Using a prototype multitouch device with a large plasma television, demonstrators showed how the technology could be used as a product gets developed and sold, such as for a virtual whiteboard in brainstorming sessions, or as an interactive, self-service store display, all fed by ERP and CRM data.
It's practically a given that multitouch will find success in the latter scenario, not only to give shoppers a unique experience but as a way for retailers to save money given the high employee turnover they face, said Kirill Tatarinov , corporate vice president of Microsoft business solutions, in an interview.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is set to target retailers more closely with the Aug. 1 launch of a retail edition of Dynamics AX in 16 countries.
Also Sunday, Microsoft announced an update to its CRM Online product and said it will be available in 32 countries by the end of the year.
Hoping to juice sales and pull customers closer to the fold, Microsoft also said that customers of Dynamics GP, a new version of which will be generally available May 1, can buy CRM Online licenses for $19 per user per month until June 30.
That price heavily undercuts rival Salesforce.com's pricing for its Professional and Enterprise editions, which cost $65 and $125 per user per month, respectively.
Despite the even wider disparity in pricing provided by the discount offer, Microsoft will not lose money on those $19-per-month seats, Tatarinov said. "We don't report on the profitability of particular products, but obviously, we are not a nonprofit business."
The new version of CRM Online also adds French, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese language support; tools for connecting CRM Online with other on-demand and on-premises applications; and a built-in integration framework for Dynamics GP.
Travel Dynamics International, a small-ship educational cruise provider in New York, uses Microsoft CRM and is looking to use it in concert with SharePoint, said Nikos Papagapitos, who directs technology operations at the company.
"Document management is not CRM's strong suit. SharePoint fills that void and then some," he said. But he praised the CRM application, which replaced a clunky, aged homegrown system, saying it was flexible enough to handle the details of Travel Dynamics' niche business.
Microsoft's work to integrate ERP and CRM is appealing, he said. "Given that the two line up a lot it, definitely makes sense to start moving in that direction."
But Travel Dynamics has been using an ERP system from Sage for some years, and it might be several more before any migration to Microsoft occurs, he said.
Dynamics continues through Tuesday at the World Congress Center. About 8,500 people are attending this year's conference, according to Microsoft.