Microsoft delivers the talking Dynamics CRM update

The software uses Cortana to process voice commands

Dynamics customers can now get their hands on the suite's latest update, which includes the ability to add the Cortana voice-command technology to the company's CRM software.

Users will be able to speak voice commands to the software by using the Cortana personal assistant, which only understands English. Some of the tasks that Cortana can handle include searching for contacts and activities, setting up meetings and creating records.

Microsoft announced the CRM update in September and mentioned the Cortana tie-up in November and both times said the release would be available by the end of 2014.

Cortana will initially work on devices running Windows Phone 8.1 with functionality for Android and iOS devices coming in six to 12 months, Jujhar Singh, general manager Microsoft Dynamics CRM, in a recent interview.

The release of Dynamics CRM 2015 covers both the cloud-based and on-premise versions of the CRM (customer relationship management) software, Microsoft said Tuesday in a blog post.

Online users need to select the date when they want to get the update. On-premise customers will receive the update as a download in their Dynamics service plan, Microsoft said.

Updates for Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, Microsoft Dynamics GP 2015 for small and medium-size business and Microsoft Dynamics AX, the company's ERP (enterprise resource planning) software are also available.

The release is also notable for Microsoft's attempt to better connect its marketing and CRM applications. For businesses, this effort that will lead to improved collaboration between sales and marketing departments, according to the company.

"With this release we are providing deep value to our customers to help them better engage with their customers," wrote Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president of the Microsoft Business Solutions Group, in the blog post.

For example, a new Sales Collaboration panel in Dynamics Marketing will allow salespeople and marketing staff to work together on campaigns. They can also monitor campaigns and manage messages aimed at certain groups, according to Microsoft. The product is now available in 37 countries and 12 languages, including Japanese and Russian.

Added CRM functions allow users to view sales data in hierarchical charts based on territory, revenue and salespeople and integrates with Microsoft Social Listening so companies can gauge social media sentiment.

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'

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