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Convergence 2014 Recap – Part 1

The Convergence 2014 Keynote last week kicked off with the Dynamics Roadmap for this year.  There are two big updates set for Dynamics CRM, one being a Spring Update that should be right around the corner and then an Autumn Update later this year.  Wayne Morris, CVP of Microsoft, talked about the previous announcements of Marketing, Custom Service, and Social Listening functionality as well as a new addition for the Spring Update called the Unified Service Desk.  The Unified Service Desk is a desktop application meant for call center users to help with case management which is shown in more detail below.

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Kirill Tatarinov later came out and discussed several key points on how Microsoft Dynamics can deliver amazing experiences with the help of the recent acquisitions such as MarketingPilot, NetBreeze, and Parature. 

 

Market Smarter

Wayne Morris came back out to demo the new Microsoft Dynamics Marketing functionality that will be coming this Spring and how it helps him market smarter. 

The landing page below shows a nice quick view into your marketing budget and how the budget is being utilized.

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Similar to CRM 2013, there is a card-based navigation at the top but clicking a card will expand to show child navigation links within that area.  This is very slick and we’re hoping that Microsoft will bring this same navigation into CRM 2013 as currently it is very hard to navigate if you have a lot of entities.

Within Dynamics Marketing, marketers can manage their assets & media which acts as a specialized SharePoint for marketers.  This includes file upload, approvals, and version control.

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Next Wayne shows a campaign workflow where you can easily drag and drop campaign activities to execute.

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He then adds a new Social Media Messages campaign activity that will send Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn messages at scheduled times.

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Users can then view the performance of the campaigns using several different charts and filters (e.g., by campaign and by channel).  Kirill mentions that the graphs are built using Excel Web Apps.

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This all looks very slick and will definitely empower marketers.  Currently these are separate applications but there is a connector that integrates data between Dynamics Marketing and CRM (e.g., Leads, Contacts, Campaigns).  The question remains how much will this integration be expanded in the future versus kept in separate applications.

 

Sell Effectively

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Kirill brought out Judson Althoff, President of Microsoft North America, to show how he uses Microsoft products to sell effectively.  He pulls up his custom built dashboard that uses Live Tiles to pull in sales data real-time from Microsoft Dynamics.  The dashboard is pulling in information from 20 different systems.

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Pipeline chart pulling in data from CRM 2013:

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Using Windows 8.1 to easily share the Pipeline data and attach it to an email:

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Drilling into a record from the Windows 8.1 app automatically snaps in CRM 2013:

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Judson shows the app being ran from his Windows Phone as well:

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This was a good segment that shows the competitive advantage that Microsoft has over competitors by being able to utilize a suite of Microsoft products to empower your users.  Unfortunately the app seems to be completely custom built by Microsoft for their business but it does a good job of showing what is possible.  If you are interested in a custom app for your business, take a Mobility Test Drive with us where we will have our UX Architect do a field ride along with one of your users and come back with some high and low fidelity mockups as well as a working prototype.

 

Care Everywhere

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Kirill discussed the importance of customer care and the ability for customers to self-serve.  Microsoft fulfills this requirement with the functionality that the newly acquired Parature brings to the table.  Fred Studer, GM of Microsoft Product Marketing, comes to the stage to show off a Parature portal example of BusinessUSA.gov.  BusinessUSA.gov uses Parature to categorize their information and provide the ability to search across that content.  Using Parature, BusinessUSA.gov is able to keep their branding while Parature widgets run in the background.

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Users are able to interact with the site and perform a search to find blogs or KB articles:

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Fred then shows how Konami uses Parature to pull the knowledge base information into Facebook so that customers can search within Facebook for similar issues to their problem.  Parature is currently running on 6 of the top 10 Facebook apps.

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Fred then becomes a call service rep and shows off the new Unified Service Desk and how it can pull in Call Scripts and multiple CRM 2013 tabs into one screen.

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Fred then receives a phone call which automatically pulls up the customer’s record within the Unified Service Desk. 

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Using the customer’s CRM record, Fred can then view the location of the customer in order to help solve the case.

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Fred uses the call script to easily open up a New Case form within CRM and creates a case for his customer

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The Unified Service Desk looks to be pretty slick and could definitely help customer service reps provide a better customer experience.  We hope the telephony integration comes out of the box and would love to see the Unified Service Desk be fully customizable as we know each agent is unique in how they work.

 

Operate Dynamically

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Kirill then brings out a Sonoma Partners customer, New Belgium Brewing Company, onto the stage to show how they use Microsoft Dynamics to help with their operations.  Travis Mirrison (IT Director) and Kaitlyn Peot (Sales Support Swashbuckler) talk about how they use technology to enable their sales team to have real time insight and communications with their “Mothership” (home office) back in Fort Collins, Colorado. 


New Belgium then shows off the Rangerland app (built by Sonoma Partners!) and how their sales team can use it to make sure their beer is being sold appropriately.  With a few simple touches, their sales team can easily flag any issues with their product while they are onsite at a seller.

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Conclusion

Overall the keynote felt very organized and had a great response from the audience.  Microsoft was able to fill in more details on how the recent acquisitions will help move Dynamics forward and fill in some gaps that were previously missing.  Microsoft also makes a strong play with their variety of products such as Office and Windows 8.1 and how they can integrate to provide a full blown experience for users.  We are looking forward to getting our hands on the Spring Update as it seems to be pretty promising!

Topics: Microsoft Convergence Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013