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With all of the options and constant new releases, companies are hesitant to replace their core applications that run business operations. But Microsoft is now challenging the market with Dynamics 365, stating it is not just another CRM or ERP system. Still, skepticism remains as to whether the new platform really can make a difference, or if it is just the old system with a few enhancements.
By arguing that Dynamics 365 delivers on more than just a new cloud-based ERP platform with little infrastructure investment, Microsoft is looking to change how executives view ERP systems and is encouraging many to reconsider the notion that replacing an existing ERP is not worth the investment and hassle. Microsoft is describing Dynamics 365 as a game-changing platform that, through intelligence-fused services, helps increase revenue, reduces cost and allows users to gain more efficient insights into customers.
Here are the new enhancements that help Dynamics 365 stand out in the world of ERP platforms:
Powerful and seamless integration with Office 365: One highlight of the platform is its seamless integration with email messages and other existing Microsoft collaboration tools. Any communication can offer additional contextual details for a given contact without having to leave the web browser-based Outlook email client.
Contextual navigation between components: A unique feature is users' ability to move between the different components with ease. A sales rep can receive summarized sales information on a client or attendees of a meeting from within email. All the sales rep needs to do is click on the email and then expand the dynamics section to view all the additional details.
Extendibility with PowerApps/Flow: Another area that many business users are finding valuable is the introduction of PowerApps and Flow to the Dynamics platform. Users can build their own custom mobile apps that interact directly with Dynamics data and create automation through the Flow engine. Building these apps with zero code or programming knowledge empowers business users to add on to their system any items that might have been missing without having to rely on the IT department.
Personalized individual insights: By using the capabilities of Microsoft Graph, the company is signaling to users that they no longer need to sift through troves of online social media sites to get to know more about their target account or contact by having to subscribe to more online tools to gain insight. Microsoft assumes the responsibility of researching different sources to highlight the most relevant content surrounding a client. News releases, promotions and individuals' position changes can provide new insight that can assist sales reps to initiate a follow-up with their target and have relevant information to be used in conversation. Additional features are also available where the system scores on the level of engagement with contacts.
New artificial intelligence capabilities: Microsoft is also rolling out new AI capabilities that are likely to attract users to its Dynamics 365 platform. According to Jim Holtzman, a technical writer at Microsoft, the new offering is described as Customer Insights and "is a cloud-based [software as a service] that enables organizations of all sizes to bring together data from multiple sources and generate knowledge and insights to build a holistic 360-degree view of their customers." This will be a powerful weapon for organizations as it can score prospects and clients based on interactions and historical activities that can be used to help prioritize activities, interactions, products and calls with them.
Improved business intelligence features: Microsoft continues to invest in its Cortana Intelligence Suite, and it is including many of its components into the Dynamics suite. Power BI has replaced the legacy dashboards that were available in the preview versions of the CRM platform, offering richer and more interactive data visualization. This continues to highlight its commitment to business intelligence and how it plans to make universal visualization tools available across most of its services.
Versatile automation: Dynamics 365 for sales offers end users the ability for an email's content to be scrubbed and the contact's email signature to be loaded into the system as a new contact if desired by the user without the need to switch screens. It also manually loads information into the CRM platform. Sales might not be the only department to enjoy some of the new automations; other business units might be able to take advantage of the workflows and automation that Microsoft flow has to offer.
In a competitive market, many companies are willing to automate, streamline and increase the closing ratio without increasing sales costs. Having the right platform to help achieve that seems to be the message that Microsoft is trying to deliver to clients who may be overwhelmed with the complexity of the tools used for sales teams.
Microsoft has invested considerably into this ERP platform, and convincing companies to move away from another CRM or ERP platform into Dynamics 365 will take a lot more persuasion, analysis and evaluation. Microsoft's confidence in its new capabilities is high, and, from the current market reaction, business decision-makers are curious enough to at least evaluate and demo the platform, a significantly positive sign compared to initial dismissals of even considering switching ERP platforms.
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