Are You Ready for Microsoft SharePoint 2013?

Microsoft SharePoint is an incredibly powerful platform that delivers huge benefits to various facets of the business. There is much new and exciting functionality and out of those many, here are some of Microsoft SharePoint 2013 features which will help people to get there.

Business User Benefits

1. Access anywhere anytime – People can access contents through any browser or smartphone and even on iOS devices anytime provided you are connected to the internet. You can also sync content onto a device and work on the same offline and sync back again.

2. Add & Share Content with ease – People can drag and drop contents straight into any browser window and then share a document with your colleagues by simply clicking the Share link.

3. Aggregated Task Management – People can view tasks on project sites and can easily edit them in the browser window. These are then rolled up into the MySite section to show users a combined list of tasks (including personal tasks) that have been added/modified in Microsoft SharePoint and in Exchange 2013.

4. Robust Search – People can search for colleagues, content, videos, and reports, sites and get into the details both via text values and visual refiners to easily find information to reuse. In a preview pane, Users can use Documents preview including drilling down into the detail of the document. Users can also retrieve information easily based on historical search behavior.

5. Effective Content Collaboration with others – People can work on the content concurrently as their colleagues are. This is useful when you are working on meetings notes via OneNote and putting together large documents or presentations where your colleagues are also working on the part of the content they are responsible for. This makes it swifter to combine content.

6. Integration with Exchange Server – People can work with all team based communication from a Microsoft SharePoint site (i.e. from a single location). These emails will be stored in an Exchange mailbox so are also fully functional from within the mail client (i.e. MS Outlook etc.)

7. Expert Advice – People can use Community Sites to enquire their queries/doubts to the specialists and discuss items with peers. People can also search for experts based on items they have been working on as well as information they have entered.

8. The pool of Apps – With the introduction of Apps and the Marketplace in Microsoft SharePoint 2013, the apps for Microsoft SharePoint are an easy way to add functionality to a particular Microsoft SharePoint site (may include applications running outside of Microsoft SharePoint).

This makes it a lot easier to configure a site for a specific purpose without sound technical knowledge.

Portal Governance Benefits

1. Microsoft SharePoint site policies can be used to define suitable actions to occur when a site owner closes a particular site. After closure, that site/s can be archived or other necessary actions can be performed automatically.

2. An Organization can have a Controlled Application Store to control and apply security over which applications can be installed by site owners and includes an interface for requesting and managing licenses. These can be internal applications or applications that are purchased and/or run externally to the organization.

3. Microsoft Office 365 has the similar functionality (in the majority of features) as of on-premise installation. For an Intranet portal, people can choose to run the same on a cloud without loss of functionality or performance (here, the onus is on Microsoft to manage and maintain the Office 365 service). A Cross environment can also be created where Microsoft SharePoint search can be designed to be self-managing to support reporting and rights management and provide an integrated user experience across cloud and on-premise environments.

Top 10 Reasons to Opt For Microsoft SharePoint 2013

It is a fact that, any technology upgrade is always justified on the basis of ROI from a productivity perspective. Keeping that in mind, below are the top reasons jotted to justify why people should upgrade to Microsoft SharePoint 2013 sooner rather than later.

1. Improved Document Management

The new drag-and-drop functionality of SharePoint document libraries in Microsoft SharePoint 2013 is just great as uploading documents in previous versions have always meant a lot of clicking. This is a big change from using the file share where you just drag and drop off your local machine. Though there was “Open in Windows Explorer” option, it was pretty slow.

Again, in Microsoft SharePoint 2013, SkyDrive Pro is a new feature to take your content offline and replace SharePoint Workspace (used to get documents in SharePoint) which often was unpredictable and had document library scalability limitations. The experience of taking your documents offline has also been improved by simply clicking the “Sync” button. This is much more of a “drop box” experience that is being adopted for its ease of use in businesses.

2. Easy Sharing

Ease of sharing files via e-mail attachments or through Sky Drive or Dropbox was one of the critical reasons Microsoft SharePoint doesn’t get adopted as a document management system. In Microsoft SharePoint 2013, a new concept of “Share” has been introduced which really takes the effort out of security management for business users (though needs to be thoughtfully managed to avoid the possible mess), by simply nominating the user or group and what permissions with two clicks. Requesting access to a site now has a lot more traceability too, so if you go back to the site after you have requested access, it will detail who the request is with now.

3. Polished User Interface

Comparing Microsoft SharePoint 2013 with Microsoft SharePoint 2010, people will realize it is a significant change over what is now available. Less is more is the theories being applied in cleaning up certain interface options. Removing some of the options like “Site Actions” and replacing with settings component icon, having the getting started “Modern UI” tiles being front and center – but more importantly removable – getting rid of the useless photo that survived both Microsoft SharePoint 2007 and Microsoft SharePoint 2010 in team site template! It feels like a more polished, “user first” user interface.

5. Enhanced Social Features

We all know that Facebook and Twitter are the pinnacle of social and have been around for a long time, and with the release of Microsoft SharePoint 2013, some of the user experiences have been introduced. The biggest additions are the “@” symbol to look up people to reference in social activity updates, the new communities with badges, and the ability to follow not only people but also documents, sites and tags.

6. Robust Search

People spend most of the time trying to find documents and it’s known to everybody that No matter how good the information architecture is built; information doesn’t always get put in the correct place. SharePoint Search enables people to discover information quickly, and Microsoft SharePoint 2013 enables people to find things much more quickly with quick document previews in the web browser, much better search refiners on the left-hand side, and slight improvements like “view library” and “send”.

7. Improved Managed Metadata

In Microsoft SharePoint 2010, the major addition was certainly the Managed Metadata service to allow people to tag content with the taxonomy of terms. This is a huge area for helping to improve discovery of content by searching and refining by terms. Although the user interface hasn’t changed, there are a number of improvements – such as being able to follow terms from a social perspective. The other addition is the ability to have properties associated with terms, which has been introduced to have navigation driven by term sets.

8. Website Policies

The site policies allow you to send email notifications to business users if their sites were not accessed for a set period of time. This really helps business users who are accountable for sites and need to clean them up over time. This was really a “pester” email, and there was no real reflection of which sites were out of policy. In Microsoft SharePoint 2013, the site policies now trigger SharePoint workflows that can be the custom build and have various configurations for handling inactive sites.

9. Improvements in Web Content Management

Running internet facing sites on Microsoft SharePoint has been around since Microsoft SharePoint 2007, but didn’t really improve in Microsoft SharePoint 2010. Having said that, it is clear that there is a great focus on WCM for Microsoft SharePoint 2013. From a business productivity perspective, this will benefit to internet facing site authors and internal sites (where there is a need for these advanced publishing features). Improvements in embedding the video directly into pages, much shorter URLs, and the ability to have better multi-lingual and multi-device support means that your site i.e. Intranet, Extranet will work much better.

10. Superior Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence continues to evolve in Microsoft SharePoint 2013 with improvements across the board in Excel client, Excel services, PerformancePoint services and Visio services. The in-memory capabilities of Excel client now allow business users to pull data from various sources and build amazing sheets in minutes.

11. Apps and the Marketplace

Apple really opened the door for independent developers to build applications and then to efficiently market, sell, and distribute those applications to a mass market. Microsoft has certainly taken note of the sales model and, with both the release of SharePoint 2013 and the introduction of the Office Store, SharePoint developers can now edge in on the app marketplace action.

Various apps can easily be added to your SharePoint site via Microsoft Office Store to increase productivity. The new app model takes the risk out of customizations from an upgrade perspective and allows for much more flexibility than the sandboxed solution model.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM December 2012 Update Rollup 12 – Polaris

Please find below the summary of the upcoming functionality for the most awaited update rollup 12 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2012:-

  • Browser Compatibility

    The Cross-Browser support is finally here…now work in CRM in your favorite browser!!! Initially only the user aspect of the CRM was going to be supported across multiple browsers, however, the MSFT team worked twice hard and got the support extended even for the administrative functions…which is a great news!!!

  • User Experience

    The new user experience is a more intuitive way to work through a business process in a guided fashion. Utmost care has been taken to reduce the number of clicks and pop-ups needed to achieve any action. Presently this is available only for selected entities like Accounts, Contacts, Opportunity, Leads and Cases. Expect the full set of functionalities to be available in future updates slowly and steadily!!

