Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online's latest release, appearing over the weekend, includes the much-anticipated Activity Feeds feature. Activity Feeds makes CRM social to its core. We're not talking about bringing external social data into CRM, but adding a social-style interaction into the native CRM experience. The Zero2Ten team have been experimenting with the new release, and we like what we see.
Before I go further I should forewarn you – you probably won't see this in your own organization today. It was initially released for new systems, starting with organizations provisioned on October 22, 2011. You can add it to your organization with just a few steps, to be documented in my next posting.
Now that said…..
Here's quick overview to get you oriented.
- "What's New" –when you log in, you'll see this folder at the top of your Workplace. This takes you to a feed-style page showing you recent information on the Accounts or People you are following.
Post an Update - Right here on the main page you can post an update, to be visible by anyone who "follows" you.
Record Wall - Open up an account and you have a new navigation ABOVE the General tab (those clever devils). Clicking here will let you see the latest chatter for a particular account, and of course you can post your own Account-specific update here as well. These account-specific updates are visible by anyone who browses the account or who is FOLLOWING the Account.
Follow - On the wall of a User or Account, you can click to Follow. Clicking will subscribe you to the update feed for that specific Account. You can follow Users as well.
The All-Important Profile Pic - What would a social interface be without your opportunity to show off your old MySpace pic? Right from the login page, you can upload your profile picture, and it is displayed in all the obvious places.
Pretty exciting! This looks really great and is exactly what we were hoping to see out of the Activity Feed release. Implications for user adoption (and for de-cluttering your inbox) are huge! But now for features 6 and 7 – the ones that show how MICROFT GOT IT RIGHT.
Auto Posts – This feature is really creative, and shows that the team spent some time designing and getting feedback on the solution. CRM can auto-post updates, like a new Opportunity or an Order closing. So to a large degree, your Social CRM will run itself – keeping you up to date on the data feeds you subscribe to. But CRM is also careful to distinguish and categorize auto posts from the organic user-entered data.
The screenshot below shows it well – here I can see examples of auto posts, but notice the filtering options as the top of the dialog – I can see only User Posts, only Auto Posts, or the default, both.
- And lastly, "I-Follow Views" – This is one of the little features that illustrates how Social CRM isn't just an add-on for Notes, but is truly integrated into the core application. Amongst my System Views, I can now see Social-inspired views of data including Accounts I Follow and Accounts Being Followed. Users can create their own Social-driven views as well. Thus I can now leverage my "following/follower" data model for lots of things – Views, Reports, Dashboards, Activity Feeds, Workflow, and on and on.
So from a first view, we're very impressed with the Social integration of Activity Feeds. This is just one of several updates to CRM Online from R7. More to come! But this one in particular is an important milestone in the evolution of the CRM Cloud.
So with all this talk about following, why not follow me (ztRyan) on Twitter for more information about R7, Social CRM, and the CRM Cloud in general!