Today I will be taking a look at the Activity Feeds customisations that Microsoft have released on to the Microsoft Marketplace. When I first stumbled across the customisations I instantly thought Facebook status messages inside CRM. Cool, thats a neat idea but whats the point in it? Do I really need to know that one of the companies salesman has started work to a cup of tea and toast?
With that thought in mind I decided to check out the customisations. The product description, taken directly from the Microsoft Marketplace is as follows…
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Activity Feeds provide real time notifications and quick sharing of information that the team cares about via quick and short updates. Activity Feeds enable a user to follow and listen in on important activities that take place around the people, accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities or anything else that they care about.
Feed status updates can be posted manually by users or automatically based on pre-defined system rules through workflow. Activity Feeds can also be posted to by external applications through the Microsoft Dynamics CRM web services API. Activity Feeds expose Microsoft Office Lync real-time presence functionality so that users can initiate communication activities such as IM, phone calls and emails.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Activity Feeds will work with all deployment models for Microsoft Dynamics CRM including on-premise, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and partner-hosted.
The installation of the product was a simple import of a single solution. However you do have to make sure that you are running rollup 5 for the customisations to install. As you do, my first port of call was to check what has been deployed in to my organisation. I was extremely surprised to find over 500 components had been added to my system for what I would call a small set of customisations. I can’t say I was happy about all the components but they are self contained within a managed solution after all!
The customisations work straight out the box for system users and any user with Administrator rights. However to get the feeds working on any other system user you have to assign them a security role that comes as part of the deployment. In order to get the feeds working on other entities, including custom ones you can to create a configuration record that contains the name of the entity you wish to allow feeds on. Automation then fires behind the scenes to set up all the required components. Now the configuration is complete we are ready to post messages!
When you first browse to the to the whats new tab you will be able to upload a profile picture for your system user. You will also be able to post status messages! The profile image is a neat feature and when you start picking up feeds it looks impressive.
However, out of the box you will not pickup feeds automatically. Like Twitter it is down to yourself to find records that you wish to follow and choose to follow them.
Once following records that have posted messages you will start to pick up their messages. Just like with Facebook the customisations allow you to place comments against the status messages. The user that posted the comment can remove the comment however, I’m not sure if the original message poster can remove the comment.
That, is pretty much it, as far as I can tell on what the activity feeds allow you to do.
I have opened up on a discussion on the visual ribbon editor. If you want to share your experiences you can add your opinion here.