Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dynamics CRM Social Engagement 2016



Microsoft Dynamics CRM capabilities have grown significantly in the 2016 version, and it's not easy to keep up with all the new products and features that Microsoft has bundled into Dynamics CRM Online.

With Microsoft Social Engagement, you can listen, analyze, and drive engagement all within Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, or standalone.  This capability enables you to learn more about your customers and find better ways to drive engagement and improve customer satisfaction.

Social Engagement supports 20 languages and covers a broad range of sources including Twitter, Facebook, videos, blogs, news syndication and RSS sources. Using the tool can help you spot trends, receive alerts and identify your key influencers.

Check out this video for an overview of some of the new features in Microsoft Social Engagement 2016:


Many organizations monitor Twitter for customer service cases, such as this tweet.




You can drive customer issues from social media to Dynamics CRM cases using the Link to CRM feature.  




The listening capability of Streams in Social Center allows you to view a stream of social interactions on your dashboard, including searching and filtering.

Author Lookup allows you to find out how influential the author of a post is, along with other profile information.



You can create and manage Office Groups in Exchange or in your Office admin portal.  These groups are available in Social Engagement for assigning posts or sharing streams or social profiles. You can make social posts visible to a group of customer service reps so they can understand and act on support needs of customers.

Watch this case study to see how social listening helped a Microsoft customer:



To learn more, contact me or take a Dynamics CRM test drive.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Big Data for Microsoft Office 365 -- Office Graph

Most people think that big data techniques are for organizations that churn out massive volumes of data, such as corporations and government agencies.  But it turns out that if you spend a significant portion of your life online, you are a miniature big data factory yourself.  Many us end up with a significant and constantly growing digital footprint including your emails, photos, phone calls, text messages, shared documents, social media electronic transaction records and more.

Microsoft is applying big data tools to help you understand patterns in your online network. Office Graph maps content and activity from Microsoft Office, including email, social conversations, and meetings, and documents in SharePoint and OneDrive.



Office Graph applies machine learning techniques to your data.  It offers a query language as well as developer tools.



Office Graph is in preview mode now and subject to change.  Watch for it and for related products from Microsoft and other vendors to tap into structured and unstructured data.







Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Allotting Time for Cloud Migration




When planning your cloud migration, don't forget to allow time to move the data from your current provider to the cloud provider.  Email and document management systems grow significantly over the years, and your data may take longer to move than you think, even if everything goes smoothly.

We clocked these benchmarks on a recent migration:

Duration and Speed - Exchange on-premise to Office 365
Statistic
Source
Destination
Active Duration
4 hours
a day
Passive Duration
a day
2 hours
Data Speed
2,453.15 MB/hr
364.72 MB/hr
Item Speed
29,620 items/hr
4,404 items/hr


Duration and Speed - IMAP to Office 365


Statistic
Source
Destination
Active Duration
3 hours
8 hours
Passive Duration
5 hours
an hour
Data Speed
2,593.17 MB/hr
1,093.70 MB/hr
Item Speed
9,666 items/hr
4,071 items/hr

Many factors go into the speed of the migration, such as the speed of all network connections you are using and the underlying hardware and network performance for on premises implementations.

You also should consider the time devoted to monitoring the migration and restarting failed processes.

Some cloud providers offer shortcuts to migration which allow you to send hard drives to their facilities to eliminate the Internet performance bottleneck, but this requires advance planning and coordination, especially if you do not want to have the systems run in parallel.

Migration tools provided by cloud vendors and third parties can simplify your work, but at the end of the day the data needs to move from one place to another, and this inevitably takes time.























Monday, April 18, 2016

Create a Fast Track for Your Sales Process in CRM



When you automate a business process, it is easy to end up with a complex solution that addresses the greatest number of possible data elements and outcomes.  You can easily be drawn into spending an inordinate time trying to handle rare exceptions, with the idea of making your business process handle every contingency.

If your company has a complex sales process, consider creating a second, fast track business process. This way you can accommodate the large number of transactions that go quickly, often with fewer approval steps.  For instance, generating a quote for new products or services for an existing customer is often simpler than targeting a new customer, and competitive bids can be more complex than taking orders.

By automating more than one process, you can let the complex process be as sophisticated as it needs to be without creating extra steps for the fast track process which are not needed.

If you take this two track approach, you can later analyze how many sales used each of the processes to help you focus your future automation efforts better.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

CRM for Criminal Investigations



When you think of customer relationship management (CRM), you think of sales force automation, marketing, and customer support.  But many other solutions benefit from the same features of CRM, even those that are traditionally served by custom line of business solutions.

Criminal investigations, for instance, fit well in the CRM model.  They include tracking detailed information on people, relationships (such as known associates), organizations, and activity records such as emails, phone calls, and messages.

InfoStrat has developed a complete Investigative Case Management System based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM.


To track investigations, CRM is extended by building a more complete data model and business process workflows for assigning and tracking each of the steps of an investigation.  Dynamics CRM lends itself to integration with other systems, such as real time intelligence sources and geographic information systems.

Microsoft's research and development in CRM, as well as the acquisition of new products and companies, makes CRM richer in functionality each year.  For instance, the acquisition of FieldOne provides dispatcher scheduling and route optimization for field operations, highly desirable features for investigators. Microsoft also invests in strengthening the security of its products and cloud services, meeting government requirements.  



Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Startups: Please Disrupt the Public Sector



Startups have successfully disrupted many well entrenched business models, from the automobile industry to the food we eat and what we wear.  So far, startups have had much less of an impact on government.

When will startups focus their efforts on changing the way government agencies serve the public?

Many processes are ripe for disruption:
  1. Government procurement is costly, slow, and inefficient.  Many of the processes designed to enhance competition and provide business opportunities to small companies have produced the opposite of the desired result, creating barriers to competition, rewarding unscrupulous contractors and saddling agencies with failed products and projects. 
  2. Customer service and customer satisfaction have improved in many industries but not so much in government services. Wouldn't new approaches to customer service reduce cost along with better citizen satisfaction?
  3. New channels for customer service.  In a related point, while some government agencies are embracing social media, many have a long way to go.  Do government agencies need their own official social networks?
  4. Mobile apps.  I use mobile apps for parking and also for some museum exhibits, but there is much potential for new apps.
  5. Grants. Government grants are an increasingly important mechanism to fund programs, but grant application and reporting processes are largely manual.  Improved tracking can enhance accountability, and deep learning could tie results to expenditures and lead to more efficient spending.  
I'm sure that many initiatives are underway that are not visible to me, but if there is a sector ripe for change, it is in the public sector. 


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Getting Started with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online



Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online offers so many features, the challenge for many businesses is where to begin.  That's why I put together the InfoStrat webinar on Getting Started with Dynamics CRM Online.

For the full presentation, you can watch the video:



Here are some highlights from the discussion:

  1. Check out the InfoStrat CRM cost calculator
  2. Microsoft provides an excellent set of Getting Started Links
  3. Visit the Dynamics YouTube channel for learning videos 

The best way to learn even more is to go ahead and subscribe to Dynamics CRM Online.  Free trials are available.