In December 2016, Microsoft released a new update to Dynamics CRM on premise and it’s an update that might raise some eyebrows. The most obvious change is the name: ‘Dynamics CRM’ is no more – say hello to ‘Dynamics 365’.
Essentially that is just a name change but why will that lead to many companies, that need to choose between SalesForce or Dynamics, decide that best solution for their company is Microsoft’s Dynamics? Well today if they need to integrate with other systems, both solutions require quite some cobbling together. Companies generally care what the best solution is for them over the next 10 years. So let me explain what’s sweet about what is coming from Microsoft.
Microsoft is making their CRM and ERP products work better together – imagine the life cycle of a customer record. Today there is no integration at all after it is in CRM. When the next step happens, such as a sales order, you need some connector or code to glue it together in AX or whatever accounting system you use.
Going forward you will be able to use ‘out of the box’ integration. You will select the right template and the order will flow between the systems. The new cool kids on the block are the CDS (Common Data Services) and the CDM (Common Data Model).
Today Dynamics is a collection of ERP and CRM products owned by Microsoft and sold under a combined umbrella. Peering into the future shows a separation that becomes smooth. Let see what that collection of products are…
The History of the CRM side
Microsoft CRM 1.0 launched in 2003, and became part of the Dynamics family in 2005 with the release of 3.0. As the name suggests, it started life as a pure Customer Relationship Management system and CRM 3 and CRM 4 saw adoption levels grow as more companies embraced the product for that purpose.
After CRM 4 came CRM 2011, which saw Microsoft embrace the term xRM or eXtended Relationship Management. The plan was to make 2011 a development framework rather than just a standard CRM system.
With the move towards the xRM concept and simple to use customization, Dynamics CRM positioned itself as an important player in the CRM market. Despite this, it required additional products to get a full 360 degree view of clients.
The History of the ERP side
The ERP side is very different to the CRM. Instead of being a single product, it is a collection of 5 primary products ingrained into Microsoft via the purchase of parent companies. The following is a high-level timeline:
2000 – Great Plains acquires Solomon Software
- Solomon IV for Windows
2001 – Microsoft acquires Great Plains
- Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains Software)
- Microsoft Dynamics SL (formerly Solomon IV)
2002 – Microsoft acquires Navision A/S
- Microsoft Dynamics AX (formerly Axapta)
- Microsoft Dynamics NAV (formerly Navision)
- Microsoft Dynamics C5 (formerly Concorde C5)
So why have I shared with you information that you could find on Wikipedia? If you have worked with more than one Dynamics product, you know that for over a decade they have felt exactly like what the above represents. A collection of independent products thrown together under a collective name but sharing little in common.
Despite the time invested in “look and feel updates”, to link the products, the integration between products like CRM and NAV always seemed complicated. Dynamics 365 represents a unification of these products so that organisations can use the tools together, rather than having independent applications owned by the same company that don’t talk to each other.
The flagship Dynamic products have always been AX (Operations), CRM (Sales and Marketing), and NAV (Finance), which could provide organisations with an end-to-end process. However, connectivity was lacking.
Now: Dynamics 365
Dynamics 365 is the combination of these products into one collection rather than just an overarching group name. The following is a diagram used by Microsoft at the launch, which gives you a good understanding of the components.
NOTE: – Marketing is still a bit of a question mark at this stage. However, as it is being developed with Adobe, it is fair to suggest that it expands greatly on the current Marketing functionality.
All these areas are available to companies as separate parts of a larger system. So, if you want, you can use only “Sales” before purchasing additional products.
The new design makes a lot of sense as it allows companies to reduce the number of silos they have storing customer data. At the same time, it allows Microsoft to expand its customer base across the CRM and ERP space where previously many organisations were an “either/or”.
The big change is that landing spot is now home.dynamics.com and then navigate to CRM (crm.dynamics.com) and AX (cloudax.dynamics.com) and powerapps, etc.
The update is really something that many people have been begging – a tighter relationship between solutions in the Dynamics space. In fact, for people who have been part of earlier CRM upgrades, the move from CRM 2016 to Dynamics 365 is actually smaller than many of the previous changes.
Pricing and Structure
Essentially Dynamics 365 will come in two versions.
Enterprise – Every company needs at least 1 licence (Larger more sophisticated companies want this. Eg. over 250 employees)
This can probably be best broken down like so:
- Dynamics 365 Plan 1 – Dynamics CRM with Power Apps and Microsoft Flow
- Dynamics 365 Plan 2 – Everything from Plan 1, plus Dynamics AX and NAV functionality
You can also buy the components separately if you wish.
Business – 10 to 250 employees (smaller less sophisticated companies)
Business edition covers Dynamics NAV functionality and lightweight versions of Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service “as they become available” (that’s Microsoft’s words as of 26/04/2017).
Dynamics 365 is the vision Microsoft had over 15 years ago when they started purchasing these products. They now appear to be closer to that vision with this latest release.
With the tighter coupling of the products and better integration with PowerApps, Flow and Cortana, Microsoft is positioning Dynamics 365 as a tough-to-beat product for companies.