3 min read

Power Platform Oct wave 2: Flow, Power BI and Power Apps

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Microsoft 2019 wave 2 launched 1st October – the largest release to date – with over of 400 new feature updates and capabilities across Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.

As we look at the new release enhancements and deep-dive into the opportunities they create for our clients to drive intelligent action across their business, Consultant Claire and CEO Billy have been out in Stockholm this weekend delivering an exciting session at Power Platform Saturday Sweden.

Focusing on non-standard Business Use Cases for the Microsoft Stack, the session showcased the capabilities of the Power Platform and highlighted how the tools: Flow, Power BI and PowerApps are automating business critical processes, helping users create bespoke personal workflows and providing intelligence that makes both daily life and business operations easier.

An overview of the Power Platform

Microsoft’s Power Platform gives everyone within your organisation the ability to build business solutions. It combines the technologies of three key products – Power BI, PowerApps, and Flow and enables users of varying technical capabilities to analyse, act on, and automate data in never before ways. Because the tools are designed to work together, everyone across your business can quickly and easily build custom apps that solve immediate business pain, automate complex workflows to improve business productivity, and analyse data for insights—no matter their technical expertise.

Microsoft October 2019 wave 2 release: Power Platform

So what’s new for the Power Platform for 2019 wave 2, October 2019 to March 2020?

For PowerApps, the wave 2 release brings major enhancements that empower app creators of varying capabilities to easier develop superior quality apps. Advanced enterprise and administrator requirements are still supported. As well as introducing new capabilities, the enhancements to PowerApps simplify existing concepts on both PowerApps and Dynamics 365 apps built upon the Unified Interface, increasing developer productivity and app stability.

Additionally, creators can also create new PowerApps Portals experiences that improve engagement with internal and extternal audiences. These web portals surface data stored in the Common Data Services to internal teams, partners, third parties and customers.

Microsoft Flow’s new functionality creates smarter, more meaningful experiences in three key areas. Users – again with varying levels of expertise – can leverage world-leading business process capabilities, work off-line and make use of rich administration tools that drive connectivity.

AI Builder is a new to market capability for Power Platform that highlights Microsoft’s commitment to AI for all. It allows teams with the organisational expertise to rapidly automate processes with ease and predict outcomes that improve business performance. This turnkey solution takes the power of Microsoft Artificial Intelligence through a user-friendly point-and-click experience, directly integrated into both PowerApps and Microsoft Flow.

Power BI is already simplifying how businesses gain valuable insights from transactional and observational data and drive a data culture where teams decision-make based on hard facts, not opinions. Within this release, Power BI improvements focus on four critical areas that drive a data culture. These are intuitive experiences, a unified BI platform, big data analytics, and pervasive artificial intelligence.

Data integration provides businesses with built-in connectivity to the Power Platform and beyond, with data across hundreds of business system unified and connected, enabling richer, smarter experiences. The Common Data Model provides semantic consistency for canonical business entities across Dynamics 365 and Common Data Service, increasing value and saving time for application developers, ISV partners, and integrators.

Get in touch with our Microsoft accredited consultants

For more information on how Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform can revolutionise your business, get in touch with our team of specialist consultants today on 0845 226 8170 or email us on info@redspire.co.uk. If you’d like to read more on the Power Platform, look out for part two of our information series landing this week.

If you’re unsure where you are in your CRM or business transformation journey, enquire about our bespoke on-site workshops. No matter what stage you’re at, we can tailor a session to suit your needs.

 

3 min read

Switch on Dynamics 365 V10 in 7 easy steps!

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For Microsoft Dynamics Partners and clients who are keen to access the newest Dynamics V10 upgrade features but are unable to find out how to “switch it on,” help is at hand with our 7-step guide.

Below, Redspire’s Technical Director Rick Lyle will demonstrate how to find the switch and apply it to one of your sandboxes. Always test out your upgrades in a sandbox and not your production instance!

Step 1

First of all, go to the new Power Platform Admin Centre. This area is still in preview but that’s where the switch is.