  • Custom Workflows

    This is the most awaited feature (second only to the multi-browser compatibility) will now allow CRM online organizations to connect with any external systems in the world. We are releasing a number of add-ons in coming months that were just waiting in-line for this feature to be available in CRM Online…stay connected with us to receive more updates.

  • Bing Maps

    Now view your Accounts and Contacts in embedded Bing Maps within the CRM forms. Presently this would be available only for the new process forms (Leads, Accounts & Contacts).

  • Time Lines

    For CRM Online Customers: Update Rollup 12 will be applied automatically between 1st Jan and 31st Jan 2013.

    For CRM On-premise Customers: Update will be available by 10th January which could be applied manually and through windows update around 22nd January.

Below is the list of various other features that would be part of this release:

  • Yammer Integration
  • Skype Integration
  • CRM for iPad for Sales functionality only
  • SDK New features (like Bulk data load API for large datasets)
  • Support for new compliance standards

Microsoft Dynamics CRM December 2012 Service Update

Download Your Guide

Please note that these features will be available by default in new CRM Online sign-ups after 14th Jan for North America and 16thJan for EMEA and APAC.

CRM Dynamics is a great platform to build CRM solutions for small business to the enterprise organization. However, to enhance the platform, add-ons from different partners provide a great way to improve the user experience and improve productivity.

Principal Changes Between Microsoft SharePoint 2010 & 2013

There is no doubt that Microsoft SharePoint 2013 is a new way to collaborate/work together. A lot of new things are introduced with Microsoft SharePoint 2013 and many of these are expected and seem an extension of existing functionality from the older version. In this post we will look at the principal changes done between Microsoft SharePoint 2010 & 2013 in a categorized manner, just to give you a gist about what is depreciated and what is introduced in the new Microsoft SharePoint 2013 version.

Changes Intended Towards Developers

In SharePoint 2013, Microsoft introduced a new Cloud App Model for designing Apps for Microsoft SharePoint. Apps for Microsoft SharePoint are independent pieces of functionality that extend the competency of a Microsoft SharePoint website. You can use HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and protocols like the Open Data protocol (OData – a web protocol that is used to query and update data), and OAuth to communicate with SharePoint using Apps.

Tools – Microsoft SharePoint 2013 has introduced new Tools for App development. Visual Studio 2012 now lets you develop apps for Microsoft SharePoint and apps for Office. In addition, a new web-based tool called “Napa” Office 365 Development Tools were introduced for developing apps.

  • Napa is a new browser-based development environment which allows a user to amend the HTML 5 and JavaScript behind an application and test it within their Microsoft SharePoint site. Although Napa is very limited, it also provides an export option so that the app can be worked on in Visual Studio 2012.
  • Meeting workspace site template has been deprecated Microsoft SharePoint 2013.
  • Web analytics feature of Microsoft SharePoint 2010 has been deprecated from Microsoft SharePoint 2013.

No more Sandbox solutions. Microsoft SharePoint 2013 sandboxed solutions are deprecated.

The visual upgrade feature in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 is not available in Microsoft SharePoint 2013. It has been replaced with deferred site collection upgrade which is a more comprehensive upgrade process than the visual upgrade. Visual upgrade preserved only the old master pages, CSS files, and HTML files. Deferred site collection upgrade preserves much more, including SPFeature functionality. To achieve the deferred site collection upgrade, major changes in the architecture were required, including the removal of visual upgrade.

Various site templates have been removed to simplify the list of templates that are available when a user creates a new site collection. The below list of site templates will continue to operate in Microsoft SharePoint 2013. But these site templates will be removed completely from the next major release of Microsoft SharePoint and sites that were created by using below listed site templates will not be supported o Document Workspace site template o Personalization Site site template o Meeting Workspace site templates o Group Work site template and Group Work solution o Visio Process Repository site template

Social and Collaboration features

Microsoft in SharePoint 2013 Introduced new Social capabilities for better collaboration in the company. New Features added are,

• Interactive feed – In Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013interactive social feeds are designed to encourage people to share information and to stay connected with people and content. You can see many of the feed features on the Newsfeed page on My Site. Feeds contain collections of threads that represent microblog posts, conversations, status updates, and other notifications.

