CRM 2016 – Company News Timeline

A new feature has been added to CRM 2016 Online Update 1 called “Company News Timeline”. In this post I will describe how to install it and give my initial thoughts.

The company news timeline feature shows a news feed in the mobile application for your accounts, contacts, leads and opportunities.

Installing Company News Timeline

To activate the “Company News Timeline” you need to install an additional solution. To do this go to the Admin Center for your office 365. And in the admin centers option select CRM

Next select you CRM instance and select the solutions option.

You should now be able to see the “Company News Timeline” solution. Select it and click install.

TIP: Installing this solution will affect the contact, account, lead and opportunity entities in your CRM solution. I had changed the display name on my account entity to be “Supplier”. Installing this solution reverted my change. You may need to be aware of this!

You will then be prompted to accept the terms of service. Simply click install.

Finally, the install process will start. It doesn’t take long, get a cup of coffee and it will be done when you return!

Once the install process has completed your status will change to installed.

TIP: You can uninstall this feature by removing the managed solution that will be added to your CRM organisation. (Doing so did also return the display name on my account back to Supplier!)

Using Company News Timeline

TIP: You will need to ensure you are running the latest version of the CRM mobile client. (I had to uninstall and re-install mine!)

Next time you load your mobile client your configuration will update.

Timeline is available on the account, contact, lead and opportunity main mobile forms. Below you can see the news feed from my account form. (On an account called “Microsoft”.)

For many of my accounts the news feed simply said “No data available”. I guess some companies just don’t feature in the news that much! Although there is a useful link to see more on Bing, which opens Bing in your browser and searches from there.

On contacts, as far as I could tell the news feed was related to the account they are linked with. (As is the case with opportunities.)

For example, I created a contact called “Satya Nadella”. I assumed he must be in the news! But nothing came up until I associated him with an account called Microsoft.

I also tested the news feed on leads. I created a lead with the company name set to “Microsoft”. But nothing appeared in the news feed on my lead. The news only showed when I associated the lead with an existing account. (Replicating the logic I’d seen on contacts.)

One neat feature is to filter the news by topic. For example, filtering news on Microsoft to only include acquisitions displayed their recent purchase of LinkedIn.

On some companies the number of topics available was quite varied, which is nice.

The news feed is also present on your home dashboard. Unfortunately, when I tested this I simply got the error message below. Hopefully this will be fixed soon.

My Opinion.

For what it is worth ..…. what do I think about the new “Company News Timeline” feature???

I actually really like it, despite the rough edges. (Hopefully the bug I saw will be rectified soon.)

The level of benefit will depend on the type of clients you work with. Organisations who deal directly with consumers may get little benefit. But if you are engaging with large corporate clients being able to quickly see news in context of your accounts is a nice feature. I’d be encouraging all field sales people to have a quick look before attending a meeting with the client. (Or maybe even to keep checking during the meeting!)

The company news timeline is currently only available in the mobile application. Ideally I would like to see the same feature available in the web client. (Maybe one day. J)

In conclusion this is a simple solution and one worth trying out. J

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