Your Software Development is based upon and targets enhanced Productivity perfectly integrated with your business process? Well then, the new Microsoft offering should please you.
Clearly, Microsoft intends on positioning itself in the VSBs (Very Small Business) and SMBs market segments by deploying, far beyond Office automation, a new business offering around Integrated Productivity encapsulating both Collaboration and Business Development (CRM & BD, Clientele Service and Sales and…).
For VSBs, Microsoft just launched Outlook Customer Manager, a simple CRM tool integrated to Outlook which can also manage business proposals and ongoing tasks, and Bookings to manage Client Appointments.
For SMBs, Microsoft pushes more and more towards tight integration of Office 365 & Dynamics 365 to deploy a combination of tools in perfect symbiosis offering enhanced Communications & Collaboration but even more so, productivity well integrated to your process, therefore competing other CRM offers on the market including Salesforce.
Office 365 needs no introduction, this Suite of Online Tools offers unlimited access to messaging, to creating, editing and sharing documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) and collaboration. It also includes a tool which somehow flies below radars for the moment, a Cloud Active Directory enabling Administrators to add users, manage passwords and licences, but that can all change very rapidly considering that it also enables creating and managing CRM Dynamics 365 users!
Integrating Dynamics 365 with Office 365 already produces clear benefits in terms of productivity; for example, information from your CRM like estimates and quotes, documents, bills are all accessible and can be sent directly from Outlook. Updating your information and documents like modifying quantities or applying a discount, all that can also be done without leaving Outlook.
And if you’re sending messages to multiple clients, the Outlook sidebar enables visualizing related documents, opportunities and account status for each recipient.
In short, Microsoft wants to improve your productivity « Big Time ».
The future of Productivity, according to Microsoft, rests on integrating Collaboration, Communications, Intelligence and tutti quanti
And the Microsoft promise for the future seems even more tempting since Dynamics 365 offer will also include its actual ERP and CRM Cloud Services; all being hooked to Office 365, hence Integrated Productivity.
So, Dynamics 365 will integrate Finance, on-the-field Service, Sales, Operations, Marketing, automated Project Management and Client Service applications; each being available individually or in cluster.
The Power BI and Cortana Intelligence Tools will also be integrated to Dynamics 365 therefore adding predictive capabilities such as product and service needs forecast alerts in sync with related Clients.
So, if you’re seriously considering Microsoft Office 365 & Dynamics 365 Integrated Offer which, essentially, will cover most of your needs in terms of Collaboration, Communications, Sales & Finances, Client Service and Management tools, how will this affect your Software Development?
You should check it out because its impact may be bigger than anticipated!
This decision, to buy into Microsoft Integrated Productivity offer should trigger a solid reflection on the inside since it may involve a change of roles for many of your IT personnel and a change of priorities in your Software Development.
Integrating… Microsoft Integrated Productivity offer to your enterprise
For VSBs, this could be quite easy if Microsoft Cloud offer (Office 365 + Dynamics 365) meets their needs. The decision comes down to adopting either a Cloud or in-house Servers strategy. A thorough Business Case should detail both options direct and indirect costs; this was the topic of our Post: “6 good reasons for SMBs and Startups to consider moving to the Cloud“.
For example, here are a few variables to take into account: licence costs, costs of resources responsible for « in-house servers » updates and maintenance, etc. As for indirect costs, let’s consider that in a Cloud environment, employees work in a collaborative mode (real-time edition of a file by many users, files’ accessibility, anytime, anywhere, etc.) while in an in-house servers’ environment, it’s a totally different ballgame. And we all know someone in some business that lost files because no backups were executed or personal computers were not included in the backup standard procedure, etc.
As for SMBs relying on custom applications or adapted commercial solutions, the Cloud offering (Office 365 and Dynamics 365) can still present some advantages. On the other hand, the investment made over the years in custom applications development or in the adaptation of commercial ones communicating and exchanging data, could be a downer. For these SMBs, even if the Business Case “Office 365 + Dynamics 365” still justifies the Cloud option, what will they do with their other applications in the middle and long term?
The level of integration targeted should guide your decision. If Outlook and Office 365 and CRM Dynamics 365 can evolve independently from other applications developed by the enterprise, these Cloud Suites could be advantageous. If not, if your custom applications are very well integrated to each other and to your process, then the Microsoft Cloud Solution will be hard to justify.
By integrating Office 365 & Dynamics 365, Microsoft presents a very enticing enhanced Productivity proposal not only to VSBs & SMBs but also to all the community of enterprises evolving within the Microsoft environment, a business offering which sure will grow fast!
Nevertheless, your Business Case should provide clear answers to basic questions:
- Is this business solution really good for my enterprise?
- Is it profitable?
- Are we realdy?
Denis Paul & Michel