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Thursday, September 9, 2010

CRM 2011 (CRM 5) First Look – I need a bib

I’m sure the announcement is making its way around the blogosphere, but for those who don’t know:  Julie Yack, noted CRM addict, has posted the video of a LiveMeeting that occurred on Tuesday which gives us a truly tantalizing “first look” at CRM 2011.  I was not present for the LiveMeeting event, however I just finished watching the video.

My first reaction:  Wow!  My second reaction: Why is my shirt-front all wet?  A quick analysis revealed an agape jaw, which still playing “hard to get” with the rest of my face.

There is no shortage of features in CRM 2011 at which to drool.  At just under 2 hours, the amount of information presented is massive.  The video really takes a broad-spectrum approach to showing off what’s new for CRM.  The content seems geared most at those with a working knowledge of CRM 4, and focuses most on the features which set CRM 2011 apart from its predecessor.  After completing my viewing, I still want more.

So, for those of you who do not have two hours to sit through a very informative presentation, I’d like to highlight the exciting things presented in the video, which I found most enticing as a CRM 4 developer, user, and implementer:

  • Redesigned UI
    • Now with ribbon-power, the menus of CRM are contextually driven by your navigation through CRM.
  • Native Charts
    • What appear to be Silverlight, or SSRS-driven charts are available to practically any CRM Grid.
    • Provides drill-down capability that allows you to view records in the desired context, and update the chart area to apply a new chart for the resultant records.
  • Dashboards
    • Makes good use of the new Charts through the ability to embed CRM Grids (multiple ones, at that).
  • Redesigned Forms
    • Say “goodbye” to tabs!  They have been replaced with a kind of “super section” navigation element which presents all of the form information on a single page.  The “super sections” are collapsible and have shortcut links in the navigation side bar.
    • Say “hello” to embedded CRM Grids!  No more hacking Iframes to embed related record grids into the standard form, now you can choose to natively embed these grids and Charts directly into the form.
    • Drag-and-drop design, and customization right from a record.  You don’t have to navigate through the Settings area to improve your form look—simply click on the new Customization menu item at the top of a form.  Also use drag-and-drop to customize the navigation bar—no more cumbersome ISV.config coding!
    • Role-specific forms.  Customize forms and save different form layouts which can be targeted to one or more Security Roles.
  • Web Resources
    • Make use of external resources like Bing! or Google Maps by importing them directly into forms and dashboards.
  • Sharepoint Integration
    • Automatically create and tie document libraries from Sharepoint to CRM records. (Sharepoint 2010 only; Sharepoint 2007 requires manual instantiation)
    • Allow non-CRM users contextual access to these document libraries, and even contribute to the library without needing to interface with CRM.
  • Redesigned Outlook Client
    • Reimaged as a MAPI client, the new CRM for Outlook client allows users to customize their CRM experience to the fullest extent.
    • Personalized views and grids which persist entirely within Outlook.
    • Social-networking ties can be expressed easily and succinctly to CRM through Outlook.
  • Dialogs
    • Makes Workflows user-interactive, and is built on the Windows Workflow Foundation.
  • Solution Management
    • Package coding projects from custom fields, to Plug-ins, to form customizations, Workflows, and more into a single “Solution” which can be easily redistributed, installed, and removed in a streamlined process.
    • Make use of the upcoming CRM Marketplace to distribute your Solution.
  • Goals
    • Configure dynamic goals that aggregate information from several different record collections, for an individual or the whole organization.
    • Let CRM tell you how close you or your business is to achieving your fiscal goals!
  • Connections
    • More or less extend “Relationships” functionality to more records than just the Account and Contact.
    • Easily capture social-networking relationships.
    • Establish customizable connections between nearly every type of CRM record!

This is just the beginning.  If you’re interested in learning more, sign up for the Beta!