To get there you can either:

  • Navigate to the Dynamics 365 Admin Centre (https://port.crm11.dynamics.com/G/Instances/InstancePicker.aspx, the “11” part is our instances in the UK, if your instance isn’t housed in the UK substitute, using your corresponding country code) and from there click on the banner that says: “There’s a better way to manage your instances. Try the new Admin center” and it’ll take you to the new centre

OR

Either way will take you to the interface below:

Step 2

Once you’ve navigated your way to the Power Platform Admin Centre, click on Environments (this is the new label for what we in the Dynamics world usually call Instances however this doesn’t become clear until you get to the relevant screen. Once you do that you’ll see the list of your Dynamics Instances as below:

Step 3

It’s easy to get a little bit lost at this stage, as it’s not the most intuitive journey.

DO NOT go to…>settings! IF you do, you’ll find lots of options that feel like they could be the right thing but end up taking you down the wrong route. Instead, click on the name of the instance that you want to upgrade to V10. It’ll take you to the screen below:

Step 4

In the Updates section, click on Manage and you’ll get the screen below:

Step 5

Make REALLY, REALLY sure you’ve selected the right instances. Be especially sure that it’s definitely not your production instance because as the warning states, this is a one-way process. Then hold your breath and click Activate Now.

Step 6

If you accidentally selected your production instance, because you didn’t heed my warning above or Microsoft’s warning next to the activate button, then there’s one last chance to save yourself!

When trying to upgrade a production instance to V10, you’ll get the popup below where you have to type in the instance name to switch. Hats off to Microsoft, they are going above and beyond to make sure no one does this accidentally and causes themselves issues.

Step 7

Still holding your breath? Don’t worry, this only takes a few seconds. As we’re now in the land of continual deployment for Dynamics, this isn’t so much an install process as a switch on process. Microsoft have already installed more or less everything in the background.

After a few seconds that’s you switched on and ready for all the great Dynamics 365 V10 goodies!

As you might have guessed, I’ve been going through this process in a trial as I’ve been documenting it. My next steps are to start exploring the new features on V10 and reporting back to you all. I’ll keep you updated with my favourite features and any issues to watch out for over the next few weeks. If you’d like them straight to your inbox, sign up for email updates from myself and the team, or follow me on LinkedIn.

Cheers,

Rick Lyle

Redspire Technical Director

4 min read

Putting service back into Financial Services: Delivering incredible customer experiences with Microsoft Dynamics

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Financial services leaders are encouraged to adopt the right mix of culture, people and technology in order to improve customer service quality levels – or face being left behind.

Delivering powerful customer experiences in Financial Services was tricky for senior executives, even before the dawn of new digital challengers. Disengaged customers and an industry apathetic for innovation, alongside poor differentiation on brand or product offering had created a stale sector that failed to inspire meaningful interaction, instead delivering one-sided, one-size fits all services to business and consumer customers.

The presence of agile newcomers entering the market however, has (thankfully) shaken up a slumbering sector and drawn battle lines in the sand in the bid for market share. New entrants and incumbents’ approach digitalisation at speed, as they set out to win customer loyalty and gain or retain wallet share. Great news for consumers and for the sector at large, as innovation spans all areas of the Financial Services sector. From consumer banking, commercial banking and insurance, cloud solutions and blended intelligence are shaping a market that excites. Delivering what customers need and want, when they want it, how they want it.

Challenging the challengers

As new entrants like Monzo, Starling and Tide deliver slick digital first in-app experiences, top performing incumbents like MetroBank and CYBG are leading the way in embracing digital disruption in the traditional markets too; delivering services that engage and educate with seamless cross-device experiences. Whilst it may not be the easiest of tasks innovating and reimagining services offerings, at the same time as managing risk and updating outdated legacy systems, those adapting to the new playing field are future-proofing their businesses now, and providing the levels of services that demanding consumers have come to expect in other industries.

Meeting the challenge to deliver excellent customer experiences

The first step for financial firms keen to deliver exceptional customer experiences is understanding that 360 degree customer intelligence across the business is more than a cross-departmental single customer view. It’s a shift in the way data is viewed, stored and managed.

For those ready to tackle service head on, Microsoft Dynamics is the perfect solution to deliver excellent experience in the financial sector. Built on a common data platform, Dynamics aggregates different data types and sets from all across the business, creating invaluable insights that steer amazing customer experiences. Dynamics help your people predict and anticipate customer needs intuitively, suggests next step actions and personalises service and experience. No matter whether it’s machine or human delivering it.

Blending the human factor, machine learning and artificial intelligence with the valuable data in your systems creates a unified service desk that delivers incredible customer service and memorable experiences that customers rave about. Causing loyalty, customer engagement and satisfaction to soar.

Blended intelligence fed by Microsoft Dynamics 365 combines the best of human and machine smarts, enabling businesses to deliver rich experiences at the right touch point for each consumer, at the right time, with customer-centricity the core focus.

Achieving customer excellence in Financial Services with Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics is more than a CRM, it’s a connected suite of enterprise business applications that delivers your whole business, in a one unified system. Spanning all department functions; from service, sales and marketing, talent, field service and operations, Dynamics is an end-to-end, fully integrated system that delivers incredible insights, next step actions and automated service funtionality.

Furthermore, Dynamics is the perfect foundational platform to drive digital transformation throughout an entire business, with a phased approach that negates the need for service interruption.

Choosing the right Dynamics partner

Choosing the right Microsoft Dynamics partner for your customer experience project is an essential part of success. It’s vital that you select a partner experienced within your sector, who understand the nuances and challenges of your business and who 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.

Redspire have particularly strong capabilities in Financial Services and have worked on the biggest challenges facing the industry today. From Small Business Banking improvements at CYBG, client engagement at Money Advice Service and Saffron Insurance and operations and field service at Golden Charter, we are the experts in Dynamics within the Financial Services space. Our team are driven by delivering platforms that create great customer experience.

Are you ready to put the service back in financial services?

Watch a short video on how MetroBank used Microsoft Dynamics to create an army of loyal fans out of their customers, or get in touch today for a no-obligation chat about your own customer experience improvement project.

5 min read

Senior Leaders: Understanding the Board’s Demand for CRM

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Understanding why a CRM system is needed makes it possible to meet your board’s demands for a high level of user adoption.  

Sales, Marketing and IT leaders all want to maximise CRM adoption. But do they share the same reasons? In brief, no. Each of the Big Six job titles has a different reason to drive CRM adoption.

And if you’re involved in the CRM space, it’s useful to define what those reasons are.

So think yourself into the boardroom, and let’s see what CRM adoption means to each C-leveller around the table.

The Chief Executive Officer: make my business a legend

In larger enterprises, CEOs aren’t involved in the minutiae of tech rollouts. That doesn’t mean they’re not interested in the outcomes. Results, results, results… across the whole business, not any one line P&L.

So to the CEO, the reason for CRM adoption is squeezing out inefficiencies along the whole value chain. How better communication shortens the sales cycle; how a single customer database cuts down busywork; how a £50k cost saves £75k a year in existing commitments.

So forget individual departmental worries: show the CEO how CRM brings it all together. He’s all about the bottom line.

The Chief Marketing Officer: let me talk to my customers

CRM adoption fulfills the Marketing Director’s dream: engaging customers in a single managed conversation, from cold suspect to repeat customer, on a one-to-one basis, across all channels, forever.

“70% of those interviewees working in Sales and Marketing said that engaging, qualifying and following up leads is their biggest challenge.”

So to a CMO, CRM’s benefit is in the way it enables institutional memory, continuing the conversation wherever that customer hangs out. Maximising Customer Lifetime Value, and making every customer feel like the only customer.

The Chief Sales Officer: let me prise open their wallets

The Head of Sales’ motivations are like the CMO’s, only more so. The right CRM system enables salespeople to target the most profitable customers, cross-sell and upsell to them to increase customer retention and advocacy across today’s increasingly wide range of customer channels – including online and social media.

“Research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the inventor of the net promoter score) shows that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%”, says Amy Gallo in her Harvard Business Review article ‘The Value of Keeping the Right Customers’ – published in October 2014.

That’s the Big Ask from the corner office of Sales: tell them how to make those numbers so they can recognise and reward who’s done it accordingly.

The Chief Operating Officer: tell me how it works

Connecting the parts. Improving the processes. Making things work. That’s the job of the COO. So for that individual, a CRM system’s ideal output is a means to connect and provide feedback about how it’s all functioning.

So show the COO how CRM adoption joins the dots. How a lead from the website becomes a contact for Sales, how that contact connects to order entry and pushes out an invoice later. When your CRM system maps your company processes, you’re in COO heaven.

The Chief Financial Officer: show me the money… and metrics

“I taught you so many things. The value of information. How to get it.”

The world’s come a long way since Gordon Gekko’s greed-is-good attitude. But reports, statistics, metrics and ratios still drive thinking in Finance.

