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 external 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 for insurance, read parts two and three of our information series.

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.

 

7 min read

Five signs that your business has outgrown its current CRM system

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When it comes to organisational change and digital innovation, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it isn’t the best philosophy to lead with. With business applications and integrations constantly evolving and digital-readiness driving organisational effectiveness, the top performers in business are constantly innovating not laggard. When you consider smart, AI-connected households, the Internet of Things and in-phone GPS, it’s easy to see that today’s cutting-edge business technology is tomorrow’s mass-produced household necessity.

CRM technology is moving at lightning speed and system capabilities are rapidly evolving. Whilst it may seem more prudent to squeeze every last drop of value out of existing tech and adapt your evolving people and processes to your legacy system, the opposite is often true. If you’re coming up against some of the most common challenges, it may be time for a new CRM system. If you’re lacking value and efficiencies from your existing solution, investing in a well-deployed, company-wide implementation will be well worth the financial, time and resource investment.

Here, we’ve curated the top red flags that your business has outgrown its current CRM system. If any of them resonate, it’s time to start considering a new system and sourcing a new CRM partner.

  1. Your CRM system has limited growth potential  

Whether you’re scaling up from a smaller team with growing CRM requirements or are a large established business building a more robust digital infrastructure, if your current CRM system isn’t able to adapt to your changing operational needs, now is the time to look for a new CRM partner.

A legacy CRM that doesn’t support new functionality, integrations and advanced tools is an unsustainable foundation on which to build an adaptable, future-ready digital infrastructure. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for example, is fully customisable to support and unify your legacy and extended CRM use cases. Dynamics also uses universal web standards that make it easy to customise and extend the platform to meet ever-changing business needs, and integrates neatly not just with the full Microsoft stack, but all sorts of business applications and technologies.

With an outdated CRM however, data standards and methodologies decline, functionality reduces and integrations with the very latest cross-business technologies become almost impossible.

  1. Your CRM isn’t accessible on-the-go, in the cloud

The modern workplace is changing. Teams work remotely, on-the-go, across global disparate locations. If your people can’t access your CRM system on the road via mobiles and other handheld devices then data accuracy, real-time knowledge sharing, sales opportunity and team collaboration is compromised. Your CRM system should be the go-to-source for everyone in the business for real-time data, knowledge sharing and reporting. From sales to the CEO, the CRM allows every member of the team to perform effectively

Microsoft Dynamics 365 online can be used anywhere with a Wi-Fi signal, at any time on any device. Teams are always connected and able to access the workflows, systems and processes that make their day to day tasks more manageable, whether they’re in the office, or on the road. If they can’t, it’s time to look at a new system.

  1.       Your CRM system doesn’t unify departments 

If you have cross-departmental teams who are working with valuable files and data sets in information silos, then your business is losing opportunities daily. Your people are undoubtedly spending hours of unproductive administration time each day on tedious tasks that could be automated easily with a fit-for-purpose CRM.

What should an effective CRM system look like as we head towards 2020? A solution like Microsoft Dynamics is a suite of end-to-end suite of business applications that manage all aspects of your business. If your departments aren’t sharing their real-time data, then your customer journey and experience will be challenging not just for the end customer but your employees too.

From managing lead generation and qualifying prospects, right through to service delivery, compliance management, finance and operations and reporting, a fully unified CRM drives effective business performance and returns on ROI from the outset. Unify your data and connect your teams with a fit-for-purpose CRM and watch customer experience scores, customer satisfaction levels, employee satisfaction, team productivity and sales soar.

  1. Your current CRM has poor user adoption 

Poor CRM adoption happens for several reasons, the biggest being a lack of user adoption training at the time of installation. With little vendor support in embedding the technology with your users and designated super users, teams are left to decipher complex functionality on their own and never really scratching the surface of what the technology can do as they struggle to deliver their day to day tasks.

CRM today isn’t a plug and play database. Tools like Dynamics 365 are sophisticated platforms that drive multi-million-pound digital business operations. If initial in-depth training and new employee on-boarding processes have been poorly established, your CRM is unlikely to be fulfilling its potential or had update and upgrade schedules met, nor made use of expansion opportunities.

When you do decide to look at a new CRM, choosing a CRM partner who offers in-depth user adoption training and support should be a big part of your selection process.

  1. Your CRM is unreliable or out of support 

If you’re spending more and more time on IT support calls or creating costly fixes and workarounds to repair constantly repeating problems, productivity and output will be the first thing to take a dive. With team morale not far behind. In the modern workplace, teams have such huge pressure to deliver on their measurable objectives, It’s vital to provide them with the functioning tools they need to produce results instead of limiting their productivity with poorly performing technology.

