When I was at the Microsoft Build conference earlier this year the company announced its Cortana digital personal assistant. I thought it was clever, but the business use case elusive.
On the other hand, it may be useful for those who haven’t become expert at typing on a digital keyboard.
Microsoft believes business users can leverage it. The company just announced that next month Cortana will link to its Dynamics CRM 2015 suite when it ships next month and can be used by those with Windows 8.1 devices.
In case you forgot, Cortana is the PA you can give verbal commands to — the equivalent of Google Voice and Apple Siri.
With Cortana, users will be able to set up meetings and reminders; search for contacts, accounts and activities; view customer lists; and create new customer records, Microsoft said.
At least one analyst thinks its a useful move. Ray Wang of Constellation Research told IT World U.S. that it will let salespeople who spend a lot of time on the road leave voice memos on an account while on the go.
Microsoft also said new capabilities for Dynamic CRM 2015 include the ability to create predefined and configurable processes with enhanced branching logic for complex scenarios, near-real-time calculations and roll-ups for business information, and client API enhancements that will allow automation and consistency across devices.
Using these design elements, Microsoft said it is adding new Industry Templates for a number of specific industries, such as financial services, retail, public sector, manufacturing and professional services. Twenty-seven templates will be available by the end of 2014, it said, which should help customers quicken implementations.
An update to the Dynamix AX ERP suite next month will link it to Microsoft’s Azure cloud service, enabling companies to run hybrid environments mixing development, test and production instances. A new, modern point-of-sales client for Windows tablets and phones, has also been added, to give retail sales staff the ability to access product and customer information on mobile devices. In addition, this update adds capabilities that streamline warehouse and transportation operations to help organizations fill orders quicker.