Well, I’ve just watched a fantastic video of the much anticipated Microsoft Dynamics CRM 5, only to find out that it’s going to be Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 (that’s ‘twenty-eleven’), or by nickname CRM 2011!


Having previously sold CRM under the ‘Power of Choice’ strap line, which gave customers the hosted or on premise flexibility, we are now talking about ‘The Power of Productivity’.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 online will hopefully be available in the UK in October 2010 (US September 2010, press release), giving ‘The Power of Cloud Productivity’, where both CRM and xRM applications can be offered in the cloud without compromise. Customers using CRM 2011 will have a direct link from their solution into the new Microsoft Market Place whereby they can purchase and download additional CRM solutions and features from Microsoft independent software vendors (ISVs).


So, what did I really like in the demo?


1. Working in Outlook – clearly one of the key advantages of Microsoft CRM full stop, but amazingly enhanced in CRM 2011. There seems to be no obvious moving back and forth between Outlook and CRM, and your tracking context is very visible in a single page. The ease of linking email and appointments to other CRM records was clear.

2. Connections – basically the new ability to create ‘connections’ to link contacts/accounts to any other record (any-to-any relationships) to overcome the previous limitation of ‘set regarding’ to a single record.

3. In Outlook emails – direct inserting of sales literature and templates from CRM 2011. How useful is that? Can’t wait.

4. Records and dashboard reporting – in CRM 2011, users can access a pipeline report and change the parameters of the dashboard to manipulate their view instantly as shown below...



This includes full drilldown into underlying records. So these are real-time, contextual dashboards.

5. Help – you can also have internal help and process guidelines within CRM 2011 which can be turned on/off depending on user needs.

6. Personalised information and user defined CRM views – basically users are able to manipulate their CRM 2011 views as they would Outlook, so this means drag and drop columns, reading pane movement, conditional formatting such as colour-coded appointments, grouping and categorising your CRM 2011 data as required.

7. Partners will be creating xRM ‘solutions’ for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 5 (2011) – CRM 2011 contains a ‘Solutions Library’ which shows all your CRM custom entities that can be navigated to and enhanced further by Partners. Partners can reuse these building block ‘solutions’, and they can be used within CRM 2011 online (hosted) or on premise in the same manner - so no compromises or additional work.

8. Workflow automation – possibly one of the most exciting elements of CRM 2011! Microsoft demonstrated the ability to create a scripted workflow, using the new .NET 4.0 Workflow Designer. This type of functionality has previously been satisfied by addon products such as TK Dialogs by Team Knowledge. Within CRM 2011 you can create scripted dialog that branches to drive the customer experience. To the CRM user, it looks like they are using a script wizard with the familiar ‘prev’ and ‘next’ buttons. Within the script the user can capture data so they can present it back to the customer at the end of the dialog. The scripting can be further enhanced with additional automation, such as email confirmations back to the customer of the CRM dialog. Brilliant.

9. Custom activities – yes, Partners and customers will be happy with this one as CRM 2011 allows you to create custom activity types!! This enhances the xRM possibilities for new and business-specific solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 platform.

I’m going to let Mike Jarvis blog on the technicalities, but from a sales and user perspective, I was wowed! Partners in the US have already developed CRM 2011 solutions on the Beta product, so there is lots going on, but when does it land in the UK? The current dates are:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Beta release to Partners due September 2010.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Online in UK October 2010.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 On premise licensing RTM due January 2011.