Microsoft Adds New BI Features to CRM App

Microsoft is offering new business intelligence (BI) features for its Dynamics CRM product. It can be downloaded for free from CodePlex, Microsoft’s open source project-hosting Web site, and the Microsoft CRM Sandbox, a GotDotNet project created for Microsoft CRM users.

Called “Microsoft Dynamics CRM Analytics Foundation,” these tools include business scorecard management, ad hoc analyses of aggregated customer information, predictive analytics and enhanced reporting.

The new package leverages Microsoft’s existing business intelligence tools in SQL Server and its Office functionality for use in the CRM application, Christian Pedersen, senior director for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, told CRM Buyer.

New Options

With this tool set, someone could, for example, use the predictive analytical feature to predict how likely a sales lead would close, he said.

It also offers new cross-sell and up-sell potential, analyzing the potential for a buyer to purchase other goods as well, based on its past purchase history.

Besides SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services, Microsoft has leveraged other data management and analytic technologies from its larger business intelligence initiative for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Analytics Foundation, including Microsoft SharePoint Technologies, Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager and Microsoft Office Excel.

BI Enhancements

The addition to Microsoft’s CRM stack will make reporting easier and visualization of data better, Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone told CRM Buyer.

“It is more of a line of business tool than anything else. It is not a full analytics package that could compete with, for example, SAS,” she stated.

That said, the Analytics Foundation is important to Microsoft CRM’s users because more companies are expecting to be able to make business decisions based on visual performance data, Kingstone added, noting, “No one now will invest in any business application without this functionality. They would rather do without it entirely.”

Additionally, CRM sales and usage has been experiencing a revitalization thanks to growing use and availability of BI tools, Kingstone commented.

Similar Trends

Many in Microsoft’s partner community have noted similar trends.

“Analytics Foundation allows our customers to take CRM to the next level,” said Darren Gooding, practice director for CRM and ERP (enterprise resource planning) at Neudesic.

“The ability of an executive to see what’s happening across the organization in a matter of seconds via reporting tools and dashboards makes it possible for a company to move beyond simple CRM information sharing and into a place where they can make decisions about how to improve the overall health of their business,” he stated.

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