At its annual Convergence EMEA conference, Microsoft introduced new capabilities in Microsoft Office 365, including meetings and voice services in Skype for Business; announced the worldwide availability of its Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016; and introduced Microsoft PowerApps, a new enterprise service enabling employees to create apps, connect to business systems in a secure way and easily share their apps with co-workers.
The new additions outlined by Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela are designed to help businesses find new ways to collaborate and intelligently engage with customers, and help with the much talked about ‘digital transformation.’
“As businesses strive to keep up with the pace of change, they are looking to technology to drive digital transformation,” Capossela said. “Microsoft can help businesses achieve their transformations by empowering individuals and organizations with innovative solutions that unleash the productivity and potential of their workforce, spur entirely new ways of collaborating, and infuse intelligence into their systems and processes.”
New services in Office 365 include:
- A single meeting and communications portal made up of Skype Meeting Broadcast, plus Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) Conferencing, PSTN Calling and Cloud Private Branch Exchange integrated with Office 365.
- Delve Analytics dashboards to show how users spend their time and who they spend it with.
- Lock down of all data in the cloud even to Microsoft’s own engineers through Customer Lockbox which offers users full data approval rights.
- Advanced eDiscovery adds machine learning and text analytics to Office 365 data
Additionally the new premium enterprise suite edition of Office 365 will also add Power BI and Advanced Threat Protection.
Dynamics CRM 2016 now generally available
The new version of Dynamics CRM 2016 has been described by Microsoft as “the most comprehensive CRM release to date,” and includes new advancements in intelligence, mobility and service, and productivity enhancements.
Like the next version of its ERP solution, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Dynamics CRM will also be powered by Azure Machine Learning models, Dynamics CRM 2016 will include new intelligent features such as product recommendations for sales reps to personalize up-selling and recommended knowledge articles to more effectively resolve customer service issues.
This version of Dynamics CRM will also preview full offline capabilities for mobile phones and tablets and across all major platforms. Dynamics CRM 2016 also provides the ability to create task-centered mobile apps to streamline the completion of customer-facing activities, like meeting follow-ups, and Cortana integration that surfaces data to drive proactive interaction and voice-driven CRM.
New PowerApps for app creation
Microsoft also introduced PowerApps, a new service – available in preview at first - that allows employees to create apps, with no-coding involved, that can be distributed internally; such as employee surveys, to more long-lived, mission-critical apps that connect to line-of-business systems and cloud services and run on any device.
PowerApps includes built-in data connections to SaaS services like Office 365, Dynamics, Salesforce, Dropbox and OneDrive in addition to on-premises business systems including SharePoint, SQL Server, Oracle databases, SAP and more.