Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dynamics 365 and xRM: What Comes Next?

Dynamics CRM and xRM

Not long after Microsoft released Dynamics CRM, customers and Microsoft partners found ways to use the product beyond the traditional sales, marketing, and customer service functions which define customer relationship management.  Microsoft adopted the moniker "xRM" to describe these on-traditional uses of CRM in which "x" stands for other relationships such as citizens, employees, patients and much more. Some Microsoft partners even user xRM in their company names. Dynamics 365 moves in the direction of providing licensing options more appropriate for xRM.

The premise of xRM is that it takes advantage of a comprehensive and mature platform which is useful for many business applications.  It comes with a rich data model, a granular security model, mobile apps, cloud hosting and wide support by Microsoft and thousands of Microsoft services partners.  Compared to custom development, xRM allows more rapid solution development. Third parties also crank out apps and utilities that can be installed as solutions in CRM at low cost. Compared to many packaged products, xRM solutions were easier to modify for unique requirements of an organization. As shown in the figure above, xRM represents an approach between building and buying a software solution.

One of the disadvantages of xRM is that the Microsoft Dynamics CRM software licenses or subscriptions have been an expensive cost element, especially for solutions with thousands of users.  xRM developers have to hide the CRM forms and other elements which are not being used. Some solutions don't use much of the out-of-the-box features of the product, and therefore derive less value from CRM features.

One workaround has been for companies to offer the underlying CRM licenses as original equipment manufacturers (OEM) at a reduced price.  This approach makes the OEM rather than Microsoft responsible for supporting the product, and does not allow for use of multiple CRM apps on this license.  It also tends to alienate the Microsoft sales executives who get credit for selling the full licenses under the end customer's volume licensing agreement.

Companies that develop xRM solutions have encouraged Microsoft to offer special licenses to reflect their use of the product.  So far I have not seen a Dynamics 365 app which is specifically target to xRM, but the more granular approach of breaking Dynamics CRM into Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service creates new, and less expensive, options for xRM providers.

My company InfoStrat has developed a couple dozen xRM solutions.  Some of them, such as Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors, maps directly to Dynamics 365 Sales.  The additional features that Microsoft is adding to Dynamics 365 Sales will be beneficial for our GovCon customers.  Other InfoStrat solutions, such as Mobile Field Inspection, map to Dynamics 365 Field Service.

A number of our xRM solutions do not rely much on Sales, Marketing, or Customer Service.  For these, it could be the Common Data Model and the related development tools of PowerApps, Flow, and Azure Logic apps which serve as the basis for an xRM solution.

Microsoft's a la carte approach to Dynamics 365 results in more choices for xRM developers and may result in cost savings for some customers who will be able to pay only for what they are using.

I have been busy keeping up with the Dynamics 365 news and have written posts about these changes on my blog:

Dynamics 365 Shows Microsoft's Bold Vision

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Pricing: 6 Reasons Not to Panic

Understanding Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business and Dynamics 365 Enterprise Editions
  
Understanding Microsoft AppSource and Dynamics 365
http://blogs.infostrat.com/2016/07/understand-microsoft-appsource-and.html

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Team Members Subscriptions

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