Microsoft Outlines Dynamics Vision and Roadmap at Convergence 2013
Microsoft executives kicked off Convergence 2013 in New Orleans today, with talk about the company's Dynamics vision and improvements to come.
The keynote talk started with Wayne Morris, corporate vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions Marketing. He commented that this year's Convergence event is "the largest and most globally attended" of its kind, with roughly 11,500 attendees and a quarter of those from outside the United States.
The coming months will bring "significant advancements in the areas of marketing, social and mobile" to the Dynamics product line, Morris said.
Taking the stage after Morris was Kirill Tatarinov, president of Microsoft's Business Solutions division, who reiterated CEO Steve Ballmer's declaration from late last year that Microsoft is no longer just a software company.
"At Microsoft, we are transforming and we're looking at the changing world and our role in it. And we are evolving to become a devices and services company," Tatarinov said. "Today, cloud is integral to everything that we do. When we deliver our devices, the service that comes with the device is an integral part of it, and you truly cannot see the chasm, the gap, between the device and the service that comes from the cloud."
Dynamics plays a key role in this devices and services world, Tatarinov added. "Essentially, Dynamics is a unifying fabric, bringing the vast amount of innovation across the company and delivering it to business people," he said.
Dynamics CRM currently has over 39,000 customers and 3 million users, Microsoft revealed in a press release. Meanwhile, Dynamics AX has grown its licenses by 50 percent over the last quarter, with more than 18,000 customers.
Dynamics CRM Gets Social Monitoring, Mobile Boost
Microsoft has acquired Netbreeze, a Swiss-based analytics company, for an undisclosed amount, the company announced at Convergence.
Netbreeze's technology is aimed at what Microsoft calls "social listening" -- the ability to efficiently monitor activity across social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as activity on message boards, news Web sites and blogs. Microsoft plans to fold Netbreeze's social monitoring and analytics tools into Dynamics CRM.
"Netbreeze technology is unique in the way it combines modern methods from Natural Language Processing (NLP), data mining and semantic text analysis to support 28 different writing systems including German, English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Japanese, Traditional Chinese or Mandarin," wrote Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Dynamics CRM, in a blog post Tuesday. "This is a huge benefit over competing solutions that translate to a common language then analyze sentiment from there."
Additionally, Microsoft is advancing its October acquisition of marketing automation firm MarketingPilot with the release of an updated version of the product, dubbed MarketingPilot 15, that will be incorporated into on-premises Dynamics CRM and Dynamics CRM Online via the new MarketingPilot Connector.
MarketingPilot 15 will be rolled out as an online release in the United States and to current MarketingPilot customers sometime in March -- presumably as part of the Dynamics CRM update code-named "Gemini" that ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reported on earlier this month. It will arrive in other markets later this year, Microsoft said.
MarketingPilot's namesake product line is aimed at streamlining and automating marketing functions. Version 15 will feature UI and user experience improvements and is "designed to help marketers grow top-line revenue and measure return on their marketing investments," Stutz said in another blog post.
In addition to updating Dynamics CRM this month to deliver the new MarketingPilot release, Microsoft also plans to release another update in the second half of the year -- reportedly code-named "Orion," according to Foley -- that will include a mobile sales application that is optimized for Windows 8 and Windows RT devices, as well as Apple iPads.
"This application will help people manage an opportunity from lead to close and easily connect with customers and colleagues, regardless of location," Microsoft announced in a released statement. "Businesses can configure this application, enabling them to tailor the experience to fit their sales processes and approaches."
Dynamics ERP Updates
Microsoft also made some announcements regarding the roadmap for its Dynamics ERP solutions. The company plans to update Dynamics AX 2012 in the second half of the year with new mobile device apps compatible with Windows Phone 8, Apple iOS and Google Android smartphones, as well as Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets. The apps will focus on enabling social media interactions, as well help ERP workers manage expenses, time sheets and manager approvals.
The next major Dynamics AX release will be both on-premises and on Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud, Microsoft also said. Early-adoption programs will start in 2014.
Additionally, Microsoft announced its plan to make Windows Azure-hosted versions of Dynamics GP 2013 and Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 available through partners in June.
Microsoft also announced the community technical preview (CTP) of its Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services, a set of online services designed to help IT shops "improve predictability of Microsoft Dynamics AX implementations by simplifying and standardizing implementation processes."