Next Dynamics CRM Online Update To Feature Yammer, Skype Integration

The Q4 service update to Dynamics CRM Online will be rolled out in mid-December, Microsoft announced on Thursday.

Microsoft also announced that it is developing a Windows 8 CRM app, expected to be released in mid-2013. The app is designed to "deliver a unique experience for managing sales processes by providing customers with seamless and intuitive access to key information," Microsoft said in its press release.

David Pennington, director of Dynamics CRM product marketing at Microsoft, called the Q4 release a "significant update" in a post on the CRM Connection blog.

"The December 2012 Service Update reimagines the way sales and customer service professionals work with CRM. We're moving away from the traditional data-centric lists and forms approach," Pennington wrote. "This service update will add new user experiences that simply and visually guide users through their business processes."

Microsoft's preview guide for the Q4 update (PDF) outlines some of the improvements and features expected in the release. One is a new "process-centric, outcome-oriented" user experience that includes embedded Bing maps. The update also features new support for Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome browsers on Windows PCs and for Firefox and Apple's Safari browser on Macs. The extended browser support also includes Safari on Apple's iPad tablets.

However, ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley noted that client support for mobile device platforms -- including Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft's own Windows Phone -- will not be a part of the Q4 release as previously expected. Earlier this year, Microsoft said it would deliver Dynamics CRM Mobile with the Q2 Dynamics CRM service update, but the company later adjusted that delivery timeline to the Q4 service update.

Another new feature in the Q4 update will be support for Office 2013 integration. Microsoft's 2013-branded products, which were recently released to Microsoft's volume licensing customers and MSDN and TechNet subscribers, are expected to become generally available in the first quarter of 2013.

The Q4 service update will also mark Microsoft's first major step toward integrating technology it acquired from enterprise social networking company Yammer into its Dynamics portfolio. Yammer, which became part of Microsoft's Office Division this summer after being acquired for $1.2 billion, announced the integration with Dynamics CRM at its YamJam conference on Monday.

"[T]his new integration allows Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers to extend Yammer's social functionality into the application by embedding Yammer feeds, as well as Follow and Like buttons into specific CRM records," Yammer explained in its press release. "In addition, once someone takes an action on a record, a Page is automatically created in Yammer where employees can discuss, follow and collaborate on that record."

The forthcoming service update will also allow Dynamics CRM users to make outbound calls from CRM forms using Skype, which Microsoft acquired last year for $8.5 billion. Users need to have Skype installed on their PCs to access this capability in the Q4 release, according to the preview guide, though future releases will not require it.

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.