Microsoft has launched a set of AI applications for customers of its Dynamics cloud customer relationship management (CRM) software in a bid to better compete with the market leader Salesforce.
Branded Dynamics 365 AI, the new features are a clear response to Salesforce, which launched its own AI features under the decidedly catchier brand Einstein back in 2016.
Read next: What is Salesforce Einstein?
In a blog post Alysa Taylor, corporate vice president for business applications and industry, wrote that these new applications will "deliver out-of-the-box insights by unifying data and infusing it with advanced intelligence to guide decisions and empower organisations to take informed actions".
For context, Taylor added: "Two years ago, when we introduced Dynamics 365 we started a journey to tear down the traditional silos of customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). We set out to reimagine business applications as modern, unified, intelligent and adaptable solutions that are integrated with Office 365 and natively built on Microsoft Azure."
The initial three applications are for sales, customer service and market insights:
Dynamics 365 AI for Sales aims to prioritise the most important deals for salespeople and surface insights better for quicker actions.
Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service combines Microsoft's AI and natural language technology to give customer service staff smarter access to customer data and the ability to leverage bots to deal with lower level queries.
Finally, Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights aims to help marketing and social media teams to access actionable insights quicker for faster response to customer needs.
These are all the sort of machine learning-driven features that Salesforce launched Einstein with two years ago, so there is little incentive for customers to believe that Microsoft has jumped ahead of its CRM rival with these announcements. Rather, it is catching up to the industry trend of embedded AI within business applications.
Salesforce Einstein goes beyond these verticals too, with Einstein available for ecommerce, analytics, IoT and Community Cloud.
This follows the announcement from ERP giant SAP earlier this year that it would be making a renewed assault on the CRM market with a new product called C/4HANA.
The full C/4HANA portfolio closely resembles that of Salesforce. It consists of SAP Marketing Cloud, SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP Service Cloud, SAP Customer Data Cloud (following the Gigya acquisition) and SAP Sales Cloud (following the CallidusCloud acquisition).
Speaking on stage at the Sapphire conference in Orlando in June, SAP CEO Bill McDermott said: "It's time for change, there is now a clear paradigm shift forward.
"We have moved from a 360-degree view of sales automation, where some companies focus, to a 360-degree view of the actual customer. From a world where nothing happens when you add a record to CRM, to a world where everything happens, the entire supply chain is connected to the customer experience."
Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI features will become generally available on 1 October this year.