Microsoft Dynamics® CRM 2011: More Than Just a Product


Don’t think of Microsoft CRM as a product, think platform

Over the past several months, I have been involved in discussing the benefits of Microsoft CRM 2011 in a variety of different scenarios.

One of the key points I always try to convey to our clients is that Microsoft CRM 2011 is more than just a product and it should not really be compared to a traditional ERP or contact management system (such as Outlook).

It is really a true platform for businesses to use and is designed to grow and evolve as those businesses needs and demands change.

This is the same paradigm that Microsoft tries to communicate to the market and while I like to follow what the “mother-ship” says and does, I wondered what this really meant and what the possibilities really were.


Microsoft technologies working seamlessly on the web

Coming from a software development background (specifically web development), I wanted to try to investigate this “platform” in more depth.  Lately, I’ve been intrigued with a couple of different data access technologies and one of them has specifically piqued my interest.

One such technology, the Open Data Protocol (oData), has intrigued me as it is touted as a web-based standard approach to accessing data.

This technology is perfectly suited for use with Microsoft CRM 2011 and upon further investigation I was happy to see that Microsoft has added support for this open data access standard in CRM 2011.

As a quick example of how easy it is to get access to CRM data using oData, if you type in the following URL in your browser (assuming you have CRM):



upon authentication, you will be returned a list of the accounts you have in your CRM database (in either XML or in a human-readable format, depending on the setting in your browser options).  If you try this in any browser, you will get the same results albeit formatted slightly differently.


Harnessing the power of such a CRM platform

The power of this is that you can get CRM information rendered out to a variety of different services or platforms through standard web protocols.  The business value in this type of framework is that you can now integrate this information into applications for a variety of different purposes.

For example, you can easily build applications that run on iPhones to present account information to your sales staff while they are on the road.  Another example would be to integrate this data into a custom portal or intranet that is used within your organization.

With the simplicity of this data access in Microsoft CRM 2011, the possibilities are endless.


Microsoft CRM 2011 and Windows 8

In upcoming posts I will show how this data standard can be used to access and update CRM 2011 data from a variety of different sources.

One specific area I will be investigating is the use of CRM 2011 with the new set of Windows 8 and Windows RT products (Windows 8 Pro Desktop, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8)!

As an early adopter of Windows Phone 7, I’ve come to really enjoy and rely on the Windows Live Tiles.

This feature allows for information, such as the number of unread emails, my calendar appointments, or anything the application designer has exposed, to be displayed directly within an icon on the desktop.

This has provided a huge opportunity for CRM 2011 as, through their oData services, CRM data can be integrated directly into these live tiles providing business people direct access to CRM data through the products they use every day.

This seamless integration and access to information using standards based protocols is the biggest benefit of the CRM-as-a-platform framework and truly makes CRM 2011 a platform as opposed to a product.

CRM Implementation: 12 Key Questions Answered

What are the steps in a CRM implementation? What are the biggest causes of failure? How long will it take?

Read FAQ

CRM Implementation: 12 Key Questions Answered

Read FAQ