Microsoft is preparing to release an update to its Dynamics CRM Online software that will feature a new user experience as well as tie-ins to its Yammer social networking software and Skype communication platform, the company announced Thursday.
In addition, Microsoft is planning to release a mobile CRM application in mid-2013 that will run on Windows 8 and iPad devices, said Seth Patton, senior director of product marketing.
BACKGROUND: Why Microsoft spent $1.2B on Yammer
The CRM Online update is coming in December and will feature new "role-specific" user experiences incorporating prebuilt processes that "guide sales and service professionals through pre-defined lead, opportunity and case management processes," Microsoft said in a statement.
But the interfaces are completely "opt-in," with Microsoft remaining committed to users who prefer to use the Outlook interface, Patton said. They are also "fully configurable" to a user's personal preferences, he said.
Meanwhile, the Yammer integration represents "the first phase of integrating Yammer as a social layer" within Dynamics CRM, Patton said. Users will be able to post messages from Dynamics CRM to Yammer, and vice versa.
Rival CRM vendor Salesforce.com has included the Chatter social software within its CRM system for a couple of years now, but Microsoft isn't necessarily playing catch-up, according to Patton. "We're looking to take advantage of the fact that [Yammer] has broad viral adoption," and Microsoft will make it "super-seamless" to use Yammer with CRM, he said.
Users will also be able to make Skype calls from within the CRM interface.
Other new features in the December update include support for the Firefox and Chrome browsers on Windows PCs, as well as Safari on Macs, Microsoft said.
Microsoft is also adding additional platform-level features, such as support for customized .NET workflow services and APIs (application programming interfaces) for bulk data loads.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com