• Community Site – In Microsoft SharePoint Server / Foundation 2010, you could add a Discussion list to sites to facilitate discussions among members of the site. Microsoft SharePoint Server / Foundation 2013 continue to provide this Discussion list, but also expand on the discussion concept by introducing a new site template named as Community Site. Community Sites offer a forum experience to categorize and cultivate discussions with a broad group of people across organizations in a company. Community Sites promote open communication and information exchange by fostering discussions among users who share their expertise and use the expertise of others who have knowledge in specific areas of interest.

With Community Sites, you organize discussions in categories. Visitors can view the discussions and become members if they want to contribute to those discussions. Moderators manage the community by setting rules, reviewing and addressing inappropriate posts, marking interesting content as featured discussions, and so on. Moderators can also assign gifted badges to specific members to visually indicate that the member is recognized as a specific kind of contributor in the Community Site, such as an expert or a moderator. Each Community Site contains information about the member and content reputation, which members earn when they actively post in discussions, and when their content is liked, replied to, or marked as the best answer.

• Follow people/sites – It is a good feature introduced in Microsoft SharePoint 2013 to stay connected with people and content the user likes. With this feature, a user can follow people, content etc. If you follow people, then the posts and activities of the followed people show up in the user’s newsfeed. A user can also work with Client Object Model and Server Object Model to follow. Users can also follow contents.

Search

Microsoft SharePoint 2013 includes several enhancements, custom content processing with the Content Enrichment web service, and a new framework for presenting search result types. Some of the features added are,

Consolidated Search Results – In Microsoft SharePoint 2013 the two Search Engines “SharePoint Search” and “FAST Search Server for SharePoint” is combined in one Search Engine. About 80% of FAST Search was embedded in the Microsoft SharePoint Search platform, representing the most used features of FAST Search. It also includes the new framework for search result types. It includes many of the capabilities of Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and provides numerous improvements, such as in query processing and targeting of search results. It also helps administrators to configure search in such a way that the users can find relevant information more quickly and easily.

• Rich Results Framework – Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Search includes a new results framework that makes it easy to customize the appearance (i.e. look and feel) of the search results user interface (UI). Now, instead of writing a custom XSLT to change how search results are displayed, you can customize the appearance of important types of results by using display templates and result types.

Enterprise Content Management

Microsoft SharePoint 2013 added some of the best capabilities of an ECM software. The newly added features are,

• Design Manager – If you want your Microsoft SharePoint 2013 site to represent your organization’s brand and not OOTB SharePoint look & Feel you can create a custom design and use Design Manager to achieve that goal. Design Manager is a feature in Microsoft SharePoint 2013 that makes it easier to create a fully customized, pixel-perfect design while using the web-design tools that you’re already familiar with. Design Manager is a publishing feature that is available in publishing sites in both Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 and Office 365. You can also use Design Manager to brand the public-facing website in Office 365. With Design Manager, you can create a visual design for your website by using whatever web design tool or HTML editor you prefer, using only HTML and CSS, and then upload that design into SharePoint. Design Manager is the central hub and interfaces where you manage all aspects of a custom design.

• Managed Navigation – A well-designed navigation tells your site’s users a lot about the business, products, and services that the website offers. By updating the taxonomy behind the navigation, businesses can drive and keep up with change without having to recreate their site navigation in the process. In Microsoft SharePoint 2013, the managed navigation feature enables you to design site navigation that is driven by managed metadata and create SEO-friendly URLs that are derived from the managed navigation structure. Managed navigation provides an alternative to the traditional SharePoint navigation feature—structured navigation—that is based on the structure of Microsoft SharePoint. Because managed navigation is driven by taxonomy, you can use it to design site navigation around important business concepts without changing the structure of your sites or site components.

• Cross-site Publishing – Cross-site publishing is the tool that enables you to write content in one place and surface it in other places through search. You’ll be able to generate sites in some new and exciting ways. And for the first time, Cross-site publishing breaks down the site collection barrier—content can be shared across site collections, web apps, and farms.