So for the CFO, show off the dashboards and data to which CRM adoption is the key. Show how they connect to accounting systems and support better decision making. Control over costs – that’s how to win the CFO’s heart.

The Chief Technology Officer: save me from pulling all-nighters

The CTO’s last. For a reason. He understands best how much hassle any company-wide IT rollout involves. And while he’s as attuned to sales and profits as any other individual in the C-suite, his hot button is how easy will it be to roll out?

With the implementation of any new technology comes the risk of user resistance to change. Yet user adoption is essential if the firm is to reach its targets… and they’re not solely sales and profits. Without buy-in from end users, any investment in a CRM system will become more problematic and costly than the board expects.

Increasing user adoption

The right CRM system and a well-managed CRM adoption project will address each of these issues. Improving the ability of Sales and Marketing to target the most profitable customers, boosting operational performance and generating a return on investment.

There you have it: from the board’s perspective, CRM adoption is a real opportunity because it offers the potential to improve the business as a whole… as well as its parts. That can only be good news for them, their company and its board. In context, CRM makes complete business sense.

Takeaways:

  • Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
  • The right CRM system will increase customer retention, reduce customer churn, improve sales performance and increase ROI.
  • By creating board advocacy and selecting adopting change agents, staff will more readily adopt the new CRM system.
  • Automating and centralising the CRM system will reduce the need for repetitive manual tasks, reduce costs, streamline process, create efficiencies, improve inter-departmental collaboration and staff performance.
  • Communicate the benefits of a new CRM system in context with the concerns of the board to demonstrate the contextual value of adoption.

Understanding the board’s demand for CRM is crucial for success, but even more important for specifying the right system. Find out more by watching this webinar: One Step Ahead: Getting your CRM Specification Right

One-Step-Ahead-Getting-your-CRM-Specification-Right

1 min read

The 10 Most Important Questions to Ask When Selecting the Right CRM Partner [SLIDESHARE]

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Discover the questions you should ask potential CRM partners to ensure that you select the right one for your business. Read more

1 min read

Merry Christmas From Redspire

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We hope that you have a relaxing festive break and come back ready for what 2016 has in store!

 
 
 

As it is Christmas we have put together a festive treat for you. Under the Redspire Christmas tree you will find some fantastic gifts for your sales, marketing and customer service departments.

Santa has cottoned on to the fantastic benefits that the Fall Update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM has brought about and wants to sprinkle some Christmas cheer on your business in the form of increased productivity.

RedspireTree

Click on the tree to be taken to your presents.
1 min read

Successful CRM in 3 Easy Steps

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Customers, relationships and management are three core elements of a successful CRM.

Many businesses are reluctant to introduce CRM into their processes. This reluctance to change is understandable when 63% of CRM projects are known to fail. For businesses looking to move forward, CRM is essential, but achieving success with new systems and strategies is key to generating ROI. This slideshare highlights three easy steps that will help you to achieve success with CRM.

Remember that CRM is pretty self explanatory. You need to prioritise your customers, your relationships with them and manage the cycle from end to end. Your customer should always be at the heart of your CRM strategy and getting the most out of your systems, whether that’s through buying more or having stronger communications with you. Once you’ve established the three key steps outlined in this slideshare, you’ll be well on your way to successful CRM.

Discover further ways to get the most out of your CRM by downloading: The Ultimate Guide to: Using CRM for data driven marketing success

The-Ultimate-Guide-to-Using-CRM-for-data-driven-marketing-success

1 min read

10 best practices for your CRM strategy

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CRM implementations often fail, but you can improve your chances of success by following 10 best practices outlined by Redspire’s Billy Lyle. Read more

5 min read

Update 1: Seamless Marketing Functionality

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Introduction

Marketing planning, execution and analysis is becoming more and more complex, due to the fact that there is an ever increasing number of variables to think about when considering how to effectively communicate with your target market. Marketers in 2015 have a record number of technologies, channels, and tactics to choose from. The first step toward a solid strategy is finding focus amid the noise. It is imperative that marketers to keep a close eye on the metrics that not only matter to their business, but also can truly be influenced. Update 1 has introduced and updated a number of new features that have provided many benefits across the spectrum of business functions. This article will outline the benefits related to the marketing functionality of Dynamics CRM.

Update 1 – Marketing

Behind the Scenes

There have been massive improvements behind the scenes, Dynamics CRM is now better equipped to store a higher volume of customers and deal with even bigger databases with even greater efficiency. This equates to;

  • Faster page loads
  • Improved application performance
  • Faster email delivery

Improved Lead Scoring

The Aberdeen Group Stated that 68% of best-in-class companies use lead scoring, in comparison with 28% of laggard firms. With Update 1 users now have the capacity to design a more detailed lead scoring model than ever before, leads can be scored based on;

  • Demographic variables
  • Contact interaction records
  • Custom data field values

For each lead, the system now provides detailed graphical and tabular views that show exactly which rules contributed to the total score over time and how much they affected it. In addition, users can choose to score leads either in real time or via batch processing.

Campaign Automation

The campaign automation canvas now displays the last and next run times for each tile and for the campaign itself. This allows the user to see how recently each tile was executed and the next time that it is due to run. On top of that, it provides statistics on emails that have been; Sent, opened, bounced and blocked. This information is key to adapting and incrementally improving any email campaign on an ongoing basis in order to improve on ROI. Forrester Research asserted that B2B marketers who implement marketing automation software increase their sales pipeline contribution by an average of 10%.

Seller Portal

The seller portal is an extremely useful too which helps bridge the gap between sales and marketing as it gives the sales people a high level overview of which marketing messages are reaching which contacts. This information is valuable as it ensures that sales people are well informed about which communications their customers have received before they meet with them. The sales portal provides the facility to have specific people removed from communications that will not interest them.

Folder level Tracking

Folder level tracking allows users to track emails on any device that supports Microsoft exchange folders. Users can create folders that automatically track emails so there is no need to do this manually for individual emails, simply drag and drop the email into the relevant folder. When the user creates a folder in CRM they associate against an account or opportunity. The use of inbox rules can automate the tracking of emails for specific addresses.

Behavioural Analysis

It is now possible to collect data about how contacts interact with your various marketing initiatives, including email interactions, landing page interactions and web visits. Behavioural-analysis script is generated for each website or sub-site that you wish to include in your analysis. Script must be add to each page that is to be monitored. This can be done by adding the script to the page templates in your CMS system.

Manage leads

The new update has introduced a comprehensive set of opportunity management, marketing database and lead management functions to break down the silos between sales and marketing and enable them to work together to nurture leads through their life cycle from capture to closure.

Keep track with calendars and activities

To increase communication and to ensure that everyone within an organisation is on the same page Dynamics CRM now has a fully customisable calendar that everyone with the necessary security roles can enter relevant information i.e. meetings, trade shows, conferences etc.

Event management

It is now possible to manage marketing events taking place at a specific location i.e. conferences, exhibits, trade shows, meetings and many more directly from CRM. Dynamics CRM keeps track of all event information in one central place and it is now possible to attach notes to each event if necessary to keep all relevant information together. It is also possible to track financial information and associate contacts with specific events so that all relevant information is at your fingertips. Other things that users are able to keep track of using event management include; Facilities, Staffing, Equipment/Materials, Jobs, tasks, Travel/Transportation, Media and Shipping.

Marketing performance measurement results

Marketing is becoming more of a science in terms of measurement and as a result there is more pressure to demonstrate its overall contribution to the organisation. A long standing issue in business is the fact that it is notoriously difficult to accurately measure and isolate marketing’s effect on sales. Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows for the accurate measurement of and organisations marketing efforts.

Marketing plans

Dynamics CRM marketing marketing’s plans functions allows users to formulate marketing plans, deliver them and analyse their results. Users are able to set specific objectives, conduct SWOT analysis.

Social media

Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides tools Dynamics CRM can be used to manage social media marketing campaigns and look at how social media users are responding. This is a great way for companies to see what works, and what does not and adjust their campaigns accordingly.

Social engagement provides users with insight into the way social media users view their brand. It is now possible to connect directly from Dynamics Marketing to social engagement to manage search terms and view a wide variety of widgets.

Generate built-in reports and work with analytical views

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing provides both analytical views and pre-designed reports that make it easy for you to analyze and present your marketing results and other data. The analytical views are intended for viewing on-screen, though you can also export them to Excel, while the reports are optimized more for exporting and printing. Analytical views and pre-designed reports make it easier to analyse and present marketing data.