Sheila McGee-Smith
Sheila McGee-Smith, who founded McGee-Smith Analytics in 2001, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant focused on the...
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Sheila McGee-Smith | October 19, 2016 |


CaféX Bringing Omnichannel to Microsoft Dynamics 365

CaféX Bringing Omnichannel to Microsoft Dynamics 365 The companies have teamed on development and put a joint engineering road map in place to achieve deep integration.

The companies have teamed on development and put a joint engineering road map in place to achieve deep integration.

As has been written about here on No Jitter, Microsoft Dynamics CRM competitor Salesforce has been making inroads into the contact center market for about two years, ever since announcing SOS, a video-enabled customer care offering from Service Cloud. Now, in partnership with CaféX, Microsoft plans to bring not only video customer care but also full omnichannel functionality to its cloud CRM solution, Dynamics 365.

Renamed from Dynamics CRM at the July World Partner Conference in Toronto, Dynamics 365 is part of Microsoft's plan to evolve the existing CRM and ERP cloud solutions into a "one cloud" service. This service will comprise new purpose-built apps to help manage specific business functions, including financials, field service, sales, operations, marketing, project service automation, and customer service.

The "365" nomenclature brings the Dynamics brand closer to the Office 365 product portfolio. The intent is that a deep integration between the two solution sets will connect the structured workflow of business apps with the unstructured work of collaboration and productivity. For example, a salesperson receives an email, and can respond directly in Office with a price quote created using updated pricing, discount, and other relevant data synced across finance and sales apps. All of this can be done without the salesperson leaving Outlook.

Customers attending last week's Dynamics CRM user summit in Tampa got a first look at the new cloud solution. During that unveiling, Jujhar Singh, Microsoft's VP for Dynamics 365 research and development, discussed the company's new partnership with CaféX. "Omnichannel is at the heart of any customer engagement strategy," Singh declared at the event. "Our strategic partnership with CaféX will allow Dynamics 365 to do omnichannel in a much better fashion. For example, it will allow escalation from chat to co-browse to voice and video -- extremely differentiated functionality."

One might fairly ask what makes this partnership unique. Will Microsoft follow the CaféX partnership with 10 more announcements with every cloud contact center company? Certainly many other contact center companies have built integrations to Dynamics CRM, and will likely update those for Dynamics 365. With this agreement with CaféX, however, Microsoft is extending its own functionality to meet the bar set by Salesforce.

As described in the press release, CaféX becomes the "preferred" omnichannel solution provider for Dynamics 365, and Microsoft will host the CaféX omnichannel capabilities in the Azure cloud. The combined solution embeds real-time customer interaction channels within the Unified Service Desk and Web clients for Dynamics 365. The depth of integration is the result of co-development and a joint engineering road map.

Another differentiating aspect of the CaféX partnership is that the omnichannel capabilities will be provisioned side-by-side with Dynamics 365. CaféX will be part of Dynamics 365 single sign-on and will fully integrate with its management portal, CaféX CMO Sajeel Hussain told me. The integration will even extend to customers that go to the website to request a free trial -- during enrollment, prospects will be able to choose CaféX omnichannel functionality as part of any Dynamics 365 trial.

Trials for the Microsoft/CaféX unified solution will begin in November, with general availability planned for early 2017. The initial offering will feature Web chat and co-browsing, with click-to-call and video collaboration to follow in a subsequent release.

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