How does the future path for Dynamics CRM 2011 stack up against the Gartner Emerging Technologies 2012 Hype Cycle? I think pretty good. The CRM team seems to be lining up their product roadmap (what is public as of today) pretty well with trying to catch the wave as early adopters. Getting these new technologies built-into releases of CRM at the new semi-annual release cadence takes a huge investment in development resources.
Like any technology adoption process, there will be some winners and losers. However, I am confident that the big bets that the CRM Team is making on technologies will be in successful and as a result Dynamics CRM will continue to be the stellar product it has become today.
There has not been an update to the last Statement of Direction vision document that was released in May of 2011. The closest we have come to that is show in a photo of the Bill Patterson WPC presentation that shows at a very high level the Fall, Winter, Spring release features.
Enough of the background info, onto the hype cycle.
The Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle is one of 75 hype cycles that the world renowned Gartner Organization produces each year. At the minimum, it is an entertaining Ouija board prognostication of what will survive and become an integral part of our new technology infrastructure and what will fall by the wayside and be roadkill. I suspect that financially adventurous types even use the Gartner information on where to place their stock market bets. This would also include companies that are adopting or integrating these emerging technologies into their workplace or product design.
In any event, it would appear that we can map several of the data points on the hype cycle to the future path for CRM 2011.
The Gartner hype cycle it is defined by five phases:
- “Technology Trigger” — The first phase of a hype cycle is the “technology trigger” or breakthrough, product launch or other event that generates significant press and interest.
- “Peak of Inflated Expectations” — In the next phase, a frenzy of publicity typically generates over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations. There may be some successful applications of a technology, but there are typically more failures.
- “Trough of Disillusionment” — Technologies enter the “trough of disillusionment” because they fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable. Consequently, the press usually abandons the topic and the technology.
- “Slope of Enlightenment” — Although the press may have stopped covering the technology, some businesses continue through the “slope of enlightenment” and experiment to understand the benefits and practical application of the technology.
- “Plateau of Productivity” — A technology reaches the “plateau of productivity” as the benefits of it become widely demonstrated and accepted. The technology becomes increasingly stable and evolves in second and third generations. The final height of the plateau varies according to whether the technology is broadly applicable or benefits only a niche market.
I have identified eight points on the cycle (highlighted in yellow) that map pretty good to where the CRM 2011 product seems to be going in the near future.
- Big Data – Okay so this one has not quite met realization just yet. But according to it’s point on the chart we are still in the trigger phase. A few ISVs might contend that they are doing big data ‘things’ relative to searching the Internet to build better profiles of your contacts and accounts. In addition, there seems to be also more momentum in the area of (no pun intended) of Bing Maps integration of data back into CRM. However, the true big data process has not hit CRM just yet.
- Gamification – So there seems to be some individual one off partner efforts in this area. There was a session at Convergence 2012 on this subject by the CRM Team. An integral part of this generalized presentation was a demo by a partner on how they have inserted ‘fun’ into a call center by integrating a team building game into their metrics. Ultimately, it is about increasing user adoption by building a user interface that matches applications people use in their off hours and providing with similar virtual rewards.
- HTML5 – This looks like it will be the path to the Holy Grail for CRM Anywhere next year. There was utter disappointment in June/July when it was apparent that the MSCRM team was going to miss the release of CRM Anywhere. Then it was ‘tell me it isn’t so’ when they announced that it was going to be re-scheduled for the Fall/Winter. No one knows publicly yet what form and shape it will really take but based on Bill Patterson WPC presentation, it would appear that HTML 5 and the Windows 8 UI will be the delivery mechanism. What we have not heard yet is the future of HTML 5 vs. Silverlight as an approved web resource for CRM Online.
- Hybrid Cloud Computing – Office 365. Office 365. Office 365. Do we need to say more? Microsoft has entire page dedicated for a jumping off point for Cloud Services and Storage. There is at least one major CRM partner that has a hybrid solution they are touting. Given the Patterson presentation (read the writing on the wall people), it is clear that CRM Online will be the big dog going forward and most organizations will end up having one foot on premise and the other in the cloud.
- BYOD – What information worker does not have their smartphone or iPad with them at their desk, in their briefcase or sitting next to them on the couch? We all do. And more and more workers want to be able to access company information without having to carry a second device or login to the corporate network via a desktop/laptop. The days of issuing pagers to employees seems to be over. Individuals own their device already and do not want to carry around a second ‘company issued’ device. So companies are under strong pressure to support and manage access for a wide range of employee owned devices – mandating technology hardware is no longer rule number 1 in the IT department. This of course has been making a huge impact in the Dynamics CRM space – the traditional use IE or Outlook to access CRM is not cutting it anymore. The few outliers at a company that had an Apple user or two is now replaced by the masses of individuals that have iPads or SmartPhones that now need access to CRM. At Convergence 2012 we all heard something that we hadn’t heard before – Microsoft team members publicly saying the word iPad and talking about how they would support it in the near future for CRM.
- Social Analytics – We haven’t arrived yet but there is certainly a lot of talk about building social data and the corresponding metrics into CRM. There is an Excel add-in that came out of the Microsoft labs for twitter analysis. I suspect that with Office 15 and in sync with the upgrade scheduled for Winter we will start to see some of this integration into CRM. Watch for significant improvements in the Visualization tool set inside of CRM to support it and outside of CRM but connected to it using SQL 2012 PowerPivot.
- Private Cloud Computing – Isn’t this just a variation on Partner Hosted CRM services? Maybe. It is about getting your CRM system out of your own data center and into Microsoft’s world but keeping it private at the same time. I think this will have bigger play overseas in areas where Microsoft can’t effectively service requirements for CRM Online in certain parts of the planet.
- Cloud Computing – Azure. Azure. Azure. And to paraphrase Steve Ballmer – you are either with us or you ain’t with us. Azure integration with CRM is real, it is happening, there are several ISV solutions with integrations that leverage the platform and there will be more in the near future.
Footnotes and Disclaimer – Everything in this blog posting is based on public info on the web and my personal interpretation. Nothing is based on any ‘insider information’. One of the key items of reference is the Bill Patterson WPC 2012 presentation, the Reuben Krippner Q2 2012 Service Update video which unfortunately but not surprisingly has been made private, and finally the Dennis Michalis New Delivery Schedule posting. Previous Statement of Directions – February 2009, August 2009, April 2010, September 2010, May 2011.