Similarly, if your current CRM is out of mainstream support, in-house IT teams will struggle to maximise performance and your systems and processes are at risk of non-compliant data management and control. This is one of the most important red flags to address as soon as you possibly can, particularly with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and ever-increasing data compliance and controls. Microsoft Dynamics allows you to house your data controls within the CRM system and do real-time risk assessments to meet these complex compliance obligations. A GDPR ready CRM will help you avoid data breaches but also reduce the cost and burden of obtaining, signing and digitally storing relevant data and paperwork. If your current system doesn’t offer these time, money and productivity saving tools, it’s time to look at new CRM systems.

Diagnosis: time for a new CRM? 

If you’ve ticked one or more of the warning signs above, it’s time to start exploring a new CRM. Look at the vendors and partners who work in your vertical, explore the solutions on the market and start thinking about the functionality you’ll need to maximise operations. Interview a few potential partners and get a feel for their approach.

At Redspire, we can help you implement and customise your Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM and importantly, embed it firmly within the organisation with robust user adoption training.

For more information on CRM implementation success, watch our short webinar replay. If you’d like to discuss your project, call our experienced consultants on 0845 226 8170 or email on info@redspire.co.uk, regardless of how far along the process you are. We love to talk about CRM and Dynamics, and we love to help our clients revolutionise how they do business.

8 min read

The Digital Insurer: Top 10 Microsoft Dynamics tools and integrations that every Board level insurer should know about

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With online retailer Amazon famously releasing new functionality to its website every eleven seconds, it’s clear that continuous technological change is at the heart of customer service and experience. Regardless of the space you operate in, keeping pace digitally is vital to keep customer satisfaction high.

In insurance, the Board and c-suite are under increasing pressure to keep up. And not just with the current tech driving customer satisfaction, but also the change-making tech looming on the horizon. Customer demand coupled with cost pressures and the needs to provide a modern technology-led workplace to executives and third party intermediaries creates an insurance workplace that requires a robust technology strategy. Insurers who will succeed will have an appetite for continus innovation and change that goes far beyond simple lead nurture and risk management.

Thankfully, Microsoft have worked hard to enable insurance firms of all shapes, sizes and budgets to keep pace. The tech giant has created a range of fully integrated solutions and tools that provide increased collaboration and productivity from teams and intermediaries. All alongside the ability to map and enhance business processes and drive continuous improvement and automation.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform include a range of bolt-on technologies that unify data, tech and people. These transformative tools enhance all aspects of the insurance business and enable a 24/7 customer experience that sticks.

Read on for just a few of the key tools that are evolving the digital insurance space. For more information of the new and emerging technologies we’re deploying via our partnerships with the UK’s leading insurers, download our Digital Insurer white paper, watch our video series or sign up for our up and coming detailed blogs series on the individual tools below, direct to your inbox.

  1. Customer Service Insights: enhanced service and reduced costs

With AI and data driven customer service insights, the customer journey from on-boarding to reporting a claim and case management is set up to cater to the customer’s every need. Set 24/7 communication choices to suit customer preferences via Apps, Portals, data-driven Bots and seamless email processes straight into CRM. Your team’s productivity is improved, whilst being available for heavier touch contact when required. With agents accessing the same real-time data, your customers will receive consistent service levels. Decreasing CSAT scores monitoring,

SLA monitoring and enhanced business intelligence dashboards that identify trending call centre activity, means that you’re always on top of any potential issues before they get out of hand. And you can even quickly configure and deploy simple bot activity to resolve issues, whilst measuring individual or collective customer sentiment via cognitive services. Delivering on your customer’s needs and resolving claims and complaints effectively and in a timely manner creates that emotional connection that drives much sought after brand loyalty.

  1. Sharepoint Online: secure, regulatory compliant document storage

With the insurance sector processing millions of auditable pieces of data each day, it’s essential to have a safe, secure space to house these digital paper trails. With risk and data protection and GDPR regulation at front of mind, Microsoft recently enhanced its document storage offering. Sharepoint Online uses AI to identify sensitive information, encrypt where required and watermark and categorise documents. Integrating neatly into Dynamics 365, the application and claims process all sits within the secure Microsoft framework, benefitting from world-class security and classifications immediately.

  1. Relationship insights: Close deals and manage relationships with AI

Microsoft Relationship Insights builds strong relationships not just between customers and relationship managers, but also helping drive productive, effective networks between insurance teams, stakeholders, intermediaries and brokers. Going far beyond nurturing and close deals, the AI that’s housed within the CRM and email systems analyses and highlights trends and sentiment for appropriate action. Additionally, the user is served reminders on next steps required without having to manually set tasks or create events, enhancing productivity and ensuring no opportunities are missed.

  1. Office 365: Seamless productivity and team building business applications

With brokers in the field working directly with agents in call centres across disparate geographical locations, staying connected is vital. Office 365 combines office tools like Excel, Word and Outlook Exchange and introduces new, innovative productivity tools like Microsoft Teams. Teams provides a full collaboration space for online meetings, phone calls, video conferencing, document sharing, screen sharing and so much more. Easy to use across all devices, and integrated with rich data application Delve and the Dynamics 365 CRM, Office 365 is a much under-utilised tool in the insurance space. Yet it’s one our clients are seeing huge productivity value and benefits from once we steer them towards using to it’s full capability.

  1. Sales Navigator: social selling that turns relationships into sales

Get rich insight into your current and potential clients and the broker network by connecting Dynamics 365 to your LinkedIn account. When Microsoft purchased LinkedIn for $26billion, they combined the winning formula of Dynamics 365 and Sales Navigator to help Relationship Managers create warm connections and close deals faster. With huge success in Financial Services, the insurance sector should follow suit to differentiate, accelerate relationships, increase deal sizes and improve win rates.

  1. PowerApps: Putting business applications processes in your development team’s hands

Our top pick for the future and some exciting new features coming in the next wave. PowerApps is relatively new to market but revolutionising app development within the insurance and financial services space. With PowerApps, in-house developers can bring task-driven mobile apps and model-driven data apps to market as soon as they need, greatly reducing development time to market as well as partner development costs. Our clients are using PowerApps in the field to allow loss adjusters or even customer self-reporting of claims, with the capability to upload photos of damaged assets direct to CRM for attention via a simple, secure, bespoke built app. Claims can be validated quickly and efficiently, increasing customer satisfaction.

Many insurers are also using model driven apps to manage compliance and underwriting processes, connecting with tools like Flow to build out the entire process as a seamless extension of the Dynamics CRM.

  1. Marketing Insights: AI powered insights

Understand what your customers feel about your products and services, the claims process and your brand with Marketing Insights. Insurance services can be emotive, as you hold the security of people’s homes, cars and travel, or in commercial insurance, high value sums and risk in your hands. Marketing insights pulls the sentiment from your own online mentions, allowing you to take action and shape shape future service levels and marketing activity. Track what competitors are up to too, cut through the noise of what doesn’t interest you and find out what’s trending in insurance at the click of a button.

  1. Adobe Sign: digital document share and sign that closes more deals, faster.

One of the biggest tech giant partnerships of recent times, Microsoft and Adobe joined forces to collaborate on Marketing Cloud and Adobe Sign, increasing lead quality and quote volume and speeding up insurance customer on-boarding. Integrating fully into Dynamics 365, Dynamics can feed new and cross-sell insurance customer data from the CRM. Create, prepare and share digital documents for signing in seconds, rather than days or often weeks before they were returned. Conversions are improved, drop off reduces and customers benefit from a slick digital service and insurance coverage as and when they need it.

  1. Power BI: Enhanced Business Intelligence, visualised

Gartner’s top performing BI tool for the 13th year running, Power BI is the best way to understand what the data you hold on your clients, broker performance and teams actually means in the here and now. Part of the Power Platform, turn insights into action and data led decision-making across every department, from relationship management to risk and compliance, when you combine PowerApps, Power BI, and Microsoft Flow.

  1. Portals: safe are secure self-serve communication with great impact on ROI

Reduce costs and increase productivity and experience by connecting to your partners or customers to the business via bespoke build, secure data-sharing portals. Manage your broker relationships, share insights or information on claims, policies, renewals and customers.

Adapting to the ever-changing digital landscape in insurance

As with the wider Financial Services sector, insurance is in a process of on-going, accelerated change, and it’s steering how the c-suite approach operations and policyholder service delivery. As insurance goes digital, competition for customer spend and attention is fierce, bringing opportunity to differentiate on brand proposition, service and experience. The onus isn’t just on attracting and retaining customers, it’s on ensuring a unified experiences across the entire portfolio.

The cost of not keeping up with the new technologies driving change? Your digital strategy could veer off in the wrong direction or you could rule out initiatives that could be executed in your business quicker and at a lower cost than what you think. Advancing InsureTech is providing innovation hungry transformation teams with the opportunity to breathe life into an evolving sector and engage and deliver slick user experiences like never. To find out more, download The Digital Insurer white paper today or contact us on 0845 226 8170 or email us at info@redspire.co.uk.

5 min read

The art of the possible in Banking with Microsoft Dynamics and the Power Platform

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There hasn’t been a time in history where we’ve seen such accelerated pace of change in the banking sector. Driven by the fourth industrial revolution, new and emerging technologies are creating cultural and societal shifts that are reshaping our very way of life, including how we consume goods and services.

Within the financial services sector at large, Microsoft Dynamics and the Power Platform represents the chance to reimagine and simplify user experiences and streamline common user functions and capabilities. Power Platform – Power BI, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow – extends the Dynamics business application to quickly and easily create custom built apps, automate workflows, improve productivity and analysis, and gain rich data insights. And with a powerful, point-and-click approach to app building, there’s little need for serious in-depth technical capabilities.

Welcome to Microsoft Dynamics and the Power Platform in Banking

As Artificial intelligence and self-service bots rapidly become the norm, personalisation in both retail and commercial banking has taken on surgical precision to create data sets of one. With the introduction of the Common Data Model, Microsoft Dynamics and The Power Platform is helping banking users deliver the enhanced service levels that customers expect. Self-serve, custom-built portals are driving product and service accessibility and delivering slick experiences to customers at home and on-the go. AI Builder, updated AI capabilities, and a new look for Power BI, PowerApps Portals, and enhancements for Microsoft Flow are all coming in wave 2 later this year adding increased capabilities for delivering customer and operational excellence.

Going forward the combination of Common Data Model and PowerApps in Banking will allow Apps to be created for specific scenarios, either tying into a Dynamics use case or as standalone. PowerApps solves the challenges across your entire Banking business and allows teams to rapidly create apps for any scenario.  Benefit from:

  • Easily build apps with a full featured low-code/no-code platform
  • Connect to all your data with pre-built connectors, custom connectors
  • Put your data to work with the Common Data Service for Apps
  • Office 365, Azure, Dynamics 365, Power BI, Microsoft Flow integration
  • Strong enterprise governance & security
  • Pro-dev extensibility

The nuances and complexities of your business are always at the centre of your Dynamics and Power Platform deployment. There are thousands of bespoke use cases of Microsoft Dynamics and the Power Platform and the capability for constant, fast-paced improvement is in your users’s hands. Innovation isn’t silo’d or in the hands of your transformation partner. Rapid innovation becomes possible within your in-house development team, meeting the fast-changing demands of the banking environment and marketplace.

“PowerApps is a great blank canvas, with easy-to-use templates, and seamless connectivity to all the Microsoft cloud services that we use. It took only two months from the time we started development until we launched the app in our first stores.”

Bruce Rioch, Chief Data Officer, MetroBank

Some example use cases of Microsoft Dynamics and the Power Platform in banking include:

  1. Automation of complex customer on-boarding or risk processes, freeing up staff resources, improving productivity and creating a risk audit trail on the CRM.
  2. Create self-serve loan applications connected to third party decision making tools that provide instant responses to applicants and create a compliance paper trail that ticks all of the regulatory boxes.
  3. Increase adoption of front-facing apps that create slick user experiences and convenience whilst delivering precision targeted marketing activity and high levels of user satisfaction
  4. Raise and action reports and support tickets that keep services live and automate improvement processes.
  5. Make use of any devices to create inspections and auditor apps for remote hardware like ATMs to ensure they are always clean, functional and available.
  6. Build helpdesk chatbots that are serviced from centralised knowledge materials and always accessing up to the minute customer data.
  7. Structure and automate workflows between teams and third parties for maximum productivity and connectivity
  8. Standardise new employee on-boarding across the whole business to ensure that individual employees and teams are talking the same language and operating to the same high standards.
  9. Employ smart assistant for salespeople and relationship managers to ensure that no sale is lost and clients or customers enjoy a consultative selling experience.
  10. Create automate reporting practices that unify information sharing and set macro and micro targets and KPIs that are understood business wide and at the appropriate permission level.

A recent Economic Impact study of Dynamics and the Power Platform highlighted that the average cost of app development is reduced by 70% with PowerApps and Flow, with £2.9 million avoided in application development and management costs. These types of cost savings are indicative of the costs and productivity savings that can be made with each individual solution within the platform. Combined with no-code capabilities that drive high user adoption, it’s clear that return on initial investment is high. And with the tools included within the standard Dynamics 365 licensing, it’s easy to get started with Power Platform today.

For a comprehensive overview of future banking, download our Future Banking White Paper now, or get in touch via 0845 226 8170 or info@redspire.co.uk.

 

4 min read

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

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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

AI Builder – Microsoft’s new low-code intelligence tool for the Power Platform

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Hot off the press from the Microsoft BizApps Summit conference in Atlanta, comes the newly announced and hotly anticipated AI Builder.

The turnkey solution comes as part of further investment into the growing capability within the Power Platform, allowing users to harness the functionality of Microsoft’s already established Artificial Intelligence tools within their own custom-built applications.

The AI builder will become a flagship offering as part of the PowerApps “low code” pledge to “allow everyone, from the professional developer to the frontline worker, to participate in driving better business outcomes by building apps”.

The application of Artificial Intelligence within PowerApps will allow crucial sectors that have more of a requirement for immediate customer feedback, like banking, to better align their digital strategy around the customer journey. Power BI, Microsoft’s Business Intelligence Reporting Platform will leverage this functionality providing for immediate trend analysis and valuable insights into key data metrics within these organisations and another key offering that will benefit from the AI customization functionality will be Microsoft Flow, as part of the successful visual process automation and workflow management tool, with a view to providing a simplified approach to optimising the work-based processes without having the advanced technical knowledge of understanding how AI works.

There will be 4 main components to the studio in the first instance;

Classification – This comes in two forms; Binary Rule-Based Classification of new data for segmentation and task management etc. Go/No-Go, Pass/Fail, Ready/Not Ready for Review and Text Classification using the Natural Language Processing (NLP) functionality to analyse sentiment and routing Customer Requests; i.e. Customer Service or Customer Retention.

Business card reader – This tool will take a photograph or load an image from the local device, scan it to find a business card and extract the information it finds into selected fields.

Form processor – This component takes a photograph or loads an image from the local device, and then processes it to extract text based on a trained AI model. If it detects a form that the AI model is trained for, the form processor extracts the field values, and identifies them.

Object detector – An object detection scan will take place off a photo or image file. On a mobile device, the user is presented with the device’s interface to choose between taking a photo or selecting one already available. When an image is selected, the component automatically performs a scan to identify objects within the image.

One of the early adopters of the innovative preview tool was G&J Pepsi who worked alongside Microsoft as part of the preview availability to develop some in-app AI functionality which allows for a simplified and streamlined process for inventory management where store employees have the ability to take a picture of the shelf and share it with the AI Builder.

AI builder screen

The AI, built within the system can then recognize the types of bottles on the shelf, count them and determine whether or not Pepsi needs to order and deliver another shipment, and then send the request to action all with minimal requirement for any in-system coding.

You can check out the latest phase 2 release notes here for all the upcoming capability enhancements due to land in October 2019, with the AI Builder in preview now.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a next-generation business management and digital transformation system that unifies ERP, CRM, and business intelligence into one slick application that can be uniquely tailored to your business needs. Blending people, culture and technology, it feeds all areas of the financial services business from day to day frontline branch operations to boardroom vision and strategy, whilst allowing IT teams to innovate new initiatives instead of problem-solving day to day. For more information on improving the digital transformation strategy to grow alongside your business, get in touch with Redspire today.

7 min read

Top five benefits of upgrading and migrating to Cloud CRM in Banking and Financial Services

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The financial services sector is under growing pressure to meet ever-increasing compliance and regulation whilst delivering data-centric, customer-first experiences. Digitally switched on audiences from data-aware millennials to silver-surfing baby boomers are riding the digital wave and their expectations from Banks and Insurance providers are high. In touch with the innovations, apps and tools that help manage their money, check on the financial health and make transacting seamless and hassle-free both at home or on the go, consumers are hungry for the same sort of one-click services they’ve come to expect from digital giants like Apple, Amazon and PayPal.

Cloud-native banking and insurance

It’s clear that tech-tonic shifts are taking place in the sector, fed by this consumer demand and driven by accelerated advances in tech, in the form of AI, the cloud, advancing fintech and robotics. To keep up with these rapid-fire advances and meet regulatory compliance frameworks, upgrading and migrating existing CRM to clever and intuitive cloud based solutions like Microsoft Dynamics has been identified as the biggest game-changer for Financial Services. Slower early adopters of cloud technologies than other industries, the sector is now embracing the clear benefits of migrating services from on-premise to cloud CRM, making data work harder and smarter.

This year, Fujitsu says that in banking the focus should be on completing the move towards being cloud-native, whilst insurance sectors should take advantage of open APIs and the Internet of Things within their operational models. Pascal Huijbers, