier to find the social posts relevant to your company. It will also include fantastic new capabilities to allow real-time engagement with users in the channel they posted in without leaving the UI you’re in at the time in addition to the current monitoring abilities to set rules and alerts. It was announced that this update will be rebranded to Dynamics Social Engagement from Dynamics Social Listening.”
Bart Sneary, RBA National Solution Lead
“Convergence” of Business and Personal Productivity Tools
“A key theme I took away is Microsoft’s planned convergence (no pun intended) of business productivity tools and personal productivity tools. Today, users are adept at utilizing personal productivity tools, many provided by Microsoft, to manage all aspects of their personal lives. From document access (anywhere, anytime, any device) to personal management (notes, calendars, tasks) to the applications utilized each and every day (Word, Excel, etc.), the combined strategy outlined by Microsoft of bringing together a seamless OneNote and Excel experience in the context of CRM in the upcoming CRM Spring Release is a game changer for users.
“Microsoft is clearly aiming to reduce the friction between the user experience of personal productivity and business productivity and changing the conversation to be simply about productivity, while delivering user-based solutions that work across mobile, desktop, and the business enterprise.”
Bob Lam, RBA National CRM Solutions Manager
Shift from a Focus on New Features to Fostering True Customer Engagement
“Having attended a variety of sessions at this year’s Convergence, I saw a distinct change over previous years. While products and technologies were discussed, they tended to be more of the backdrop than the focus. There were some great discussions of true business transformations that were supported through the use of the Microsoft platform of products. Sessions and hallway conversations were less about the newest feature and more about how organizations have improved their customer engagement leveraging the Microsoft platform. At the end of the day, this is what clients are looking to Microsoft and partners to affect. I think it demonstrates that the platform has evolved to a state of maturity (features, reliability and performance) where people can let the product fade into the background and focus more on the problems and opportunities.
“The most exciting alignment is the industry need around true customer engagement. Through acquisitions and development in marketing automation and operations, social engagement and customer care, the Microsoft platform is poised to be able to be the first platform to provide a true end to end customer lifecycle engagement. From the marketing department creating and nurturing leads, to the sales team focusing on being more productive to customer service supporting existing clients, the Microsoft platform provides a unique 360 view of the customer. Throw in the ability to measure and score engagement, create rich, automated business processes and monitor and engage socially with target and existing customers, and you have a mix of capabilities that is unmatched.”
Jay Lendl, RBA Director of CRM Solutions
It’s exciting to see where Microsoft is headed with their business solutions, and as you can tell by the responses, we are excited to be front and center for the journey.