4 min read

Out of support Dynamics? 5 reasons to upgrade and migrate to Microsoft Dynamics 365 online

, , , ,

Are you running on an out of support Dynamics CRM?

Microsoft recently announced the end of mainstream support for legacy versions of Dynamics CRM impacting users and organisations running on Dynamics CRM 2011 and 2013. If your business is still operating on legacy versions of Dynamics, you’re out of mainstream support and it would be beneficial to upgrade to Dynamics 365 or upgrade and migrate to Dynamics 365 online.

Why upgrade to Dynamics 365?

As an existing user, you’re likely to be familiar of the benefits of a Dynamics based CRM and the limitless integrations of the Microsoft eco-system. Here’s a short summary of the reasons to upgrade to Dynamics now:

  1. Decrease the risks and costs of running a legacy application.

Protect and risk-proof your organisation, employees and customers from the danger of operating with an out of support CRM. Dynamics 365 is fully supported by Microsoft and within Microsoft’s partner eco-system, meaning maintenance and support is cost-effective and easily accessible. Running on the most up to date version means that your CRM is fit for purpose in a fast moving and constantly updating information-led business environment.

  1. Easy transition to the cloud

 When you’re on the cloud, you can automate and innovate operations, seamlessly and on-the-go, making your business and your people more agile. Integrate with third party APIs and benefit from automated Microsoft updates, so you’re always working on the latest version of the solution. Access Dynamics anywhere at anytime with your people always working on real-time data and the very latest functionality from desktop, on their phones or on other handheld devices. So from the field to the back office, everyone is talking the same language.

 

List showing benefits of cloud vs onpremise Microsoft Dynamics

  1. Reduced cost of system ownership and licensing

When you upgrade and migrate to Dynamics 365 online, you reduce implementation time, capital outlay and infrastructure costs. As you move from a CapEx to OpEx model, flexible working and implementing bring-your-own-device in office, at home or on the move also becomes much easier; seamlessly connecting your people and teams. With flexible licencing, you can scale in line with the needs of the business meaning you never pay for more licences than you need. Support and fix costs are greatly reduced for both system and hardware, thanks to automated system updates

  1. Automated system updates

As well as delivering AI ready systems and low and no-code functionality right out of the box, Microsoft Dynamics 365 has moved to a continuous release cycle for in-the-cloud systems. All online users now follow an update cycle that delivers two major updates in two waves each year, April and October. Regular updates, performance improvements and bug fixes also run in the background for optimum functionality. Microsoft communications prepare in-house teams in advance to prepare any auto-scheduled changes, with with opt-in advice and functionality for any disruptive changes. Long story short, you’re always working on the latest version and you unlocking the latest market-leading tools and functionality.

  1. Unlock new cross-platform and cross-departmental tools and functionality

New features like integrated web portals, mobile apps and the new Dynamics user interface provide seamless employee and stakeholder experiences and help deliver incredible customer success and satisfaction. With a huge focus on AI, with Dynamics 365 online, users can access the latest stream of Microsoft innovations to make business operations better. Connect data and people cross-departmentally with other tools like Azure, PowerApps, Flow, Power BI and Outlook and be the first to access the very latest tools like AI builder, announced at the recent Microsoft BizApps Summit and Microsoft Inspire.

Migrating from Dynamics CRM to Dynamics 365

If you’re running on a legacy version of Dynamics CRM and keen to update to a cloud deployment of Dynamics 365, you’ll need to upgrade to the latest version of on-premise before migrating over to the cloud.

Using a partner like Redspire is essential for this process to prepare your environment, people and data for upgrade and migration. The upgrade process is an excellent time to assess your business needs and establish exactly what you want from your new CRM and data. Your CRM partner will work with you to enhance your current model and replace with a future-proofed solution that delivers exactly what you need to unify your business operations.

Ready to upgrade to Dynamics 365?  

If you’re ready to upgrade or would like to discuss next steps, Redspire have developed a series of resources that may help. Download our upgrade deck or enquire about our on-site upgrade workshop. For an informal, confidential chat about your own upgrade project or to discuss how we’ve led clients in Financial Services, Insurance, Government, Retail and more through successful upgrade, get in touch on 0845 226 8170 or email info@redspire.co.uk.

3 min read

The Partner Approach to Effective Digital Transformation

,

You’ve done your due diligence on how to achieve digital transformation in your sector. Carried out some initial internal needs analysis, scoped out the best CRM options on the market, talked to your best people and cross-referenced their recommendations with Gartner et al. And you’ve identified that Microsoft Dynamics 365, Power BI and the wider Microsoft ecosystem is the clear leader in digital transformation. Not just in terms of CRM and data solutions but as a unified solution to manage your entire business environment and operations.

So, now that you know all about Microsoft Dynamics 365, its limitless integrations and the art of endless possibility within your sector. You know that your competitors are modelling success with Microsoft’s latest technologies. You have a need for internal change, now.

What are the next steps?

The partner approach to digital transformation

Selecting the right business partner for your digital transformation project is an essential part of project success. Choosing a partner who brings a deep understanding of Dynamics 365 and its customisable capabilities and who leads from the front to ensure user adoption will help you model success and yield return on investment from your CRM project.

As well as an expert in the product, it’s vital that you select a partner who’s experienced within your sector, who understand the nuances and challenges of your business and who also has references and success models within your industry. From pre-sales scoping and needs analysis to project and process mapping and build, all the way through to implementation and beyond, a strong partner is the primary key to success. Together you’ll bring together your who, your when and your what.

The benefits of working with a partner

Out the box, Dynamics provides an incredible range of features ready to plug and play by internal IT teams. These include an immersive CRM, smart collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams, Flow, Power Apps and more. But for the UK’s biggest and best brands with unique operational needs, a more customisable approach to CRM and data solutions is required.

The power of the partner approach to digital transformation is that a specialist partner can analyse your business needs and processes, map them against their enhanced knowledge of the system’s capabilities and build a bespoke, customised solution that fulfills your businesses unique needs. The finished product? A system that works exactly as you want it to. With a focus on automation and simplifying processes, your bespoke build CRM can gain thousands of days productivity across the business, enhance customer and stakeholder engagement, increase sales, manage risk and improve operations.

Getting started and selecting the right partner

At Redspire, we become your dedicated Dynamics partner through your whole improvement journey. Our partnership ensures:

  • a bespoke, fit for purpose CRM that fulfils your business needs, after exhaustive discovery and requirements scoping.
  • that project build, implementation and go-live is a success with limited downtime to the business day to day.
  • enhanced user adoption through an immersive user and super-user training programme, designed to fit each individual client’s needs.

About Redspire

We’re a Microsoft Gold Partner with particularly strong capabilities in Financial Services, Retail, Government, and Third Sector and have worked on the biggest operational challenges facing these industries today. From Small Business Banking improvements at CYBG, client and stakeholder engagement at Money Advice Service and operations and field service at Golden Charter and AIG Group, our expertise in Dynamics 365 and the wider Microsoft ecosystem help our clients achieve operational excellence and project delivery that promises return on investment and with measurable KPIs in place from the outset.

To find out more about the partnership approach to Dynamics 365 in your business,  you can contact us on 0845 226 8170 or email info@redspire.co.uk.

2 min read

Redspire announced as BIMA Awards Finalists in Transformation and Consultancy

,

We’re BIMA Awards Finalists!

Redspire’s consultancy work with CYBG has been been shortlisted for a prestigious BIMA Award, alongside some of the biggest and best names in global business.  Following a successful implementation of Dynamics 365 for Sales in CYBG’s Small Business Banking division, relationship management teams in the UK’s sixth largest bank:

  • Achieved an 11x increase on customer outreach calls
  • Seen a 15% improvement on customer outreach levels
  • Gained 3,175 days in productivity

BIMA Awards Finalists – Celebrating the best in Digital

 The BIMA Awards are the longest standing and most prestigious digital awards in the UK, dedicated to supporting and encouraging work by agencies like ours who are making a difference in business, culture and society and pushing the boundaries of what is possible through digital leadership.

Redspire collaborated with CYBG to create and deliver a simple but effective vision: To enhance the customer and employee proposition in Business Direct Small Business Banking and deliver improved cross sales, lead management, capacity creation and management information through a cloud based Microsoft Dynamics CRM system.

The BIMA awards represent the pinnacle of the digital revolution and transformation. Rachel Johnson, BIMA said: “To be shortlisted for a BIMA award is a prestigious honour and earmarks your organisation as one of an elite few moving the game on and the digital economy forward.

 She continues: “On 11 July, dozens of the industry’s finest gathered together to debate how they were going to turn hundreds of impressive entries into a handful of exceptional ones.”

 The Redspire management team are incredibly proud to be selected as an exceptional entry and thank BIMA for recognising the project delivery and our hard-working tech and business support teams for making the CYBG project a success.

The winner will be announced at the BIMA Lessons from the Future Conference and Awards Ceremony on 18th September 2019 in London, Westminster.

The Lessons from the Future conference will bring together tech and some of the industry’s biggest thought leaders for a series of inspirational studies, think tanks and masterclasses on how to successfully transform the customer experience, how to harness AI and tech for good and the future of the modern workplace.

We look forward to both the conference and the awards ceremony and hope to see you there!

7 min read

Reflecting on Microsoft’s 2019 Biz Apps Summit in Atlanta

As I sit here trying to gather my thoughts around all the things I was lucky enough to learn and experience at my time in Atlanta this year for Microsoft’s Biz Apps Summit, I realised that although this is an internationally promoted and attended conference event in one of the largest economic markets in the US, perhaps not everyone outwith (and even within) the wider tech community will know what the fuss is all about. So, without further ado:

What are Biz Apps and why do they have their own summit?

Biz Apps is the snazzy term that Microsoft uses when they refer to their suite of business applications. Fundamentally, this is the key collaborative software within the Dynamics 365 stack, used by organisations to manage their teams and employees, enhance communication and engagement, improve and streamline sales processes, manage stock, manage and track key accounts and relationships… basically the whole kit and kaboodle involved with the effective running of a modern-day organisation.

The Biz Apps Summit is a globally attended conference that Microsoft hosts every year in the USA for customers and partners. The technology giant typically introduce exciting new features, release their latest offerings and tell everyone all about the new and emerging tech that industry and commerce should be getting excited about. Some sessions are technical and some are business focused, catering to different business strands area of interest and technical know-how. This is only the second summit that Microsoft has put on, so it’s still finding its feet a little compared to some of the other Microsoft conferences that I attend during the year.

Why do I go?

As Redspire Technical Director, I’m one of the key individuals within the business that’s involved in the customer implementation journey from start to finish, including the customisation, configuration and use of biz apps. Attending these conferences, taking part in expert sessions and learning more about what the new and emerging crop of apps can do is absolutely crucial for me in keeping my knowledge as up to date as possible, and it’s also a great way to discover what’s coming on the roadmap. I invariably come home spilling over with ideas about how we can use these new tools to solve current and prospective client’s business pains or create digital-first business practices that wow their customers. This is especially true for our clients in Banking and Insurance, who are undergoing major digital transformation and are hungry for the latest innovations in AI, predictive analytics and super streamlined workflows. I have LOTS to talk to them about.

biz apps conference screen

Over 1 trillion operations globally run by Microsoft

What rocked?

There was SO much going on at the summit, with more than 200 sessions across the 2 days, so I apologise for missing out heaps of really great sessions. I’ve listed my top 3 (ish) takeaways from the week.

Artificial Intelligence

– I know everyone talks about AI, but it’s generally to extol the virtues of what it’ll be able to do for you in the FUTURE. Instead, Microsoft are weaving the future into their present-day Dynamics 365 offering with 4 levels of AI within the stack (roughly, some would argue the point, but we’ll go with 4 for now). These are;

1. Baked into the product – they’re there for you already, you just need to switch them on
2. Paid for extra apps – as it says on the tin. These involve an extra license cost but give you lots of extra features and capability over and above the baked in tools,
3. Cognitive services – getting slight techy but they’re mini apps that you connect to do specific things like uploading an image and getting it to identify what’s in the photo or pass it a voice recording and get it to transcribe it. It’ll even go as far as to analyse sentiment on whether the people speaking are happy, sad, angry, etc. You don’t need to write code for those, but you do need to be technically minded
4. Azure machine learning – can get very, very technical. Basically, you analyse your information for patterns and either choose a specific algorithm or create your own to work with the data in a way that’ll bring value to your business and allow for future projections.

(For 1, 2 and 3 there were great sessions showing you what you can actually do right now with the technology available)

PowerBI

– There are so many updates to PowerBI, from dramatic front-end visualisations, new data flow engine, paginated reports, certified datasets, all the way through to everything you could need from a security standpoint. The PowerBI sessions were the busiest and the rowdiest (yeah, not really what you expect at a tech conference) but a lot of people were getting very excited about these updates. There were rounds of applause and bouts of whooping and cheering for specific improvements or additions, some of them being fundamentally small changes, but obviously having a monumental impact on a lot of people’s working day. For me, the biggest thing was the user interface’s look and feel updates. This is going to allow customers to truly control and personalise the reporting based on the requirement (whether they are internal reports for teams or external for customers) which will again make a massive difference to the end user.

PowerApps and Flow (These are two different things, but stick with me)

The Power Platform, PowerApps and Flow really are the future of Microsoft’s biz apps strategy. Essentially, they provide the frameworks, components and workflows, and the power to be able to build all your own tailored and customised business applications. Now, you obviously wouldn’t rebuild CE/CRM or Finance & Ops. Microsoft have an army of developers and are spending hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars per year getting these to where they are now. However, you are provided with the tools to build what you need and implement it quickly and safely using all of the security and resilience that CE/CRM and F&O have built into their foundations. There were lots of updates of new functionality, new connectors, improved ALM and release management, but the main point is that Microsoft say these are the way of the future and have so far put their money where their mouth is through huge time and financial investment. So it’s time to take note and get on board!

In Conclusion

It’s so hard to condense such a detailed and action packed few days down into a mere few words, so I’ll say this:

There are really great things happening with customer service enhancements, omnichannel engagement hub, enhanced integrations with LinkedIn (including Sales Nav), PSA updates, Portals and continually improving marketing functionality that’s going to continue to transform the way that so many commercial teams operate. There are so many other things I want to talk about, especially all the cool stuff happening with HoloLens integrations (D365 guides and product visualisation), but all that’ll have to wait for the next blog.

Overall it was a really eye-opening and a great experience being at the summit. I learned so much through interacting with different people with all sorts of skills and experience, and attending the fantastic information sessions really put into perspective the magnitude of what’s still to come in the future. It’s safe to say I’ve come home with a list as long as my arm of things I need to go and learn more about, most of which I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to explore without being over in Atlanta for this amazing event.

I’m extremely excited about going back again next year, with the added bonus of getting to see another part of America (BizApps Summit 2020 is in Anaheim California next April).

If you’d like a chat about Microsoft Dynamics 365 and how it can help your organisation achieve absolute digital transformation, get in touch at rick.lyle@redspire.co.uk or connect with me on LinkedIn