Office 365 Partner Community: how CRM Online helps increase Office 365 adoption and usage

by Dave Manion
Dynamics CRM Industry Architect

The Office 365 Partner Community is led by National Partner Technology Strategists from the Microsoft US Partner Team. Partner community activities include blog posts, discussions on Yammer, newsletters, and community calls.

This is part 2 of our Office 365 Partner Community blog series about adding CRM Online to your practice. Read part 1.

How CRM Online helps increase customer adoption and usage of Office 365

In the introductory post to this Office 365 Partner Community blog series about Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Janet Kahrs talked about how the combination of CRM Online with Office 365 is a powerful way to encourage cloud consumption, by providing the users in an organization with a cloud-based solution that aligns to how they want to work. Partners that have an Office 365 practice today are well positioned to expand their practice to include CRM Online.

When you change the discussion with your customers from product-driven to one that is about their users’ experience with an integrated solution, it becomes easier to explain how Microsoft can address their business challenges in ways that other companies can’t match. The Sales Productivity Solution (SPS) is a great example of this, combining CRM Online with Office 365 Plan E3 and Power BI. Existing Office 365 customers can add CRM Online and Power BI to their subscription.

CRM Online is often viewed as the tip of the spear in terms of business solutions that light up the investments organizations are making with Office 365. It offers deep, native integration with the tools people use every day to be productive and satisfied in their work, such as Outlook, SharePoint, Word, Excel, Power BI, Lync/Skype for Business, and Yammer.

Now, let’s take a look at how deep that integration is, and how we’re shaping the One Microsoft story to provide the most value to customers.

Integration between Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online

People across organizations are faced with a multitude of demands that pull them in different directions and take them away from their focus of engaging with their internal and external customers. Switching tasks and switching business applications is a drain on productivity and client focus. Allowing people to perform their duties without leaving the context of their work is key to what CRM Online does, and that is bolstered by the tight alignment with Office 365.

Integration with Microsoft Outlook has been a hallmark of Microsoft Dynamics CRM for several years. That integration embeds the entire CRM application into Outlook, and allows salespeople, marketers, and customer care representatives to do their work without having to jump from Outlook to other systems. Here are three scenarios that capitalize on this integration.

imageAccounts and opportunities

The Spring 2015 release of CRM Online includes a new folder-level tracking feature that allows people to track emails pertaining to their accounts and opportunities, directly from any Outlook app, across phones, tablets, and the desktop. Other investments include an immersive Excel experience that will allow users to perform analysis on their data without having to leave CRM Online, coupled with enhancements to the Excel export process. In addition, the Spring 2015 release includes embedded OneNote which lets users capture notes, photos, and more, automatically linked with the record in CRM Online.

imageCollaborative selling

CRM Online users in sales, marketing, and customer care roles rely heavily on the ability to collaborate to get their work done and satisfy their customers. Dynamics CRM has integrated natively with SharePoint, Lync/Skype for Business, and Yammer for several releases. These tools help users bring together colleagues for tasks like document collaboration, communication, and online meetings, as well as the discovery and sharing of ideas. On top of that, the integration puts this into the context of the CRM Online record that they need to collaborate on. The Spring 2015 release will add the capability to create Office 365 Groups, and CRM Online users will be able to collaborate with team members who don’t have access to CRM Online.

imageSales analytics

In the past, CRM systems were viewed as a tool for sales managers to keep track of sales performance, and where salespeople could house their contacts and activities. What was missing was business intelligence that could provide real insights that lead to a competitive advantage. CRM Online features  capabilities that let customers visualize their CRM data using charts, graphs, and dashboards. If you need to pull in data from outside sources, custom reports can be created using SSRS or other tools, but in today’s world, self-service reporting is an expectation, and should be as easy to use as Excel.

Enter Power BI. Using the CRM Online oData feeds, or the newly created adapter for Power BI that puts CRM Online as a first-class data source, Office 365 partners can create dazzling dashboards and reports that turn a customer’s data into meaningful information that empowers employees to do their jobs and run their businesses. There is even a pre-built sales template to help you get up and running quickly with Power BI that connects to your customer’s instance of CRM Online.

Office 365 Community - May 7 call tile

On the May 7 call for the Office 365 Partner Community, we’ll talk more about how CRM Online encourages customer adoption and use of Office 365, and why you should consider adding it to your Microsoft practice. I hope you’ll join us for the discussion.

Register for the May 7 community call.

CRM Online partner resources

CRM Online product information

Comments (4)
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  2. Anonymous says:

    by Michael Panciroli US Partner Technology Strategist for Office 365 The Office 365 Partner Community

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  4. Anonymous says:

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