This week Microsoft announced a new offering (available in the Fall): Microsoft Dynamics 365. Sound familiar? It should. Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Microsoft Dynamics AX all come to mind, and this was not done by mistake. Microsoft is bringing together the capabilities from these products, their intelligence tools, and third party or internally-built apps from its newly launched AppSource. Microsoft will use Dynamics 365 to provide disaggregated applications that serve the functional needs formerly delivered through CRM and ERP suites (e.g. sales, service, marketing, operations, etc.) atop is a common application platform and data model.

So what is Microsoft looking to achieve with these changes? Well, business doesn’t end with a customer interaction, and delivering superior customer experiences doesn’t end at the front office. Front office and back office apps need to talk to one another to make sure companies are able to win, serve, and retain customers. Microsoft aims to: 

  • Give employees access to the right data and tools to perform their jobs. By utilizing a common data model, Dynamics 365 will show a consolidated view of the customer, inclusive of transactional data. This consolidated view delivered in the context of business apps will provide marketing, sales, and service professionals the appropriate context and functionality to serve their customers.
  • Allow companies to license the specific functionalities needed to power their businesses. Microsoft is flipping the script on traditional software licensing. In addition to being able to license Dynamics by app, they’re also allowing customers to take advantage of role-based pricing. This new model is aimed at helping companies break down their internal silos by allowing users access to functionality across traditional CRM and ERP silos based on the needs of their job function.
  • Embed analytics in apps to surface insights and drive more customer-obsessed actions. By using Power BI, Cortana Intelligence, and Azure IoT, Dynamics 365 will serve up richer data and visualizations to users allowing them to better target customers, offer more relevant packages, and provide more actionable support and remediation.


If you think you’ve heard this before, you probably have read Navigate The Future Of CRM 2016 from my colleague, Kate Leggett, earlier this year. In that report she predicted the key trends of needing break down business silos, the increasing componentization of CRM capabilities, and improving customer-facing decision making with insights and analytics. Microsoft is certainly taking steps to make these predictions come true.

If you already license Dynamics CRM, expect a migration path to Dynamics 365. This is not a unified play just for small businesses; Microsoft will have migration paths for all users. This will affect you. Work with them early to understand their vision for their common data model, closely follow their AppSource, and start to evaluate who in your organization uses what functions, as there may be an opportunity to adjust your software licensing to be role-based.

If you don’t already license Dynamics CRM, evaluate the roles at your company responsible for managing customer interactions and engagement. Do they fit nicely into the traditional software silos? Chances are, probably not. Look closely at Microsoft’s licensing options to see if you can provide the same or additional capabilities to serve your customers for what you spend today. How critical is your ERP data to front office duties? If you can advance your customer engagement strategies with these kinds of data, evaluate Microsoft as your business applications platform rather than your CRM vendor.