Microsoft Gets Social

Posted by on April 17, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013  |  commentsComments (0)

Last year it was announced that Microsoft acquired the social monitoring analytics vendor Netbreeze and they had big plans to revamp the product and integrate it with Dynamics CRM.  They didn’t fall short on that promise and at this years Convergence showed off their newly branded Microsoft Social Listening product and discussed future enhancements planned.

If you went to Convergence this year in Atlanta, and were unable to attend the “Social listening deep dive” session (DDCRM111), I highly recommend heading over to the Convergence 2014 website, navigating to Attendee Tools, and reviewing that session’s video or PowerPoint

Microsoft’s Social Listening is a product that’s used to scrub multiple social sites (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs).  Blogs currently monitor WordPress and Tumblr only.  The data from the sites is brought back into Social Listening so users can analyze, monitor, and respond. 

The main navigation of Social Listening is Analytics, Facebook Pages, Settings, and Help.  Let’s dive in and take a look at the features.

Analytics Home Page

The Analytics Home Page of Social Listening breaks out the Buzz and Trend of the conversation amongst all search topics based on a time frame, but can be filtered down or drilled into to show specific topics.  The Trend is a statistic that shows how the topic is performing compared to an average week based on the last 5 "time frames".  A time frame can be days, weeks, or a custom time frame. 

On the home page you can see the number of posts per language.  The home page also breaks down the number of posts per source (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs).

All charts within Social Listening can be exported to PNG, JPG, vector graphics SVG, PDF, XLSX, or CSV to allow you to send reports to users not within Social Listening.

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Analytics Overview:

Users can drill a level deeper and navigate to the Overview area of the Analytics section.  In this area you can see posts, graphs, and also drill down into authors, sources, etc.

Within the Overview, you can also:
  • See a summary of different posts and sentiment
  • View the volume history over time including average
  • View a summary of sources as well as the breakdown of language per source

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Filters:

No matter where you’re at within the navigation of Microsoft Social Listening, you can filter your social data on many different criteria.  When you filter your data in one area and move to another, the filter remains.  All the charts and graphs within Social Listening are clickable so you can drill into a specific section of a chart or graph (on source for example) and the current filter is expanded to include whatever you just drilled into.

A few examples of what you can filter on include:

  • Search Terms (e.g., from “All” to specific terms such as “Sonoma Partners”)
  • Reach (if you’re only interested in seeing data based on those social users with the most influence)
  • Date (e.g., last week, last month, or a custom range)
  • Sentiment (you can drill into a chart to view those posts that were negative to reach out to those users who may have posted something negatively about your product)
  • Language
  • Source (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, or Blogs)
  • Site
  • Keywords

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Sentiment:

Sentiment is another key component of Social Listening.  The key differentiator between Microsoft Social Listening and other products is that in Social Listening, the sentiment is calculated in the native language.  It’s not translated first into English, and then the sentiment is calculated.  This is key because certain phrases in other languages could mean different things based on the context of the phrase.

The sentiment engine first identifies sentences, then identifies words, then tags parts of speech (e.g., verbs, adjectives, nouns, etc.), then groups the words back into phrases, and finally detects the sentiment.

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Posts:

The Posts area of SL will display the actual raw posts that are being retrieved based on your search terms. 

Sometimes the calculated sentiment isn’t correct in how it’s tagged the sentiment.  Thankfully, within the Posts area of SL,  Microsoft has built in the ability to manually change the sentiment so the updates will be reflected in any analytics.

You can also reach out to your audience directly using the native features of the source of the post (e.g., reply / retweet / favorite from Twitter).  You can also navigate quickly to the original post, email the post to a college, or delete it from your instance of Social Listening.

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Authors:

Social data can be broken down by author allowing you to see who your top influencers are and allowing you to reach out to those individuals if need be.

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Facebook Pages:

Facebook Pages are setup separately within the Settings area of SL and are also reported on separately.  SL looks at all posts on a specific Facebook page that’s setup.  However, you can analyze your data to see what posts are coming from the audience versus posts that are coming from the owner of the page.  This way you can better understand the conversations on your page and if you’re driving user interaction, or if your users aren’t engaged and the activity on your page is all coming from you.

Just like the rest of SL, everything in the Facebook area is clickable allowing you to drill into posts, authors, sources, etc. to see the data with different filters and in many different ways.

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Settings:

Social Listening is on a quota per month pricing model.  If you’re a small business you’ll want to pull small amounts of data into SL.  However if you’re analyzing a lot of data you’ll need to increase your quota to make sure you can pull all the social data in without any issues.  SL does provide you indicators if you’re reaching the limit of your quota and you can purchase more to ensure data collection doesn’t stop for the month. 

