Today I watched an interview on CRMSoftware.TV with David Pennington, Director of Product Marketing for Dynamics CRM where he talks about where Microsoft is headed in terms of social functionality.

In short this is what is mentioned:

The recent updates from november 2011 added some social functionality, namely the wall functionality in CRM and also the ability to leverage hash-tags to some extent.

Microsoft’s focus is, as they usually do, on productivity in the sense that you should spend more time closing business and less in computer systems, and this has also been the guiding star when developing these new CRM features.

He also talked about the new update coming in the end of the year with functionality to enrich your data based on social intelligence. Brought in technology from Inside View (  to bring in data from social systems and enrich the CRM data. Inside Views offer is to assemble social data from over 25 000 news sources and social media directly to the CRM system to give salespeople an edge over competitors by knowing more about the customer.

They are also adding integrations with LinkedIn which will add functionalities that allow users to see the relationships that exists to contacts in the system. Ex A salesperson can see that another salesperson has a connection to a potential customer.

Also social customer care, grab comment or similar in social media like twitter and make cases of it.

Looking at social from the perspective of three different categories

          Managed – internal social channels like for instance discussions in SharePoint
          Semi-managed – external social channels with a distinct precense, like SharePoint sites hosted by a customer
          Independent channels like Facebook or Twitter where you mainly listen to what is going on.
Important part of this is to be able to know what is happening so that the strategy of the company’s marketing etc. can be adapted to this.

I look forward to seeing social media integrations in CRM, some of it has been available in Outlook for some time now using the Outlook social connector so from my perspective I have expected this for some time.
How CRM will be using Inside View is also interesting. I do now know if Microsoft have bought full rights to their software to enable it in Dynamics CRM without extra licensing or if it will be made available as some add-on license. Another interesting aspect of this is how extensible it will be or if it will be a more or less static functionality. I am personally hoping it will be very extensible since I would expect many customers to appreciate this functionality but probably ask for adaptions to it.
The integration of the social media data, from Twitter and Facebook to CRM will also be interesting. Since the amount of data available in these sites is no less than vast and stored in databases that are not SQL-based there might be interesting performance issues that might arise if the filtering of this functionality is not set correctly. I also hope that this functionality will be extensible as I would expect many customers to look for extensions or changes to this. Being a bit cynical, I don’t expect there will be though.
The three different categorizations of social channels seem logical, however, he didn’t really mention anything on how they were to manage the first two in CRM, if at all. Perhaps that would signal that there would be some adaptable functionality where you can plug-in any social adapter of your choice where you could also develop your own. But that is pure speculation, so we will have to see.
In general I welcome all of these new functions as they do bring really good value to the customers and let us just hope that our competitors are a few steps behind.  

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB