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MS Dynamics-Unlock the right CRM potential
With reference to MS Dynamics Footprint, being a microsoft certified gold partner, we deliver top of the line solutions in MS Dynamic CRM which includes customization, development, migration and integration with other CRM’s and third party applications.
Intro to Dynamics CRM
Microsoft is not just a CRM, as it is built on XRM. It can manage any business entity, and not just customer related entities. It can be used to define and manage relationships between most of your organizational entities. In a typical scenario, 80 percent or more of the requirements are fulfilled by dynamics and for the rest, you have to go for customization. CRM provides you with lot of inbuilt features and Microsoft being a world leader in providing technology solutions, they are acquiring lot of new products. Microsoft believes it is not just about acquiring products but how effectively you integrate them with the existing statistics. You can define your business with Dynamics CRM.
MS Dynamics provides lot of integration services. Lot of third party tools, out of the box features, web services based on WCF and new generation services introduced this year called Web API can be used for interactive user interfaces, mobile applications etc.
As Dynamic CRM is a cloud-based application, you also have it on your environment but can be customized to cover almost all your business scenarios within single application.
CRM was started by Microsoft in 2003. New versions have come up with lots of updates and everything is customizable. In 2013, they started with solution framework wherein you can package your changes, bundle them and transfer from one deployment to another. That avoids many issues when development is involved and you have to move your code to production. In 2013, Microsoft started with the next generation UI, which is responsive UI, as you can see same screen on all the devices or screen sizes, as the screen size changes the UI lends itself to that. With that new generation of menu controls, Form controls are available. Also they have been providing mobile applications. It is not only on windows, mobile applications are available on IOS and Android as well.
Microsoft is also providing Office 365 applications on the other devices. That gives it a lot of compatibility with other devices and systems. In 2013, the major changes which were added later were business process flows where you start working on a particular lead or a record or entity. Your data moves from one process to another and at each stage you want to provide validations. In Dynamics CRM, you can get everything done via customization, but you need to engage your customers. In 2016, when we are talking about customers, social media is the leader and social channels are providing the content. Digital marketing and digital channels give you lot of information, so CRM started with social listening initially and in the latest version we have Social Engagement that gives you complete or most information about your customers. If they are available and you can listen to their latest thoughts, you can engage with them.
Dynamic CRM is growing at the rate of 22 percent on the revenue side every year and it has been maintained for the last couple of years. In 2013/14 it was 21.7 and the recent numbers are 22.8 as per Gartner report. In overall MS annual revenue, there was a jump of 15 percent, of which most of the revenue comes from office and dynamics. Also on the Azure part, there is a big jump around 140 percent and dynamic CRM has played a major role in that. And to continue that, Microsoft is also providing competitive cloud application prices. So if you go for dynamic CRM online, you get it for competitive rates.
Hightlights of 2016 features:
In every application, you have to create reports and share the summary data or the details of a particular account with your seniors. So you can do that with just a click.
You have App for Outlook
Microsoft provides an offline app which synchronizes internally with online data that gives you the advantage of Outlook Plus. So, using an email you can perform various operations.
One drive for Business
You can select where to put your document storage places. So you have it in CRM, shared byte or the one drive for business. Even if the documents are not part of your CRM, you can open it, create, update and share it with others using one drive.
Interactive service hub
Microsoft enables the sms marketing in 2016, so you can get 10 thousand sms package and it supports inbound and outbound sms. With this package, you can interact with your customers using messages, trigger messages as part of a marketing campaign or as an interaction.
They have also included e-mail marketing in this version, which is the biggest feature.
Social Engagement: You can listen to various channels, RSS feeds and analyze the social data or online data. You can push your social content to those channels, analyze and engage with your customers.
Some of the other features for this release are:
Mobility: Microsoft has enabled mobile preview while you are designing your new forms. Earlier they used to provide the express forms where you just have the simple fields and you add them and see that when you actually deploy that but now they provide various mobile slides. The reason for highlighting this point is because Microsoft is actually going the mobile way. They are planning and implementing more of the mobile solutions, mobile first technologies, they have mobile applications in all platforms, they are allowing CRM administrators to create forms which are responsive and then preview them. On the documentation side, if you have documents stored in any of the entities, now you can view them on mobile and once you view them, you can come back to your records and continue working there.
Another great feature which Microsoft provides in 2016 is Survey Designer. Basically it’s a voice of customer solution that you have to import in your system and once you do that it enables your survey applications within CRM. So, for a particular survey, you can plan it, design it, you can change the theme, add your questions, you can add your ratings and once you have the design ready, you can publish it and distribute the survey to various people. Distributions can be either with a URL or e-mails. Lets say you are working on a case or ticket for a client and once you are done with that, you can provide that survey link to your customer. The customer will immediately see that e-mail on their phone and when they click on the survey link, they get a responsive form where they will be able to answer your questions which will be mostly optional or they have to provide ratings ratings and once they give the feedback, you get it immedetly in your application. Based on these advanced features, you can trigger follow up actions. Let’s say somebody have given you good comments, you can thank them and if they have critized then you can follow up saying, we will get back or notify some of the internal users about the same. The last one is solution segmentation. This is a platform-based improvement from Microsoft. Until now when you create a new entity or customize an entity, you add that complete entity into the solution and then you transfer it. But now they provide solution segmention. So, if you have modified few of the views and that is all you want to publish, you change the views on the web enviorment or the QA environment and bundle only the views and then deploy it so that makes deployment process efficient and fast.
Microsoft has upgraded their Interactive Service Hub feature in 2016. They started the feature in 2015 and are improving that. What is it that makes Interactive service hub so useful?
As the name suggests, it is very interactive. If you have any standard dashboards, they are not interactive, you cannot click on any of the report to drill it down further. At the same time if a team of people are working on your tickets from the services department, how do they prioritize their work. If you see the standard applications, they always see a list, sort and then pick up one of the items and then work on the records. For each of the records they have to navigate several times and update few things. But this interactive dashboard provides interactive visualization on which you can see the active case priorities, high, low and normal and then you see the subject. From the dashboard you can understand if you have few high priority tickets or if you want to work in a particular subject. As soon as you click on a particular subject delivery, the dashboard will fill itself with that subject and you will see only the cases by that subject delivery. Then you can work on that and take up the cases by priority. When you open particular record in a standard application, it will not get all the related information in an interactive way but with this application you get all that.
You first get the contact card here wherein you have the e-mail and phone links which makes it much easier to call or e-mail them. Then you have the activity list where you can create the new e-mail, records related to this contact are listed. That view can be modified, also interactive service hub provides Knowledge Author Rule and a dashboard for a Knowledge Management solution.
Knowledge Management: Earlier this feature was only available for case entity or in case you want to further entities, customizations were required and developer or system customizer used to do this, but now on the click of a button, from the knowledge base management settings you can enable it for any of the entities listed here and once enabled you can have external or internal portal to show all your knowledge based articles. If you see the 2016 new screen, every screen has a question mark or the help icon on the right hand corner as soon as you click on that entity related information becomes available. That gives lots of advantages and ease of use to new and existing users when they are stuck or interacting with customers or working on a record. When you enable knowledge based management settings, where does it show, where does it show. It will show a tag here in your social panel for that particular entity . So let’s say, right now its available for a case, so for a particular case, in your social panel, you can see KB records so any KB articles created for case entity with the subjects information will be listed here and it will be very easy to have the information.
Knowledge Management has 3 major parts, one is Content, Summary and Analytics. The content part has all the information added. Summary gives you related summary on record, audit history etc and analytics which is a new and important feature, shows you all the cases or number of cases where this knowledge article is used. So from that you can analyse and see if this KB article is useful, was it attached to some of the e-mails, used by users and accordingly improve them.
Document generation: Let’s say you are a sales representative and you handle a particular client so often you have to create summary for the account wherein you mention all the key contexts, revenue numbers, tickets opened or support required and basic information of other interaction. For doing this, developers are hired and customers’ reports are generated or maybe you export data into excel and based on some templates, you create documents. Microsoft CRM 2016 provides a one click solution for that. Only thing you have to do is create a word template. So with entity you get this as a navigation option, like word templates, within that you have 2 options- create word template, whatever templates are created will be listed here. Once you create that template, it will give you option to select entity and when you select entity, it will give you option of what features you want to include in your document. So maybe add notes, activites or opportunities, your leads, context , marketing list , everything for that account. Then you have to download that report. As soon as you download the template, there is a developer tab that you have to enable. Once you enable that, you can drag drop files very easily. You create the document like you are creating a standard report that you are sending to management or using for internal communication or client communication. Add all the required fields you want to put in, upload the template again back to the system. Going to document templates. You have to go back to manage templates to upload it and publish it, as soon as you do that, it will be available as a word template within your account entity. Next step is simply select any record for which you want to create report, click on word template, account summary and there you go. You get option to download the document which is already formatted as per your template and its ready to use.
Social media Marketing: In 2016, when we are talking to customers, there are lots of social activities, they are expressing themselves, asking questions. So in order to tap that, many companies have decided to go for digital advertising. Here is a report from a company which had performed a survey. In 2016, which marketing channels will you prefer, where will you spend? Result says they are going to spend most on social media and digital advertising. Second is the website which is very close, followed by e-mail marketing and others. So when you spend, how do you get returns. There are various companies where different people maintaining different social media channels from where they try to find clients. They try to interact with them and once they find something interesting, they add them as a lead. So with Dynamic CRM and social listening, everything is provided in a single solution and that has many advantages. Let’s say if you use Linkedin and twitter directly or you use it within the CRM social engagement, it’s a different game and you get lots of solutions.
Once you enable and start using Microsoft social engagement, you get these options:
Set the search criteria, based on your industry, interests and clients that you are looking. CRM social is intelligent enough to fetch data from various sources, you have to set those sources. Here there are various sources like twitter, youtube, rss feeds and others. Based on that it will find the phrases that are used around your keyword, for all the languages what are the search topics based on the criteria that you have defined and it will give you the sentiment analysis, whether for this key word people have positive or negative sentiments.
For eg. one of the leading airlines in the US have been using this solution to track if comments about them are positive or negative and based on that they interact with them. You can see data from different angles, locations, phrases etc.
Let’s check the use of this. When you have the data available what do you do with that? First you try to identify the people who are contributing to that. Like authors who are providing you the most comments, you know the source of the information. Then you have positive channels…as you can see this RSS feed gives you many positive comments so what you can do is promote that channel and push the positive content about the keywords that you want. That gives you an advantage over the overall sentiment analysis. At the same time, you have some crtics, who play important role which you can utilize their feedback.
Inorder to engage customers using social engagement here are 2 ways:
One of the way is to reply. Engaging is not only about utilising feedback, it is also about thanking people or keeping in touch, so lets say somebody is saying positive thinsg, you can reply using comments here. You have to click here within the Microsoft social enagment, you get the panel here and click on reply and the tweet is posted. Based on various channels you can see the sections within the social panel and for each channel you can reply differently. Here is another eg. wherein a customer is confused about UI and looking for some help. It is a great opportunity to not only interact with them but attach them to your system. Create it as a contact and maybe ask one of the experts in your team to repond to them. So ideal way is to create a case for that which is done here and as soon as you do that there will be follow ups and lot othe things you can do in CRM. So we are done with the features in this session.
Before we conclude, I want to highlight CRM online version. Basically CRM is available as online and on premise version, we can have it without server, system design or infrastructure. You just have to purchase licenses and you are ready to use it.
Currently CRM online is hosted on Azure platform which is highly secure, reliable and easy to use. If you are already using other microsft products like office 365 or Sharepoint, it gives you an advantage like having server side integration and enhanced security because users are the same and they have the same login and credential that can be used. You also get the advantage of Power BI which Microsft has introduced with office 365. If you have CRM online version it comes with the package. CRM online may not be applicable for all the users or scenarios. In some of the scenarios you may prefer ‘on premise’ version. But online is preferred as it supports upgrades without fear. It does not provide ability to create customizations and that gives you advantage that all future releases are supported by Microsoft.
What type of licenses are available?
Microsoft provides user-based licenses, so if you have on premise or online version, you have basic licenses and administrative licenses.
What are the factors to be considered when moving on from 2011 to 2016?
If you want to upgrade to 2016 or not, there are few considerations:
Some UI related changes will be required, but these changes are useful and helpful for users, they will love it as it makes navigation easier.
Second part is whether system is upgradable from 2011 to 2016 or not?
That depends on your current customization. If you have all out of the box features, I think upgradation will be seamless and easy. If you have unsupported customizations or other plugins which are not developed in sandbox mode, you may have to engage with developers and get help.
Lokin Shah is currently working as a Tech Lead at Suyati Technologies. He has a vast and tremendous experience of 10 years on MS stack of products (.NET, MS, SQL and more). He has around 5+ years of experience in MS Dynamics. Lokin is highly proficient in delivering cost effective solutions matching business requirements and has worked extensively on designing and developing custom integration services. He also owns a certification in MS Dynamics.