CRM 2013 Blitz Day Technical Track Notes
Microsoft held the Dynamics CRM 2013 Training Blitz Day for partners on July 31. The sessions were split into two tracks, sales & marketing track and technical track. The notes below are for the “Technical Overview for Application Consultants, Presales Consultants and Developers”.
The primary themes for Dynamics 2013 are:
- Re-imagined User Experience (Flow UI)
- Process Agility
- Yammer Integration
- Outlook Client Improvements
- New Exchange Sync
- Upgrade Process
- Business Rules
- Client Extensibility
- Extensibility on the Server and Cloud
- CRM as a Platform for Business Apps
The new UI that is available in the Polaris release will be complete for all entities. This release will include additional changes with the release of a new “ribbon” toolbar (will be called the Command Bar) at the top. I like the new UI and it seems that it will be easier to navigate with very few popups. We will see a more streamlined UI with more white space which makes the app look a lot cleaner and more modern.
Another new paradigm is the heavy process oriented flow of the UI. We do see this a bit in the Polaris Flow UI forms, where essentially the flow of a process is spread across the top 1/3 of the screen that represents stages, with steps associated within each stage. This will be across all of the main entities, including leads, contacts, accounts, opportunities and cases. From what I heard, new entities will have the same features, although not 100% confirmed yet. This could be a great differentiator, as these essentially “process flows” guide a user through an entire process. And yes, multiple processes and process switching will be supported.
The mobile updates include a responsive design and “write once” business logic. Responsive means the UI has the ability to detect the “size” of the screen and adjusts the layout automatically. The initial release will see support for Windows Phone and iPhone, with Android to follow shortly. On the tablet front, iPad and Windows 8 tablets, with no information on Android tablets, other than it’s on the roadmap.
There will be NO offline use for mobile devices in the initial release. One exception, there will be “offline” capability for Windows 8 tablets, but it’s a caching approach, so, don’t get sucked in by the marketing speak. This is not offline and merely has a few of the most recently browsed records offline. So, this means that Resco and CWR will still be the go to applications for full device offline capabilities. I suspect both will also be far more feature complete with device online capabilities as well, for the time being.
There IS still offline capability with the full Outlook client for Windows 8 tablets (Surface Pro, Convertibles, laptops, etc.). Good news on true offline, the Outlook client has been re-designed with a focus on performance and stability improvements. Technically they have created more “isolation” of running processes which is a fancy way of saying the code has been optimized. No numbers were shared but should definitely see better performance and less hit on client memory.
Editable grids is always a hot topic and we finally START to see these in CRM 2013. Initially the editable grid is on the Opportunity entity only, for easier product entry. It looks pretty good and provides in cell editing and configurable columns. Unfortunately this is the only place it will be available for now. The plan is to add it to other areas. I did not get an answer if this was a new “control” that could be re-used in other areas, I suspect not at this time.
Speaking of new controls, there will also be a new image control for adding images to entities. The one bummer about it, only 1 image control per form.
Server-to-server side sync for activities/calendar and email is long overdue and looks to be a good replacement for the email router; however email router is not going away at this time. Tracking selected individual items will still require Outlook, though. The first release will be an all or nothing approach, meaning, no rules can be configured for selective tracking of email or activities using server side sync. It will provide a way for mobile clients to finally have Calendar and email sync, which is a great step forward.
We have heard some information on the Yammer, MarketingPilot and NetBreeze acquisitions and they will play a significant role in the future of the product, but CRM 2013 will have limited integration with these products. Yammer will have the tightest integration and can essentially replace Activity Feeds (but AF is not going away just yet). The main thing to know about Yammer, it will NOT be free. In order to use the CRM-Yammer integration one will be required to purchase the Yammer Enterprise application, or, have an existing Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. Rumors are that E1-E4 Office 365 will include Yammer integration with that platform, could not get an answer if that will include CRM if it is part of your Office 365 E-x subscription.
There will essentially be no MarketingPilot or Netbreeze integration with this initial release. There is a CRM connector for CRM-MarketingPilot today, it’s free, but currently limited to select Clients and Partners. We won’t see any real integration until the “Mira” release, sometime in 2014.
There were LOTS of questions on upgrading, what’s going to work, what will break, etc. A beta of the release is now available for downloading so we should be able to get an idea of what will happen with existing customization’s and configurations. Microsoft has claimed that MOST configuration and supported customization’s SHOULD work without issue. We shall see.
If you have been following my tweets, Yammer or i3 Community blog posts I provided an update that Microsoft is starting to announce release “dates”. No official date but indicators are late October will be the official launch of Dynamics CRM 2013