I was recently preparing for a demo to a prospective client. During my personal introduction, I told the people I was presenting to the fact that I have been with RSM for almost 10 years and started working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM at version 3.0. One person at the presentation asked how many version that was. After thinking for a bit, I answered with the number ‘five’. Walking out of the presentation and getting into my car, I started to think back to my beginnings with the application and where we have come since then.
Version 3 to me was what we talk about when referencing our competitors, a glorified rolodex. It did have the ability to track activities and opportunities, but did not have a good way to display a funnel within the application. With version 2011, we finally got great dashboards that gave our end users and managers the ability to visualize data. This changed the way our users interact with the system. Rather than looking at lists and interpreting what the user should be doing, the dashboards give users a starting point at the beginning of the day. Rather than searching through details, users can see summary data and then drill directly into the details in a segmented way. This, to me, is the biggest change for all users in the system.
In a similar vein, version 2015 allowed users to customize their lists and dashboards. This took the reliance off of system administrators and put the power to customize into the hands of the end users. One of the biggest hurdles in using this feature is that some end users do not want this power and would like to continue rely on the system administrator.
Moving into version 2013 we started to get a touch enabled system and the ability to use any modern browser. This is enhanced with the mobility aspects that were added in 2015 and greatly enhanced in 2016. These features were not only to keep up with the times, but to allow users to use Dynamics CRM on any device that they would like to use. The phone became more than read only, more a fully functioning application.
Moving forward, Microsoft has made it clear there will be industry focuses. With the recent release of the professional services add-on as well as the project management functionality, it is clear that Microsoft if looking to continue to move past the glorified rolodex. Simple inclusions such as InsideView and the recent purchase of LinkedIn solidifies the Dynamics CRM place in the business world. We expect to have seamless integration into the vast LinkedIn data. We expect that the Dynamics CRM application and the LinkedIn platform will merge into one source of truth on a client. We expect to be able to touch people personally within the new landscape.
The last 10 years have opened up the Dynamics CRM application beyond the original intention of contact and customer management. We are not at the end of the road, rather the last 10 years have been a warmup to the new way in which business and client management is going to be run.