• EDiscovery – eDiscovery is how records managers and litigators discover content in electronic format. Typically, eDiscovery requires searching for documents, websites, and email messages spread across laptops, email servers, file servers, and other sources, and collecting and acting on content that meets the criteria for a legal case.

eDiscovery uses search service applications (SSAs) to crawl SharePoint farms. You can configure SSAs in many ways, but the most common way is to have a central search services farm that crawls multiple SharePoint farms. You can use this one search service to crawl all SharePoint content, or you can use it to crawl specific regions—for example, all SharePoint content in Europe. To crawl a SharePoint farm, search first uses a service application proxy to connect to it. The eDiscovery Center uses the proxy connection to send preservations to SharePoint sites in other SharePoint farms.

No Licensing for SharePoint for Internet Sites

For someone estimating their SharePoint license costs for a new farm, this is a big deal. In Microsoft SharePoint 2010 companies were required to purchase an Internet-facing license if your solution would be accessible by an anonymous user (typically for a website) or by large numbers of external but authenticated users (for a portal).

How do they define an external user? For this licensing change, this is the big question. It is probably easier to define what they consider an internal user and you can induce an external user as anything outside of that definition. Internal users are a company’s employees or its affiliates and any onsite contractors or onsite agents. All other users are considered external users and do not need licensing.

No separate licensing for Enterprise and Standard

Besides making licensing simpler, this move adds some serious horsepower to your SharePoint Portal. There are three big gains with the new enterprise functionality:

• FAST Search capabilities: This is now part of a standard Microsoft SharePoint installation. So not only is it now free, it’s a lot easier to deploy and configure. Besides greatly increasing the search center capabilities, site designers can efficiently use dynamic page templates to build very large and more personalized websites and portals.

• Hosting multiple domains on one farm: In an earlier version of Microsoft SharePoint, licensing multiple websites on one farm was a big investment which alarmed away a lot of prospective users, now this capability is included with every SharePoint deployment.

Business Intelligence/Dashboard Features: This gives you the ability to add Performance Point, Excel Services, Visio Service and now Power View to your portal. We are expecting to see powerful BI dashboards to be much more common as more companies start to experiment with these capabilities.

Drag and Drop Feature Added to SharePoint 2013

One of the new features added to in SharePoint 2013 is the ability to drag and drop files directly to document libraries from the browser. This allows users to drag one or more files from their system drop it onto the browser and files will be uploaded to the document library.  This feature works not only in IE but in Firefox and Google Chrome as well.

Below are screenshots of how the drag and drop feature works in Sharepoint 2013.

Drag and Drop Sharepoint 2013

Drag and Drop Feature

New Office 365 Subscriptions Announced

With the unveiling of Office 2013 yesterday Microsoft also announced new Office 365 subscription services that will include the new 2013 editions of the Office.  The new Office 365 editions are currently in preview and below are is a brief description of each of the editions

  • Office 365 Home Premium Preview This offering allows you to install Office on up to five PCs. It includes an additional 20 GB of online storage on SkyDrive (above and beyond the 5 GB included with a free SkyDrive account). Home Premium includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access, and Publisher.
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium Preview This business edition is intended for companies with up to 10 employees. Each user can install Office on up to five PCs per user. The package includes hosted email, shared documents (with SharePoint), and HD video conferencing using a Microsoft-hosted Lync server. This package includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher, InfoPath, and Lync.
  • Office 365 ProPlus Preview This offering is identical to the Small Business package except that it supports up to 25 user accounts.
  • Office 365 Enterprise Preview For large organizations, this package includes Office 365 ProPlus with Exchange Online, including archiving and legal hold features. It also includes SharePoint Online and Lync Online; the latter allows meetings and extended collaboration scenarios.

Upgrade Paths to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Following up on my previous blog, which elaborated on why you must upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, let us look at different upgrade paths available. What you chose for an upgrade depends on your existing Microsoft CRM deployment and partly on the allocated budget.

Essential Software Requirements Before Upgrade:

Irrespective of the approach you take for an upgrade, you must have the CRM2011 compatible environment in place. Detailing the hardware and software specifications is out of the scope of this blog, for which you can refer http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh699831. Essentially, software requirements can be addressed with components listed in below table.

