Convergence 2012: It’s a Wrap


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This year I planned ahead, so even as Convergence 2012 goes down the home stretch, I wrote up my CRM-centric summary of the proceedings before I forgot everything. And just in case you really wanted to be there but couldn’t, you can attend my Convergence 2012 Highlights webinar on Wednesday April 4 and I’ll do my best to summarize it for you in a free (yet exceedingly valuable!) 90-minute session.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM General Manager Dennis Michalis delivered the keynote for the CRM track on Monday. He identified four Big Trends for CRM, and talked about how they’re reflected in his team’s development efforts. I can’t think of a better organizational theme for an email like this one, so with thanks to Dennis, let’s dive in:

Big data just keep getting bigger, and certainly customer relationship management applications contribute their fair share of the 2.5 quintillion bytes created on a daily basis (according to the Wikipedia Big Data page). It’s safe to say that the built-in tools Dynamics CRM has for reporting on, analyzing and visualizing data have not kept up with the application’s ability to handle large data sets. But that’s going to change over the next few months, especially as some key technologies from SQL Server 2012 find their way into the feature set.

For Dynamics CRM, the big news in the Big Data category is that the Q2 2012 service update will fully leverage the just-released SQL Server 2012. On the reporting and analytics front, we’ll be able to use the Power View SSRS add-in. It will be available in the form of Power View templates available for download from the Dynamics CRM Marketplace.

Of course, Big Data need a lot more than reporting and analytics. Read this article on how the rest of the improvements in SQL Server 2012 will make Dynamics CRM more scalable, reliable and secure than ever.

Dynamics CRM Online, launched in April 2009, blazed the cloud trail for Microsoft’s business applications. Three years later it’s got a lot more company, with Office 365, the Azure development platform, and upcoming online ERP options for Dynamics NAV and AX. Microsoft customers’ cloud migrations started with a trickle, have become a steady stream, and could become a torrent if Microsoft executes on its aggressive plans.

Various flavors of Office 365 include the desktop applications, plus SharePoint, Exchange Online and Lync. Azure provides a cloud infrastructure for custom development. And the upcoming cloud options for NAV and AX means that, for a wide variety of organizations, an all-cloud infrastructure (i.e., no infrastructure as far as IT is concerned) will be possible.

While Microsoft is uniquely positioned to make the investment required for plans as aggressive as these, plenty of execution needs to happen as well.

In my view, the biggest current execution gap in Microsoft’s business cloud offerings is single sign-on, or identity federation. This is the latest example of something that’s simply too difficult to be feasible for many of the SMB organizations who otherwise would be prime candidates for a cloud infrastructure. For example, the ten-step process outlined on the single sign-on roadmap page looks like a recipe for another kind of ten-step program.

Social CRM has gone from curiosity to mainstream in the two years since I referred to Convergence 2010 as the Social Convergence. And while it’s still as hard to precisely define it as it is easy for parents to embarrass their kids on Facebook, Microsoft has staked out a leadership role in the social CRM space. The Activity Feeds feature (released in the November 2011 service update) was a start, but Microsoft has aggressive — and very near term — plans to build on that initial investment.

In my view, the most important new items on the social CRM front is the following:

  • Activity Feeds will be enhanced in the Q2 service update, with the ability to Like or Unlike posts, and improved post filtering capabilities such as (especially!) making data views available to filter posts (e.g., My Accounts, Opportunities Over $1M closing in the Next Month and so forth)
  • A LinkedIn integration will be available as a managed solution, downloadable from the marketplace. I assume it will be free, although I did not hear that word used to describe it.
  • An InsideView mashup will apparently become part of the core Dynamics CRM feature set. I once described InsideView as the ultimate Dynamics CRM mashup and I use it every day, so I’m really looking forward to this one.
Multiple browser support comes to Dynamics CRM in the Q2 2012 service update. Aptly referred to as the CRM Anywhere release, we (finally) will get support for Safari, Firefox and Chrome. And maybe even more important is the exciting news that native mobile clients will be available for iOS, Android and Windows Mobile platforms.

In addition to all flavors of IE, the supported browsers will be:

  • Safari running on Mac or iPad
  • Firefox running on PC or Mac
  • Chrome running on PC

The update will also include an enhanced mobility experience called Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile. This is a new cloud-based, cross-platform native mobile client for Windows Phone 7.5, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices. This is a native client app — not a browser solution – so the mobile CRM experience won’t require an Internet connection, and will leverage the cool features of each platform.

CRM Online customers will be able to purchase mobile client apps directly from Microsoft in the Dynamics CRM Marketplace for $30/user per month; on-premise customers will need to continue to purchase a rich mobile experience from third party vendors such as CWR Mobility, the company Microsoft partnered with on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile application.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Knudson
Richard Knudson is a Dynamics CRM consultant and instructor, and has a special interest in cloud computing and helping organizations realize the potential of social CRM. His company, IMG, specializes in helping businesses implement and customize the Dynamics CRM platform.


  1. Richard,

    Great wrap-up, I love the “ten step” jab on single sign-on. This needs to get to be dead easy for folks. The ability for SMBs to take their Small Business Server infrastructure and extend SSO to a cloud app like CRM Online is critical for Microsoft to be able to extend their success in the SMB space.

    On mobile: it will be possible for enterprise and premises customers to use the hosted service to purchase the subscription mobile solution. Any IFD based CRM server will be able to connect to the hosted mobile components for a hybrid solution. I think that this is a great thing as it will allow premises customers to add mobility on demand without hassling IT.

    Unclear is whether premises enterprise customers will be able to purchase the subscription based mobile service on their EA.



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