Microsoft opened Convergence 2013 Tuesday morning with a keynote address from Microsoft Business Solutions President Kirill Tatarinov — and the debut of an upgraded CRM application.
With 11,000 attendees, this is the largest Convergence Microsoft has held to date, said Seth Patton, senior director of marketing for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
“The key theme for the event is uniting business and IT,” he told CRM Buyer.
That is becoming harder and harder to do in the corporate environment, Patton added, as decision-making takes place faster than ever before and must take into account myriad new information sources, such as social media.
“We believe Microsoft has a unique opportunity to help bridge this gap,” he said.
Toward that end, the company has just completely refreshed Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Chief among the changes in the updated application is enhanced marketing functionality — and a preview of Microsoft’s vision of what it can offer in social media monitoring and mobile sales.
Focus on Marketing
Included in the update is a new version of Microsoft’s recently acquired app MarketingPilot — plus a MarketingPilot Connector that allows it to integrate smoothly with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Microsoft acquired MarketingPilot in November of 2012. The application is unique, Patton said, in that it combines capabilities that help marketers streamline and automate processes as well as track spend and manage budgets. It also supports the execution of campaigns across various channels, including social, email, direct advertising — even television and billboards.
“Very few marketing solution providers are able to give CMOs a full view across different investments and determine which is having the greatest impact,” Patton said.
Stepping Up Social Monitoring
Microsoft is also pushing for better social monitoring capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It has acquired NetBreeze to facilitate that, Patton noted.
NetBreeze is a provider of native language analytics enhanced with data mining, transactional and text analysis capabilities.
“NetBreeze enables people to listen to what is happening and being said online in order to better drive sales and improve customer loyalty, Patton said. Microsoft hasn’t set a date for when this functionality will be part of Dynamics CRM.
The Mobile Piece
On the mobile side, Microsoft will deliver a tablet-optimized CRM sales application with the next Microsoft Dynamics CRM release in the second half of 2013.
The guided selling application, designed for Windows 8 RT and the iPad, facilitates connecting with customers and colleagues, and is designed to help sales reps manage opportunities from lead to close.