 

CRM Application Server

Database Server

Web Client

Windows Server 2008 x64

Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Standard Edition, x64 SP1

Microsoft Windows XP Home SP3

Windows 7 (Recommended)

IIS 7.0

IE 7 or later version

Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 or later version

Upgrade Paths:

 

In-Place Upgrade:

Simplest of all, but one that is least recommended. Simply run the CRM 2011 setup where CRM 4.0 is installed, and connect application to the existing CRM 2011 database server.

Pre-Requisites

Pros

Cons

Must have CRM 2011 supported infrastructure, both hardware, and software. Please refer http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh699831 for hardware and software specifications.

Simple and straightforward

Not the safest approach. If something fails, then there is no rollback. You will have to manually restore backups and files.

Economical since no additional or separate hardware and software costs.

Upgrade database during install:

Ideal where database server used for CRM 4.0 has supported hardware and software components required for CRM 2011. All you need is a new application server for installing CRM 2011 and connect it to the same database that is used for CRM 4.0. During install, the database is automatically upgraded to CRM 2011.

Pre-Requisites

Pros

Cons

Existing CRM 4.0 database server must meet the specifications required by CRM 2011

Leverage the existing SQL server investment

Any components in the ISV folder need to be copied across manually

The application server must meet the specifications required by CRM 2011

Relatively safer. In case of failure, all you need to do is restore back the database

Upgrade via import:

Setup separate database and application servers (64 bit) where CRM 2011 will be installed. Restore the backup of existing CRM 4 database to newly set-up SQL 2011 server and then import organization using MS CRM2011 Deployment wizard. You may do multiple iterations of testing on this new environment, even as users continue to use the CRM 4.0 installation without any disruption. After you are through with testing, take it to live to the users.

Pre-Requisites

Pros

Cons

The separate environment for CRM 2011, so that existing CRM 4 is not disrupted in any way

No downtime, and safest approach as CRM 4.0 environment is not disrupted while CRM 2011 is being set-upCostly because of separate server requirement

Any components in the ISV folder need to be copied across manually

Migrating Customizations:

The upgrade process ports most of the customizations to CRM 2011 that was done in CRM 4.0. However, depending on the complexity of customizations there can still be few miscreants like:

  • Unsupported Javascript
  • Unsupported plug-ins
  • Most importantly, unexpected errors

Besides, it is important to evaluate the new capabilities introduced in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. You may have made design choices because the capabilities you needed were not available in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 that are now available. All these can become extremely time consuming and stressful without expertise. Take help from partners who can guide you through this and ensure a smooth transition.

CRM Dynamics is great platform to build CRM solutions for small business to enterprise organization. However to enhance the platform, add-ons from different partners provide a great way to improve the user experience and improve productivity.

Why We Should Upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011?

It’s been quite some time since Microsoft has released Dynamics CRM 2011 but there still are many customers stuck on CRM 4.0 (read Stone Age clip_image001), maybe because they foresee upgrade risks or have fear of downtime. As a matter of fact, upgrading to MS Dynamics CRM 2011 is a walk in the park if you read and do the right things. More on that in my other blog here. For now, let us look at some reasons why we should upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.

1. Dashboard

One of the most amazing features to come out of CRM 2011 is the inclusion of dashboards. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 delivers built in real time dashboards enabling you to get a snapshot of your sales, marketing and service team performance.

2. Charts

All through the application you now have visibility to charts alongside data grids. These are inline, interactive charts that allow you to navigate data visually. Furthermore, these charts can be given security roles to manage visibility.

3. Field Level Security

Do you still use development services every time there is a need to apply security at the field level? Not anymore – with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, allow an administrator to manage field level security for different users//teams.

4. Improved Outlook Integration

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 further tightens the integration with Outlook and gives a consistent user experience whether a client is working on browser client or Outlook. Apart from these, the user can now take advantage of native outlook functionalities like conditional formatting, view CRM as a subfolder in Outlook, and much more.

5. SharePoint Integration

Are your salespeople using SharePoint and CRM separately during the sales process for referring and versioning sales collateral? Increase their productivity with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 that comes out of box integrated with Sharepoint.

6. Auditing

Now let your administrator track all creates, deletes and updates happening in the system. Additionally, it also logs when and from where did user access the system.

7. Role-based forms and views

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 allows you to create multiple forms and views and manage their visibility using security roles. This could be useful in scenarios like hiding forms/views from unauthorized users or designing task-based forms.

