Microsoft launches new Dynamics CRM Marketplace
Just imagine if Microsoft demonstrated the capabilities of a new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Marketplace. Picture a new online catalog made significant improvements to help customers to find and consume add-ons apps and industry solutions from Microsoft partners. The new marketplace could introduce a fresh, Metro user experience similar to other Microsoft marketplaces such as the Windows Phone Marketplace and the Azure Marketplace.
Long-awaited improvements could bring a seamless click-try-buy experience to Microsoft customers so they could easily extend their CRM solution using some of the fantastic applications and solutions developed by Microsoft and its partners. For the first time customers would be able to install trial solutions directly into their CRM organization and buy the solution from the publisher through the Marketplace.
“I’d be really excited if there actually was a new release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Marketplace. The new features would give us even more power and flexibility to create and publish CRM solutions to meet the unique business needs of our customers and help them be more productive,” said Neil Benson, CRM architect at Slalom Consulting and Microsoft CRM MVP. “The introduction of a frictionless click-try-buy feature on the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace would open up profitable new opportunities that would enable us to expand our reach and get our CRM solutions out to a broader, global audience.”
The next Microsoft Dynamics CRM might have its own dedicated marketplace – separate from Microsoft Pinpoint and the Microsoft Dynamics ERP marketplace – making it possible for Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers to find the solutions they’re looking for.
A new search experience could return better results using the natural-language search capabilities of Bing, an improvement from the old search feature which exhibits many of the idiosyncrasies of the FAST search technology.
Visitors could sign in to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Marketplace using their Windows Live ID making it easier to identify reviewers, save their favourite applications, store their preferences, identify their Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online organizations and their billing details.
Across the entire site, visitors could choose to filter on the CRM deployment type (CRM 4.0, CRM 2011 or CRM Online) and their language which is be applied to all site content. Country-specific filters and restrictions would be dropped.
There would be just two top-level categories:
- Apps: add-on applications with functional subcategories such as sales, marketing, and service
- Solutions: industry-specific solutions with subcategories such as financial services, manufacturing, and not-for-profit
Within each sub-category visitors could browse through featured, free, hot and new apps and solutions or browse them all and can sort by app name, rating, publisher name, or date published.
Publishers could select multiple sub-categories for their apps, and all apps would be reviewed by local Microsoft Dynamics CRM product managers to make sure listings are consistently high quality.
On the app page users could:
- Try for free: if the visitor is signed in and has associated their Marketplace profile with a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online organization, a 30-day trial of the app would be installed. Visitors with on-premise deployments of Microsoft Dynamics CRM could download the solution package instead.
- Watch a demo: visitors could watch an app demo (if the publisher has published a demo video)
- Save to favourites: if the visitor is signed in, the app would be saved to their favourite apps list
- Buy now: if the visitor is signed in and has associated their Marketplace profile with a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online or Office 365 billing account, and the publisher has signed up for billing by Microsoft, the visitor could purchase of the app directly from the Marketplace. Alternative purchase options would be provided for visitors with an on-premise deployment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and for apps from publishers that have not yet signed up for billing by Microsoft.
- Contact the publisher: publishers could provide their contact details for a variety of channels including website URL, telephone number, website chat and e-mail.
- Share: visitors could share the app by email or on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Description and details: visitors could check the app’s description and get more details such as reviews, resources, technical specifications and pricing information.
- Reviews: the review engine would be given a major update so that only signed-in visitors can leave reviews so that reviews are more authentic. Signed-in visitors could flag helpful reviews and leave comments about a review. Visitors could also view a reviewer’s Marketplace profile and discover other reviews by the same reviewer.
Behind the scenes, Microsoft could also made some significant improvements for app publishers too:
- No regional restrictions: publishers could publish their solutions in several languages and visitors can choose to filter apps based on language, but the country-specific restrictions would be lifted. Microsoft partners could now publish their apps to a global audience of Microsoft Dynamics customers.
- Billing by Microsoft: to make it easier for customers to buy apps, publishers could choose an option called Billing by Microsoft which offers a number of fee models such as one-time fee, per user per month, per user-tier per month, or per organization per month. Microsoft would collect the subscription through the customer’s CRM Online invoice and reimburse the partner on a monthly basis after subtracting a small administration fee.
- Separation from Microsoft Pinpoint: Microsoft Pinpoint would continue to be the global catalog of Microsoft partners and services used by customers to find their local, expert Microsoft partner. The new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Marketplace would be built on an entirely new platform with features better suited to helping customers find, try and buy apps to enhance their CRM experience.
P.S. In case you hadn’t guessed already, the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Marketplace is just this CRM MVP’s pipe dream. I’m just trying to make it easier for the CRM product group by imagining its capabilities and prototyping the user interface.
P.P.S. I edited the article on 29 May 2012 to make it clear that this is not an announcement about an actual new CRM Marketplace (apprently too many people were getting upset after having their hopes raised), so I changed the article to try and make it clearer that it’s all just a figment of my imagination.