apps for its Dynamics
, bringing that suite of services up to speed with such competitors as Salesforce. The new apps, for Windows Phone, Apple's iPhone and Android phones, offer added convenience for on-the-go personnel who need anywhere access to their customer management tools and data.
In July, Microsoft had announced it was delaying the release of mobile clients for Dynamics CRM, which was originally scheduled for a Q2 release.
For BlackBerry users, the company has also released a browser app. For Windows Phone, Windows Phone 8 is required; for iPhone, it's iOS 6 or 7, and, for Android smartphones, versions 4.0, 4.1 or 4.2. For organizations using the -based version, Dynamics CRM Online Fall '13 is required, while on-premises companies require Dynamics CRM 2013, with a Net-facing deployment.
'More Consistent Experience'
Core functions include the ability to create, update or delete such CRM records as Tasks, Account, Contact, Lead or Opportunity, create appointments, assign records to other users, search for records, attach images to records, create and update notes, or make phone calls from within the CRM.
Microsoft has also added a few functions that only exist in the app for its Windows Phone, including the ability to map customer addresses, view social activity feeds or take an offline look at already-viewed data.
Before these apps, Dynamics CRM was available on mobile devices through a browser. The apps add such functions are the ability to create appointments, assign records, or select values from pick-lists.
Brad Shimmin, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, noted that Microsoft is trying to create "a more consistent experience across devices, even as they make their Windows Phone devices' experience a superior one." Outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer has touted a One Microsoft vision that offers a greater unity among devices and services.
Functional access to back-end systems via mobile devices has become a standard requirement for any apps involving customers, and is especially important when the whole idea is to manage your relationship with the people buying your product or service.
The more functional mobile apps allow sales reps, for instance, to have continual access via a smartphone to contact information, sales profiles, product information and other vital data, without having to set up a laptop.
In October, Microsoft unveiled Dynamics CRM for Windows tablets, which requires Dynamics CRM 2013. It offers similar capabilities to the smartphone apps, although access to accounts, contacts, leads and opportunities are available from a dashboard, and key performance indicators can be tracked visually with charts. Additionally, the most important informational tiles can be pinned to the Start screen or the app dashboard.
In November, at the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Convergence conference for Europe, the Middle East and Asia, the company released 18 new and free predefined and configurable process templates for such areas as sports management, healthcare and government.