8. Manage security at a team level

A record can now be owned by Teams as well, along with user ownership. Furthermore, Security Roles can be assigned to Teams thereby removing the need to manage security at an individual user level.

9. Enhanced Data Import Wizard

A number of enhancements have been introduced in the Data Import Wizard of CRM 2011:

· Support for CSV, TXT, XML, or ZIP file types

· Support for Option Value Mapping (pick lists)

· Support for Lookup Mapping

· Support for a single source file with multiple entities (Account & Contacts)

· Support for Bulk Update of records via Import Wizard

10. SDK

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 brings a lot to the table for developers in areas of Reports (FetchXML), programming model, and much more.

CRM Mobility and Cross-Browser Support Feature Release Date Delayed until Q4,2012

I know that everybody has been eagerly waiting for the “CRM Anywhere” release. The experience of using CRM from anywhere (any smart device) or any browser (especially for MAC users) is going to turn the tables for the present offerings from Microsoft CRM!!!

Hold your horse people as this feature has been moved to Q4 release.Fingers crossed

CRM-feature-postpone_2

Well, this postponement is going to come as a slight setback for users who were eagerly waiting to use CRM from their MAC or Smart devices. (and yes also for Partners like us who had promised the same to their customers)…however, I don’t see this as a huge impact because most of our Customers are still using CRM from their Outlook… but I do agree that we were slightly disappointed.

Last month we had tested our deployments for Multi-Browser compatibility with the beta edition of this release and found the scripts breaking at the number of places. Even though the Custom Validation tool released by Microsoft helped us a lot, we still felt that more time was needed to smoothen out the migration to the new release. Hence even though the release has been scheduled for Q4, we would highly suggest Microsoft release the new Beta during Q3 so that we have enough time to ensure nothing breaks.

The other important feature (that is going to be released this month: July 2012) that I personally have been looking forward to is:

a. SQL Server 2012: With this update, CRM 2011 will be ready to work with SQL Server 2012 which offers high scalability, super performance and enhance BI capability

b. Custom Workflows for CRM Online: Previously if we had to bring external data into CRM, do some custom actions or Integrations then the only option available to CRM online customers was to host the functionality into a separate cloud (using Windows Azure Services). However, with this release, it would be possible to perform all these actions within the CRM online platform.

To learn more about the details on these new capabilities check the release preview guide

Steps Ahead?

‘Socializing’ Microsoft CRM

Social CRM is scaling up the traditional CRM system to leverage the social web and proactively become part of the conversion process. The social CRM can be used by Marketing, Sales and Customer Service teams to listen to conversations, to join in immediately with Customer conversation, offer them value in terms of information and solutions, and be aware of the issues/feedback coming from customer’s interactions on the social web.

Some might argue that today’s social media is much more fun and interactive, but there is more to it. No other traditional social channels, before Facebooks and LinkedIns of these days, have managed to make sales, marketing, support department communities stand up and take notice. There is a loud voice up there on these channels talking about products, services, organizations, likes and dislikes, opinions, feedbacks, etc.

This collectively forms the sphere of influence over prospective buyers, evaluators, decision makers, and together they lead to a good or bad brand image for a business entity. It is obvious to say that Social Media, in future is already pushing businesses towards a change of strategies with regards to their Sales, Marketing, and Support efforts.

The ‘customer reach’ that social web provides is unmatched by any other channel and it is said that going forward, corporate websites will be replaced by their Social web pages. Here are some of the examples:

  • Advertisers use profile information to market specifically to certain users.
  • More than 120 million professionals registered on LinkedIn and the number of employers using this site to recruit new employees is phenomenal.
  • Sales and Marketing executives using connections on LinkedIn to reach decision makers and by-passing gatekeepers.

IOTAP’s Social Media Connector for Microsoft CRM provides integration with popular social media community like LinkedIn and can be extended to Facebook too.

linkedinCRM-logo_thumblinkedinCRM-Search_thumb

 

Allowing your internal teams to collaborate against these communities ‘databases help your organization to develop an online presence and also be in touch with your customers/prospects. Social Media Connector allows you to reap all the benefits of MS CRM including designs of the user interface, searching and reporting.

Steps Ahead?