Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Power of Multi-Channel Social Marketing

You can increase your visibility in social media by concentrating all your efforts in a single channel, but I have been more successful with a multi-pronged approach.

Each social media channel attracts a different type of user, and some may be better for your type of business than others. For instance, consumer brands often reach their audiences on Facebook, while business to business services may get more traction on LinkedIn.  Twitter is more of an acquired tastes, but it is obligatory for the press and other writers.  I rarely read my Twitter feed without picking up an interesting bit of news I would not have found otherwise.

Readership of my blog increased significantly only after I became more active on social media. After several years of paltry page views of a few hundred a month, my blog traffic grew to over 10,000 pages views per month as my Twitter followers slowly grew over time.

You can track the contribution made by each social channel in your blog analytics. For me, Twitter has made the biggest difference. You can also tie social media activity to sales in Dynamics CRM with ClickDimensions.  For instance, ClickDimensions builds social profiles of customer contacts so you can follow them.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Introducing Komiko: Connect Your CRM to Email and More



To get the most of a CRM system, you should use it not only to track all your customers and prospects, but also all your sales and marketing activities.  While Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce allow you to track activities including emails, meetings, letters, and phone calls and some are tracked automatically (such as marketing emails), the challenge is that many activities require manual entry.

Komiko offers automation which connects your CRM to email and document management, automating this process.  It can scan your emails and track all emails sent to customers or prospects you are tracking in your CRM automatically.  This data gives you a rich new dimension to track and score leads.



There is a strong correlation between the number of times you communicate with a prospect and whether they are likely to purchase.  Komiko reveals this pattern without imposing a new data entry burden on your sales force.


Using Komiko, you can see who at your company is interacting with each account, and with each contact at your account.  It can add contact records for the customer to your CRM.

Email is not the only source of data for Komiko.  You can connect it to your filesharing websites such as SharePoint and Dropbox to track each time that you share a proposal or contract with a customer.

Komiko is on the leading edge of a trend to break down barriers between applications and automatically track behavior of your staff, prospects and customers.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Extending Your Microsoft Dynamics CRM Reporting Through PowerBI



Source: https://rcpmag.com/articles/2015/03/16/dynamics-crm-spring-15-release.aspx

Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides rich reporting capabilities through built-in reports, the Advanced Find ad hoc query tool, and SQL Reporting Service (see my blog post).  These are not your only options: you can use Power BI with Dynamics CRM 2015/2016 to provide self-service analytics on your Dynamics CRM Online data.


If you know how to build pivot tables in Excel, Power BI will be familiar to you.  It allows the user to manipulate data in many ways and derive new insights.  You can try out queries to identify patterns in your data which were not obvious.

You can find step-by-step instructions for Power BI and Dynamics CRM on TechNet.

Sign up for Power BI for Dynamics CRM here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

SharePoint or CRM for Government Contractor (GovCon) Capture Management?

If you are a government contractor and you are using Microsoft products such as Office 365, you may reach the point when you would like to automate your business development (capture management) process.  Which tool should you use?

Many companies start by keeping a list of opportunities in Excel, and emailing that Excel document to sales people and managers using Office 365.  These spreadsheets often grow complex as they are enhanced to capture all the data elements that you want to track.  While it is a simple approach, it has some disadvantages:

  1. Hard to track who has most recent version
  2. People can add more columns and worksheets without coordinating with one another
  3. Difficult to generate some pipeline reports 
  4. Grows quickly and may become unwieldy, especially if past wins and losses are accumulated in the spreadsheet

The next evolutionary step is to use SharePoint (included in Office 365) to store the sales spreadsheet.  This eliminates the version control problem, and establishes a single place where the latest spreadsheet is stored.

SharePoint is also an excellent platform for storing solicitation and proposal documents.  You can set up permissions to grant the right people access to the documents they need, and use SharePoint to organize proposal boilerplate items, staff resumes, and more. Documents created internally can be shared with potential subcontractors, subject matter experts, and other vendors under the security framework of Office 365.

SharePoint workflows can be used to automate review and approval processes. For instance, you can notify reviewers when new drafts are posted to a document library.

Some companies use SharePoint lists to store the information on the opportunities rather than Excel.  This offers additional levels of control and makes some reports easier to generate.

Dynamics CRM offers the most comprehensive set of features for capture management of all the Microsoft products.  It was designed for sales force automation, marketing, and customer service and includes hundreds of features that surpass what you can accomplish in SharePoint in terms of tracking sales.  Dynamics CRM has record- and field-level security along with the concepts of record ownership and an organizational hierarchy.  This means that you can assign opportunities to sales people and define rich permissions for who can access what data.  Dynamics CRM has mobile clients for tablets and phones, and even service scheduling and route planning.  It can be used to generate marketing emails, such as invitations to events.

InfoStrat developed the Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors solution which takes Dynamics CRM a step further, adding data elements, workflows, dashboards and reports that are geared toward government contractors.


Finally, using Dynamics CRM to track sales does not mean you should not be using SharePoint to track documents.  Business development involves both structured data (Dynamics CRM) and unstructured data (SharePoint).

You can even automate the process to track your emails to clients and prospects in Dynamics CRM without entering them manually.  An exciting new product called Komiko will search emails for those sent to companies and contacts that you are tracking in CRM and add them as activities.  This allows you to report on how many activities were required to close a sale, and see how new sales develop.


You don't have to adopt all this technology at one time.  You can chart a course to move at the best speed for your organization.

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.