Today’s businesses rely on apps just as frequently as consumers; so why should consumers expect a simple, intuitive experience while employees are forced to stumble along?

That was apparently the thinking behind Microsoft Corp.’s new cloud service, Dynamics 365, and AppSource, its enterprise-facing answer to the Google Play and App Stores, both of which the company announced today.

“The apps and services we use to drive business process are often difficult to use, try and deploy – some even make you pay extra for capabilities like visualization, workflow automation and predictive insights,” Microsoft Cloud + Enterprise corporate vice president Takeshi Numoto wrote in a July 6 blog post.

“We imagine a better world for business users everywhere. One where you can track leads, automate field service, drive sales and improve operations using modern, mobile, enterprise-ready intelligent business apps from the cloud that are as easy to use as the consumer apps that help us all get rides, book rooms, listen to music and take actions to improve our health,” he wrote.

Echoing Microsoft’s cloud-based Office suite, Dynamics 365 will blend the company’s present CRM and ERP cloud solutions into one SaaS, complete with new purpose-built apps for departments including finance, field service, sales, operations, marketing, project service automation, and customer service.

AppSource, meanwhile, provides Microsoft’s business users with a search engine-like database they can use to look up and try out more than 200 business SaaS apps, add-ins and content packs from Microsoft and its partners.

AppSource is available now, while Dynamics 365 will be released in the fall.

AppSource screenshot
Screenshot of AppSource, which allows users to refine their search by category, industry, and Microsoft product.

According to Numoto, Microsoft has designed Dynamics 365’s new apps, which add such features as built-in insights, predictive intelligence, and workflow optimization to the core platform, to be easily and independently deployable, so that customers receive a unified experience while paying only for what they need.

Microsoft’s Power BI and Cortana Intelligence are also natively embedded into the platform, to provide automated support such as cross-sell recommendations for sales reps, or applying IoT data to help field service agents identify anomalies before equipment or supply-chain failures occur.

For example, a salesperson can receive an email and respond directly in Office with a quote based on information from Dynamics 365’s finance and sales apps, without having to leave Outlook.

Meanwhile, AppSource provides users with a selection of first- and third-party apps to choose from, including:

  • AFS Retail Execution, an end-to-end solution that packaged goods manufacturers can use to engage with customers in the field, from the visit and merchandising stage, to sales, to asset management and audit. The program also includes a full suite of business intelligence and analytics.
  • AvePoint Citizen Services, which allows government organizations to automate incident reporting, response and resolution, so that employees can solve issues faster and serve constituents better.
  • Veripark Next Best Action, push-notification software for the finance industry.

Customers interested in learning more about AppSource can check out the video below. Microsoft has also promised to release further details regarding both AppSource and Dynamics 365 during next week’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto.

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