Sunday, September 20, 2015

CRM 2016 Preview Guide with comments

CRM 2016 - The Preview is under way! If you havn't checked it out already, the Release Preview Guide is here:! It is loaded with hot new features some will be available for both on-prem and online but some only for online, I am sad to say. why is this? Perhaps you have heard or seen "Cloud First, Mobile First", Satya Nadella's new Mantra, it is hence not only the Dynamics CRM mantra, but the entire Microsoft Mantra, with a large and very bold M. What that spells for on-prem is unclear at the moment. Microsoft are still, as we can see developing new versions of On-prem, and there are some very large customers running CRM On-prem which cannot so easily be moved to the cloud for many reasons. I'll get back to that further down. So, I do Think we will see on-prem being kept alive for several more years but the trend that the we are seeing in the CRM 2016 Release Preview Guide and have seen previously as well, that some features will be release first or only for online, is probably going to be even stronger. This will probably be more true in regards to integrations with integrations to aquired Products such as MSE, MDM, Power BI and so on. If you are currently thinking of starting up a CRM Project, the choice of CRM on-prem or Online needs to take this into consideration.

Ok, so there are a lot of cool new features, any of these that I especially like? Yes, of course there are!

Document Generation
One of the most common problems we have with CRM that we cannot fix without huge amounts of development or Mscrm-addons excellent Product Document Core Pack is to simply generate a Word document (Quote document) from a quote wiht a couple of quote lines. It needs to be very Quick, just a few clicks, and also modifying the template needs to be simple enough for a reasonably skilled sales manger to handle. This is something that is coming in CRM 2016, maybe not to the full extent of DCP, but at least to the basic need, and I am one of many who have asked for this since CRM 3.0. I just hope it is all I wish it is!

Guided Help
The help functionality in CRM has previously been rather hidden away and not used that much by most users. This has resulted in poor user adoption and increased cost of support and training. The Guided Help is an overlay help which can help the user along as he or she uses the system which makes it very natural.

Increased support for high demand customers in CRM Online
I Work with several high demand customers and have also trained several others and have discussed the pros and cons of CRM Online. Most of these are very hesitant to move to CRM Online due to some of the following reasons:
- Backup/Restore functionality is not granular or on-demand to their requirements. Cannot be downloaded.
- Performance tuning cannot be done
- They need to make sure/prove that the data cannot be accessed outside their network
- Data warehousing with large data - for instance tables with 10M-100M records - charts break at 50k

There are several parts of the 2016 release that address these high demand Customer needs, like
- First versions of TDE, Transparent Data Encryption - which will allow encryption of CRM data. Do read the details of this, not ful ownership of key by Customer yet.
-  Data performance Dashboard - enable admins to understand what is using system Resources to better optimize system.
- New data centers, a closer data center will decrease latency, an important factor in CRM performance.
- Bulk Data Loader - Allows for bulk data import and export to CRM. Still early version, but promising.

There are still things to do in this area though and I Think that some customers may still choose on-prem over on-line.

Making Carina (7.1) features availble for on-prem
This isn't actually in the document, but one of the greatest things of the CRM 2016 release is that all (most anyway) of the awesome stuff from the Carina or 7.1 release will be made available for CRM On-premise. The most noteworthy of these features are (please yell in the comments if you don't agree!)

- The new navigation - The navigation in Carina is so much better than 2015 RTM or 2013. So if you are running any of those versions, this single feature is reason enough to upgrade!
- Turbo forms - Weird name by the way. What will they call it when they make these faster, super ultra forms? :) Anyway, they are great. Especially if you are have many users accessing CRM with high latency (use /tools/diagnostics/diag.aspx to check from their computers). You might need to redesign your js-code in your forms, put all libs in one per form as you cannot Control the sequence it loads, but it is worth it from a user perspective.
- Theming - Colors are nice. Make your users feel at home with some custom colors and their own logo.

That's it. Summary over. Read the document yourself and make up your own mind and leave a comment if you feel something or not. Always nice to have a discussion!

If you are a CRM User, you can drop by CRM UG Sweden Chapter meeting on Wednesday and discuss this and Other stuff as well, 3 pm CET at Microsoft in Kista outside Stockholm.

I'd also like to thank Gus Gonzales, Donna Edwards and Adam Vero for the input for this article, it is based partly on the conversation we had yesterday on the CRM UG Medic Friday Online Event. If you are interested in attending next time we have one of our sessions, it is on dec 18. If you don't know the concept, we sit there and you ask us impossible questions about your CRM systems and we try to answer them as best we can without looking like fools. :) It is usually fun!

Otherwise, I hope to see you at the CRM UG Summit in Reno in October or at Techdays in Stockholm.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB