Monday, November 5, 2012

Extending CRM 2011 into the social sphere: Using Montage Page editor

The inspiration for this post is a whitepaper from Microsoft titled "The Connected Enterprise". It has a bunch of great ideas on how and why there exists a need to embrace social technologies to drive business needs. There is also a peek into the social tools that Microsoft is building or already built, and possible ways that might benefit your marketing and sales teams using simple storylines.

In this post, I am going to focus on one of those cool tools, and how users could possibly benefit by their integration with CRM 2011.

Microsoft FUSE Labs:
FUSE Labs works in partnership with product and research teams to create, develop, and deliver new social, real-time, and media-rich experiences for home and work. The tools give users new ways to create, connect and collaborate with the people, information and ideas that matter to them.

Montage is a flexible web-based service that makes it easy to create and share a visual album of the web on the topics you care about. The visual album is highly customizable, allowing adding and editing content, and pulling in data from various sources like Twitter, Web searches, RSS feeds, YouTube etc.

The business case I can think of is having a Marketing Specialist have an "External looking" dashboard of sorts. Once your topic and source types are defined, the user has a dynamic view into the details. I have created a simple montage, with multiple sections presenting me with different information.

For this case, I created a montage pertaining to, drum roll please, crm 2011. Here is the full montage page that was a result of my customization:

Let me break down the different sections in the page, with a screen shot for each.

The top section, in addition to the title and the created by person, lets you like (using Facebook), or share using Twitter and Facebook. The title is the only item that is editable in the top section.

The section on the right side is a twitter feed of the topic I am interested in (in this case, tagged with #msdyncrm).

The top left section pulls in the news articles that have to do with search term crm2011. The visual display is set to slideshow, ie, the news headlines are moving left to right.

The bottom left section pulls in the rss feed from the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Team Blog. The visual display is set to list, ie, the blog items are displayed with a scroll bar.

Here is an example of a public montage that is part of the crm 2011 dashboard. Notice that for a marketing person it could be an invaluable tool to keep up with a particular product he/ she is following.

Final thoughts:

I really like the direction that Microsoft with going with its social tools. The montage is extremely configurable, letting you select the type of content, and in some cases the type of visual display. The data is dynamic, so once you have set up you will be getting the latest and greatest data that pertains to you.

I would like to see if the Montage can be created and published automatically using a predefined template. For example, I might want to  have a visual album of my CRM accounts, without having to manually create each one.
I have not seen a sdk to use with it - now that would be useful :)

Bonus Read!
Another cool application from the Fuse Labs stable is CompanyCrowd.
CompanyCrowd collects stories, media and content to create a living newspaper about the companies that are most important to you. The information about the company itself is crowd sourced. Do take a look!

Update 4/5/2013: Thanks to Maulik, I realized that CompanyCrowd is no longer available on the Fuse Labs website. But there are others in their home page that you can check out!


  1. really amazing blog and I was thankful to you for sharing such a useful information.
    CRM Consulting

  2. Thanks Helen! Appreciate the feedback :)

  3. Hi Mani,

    Great Article. But I think the CompanyCrowd is now no longer available for use. Can't find any link to try it.

    1. Thanks for the note Maulik. You are correct, there does not seem to be any mention of CompanyCrowd in Fuse Labs site. I have updated the post to reflect it. Appreciate the feedback!