Tuesday, July 26, 2011

CRM 4.0 Mashups

In CRM 4.0 we have the ability to create "mash ups" in order to combine CRM with other web applications. This essentially creates a visual integration between CRM and the other application such that an end user does not necessarily know where one application begins and the other one ends. This "graying" of the application boundaries is a good thing as at the end of the day, an end user should be prevented from having to access silos of information in favor of having a single access point for all relevant business data. Be it, native CRM data, physically integrated accounting data, or visually joining the applications as in this case.

This kind of integration could be achieved by either employing the use of an I-Frame approach or by adding a link to the Navigation Pane. Although there are cases where the I-Frame approach is justified, generally the Navigation Pane approach is better as it is more visually appealing and provides better use of the screen real estate.

There are many applications for this type of integration:

  • It can be used to pull relevant information from a web page (msn, google, yahoo etc.) and have it presented to the user when they access an account. 
  • It can also be used to accomplish virtual integration with another business application. For example, instead of physically bringing over invoice data from your back end accounting system into CRM for access via your front office, you could integrate the applications virtually by means of this approach. 
  • You could integrate reports into a form to provide graphical, summary or other displays of information that cannot be achieved through other means. Alternatively if say your accounting data, is not accessible via URL, you could create an SRS report on the data you wish to view and combine it with your CRM form.

Below is an example of the first of these i.e. a mash-up between a CRM account and a Google map. The map is context sensitive to the address of the account and when the "Map" link is clicked it will show the address of the account on the map. The same is true for the News and Stock links shown in the screenshot.

You can download the files and instructions for configuring this in the Navigation Pane in the 4.0 environment from here.

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