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Implementing Machine Learning in D365 – Part 1

Machine Learning is the latest hot topic and for many good reasons. Being able to take a manual, sometimes inaccurate data point and transforming it into an automated and consistently accurate one, has huge advantages. Take for example the probability that an opportunity will close. It is up to your salesperson to input this data and you relying on it to be accurate.  With machine learning, we can automatically provide this data point and have it be consistently accurate based on historical data.

In this two-part series, I will be walking through just that, how to implement Azure Machine Learning (AML) that will provide the probability that an opportunity will win. I will be using a very simple algorithm with only a couple factors as an example. It will be up to you to come up with the factors that matter for your business and make sure your CRM has that data, in order to come up with an accurate opportunity probability.

I will be using D365 Online and the first thing we will want to do is setup the Data Export Service so we can replicate our data into an Azure SQL database which AML can easily connect with. If you haven’t set this up yet, head here for a complete guide on how to set it up. For this walkthrough, you will only need to sync the Opportunity entity but if you want to expand your factors further, you will most likely want to sync other entities.

Note: If you are on an on-premise version, you can utilize SSIS to replicate on-premise CRM database to an Azure SQL database.

Next, go to your Azure Portal, create a new resource and search for “Machine Learning Studio Workspace”

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Once everything is setup, you can navigate to the new Machine Learning Studio workspace and click “Launch Machine Learning Studio”.  This will take you to a separate website where you will need to sign in using your Azure credentials.

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Then create a new blank experiment:

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You will then see a blank canvas where you can drag and drop different components. The first thing we will want to do is search for “Import Data” on the top left and drag the “Import Data” component onto the canvas.

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Then, highlight the Import Data component and click the “Launch import Data Wizard” button on the right. Select Azure SQL Database and enter the right settings for your environment. Next, enter this SQL query:

select
    cast(estimatedvalue as float) as estimatedvalue,
    description,
    CASE 
       WHEN statecode = 2 THEN 0
    END  as statecode
from opportunity
where statecode = 1 or statecode = 2

In this query, we are retrieving the estimated value and description of the opportunity. With my sample data, the description is acting more like a “type” of opportunity. The values in this field in my org are either “Beer” or “Wine”. Estimated value and description are the two factors that we are using to determine if the Opportunity is Won or Lost. In a production scenario, you will most likely want to capture and use more data points for an accurate opportunity probability. Factors such as how long the opportunity sits in each stage, how many activities are regarding the opportunity, or maybe even the salesperson that owns the opportunity.

The first thing to note with the query is that AML currently doesn’t support decimals so we need to cast estimatedvalue as a float.

cast(estimatedvalue as float) as estimatedvalue

Next, we’re going to be using the Two-Class Boosted Decision Tree algorithm which requires us to pass it a 0 for negative and 1 for positive. We want to label the Lost opportunities as negative and the Won opportunities as positive so we use a SQL CASE statement to set the statecode value for Lost (2) as 0. The statecode value for Won is already 1 so we are good there.

CASE 
       WHEN statecode = 2 THEN 0 
END  as statecode

Lastly, we only want to return Won and Lost opportunities as we are building the AML model based on what is already Won or Lost since that is what we are trying to predict.

where statecode = 1 or statecode = 2

Next, search for the “Split Data” component and drag it onto the canvas. Then, connect the Import Data and Split Data components together.

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Best practice with machine learning is to split the data so that most of the data is used to build the model and the other piece of data is used to evaluate the model to see how accurate it is. That is what the Split Data component is for. You can play around with the settings to split the data how you like.

Next, drag the Two-Class Boosted Decision Tree component to the left of the Split Data component.  Then, drag the Train Model component under the Two-Class Boosted and Split Data components and connect the Two-Class Boosted to the left point of the Train Model and the Split Data to the right point of the Train Model.

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Highlight the Train Model component and on the right-side and click the “Launch column selector” button. Next, enter “statecode” and click the checkmark.

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This is taking a subset of the data (based on the Split Data component) and applying the Two-Class Boosted Decision Tree algorithm to it using the statecode parameter to build a model based on the Won and Lost opportunities.

Lastly, drag the Score Model and Evaluate Model components onto the canvas and make the connections like so:

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This will run the other piece of data from the Split Data component and run it against the trained model and determine the score, which in our case is the opportunity probability. Then it will take that score and evaluate it to provide metrics on how well the model is.

Now click the Run button at the bottom which will process each component. Once it is finished, you can right-click Score Model and select Scored datasets –> Visualize. This will show you your data with the score columns applied. Scored Probabilities is the percent that the machine believes it is the positive value, which in our case is a “Won” opportunity. The Scored Labels column is the value of 0 or 1 for Lost or Won opportunity. If Scored Probabilities is greater than 50% then Scored Labels will be set to 1, otherwise it will be 0. More information on the Score Model can be found here.

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Now right-click Evaluate Model and select Evaluation results –> Visualize. This will display a chart of how accurate your model is with data points on the accuracy. Based on your results, you can tweak the settings in the other components or bring in and remove factors and re-evaluate the model to get an accuracy that you are comfortable with. More information on the Evaluate Model and what the different data points mean can be found here.

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That concludes the first part of our series. Now that we have a trained model with a high accuracy, in the next part of the series, I will show you how to generate a web service that we will use to retrieve the probability prediction and update D365 with the data. The best part is, we can use the power of Microsoft Flow to do all this without any code…stay tuned!

Topics: Integrations Microsoft Dynamics 365 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Pulling the Right Levers

Today's blog post was writen by Kristie Reid, VP of Consulting at Sonoma Partners.

Forget the carrot and the stick. Start thinking of how to increase user adoption in your CRM system a different way.

Start thinking of what levers you can pull to ensure a successful CRM implementation!

lev·er /ˈlevər,ˈlēvər/
noun: “a means of exerting pressure on someone to act in a particular way”

Change management is critical to all projects that want to create a change in an organization. But with CRM, it takes so much more to change behavior.

So what levers can be pulled to change that behavior?

Here are some examples of some amazing levers that we have seen clients use.

Financial levers

- Example: No commissions will be paid until the data is in CRM.

- Pros: You will get data in the system! 

- Cons: Will you get the data you want or will everyone use a just-in-time approach to shove the data in to get paid?

- Even Better: Make sure that dashboards around how the user is doing towards their goal is also in CRM. I bet they will check that regularly!

Integration levers

- Example: A new account doesn’t get created in the billing system until it is entered in CRM.  Kried 2

- Pros: You have data in the system and you reduce double entry which is a definite killer for the success of any CRM system.

- Cons: How many of those accounts are entered by an admin but no action is being taken on them until billing is needed?

- Even Better: What if you can’t expense lunch with a prospect until a record with a prospect and an activity is in the CRM system?

Simplicity levers

- Example: Tracking a meeting that I have in CRM is so tedious. However, I have this cool application that allows me to quickly add a meeting and dictate my notes on my way out of the building (no one needs to know that data goes into CRM!)

- Pros: No more going back to the hotel at night and recording what you did that day.

- Cons: Voice to text is still buggy but at least you’re capturing the data!

- Even Better: Make sure the application has the data needed before the meeting!

Accountability levers

- Example: My manager runs the report that we discuss on our weekly 1:1 report from CRM. If it isn’t in there, it doesn’t exist.Kried 3

- Pros: Reduces the amount of scrambling to put data together for meetings and ensures the data is updated, at least on a weekly basis.

- Cons: Relies on each specific manager to enforce this behavior.

- Even Better: Reinforce this behavior all the way to the top – all company meetings should be run from CRM data.

Do you have any levers that you’ve pulled to make your CRM Program more successful? We would love to hear them!

Topics: CRM Best Practices

ISV Customer Success Story: Campaign Monitor Invests in Dynamics 365 Integration

Today’s blog post was written by Kayla Silverstein, Marketing Specialist at Sonoma Partners.

Campaign Monitor is the email marketing and automation platform used by some of today’s fastest growing businesses. Their technology provides their 200,000+ customers, including Chandon, Rip Curl, Topshop, Huffpost, and Virgin, with powerful tools to help drive business results through email.

CRM plays a large role in the Campaign Monitor platform. When real-time customer data from CRM is integrated with Campaign Monitor, email marketers leverage that data to send more targeted campaigns that in turn drive engagement. Campaign Monitor recognized that one of the top CRM platforms their customers use is Microsoft Dynamics 365. To ensure these customers had a seamless way of bringing CRM data into Campaign Monitor, their team decided to build an integration between the two platforms.

Campaign Monitor hired Sonoma Partners to help build an integration between Dynamics 365 and their email marketing platform.

The result of this partnership was a scalable and robust integration between Campaign Monitor and Dynamics 365 that provided their joint customers with the functionality they needed to bring the right customer data into their email marketing campaigns.

Campaign-monitor-quote- (002)

We sat down with Vibhor Chhabra, Head of Product Management at Campaign Monitor, to ask him about the project, investing in Dynamics, and his thoughts on integrating his solution with a a market-leading CRM platform.

Why did you decide to invest in Dynamics 365?

Chhabra: Our goal at Campaign Monitor is, and has always been, to build a platform for more sophisticated email marketing, while maintaining the simplicity of our product, and expanding globally. More and more of our customers want all of their subscriber data in Campaign Monitor. To bring in customer data the moment they interact with your brand is a powerful thing. You can use this data to engage in real-time interactions and market according to their behavior. By sending targeted emails based on user activity in CRM, you can ensure your messages are personalized and therefore more effective.

Beyond fulfilling a customer need, we also believe in investing in partnerships. We found the investment in Dynamics 365 to be a great opportunity to grow our partnership with Microsoft. Microsoft is a leader in CRM, and we are a leader in email marketing – it seemed fitting to join forces to better serve our joint customer base.

Why did you choose Sonoma Partners, and what was your experience in working with us?

Chhabra: I had heard great things in the market about Sonoma Partners and their advanced expertise with CRM and Dynamics 365. It became an obvious choice and one that truly served us well.

I enjoyed my experience in working with Sonoma Partners. I thought they had a very clear and professional process. Sonoma Partners came in with a plan and executed accordingly. With quite a few customers already requesting the integration, we had to significantly push up our development timeline. Sonoma Partners readily accepted the challenge and delivered. We’ve already received great feedback on the integration, and I’m very pleased with the result.

What were some of the tough decisions you had to make throughout the course of the project?

Chhabra: Balancing the functionality we needed in this integration with the delivery timeline was bound to be challenging. Is it better to get your customers something early that’s a bit simpler, or to make them wait for something more feature rich? Ultimately, we released an initial version that had a one-way sync between the platforms to get our customers up and running immediately/quickly. Shortly thereafter, we released a second version that operated with a two-way sync between the platforms. This allowed us to balance the desired functionality and delivery time.

Campaign_monitor_blog_img_750x392

What’s next for Campaign Monitor?

Chhabra: There is a lot on the horizon for Campaign Monitor as we continue to invest in our platform and to serve our customers above and beyond their expectations. I think this Dynamics 365 integration is just one example of how we continue – and will continue – to invest in meeting the needs of our users.

Our thanks to Vibhor for sitting down with us to discuss the project! If you’re looking to build an integration between your application and a market-leading CRM platform or to learn more about our ISV Enablement practice, contact us.

Topics: ISV for CRM Microsoft Dynamics 365

Designing Dynamics Security? Don’t Forget About Relationship Behavior

Today's blog post was written by Brian Morlock, Principal QA at Sonoma Partners.

Recently, I was testing out system access for a specific security role. This security role was setup so that a user should only have user-level permissions to the Opportunity entity, meaning that they should only be able to view and edit Opportunity records that that they own or records that have been explicitly shared with them.

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When I logged into CRM with a test user account who had this security role, I was surprised to find that they could see and edit some (not all) Opportunity records that were owned by other system users. 95% of the time, this would indicate that the test user is a member of a team and that team is setup with a security role that is providing the user elevated access to the Opportunity entity. When I checked the test user’s teams, I found that the test user was not a part of any teams. I also confirmed that I was looking at Opportunity records that hadn’t been explicitly shared with the test user.

At this point, it became clear that there must be some sort of data structure in place that was providing this test user access to these Opportunity records.

The commonality I discovered was that these Opportunities were associated to a Parent Account record where the test user was the owner of the Account. Aha! The test user was getting access to the Opportunity records based on their access to Account records. From a business perspective, especially for this business, this made sense, but how can this be considered when designing the security for CRM?

Answer: Cascading Parental Relationships

Bm 2
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When I viewed the relationship properties between Accounts and Opportunities in my CRM environment, I could see that the Account had a ‘Parental’ relationship to Opportunity and the Reparent setting was set to ‘Cascade All’. The key here is the Reparent setting of ‘Cascade All’. The reparent action is essentially saying, if a user is the owner of an Account, then they will automatically be granted access to any child Opportunities of that Account as if they were the actual owner of those child Opportunities.

In the example above, even though my test user was not the owner of the Opportunity, they were provided read, write, append, append to, share and assign permissions to the Opportunity simply because they were the owner of the Opportunity’s Parent Account, which is granted to them via the Reparent action of the Account to Opportunity relationship properties. Note, however, that the user will still not have permissions to delete the Opportunity, because as dictated by the security role, they do not have permission to delete Opportunity records even if they are the owner of the Opportunity record.

With the Relationship Behavior set to ‘Parental’, the Reparent action is defaulted to ‘Cascade All’ and cannot be changed. If the nature of a business dictates that the system users shouldn’t be granted permissions to an Opportunity simply because they are the owner of the Parent Account, then the Relationship Behavior can be changed to “Configurable Cascading” which allows the system administrator more flexibility in configuring the Reparent action, along with other behavior actions.

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Cascade All – grants ownership to all child entity records associated to the parent entity record

Cascade Active – grants ownership to only active child entity records associated to the parent entity record

Cascade User-Owner – not applicable for the Reparent action. This setting looks to apply an action to all child records that are owned by a user. The Reparent action is looking to apply ownership to child records, which the user already has. This is more applicable to the other behavior actions like Assign.

Cascade None – does not grant ownership to any of the child entity records; does nothing

Keep these Relationship Behavior options in mind if you have a complex security setup or you need to limit user access in very specific ways. They may just provide the final tweak you are looking for to create the perfect security model.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics 365

Lights, Camera, Action: Sonoma Partners CRM Training Videos

Today's blog post and video content were created by Kristian Altuve, Business Analyst at Sonoma Partners.

Learning is not an easy process, and we all absorb and retain information in different ways. Some of us like to figure things out on our own through trial and error while others like to watch someone do it first, then practice after.

In my experience as a trainer of end users on new CRM systems, I’ve learned a variety of teaching methods.

Onsite training is always helpful to gauge audience reactions and tailor the session to meet all learning styles. I demonstrate how to efficiently navigate the system and coach users through hands-on practice. Webinars are also a popular channel for training. But learning doesn't stop there. After initial training, users may rely on their peers or software documentation to get up-to-speed. This is also why training documentation is an important deliverable when training end users.

Altuve
Kristian Altuve, Business Analyst at Sonoma Partners


But let's take a look at a real scenario from a few months ago. My project manager and I were planning a training approach for a client rolling out a new CRM system to hundreds of users. How can we best support the business and the learning needs of their users? How about a video? With some spare time, I created a general video, "Getting Started with CRM," and presented it to our client. Their reaction was so enthusiastic that we completed an entire library of training videos for the various tasks users will perform in their day-to-day business. The final delivery for the training portion of this engagement was a series of webinars supplemented by quick start guides and training videos.

A few benefits of custom training videos for your end users:

  • Improves knowledge retention and information recall.
  • Accommodates different learning styles
  • Access On-demand, bite-sized learning, when your users need it.

You can check out our promotional video on custom training below: 

If you'd like to learn more about Sonoma Partners or CRM training, contact us.

Topics: CRM Best Practices

New Dynamics 365 for Field Sellers Demo Videos

Today's blog post and its video content were created by Bryson Engelen, Sales Engineer at Sonoma Partners.

We've put together two video demos of Dynamics 365 for Field Sellers in Manufacturing and Distribution. One is about ten minutes, and one is about thirty minutes. 

We know from plenty of experience that Manufacturing and Distribution Field Sellers are commonly on the road most of the week, heavily relationship-focused, and typically not tech-savvy (sometimes sealing deals with a handshake and shipping product before finance and legal can draw up a contract). This can severely limit visibility for management and lead to avoidable losses, which makes CRM appealing to the boss. But the value statement of CRM to a sales rep has to be very different.

The main benefits of CRM for Manufacturing and Distribution Field Sellers are sales performance metrics and dashboards, the ability to track customer relationships, visibility into ERP data, and getting all this on a mobile phone. CRM integration with an ERP provides a much cleaner access point to the ERP data that sales staff use daily such as commission splits, order histories, invoices, repairs, returns, and the customer's credit so when entering an order or looking at a customer, the rep can see the credit limit, overages, and past due invoices of the customer and place the order without finance blocking the sale down the line because the customer is past due. Of course, one of the core purposes of a CRM system is to present the full picture of a given account and to monitor interactions. Additionally, CRM tools can automatically identify related products for upselling and cross-selling.

Dynamics 365 can provide a great mobile experience for Manufacturing and Distribution Field Sellers by giving them a complete picture of current pursuits, closed orders, invoices, quality issues, sample and display requests, and more on an account.  Right from your phone you can have access to the owners, buyers, distributors and other people on an account, see financial data, create quick account snapshot reports, record notes, log requests, and create service tickets.  In these two videos, we demo how a Field Seller could use Outlook and D365 together on a mobile phone, leverage Power BI for analytics, in addition to manufacturing-specific account management, opportunity tracking, and more.  Below is an outline of the things covered in the video as well as the videos themselves.

  • Outlook Mobile App integrated with Dynamics 365:
    • Tracking Outlook Emails to Dynamics 365
    • Viewing Contact Details from Dynamics 365 in the Outlook Mobile App
    • Creating New Records (like Opportunities) in Dynamics 365 from the Outlook Mobile App
  • Account Overview in Dynamics 365 Mobile App
    • Recording Calls into the Account
    • ERP Data for the Account
    • Activities, Notes, Contacts, Sales Team, OneNote, Opportunities
    • Account Summary Report in in Dynamics 365 Mobile App emailed to Manager
  • Mobile Dashboard with Pipeline, Accounts, Etc. in Dynamics 365 Mobile App
  • Relationship Assistant in Dynamics 365 Mobile App – What’s Most Important to Me Today?
  • Opportunity Management in Dynamics 365 Mobile App
    • Following a Business Process
    • Activities, Products, Competitors and More
  • Power BI Mobile App
    • Overall State of Business Dashboard
    • Q&A: Ask the Robot a Question and Get and Answer
    • Predictive Questions and Insights from Power BI Robot
    • Texting an Annotated Report to a Colleague
  • Outlook Integration on the Desktop
    • Display CRM Data Against Emails
    • Replies include CRM Items like Email Templates, Marketing Brochures, Emails, and Open Tracking
  • Dynamics 365 on Desktop Browser
    • Dashboards with Slice and Dice
    • Account 360 with Orders, Cases, Opportunities, Work Orders, Equipment Tracking, Invoices, Charts, Forecasting by Units or Dollars, Sold Product
    • Account Insights – Data from External Sources bringing in News, Contacts, Industry Research
    • Opportunities – Following a Process, Approval Branching for Discounts, Document Tracking, Collaboration (Warehouse, Finance, etc.)
    • Generating Quotes and Sending via Docusign
  • Reporting
    • Dashboards with Excel-like Filters and Slice and Dice
    • Dynamic Excel Exports and Updates on a PowerPoint or from Recurring Outlook Appointment

If you’re a manufacturer with Field Service needs, don’t forget our Field Service demo video here:

Happy watching! Please contact us if you have any questions.

Topics: CRM for Manufacturing Microsoft Dynamics 365