Saturday, 31 March 2018

What's in a name - CRM, Dynamics 365, CDS

Now that I've restarted posting on this blog, I'm struggling to name the technologies consistently. It used to just be CRM (or Microsoft CRM, or Dynamics CRM, or Microsoft Dynamics CRM), but now it's Dynamics 365, or Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement. And from the platform perspective, it's Common Data Services (CDS).
To an extent, we're necessarily at the whim of Microsoft branding, which can change, but I feel we're close to an overall set of terms that can be consistently applied. As I see it, there are 3 distinct things that can be named:

The overall suite of technologies
This has been Dynamics, Dynamics 365, or Microsoft Business Applications. Of these, Dynamics 365 is definitely the leader, though there has been recent use of Microsoft Business Applications, so we may find this to become more popular. To me, the main difference is that Microsoft Business Applications can include technologies such as PowerApps and Flow, which started out under the Office 365 brand


The applications that Microsoft deliver
We started with the separate Dynamics products (CRM, AX, GP, NAV etc). Several (but not all) were then included within Dynamics 365, along with some new application (e.g. Talent). From the original CRM application and implementations, we can refer to each Application, which are Sales, Customer Service, Marketing, Field Service and Project Service Automation. Here the roadmap is a useful reference. These applications can be usefully referred to individually, but we need to be able to refer to them collectively, and distinguish them from the other Dynamics 365 applications (Finance and Operations, Retail, Talent, Business Central) that are not based on the CRM technology. Rather than using the term 'CRM', Microsoft are pushing the term 'Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement'. I do mostly understand the Microsoft approach, but it is a lot longer than 'CRM', so I'm going to struggle to move off CRM. For more on this, see Jukka's post

The platform - i.e. what underpins the applications
'Platform' itself can mean different things to different people, which we won't resolve here, but I'm taking about the technologies that started in CRM, and not just the Azure platform. Here we started with CRM, then the term xRM was introduced, but now (as of March 2018), I think that we should now be referring to CDS (Common Data Services). Now that Common Data Services for Applications and CRM are the same platform is a huge step. And from now on , I think the platform that started out as CRM is better termed CDS. There are a few details to sort out still; there are 'Common Data Services for Applications' and 'Common Data Services for Analytics', and I reckon only the former truly relates to the original CRM platform, but I'm not certain on that yet

Overall, I thing the picture will soon be reasonably clear, with a few caveats. For the foreseeable future, I expect I'll still preface most presentations by saying that I'll use the terms 'CRM' and 'Dynamics 365' interchangeably, unless there is a reason to differentiate between them, in which case I'll try and explain the difference. Similarly, I'll probably be using 'CRM' and 'xRM' and 'CDS' interchangeably for a while

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