9.28.2005

Outlook Integration For MS CRM 3.0

I viewed a webinar today from Microsoft regarding the re-tooled integration between Outlook and CRM 3.0. Many improvements have been made and they have taken significant steps forward in the ease of deployment, use, and synchronization. Here are a few details:

Installation:
The new Outlook client now uses an MSI installation package for easier installation, which will need to be run by the end user (so it can access the end user's Outlook profile). It can be installed for multiple users on a single machine. It can also be published via Group Policy to make it available to end-users to install from the Add/Remove Programs panel.

Two Flavors of Clients for Outlook:
There will be a CRM Laptop Client which enables the user to go offline, and a CRM Desktop Client which will be for users who want the Outlook integration but don't need to go offline. The Laptop client has much more robust synch features (scheduled synchs, filtered datasets using an Advanced Find style UI) and no longer uses SQL replication which results in much faster synch times (example in demo was 8000 records in 2-3 minutes).

Interface:
There is now a CRM menu item in Outlook (right alongside the File Edit Options... menu) as well as a vastly improved toolbar. The full version of CRM (Sales, Service and the new Marketing module) is available in Outlook, so the web UI and Outlook UI are the same. Emails can be tracked in CRM from the Sent Items, Draft and other folders in Outlook, and now tasks, appointments and contacts can be promoted to CRM with a single click as well.

Miscellaneous:
The Exchange Router GUID that everyone loved in CRM 1.x has now been replaced by a configurable "token" which is appended to the subject line of emails. The token can be configured to have a prefix other than CRM and to be much shorter (In the demo the token was something like CRM 0200001, and it was noted that it could be changed to something like the first few letters of your company name, etc., like GTS 000501 for example.) Much less obnoxious and less likely to trigger spam filters.

Overall the UI looked like it has been vastly improved, more in line with Outlook.

The team presenting the demo said that appointments and tasks would synch automatically between Outlook and the CRM web UI, but that phone call activities will not synch down to Outlook since there is no phone call activity in Outlook. This is still a big hole in my view for salespeople who will want to work exclusively in Outlook, but who spend as much time on the phone as they do at appointments (or who work exclusively over the phone).

There is no integration with Outlook Web Access at this point since the integration is more SQL based than Exchange based. That would definitely be a huge plus if they could pull that off.

Overall Impression
I am reserving final comment until I have had a chance to work with it hands on, but my initial impression is that they have done a great job, and have taken a huge leap forward compared to the Sales For Outlook client for CRM 1.x. This will definitely help fulfill the promise that Microsoft had for CRM all along in terms of Outlook integration.

3 comments:

Yurij said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Have you seen anything regarding outlook using rpc over http and the crm 3.0 client

Anonymous said...

Is exchange server absolutely required to get the outlook integration features or is there some subset of integration you can get without it? Any info or ideas on that?

Thanks...

Chris

 
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