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Microsoft Readies Dynamics CRM 2016 for Q4 Release

The next major update to Microsoft's Dynamics CRM platform will include significant improvements to its business intelligence (BI) and analytics capabilities.

Dynamics CRM 2016 will be generally available in the fourth quarter of this year, delivering the "the most comprehensive upgrade ever" for the platform, Microsoft announced on Tuesday.

Among the new features coming to Dynamics CRM 2016 is integration with "Delve," Microsoft's enterprise search-and-discovery tool. Using machine learning, Delve retrieves information relevant to a user and organizes it into a card-like user interface. The Delve functionality is designed to give Dynamics CRM users convenient access to "trending content that is most relevant to what a person is working on," wrote Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Dynamics CRM, in a blog post. "For example, Delve might show popular presentations or proposals to help our customers with their opportunity or account."

Microsoft also plans to include capabilities of its new Cortana Analytics Suite in Dynamics CRM 2016. First announced at July's Worldwide Partner Conference, the Cortana Analytics Suite bundles Microsoft's various BI and machine learning technologies -- including Power BI and Azure ML -- into a single offering, with the Cortana digital assistant powering the user interface. According to Stutz, a lot of the sales and customer service functions in Dynamics CRM 2016 will benefit from this integration.

"We're introducing capabilities like intelligent product suggestions (for cross-sell), and recommended cases to resolve customer service issues. We're harnessing the power of Azure Machine Learning for sentiment analysis in Microsoft Social Engagement. We're also baking intelligent and contextual guidance into CRM throughout the entire customer journey," he wrote.

Dynamics CRM 2016 also promises to help users work in a more streamlined fashion by reducing the amount of time and effort it takes to switch from function to function. For instance, Excel and Word can now automatically organize Dynamics CRM data into preset templates, eliminating the need to switch apps or export data. Users can manage Outlook contacts and threads from within an e-mail. OneDrive integration gives users quicker access to various documents from within Dynamics CRM. Microsoft has also improved integration with Cortana to include CRM-related data, such as recent sales activities and account information.

For mobile users, Dynamics CRM 2016 will feature "full offline mobile capabilities, the ability to create task-based mobile apps, [and] Mobile Application Management with Microsoft Intune," according to Stutz.

Dynamics CRM 2016 will be the second major update for Dynamics CRM this year. The first, dubbed the "Spring 2015 release," was released in May. However, that update applied only to the cloud-based Dynamics CRM Online. The upcoming Dynamics CRM 2016 will affect both Dynamics CRM Online and the on-premises Dynamics CRM product, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.