by Dann Anthony Maurno, Assistant Editor
With the release of Office 2016 Microsoft has “set a bold ambition to reinvent productivity and business process in this mobile-first, cloud-first world,” wrote CEO Satya Nadella on the Official Microsoft Blog earlier this week.
Microsoft’s productivity story remains centered around Office, but it is no longer limited to individual productivity tools; Microsoft’s Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office Client Applications and Services team, writes that Office 2016 “also marks a new model for delivery, where subscribers can expect to get more frequent updates with new features and improvements” – much like Microsoft is already delivering on the Dynamics side.
Alongside Office 2016 for Windows, Microsoft released Office 2016 for Mac as a one-time purchase option, along with several new and enhanced Office 365 services.
As Nadella describes Microsoft’s ambition, it is that “Office and Microsoft Dynamics are changing the game with solutions that make business processes a catalyst to organizational productivity.” He promises as well that reinventing productivity includes reinventing business processes, which in the past “were rigid, imposed and inflexible.”
How flexible is Office 2016? Nadella describes it as changing the nature of work across three key dimensions:
- Mobility. “Work requires mobility of the human experience, not the device. Your work cannot be bound to any one device or location.”
- Conversations, which Nadella describes as “the new platform for getting work done…the true driver of productivity.” Thus, productivity solutions must enable collaboration toward shared outcomes with colleagues and partners, agnostic of device, geography or even application. who are in different time zones, working on different devices, in different apps and different work artifacts. Conversations are the true driver of productivity.
- A rich service spanning all work and work artifacts, including documents, communications, and business process events and tasks. Once again, this is a service, not an application, one which leverages cumulative intelligence that drives productivity.
All of those ambitions are behind Office’s expansion beyond tools like Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook to include such tools as OneDrive for Business, Office Groups, Skype for Business, Yammer, Delve and Power BI. Customers who subscribe to Office 365 get continuously updated and enhanced apps and services across their devices.
They are also behind Microsoft’s chumminess with Salesforce.com. As we reported in September, Microsoft’s message at the Salesforce Dreamforce conference was that the two companies will continue to work together to tie Microsoft productivity tools like Outlook, OneNote, Skype for Business, Delve, and Windows 10 into the Salesforce platform; they will also improve on previously announced integrations for Power BI, Excel, SharePoint and OneDrive.
That said, Microsoft also seems committed to providing more Office productivity more quickly and with better features to Dynamics CRM than to Salesforce. Microsoft has a legitimate plan for Dynamics ERP and CRM amid its other efforts to build out Office 365 and Azure adoption among not only its partners and customers, but among virtually every Dynamics competitor on the planet, from Salesforce to SAP to NetSuite.
And if Microsoft is focused upon making its competitors dependent upon Office productivity, it is also making the case with its customers. Nadella describes the case of O’Neal Steel, a large US metals company, which employs Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365 for “a more fluid, flexible business process.” Its salespeople now can track relationship building more accurately and flag prospective customers for follow up, and its lead conversion rates have grown from about 2 percent to 30 percent.
Earlier in September, Microsoft CMO Chris Capossela participated in a briefing at the Citi Global Technology Conference, where he described Microsoft’s direction for ERP and CRM as focused on Azure, with deep ties to Office 365, Cortana Analytics Suite (including Power BI), and an ecosystem of business apps. It’s significant that the next major release of Dynamics AX, AX 7, will go live in Azure first, with on-premise to come later. And expect upcoming releases of GP and NAV to also play up their Office 365 and Power BI native integration.
Nadella describes the combined new Office and Dynamics not as distinct products but as a “new productivity and business process system” that the company will continue to build out with a broad platform and partnership approach.