When you’re setting up new search topics, you can test your settings on the topic to make sure it won’t blow away your quota.  You can also enter in inclusions or exclusions to apply to your searches.

You can have system wide defaults (e.g. languages, time frame, search topic sources, etc.).  However each individual user can override the system defaults with their own defaults.

To setup a Facebook page, simply copy the URL of any Facebook page and SL will start tracking against it.

Users have the ability to also setup Blocked Content (e.g., if you’re tracking hundreds of car brands but want to exclude second hand cars, you can add those words to block that content), or Blocked Sources (e.g., you want to block your own blog from being included in the SL data).

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The Future of MS Social Listening:

In this session, Microsoft also discussed the future vision and feature roadmap they see for Social Listening and Dynamics CRM.   There’s definitely reason to be excited not only for what’s here now, but for what’s to come:

  • Q2 2014
    • Dynamics Marketing Social Campaigns (e.g., Use Dynamics Marketing to send out tweets and other social activities in response to landing page activity)
  • H2 2014
    • Engagement Capabilities (CRM users can start engaging with customers via social web to have everyone including non CRM users participating in a single discussion)
    • GEO Features / heat maps (the ability to filter where posts are coming from)
    • Create Social Activity (the ability to create Leads, Opportunities, and Cases in CRM directly from Social Listening)
    • Power BI and Social Analytics (e.g., mash up social data with sales, marketing, and financial data)

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There you have it.  Just another gigantic reason to be excited about the new acquisitions Microsoft has made, and the vision they have to include more forward thinking components within the Dynamics CRM product.

Clogged Sync? Better call the plumber…

Posted by on April 8, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013  |  commentsComments (0)

Today’s guest bloggers are Ross Talbot, a Senior Developer at Sonoma Partners, and Nick Costanzo, a Senior Consultant at Sonoma Partners.

A few months ago, my colleague Jacob wrote a blog post about Dynamics CRM 2013’s new feature, the Server-Side Sync.  Here is his original post for reference.

We recently encountered an issue when configuring server side synchronization between CRM 2013 On Premise and Exchange for one of our clients.   The client was looking to take advantage of this feature to allow Contacts, Appointments and Tasks to sync to their end users’ mobile devices, without relying on the Outlook Add In client sitting open on users' desktop.  To set this up, we followed steps to configure the CRM server email delivery method, configure email profiles and configure mailboxes.  Initially the setup appears to be successful but then a short time later the synchronization of contacts, appointments, tasks, etc. gets disabled.

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We logged a support case with Microsoft and after extensive troubleshooting, they have determined that the issue is related to the Exchange managed API.   The Microsoft support team has indicated they are working on a resolution for this and will notify us on the timeframe for this fix.  We believe this issue was partially fixed with CRM 2013 UR1, which resolved an issue that Microsoft Support identified in the platform traces regarding this error.  On the Exchange side, right now this is looking like it is related to an upgraded instance of Exchange On Premise and does not appear to affect all customers setting up server-side sync.  The exact mix of Exchange and CRM settings that lead to this issue are the focus of this ongoing work with Microsoft Support.  

Additionally, we noticed an issue with orgs upgraded from Dynamics CRM 2011 regarding the Server-Side Sync.  If a solution is imported with a customized Sitemap, and the solution was generated in CRM 2011, the Email Configuration option will not be included and can be overwritten by an unmanaged solution.  The default location under the Settings area is shown below.

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To resolve this, we had to re-add the section to the sitemap.  We built a new 2013 org, found the section we needed, and copied the XML into the sitemap for our org under the Settings area.  Since there isn’t an easily searchable “Email” or “Email Configuration” in the corresponding XML it is difficult to tell this is the section that is missing.  Here is the XML line needed to get this option back:

<SubArea Id="nav_social" ResourceId="Social_SubArea_Title" DescriptionResourceId="Social_SubArea_Description" Icon="/_imgs/area/16_social.png" Url="/tools/social/social_area.aspx" AvailableOffline="false" />

Once that is added back into the sitemap, the Email Configuration options are accessible once again:

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So if your sync is clogged, you may be seeing the same thing we did here.  If you need help getting this resolved, we make house calls.

CRM 2011 UR12+ and CRM 2013 Fetch Aggregate Bug

Posted by on March 26, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013  |  commentsComments (0)

Recently we were upgrading the look and feel of some custom CRM 2011 web resources to match the styles in CRM 2013 and my colleague found an interesting Fetch XML aggregate bug.  A simple fetch aggregate query, like below, will work just fine in CRM 2011 UR11 and below.  When you run the same query in CRM 2011 UR12+ or CRM 2013, you will get “An unexpected error occurred.”. 

<fetch mapping="logical" aggregate="true" version="1.0">
        <entity name="account">
                <attribute groupby="true" alias="accountid" name="accountid” />
                <attribute name="name" aggregate="countcolumn" alias="accountCount" />
        </entity>
</fetch>

After some troubleshooting, my colleague determined that the accountid attribute was the culprit.  He changed the alias to something other than ‘accountid’, like below, and it ran successfully.

<fetch mapping="logical" aggregate="true" version="1.0">
        <entity name="account">
                <attribute groupby="true" alias="accountKey" name="accountid” />
                <attribute name="name" aggregate="countcolumn" alias="accountCount" />
        </entity>
</fetch>

We logged this bug with Microsoft which will hopefully be resolved in the next UR as it unexpectedly breaks previously supported code.

CRM 2013 – Save & Close is back!

Posted by on March 20, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

Microsoft is currently rolling out UR 2 for CRM 2013 Online.  This update provides several fixes that are listed in the KB article here.  To check if your Online org is on UR 2 yet, click the ‘gear’ icon in the top right corner and then click ‘About’.  The version should start with 6.0.2 for UR 2.

 

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One of the UR 2 enhancements that isn’t documented (that we know of) is the return of the Save & Close button.  When auto-save is enabled, the Save & Close button will exist only on the Create form for a record.  When auto-save is disabled, the Save & Close button will exist on both the Create and Update forms.

 

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The Save & Close button was definitely missed but we’re glad to see it back!  Be on the lookout for your UR 2 update (and the Save & Close button) over the next few days.

Convergence 2014 Recap – Sonoma Partners Booth

Posted by on March 14, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Convergence,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM  |  commentsComments (0)

The Sonoma Partners crew had a blast last week at Convergence 2014!  We had a busy week of gathering knowledge from sessions as well as networking at our eventful booth. 

Mobile Buzz

If you couldn’t make it to our booth this year, we debuted a custom mobile trivia game called Mobile Buzz.  We custom built the mobile app ourselves to show off and illustrate one of our core beliefs that task specific mobile apps greatly improve the user experience and outperform “generic” mobile solutions!  Mobile Buzz was built using HTML5 that can support any type of mobile device (Android, Windows, iPhone, etc).  We used SignalR and Azure as well to make sure it was fast, responsive and scalable. 

How it Works

Attendees could go to buzz.sonomapartners.com from their device and join an upcoming game which would then display their name on our Booth Leaderboard.  Once our booth moderator started the game, the first question would show on our booth displays and then users would see multiple choice answers to the question displayed on their device.  The user would select the answer they think is correct and then wait for the time expire to see the results.  The user that answered the most questions correctly and the fastest would win. 

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Questions were of general trivia and some were more Convergence focused:

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Below is the Mobile Buzz UI on a device.  This screenshot was taken from a Dell Venue 8 Pro:

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We started a Mobile Buzz game every 30 minutes during all booth hours and each Mobile Buzz winner took home a Nokia Lumia 520!

 

Our client, Valerie Berthelsen from National Oilwell Varco, was one of the many winners!

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Mobile Buzz kept us busy and drew a great crowd each day!  Thanks to everyone that stopped by and be sure to check our booth again next year to see what we’ll be doing next!

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Microsoft Announces new Enterprise License

Posted by on March 13, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Convergence,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

A lot of great news came out of Microsoft’s Convergence last week in Atlanta.  If you weren’t able to attend, you can watch the sessions online using Microsoft’s Virtual Convergence.  Attendees can log onto the Convergence Website and navigate to Attendee Tools to to get access to PowerPoint decks and additional recordings.

The investments Microsoft is making in Social, Service and Marketing is exciting to see with Microsoft Social Listening, Unified Service Desk / Parature / service web enhancements, and Microsoft Dynamics Marketing.  We’ll be writing about these in the upcoming weeks.

However, Microsoft also recently announced their pricing and licensing for Dynamics CRM.  One of the big bits of news from this announcement is that Microsoft is announcing a new Enterprise License that is available for $200 per user per month.

With this new license, customers will receive:

  • Dynamics Marketing (previously Marketing Pilot)
  • Unified Service Desk and additional Case Management Enhancements
  • Limited Time Offer:  US and Canada customers purchasing 10+ Enterprise seats of Dynamics CRM will receive an equal number of Parature seats.

This information is subject to change and Microsoft stated that as general availability of this functionality approached, they’ll have more details on these offers.

Convergence 2014 Recap – Unified Service Desk

Posted by on March 12, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Convergence,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013  |  commentsComments (0)

Last week at Convergence there was a great session called “Unified Service Desk: Enabling a super agent!” that thoroughly covered the new Unified Service Desk product coming in the Spring Update for Dynamics CRM 2013.  The majority of content in this post comes from that session but I highly recommend watching it as well so you can see it in action.

Background

Unified Service Desk (USD) is a desktop application meant for call center reps that will help provide a reliable and consistent experience across multiple channels.  Nowadays custom service requests can come from multiple channels such as phone, chat, email, or even social media so the goal of USD is to enable the rep to be more efficient and productive through all of those channels.  USD will provide a configurable UI that admins can customize to fit their reps needs.  The application can be integrated with 3rd party applications as well in order to provide all the necessary requirements of a rep’s job into one spot.

Features

  • Search
    • Easily configure searches on different entities
    • Each entity search is a separate tab
    • Admin can configure the order of the search tabs
  • Call Scripts
    • Easily configured links to help guide the rep
    • Content can dynamically pull in data from CRM records
    • Each link can perform a certain configurable action:
      • Open a tab of a CRM record
      • Open a tab with custom content
      • Navigate to a sub-set of call script links
      • Set focus to a field
  • Sessions
    • A session is a tab that runs in context of a customer
    • Multiple sessions at once
    • Each session can have multiple application tabs

  • Applications
    • An application is a tab that displays content
    • Global or session specific
    • Can have multiple application tabs per session
  • Toolbar
    • Configurable layout
    • Ability to add custom buttons
      • Buttons can perform configurable actions in context of the customer
  • Integrations
    • Ability to integrate with Line of Business applications
    • Allows for third parties to create integration components
      • LiveOps, Professional Services Aspect and Ingenius have already created CTI integrations


Customer Service Flow

The following is an example scenario from the Convergence session where a customer either calls or chats with a support rep.  Using USD, the rep can easily search the contacts in CRM to find an existing contact record.

Note – There are plans for third party telephony integrations as well so screen-pop could be used to automatically open the record.  

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The dark blue tab at the very top is the session tab.  Sessions will be in context of a certain customer and multiple sessions can be opened at the same time.  When opening the customer’s record, USD will automatically open a new session tab as shown below with Maria Campbell.

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Actions that occur will happen in context of the current customer session.  For example as shown below, there is a custom application to “Locate the Customer” which will do a Bing Search using the customer’s address.  USD will automatically pull in the address of the customer in the current session and send it to Bing Maps which will be opened in a new application tab.

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The rep also has easy access to the call script in the left navigation which will help guide the rep through the support case.  As each call script link is clicked, a green checkmark will display next to the link to indicate that the action has been performed already. 

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The rep will click the first link in the list which is “New Service Request” which will then display a whole new set of sub call script links.

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The rep will then click the new first link in the list which is “Open Customer Details”.  This opens an application tab to a Line of Business system that displays the customer details to the rep so that the rep is quickly informed about the customer.

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The rep then clicks the next call script link, “Create a case”, which will open a new application tab which pulls in the New Case form from CRM 2013.  In this scenario, USD automatically populates the Customer lookup based on the customer session in context.

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Then the rep clicks on a call script link, “Search for a solution”, which has two options of using a KB article search or searching Bing.  The rep clicks to search Bing which opens a new application tab that automatically pulls up a Bing search with the above Case details.

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The rep then clicks the “Send Email” call script link which opens a new application tab that pulls in the New Email record from CRM 2013.  Here the rep can select from multiple templates at the top of the USD application which will pre-populate the email record based on the email template using the data from the rep and customer CRM records.

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There is an easily accessible text field on the left navigation for notes which allows the rep to make notes throughout the customer interaction.  At any time the rep can click a button to auto-populate the case record notes with the notes that the rep has taken.

As you can see, Unified Service Desk looks to be pretty promising.  Microsoft has provided a lot of functionality that will greatly improve productivity amongst customer support teams.  USD can encapsulate a lot of functionality and systems into one easy-to-use application for users.  We feel that Unified Service Desk plus telephony integration will be a huge selling point for Dynamics CRM.

Convergence 2014 Recap – Part 1

Posted by on March 10, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Convergence,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013  |  commentsComments (0)

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!

CRM DevTools 1.1 is now available!

Posted by on February 25, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013  |  commentsComments (0)

I am excited to announce a new release of Dynamics CRM DevTools!  This release provides many additions and enhancements to an already featured packed extension.  Head here for the latest version and see below for a detailed list of updates.

Form

form

  • The form tab will now automatically hide when CRM DevTools is opened from a non-record form page in CRM
  • Copy Record URL provides the ability to copy the real URL of the current record which is often disguised in CRM 2013 due to the single page framework
  • Form Type was updated to display the name of the form type as well as the integer value
  • “Is Dirty” was replaced with Dirty Fields which will display a comma delimited list of dirty fields


User

user

  • User Roles was added to display a comma delimited list of roles for the current user


Find

find

  • Current User will display the name of the current user and the ability to navigate to the record
  • Open Record was added to provide the ability to navigate to a selected entity with the provided record Id
  • Find Type Code was added to display the type code for a provided entity name
  • Find Attribute was updated to use a picklist of available attributes rather than a text box


Fetch

fetch

  • Fetch XML input now provides highlighting, auto-completion of nodes and intellisense


Plugins

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  • The Plugins tab is brand new and displays all registered plugin assemblies and their details (entity, filtering attributes, and stage)
  • Displays number of successes, crashes, and failures for any sandbox plugin (sandbox only)
     

DB & Server

database

  • The DB & Server tab is brand new and displays information about the Config and MSCRM databases as well as the CRM Server (if user access allows)

  • Config and MSCRM Database info
    • Data Source
    • Initial Catalog
    • Timeout
    • Integrated Security
  • Server info
    • OS Version
    • .Net Framework
    • Name
    • CRM File Path

What's New in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 For End-Users: Quick Create

Posted by on February 24, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013  |  commentsComments (1)

Today’s guest blogger is Bryson Engelen, a Sales Engineer at Sonoma Partners.

A common ask of users in any CRM system is being able to create records quickly and easily without the need to navigate all over the place to do it.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 makes this possible using the Global Quick Create feature located on the Navigation Bar at the top of the screen.  Because Quick Create is always onscreen, you can create records of any kind whenever you need and wherever you are (including while on a specific record) by entering information into just a few fields.  After the record is created, you can fill out the full Entity form out as you receive information and as it is convenient to you.  This allows for a very low barrier of entry for information, meaning more records get into the system and they do so faster and easier. 

As you can see, you can create a wide variety of records.  By default these include Tasks, Phone Calls, Emails, Appointments,  Accounts, Cases, Competitors, Contacts, Leads, and Opportunities, but Quick Create can be enabled for other Entities, including Custom Entities.  To use Quick Create simply hit the + button on the Nav Bar from anywhere in the system and select which Entity you want to create a record for.

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A hoverover form with a few fields appears, allowing you to enter the information critical to that Entity.  Note this form is fully customizable, so you can choose which fields and values you want your users to enter here.  Also, this hoverover form is not available for Activity records, which default to showing the main form.  More on customizing these forms in a bit.  Here I have created a Contact on a form floating above my dashboard.

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Once the record is saved, I can choose to go to it, create another, or stay where I was working and come back to it later.

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Also note that if you are on a record and hit the + button on a subgrid on the form, the Quick Create form appears as a hoverover on top of the record, allowing you to quickly add a related record without leaving that record’s form.  Here, I was on an Account record for A. Datum Corporation and clicked the + button on the Contacts subgrid to open the Quick Create form up top.

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As mentioned before, you can customize this form pretty easily by going into Settings, Customizations, and navigating to the Entity you wish to change.  As you can see, Quick Create is a separate form type, and you can customize it like any other form with point-and-click changes.

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Just some quick notes on the Quick Create form (pardon the pun). The layout is limited to a single tab with three columns as you see below, you can’t add any sub-grids, web resources or iframes, and there is no vertical scroll, so once your Quick Create form hits the bottom of the page any fields you can’t already see are cut off (typically between 20-35 fields down, depending on your monitor and resolution).  You can define multiple Quick Create forms, but only the first is visible, so it’s likely this is designed so you can assign one Quick Create form per Security Role if needed.

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For users, Quick Create forms allow you to quickly enter information in a way that isn’t overwhelming.  For managers and CRM administrators, it means CRM reflects the users actual work world instead of just being a place where only the bare minimum of their work knowledge is captured.  Whenever you make it easier to enter information, you capture more information and your system becomes more valuable to the organization.  Global Quick Create is just another example of how Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 delivers on its promise to provide value to your organization overall.


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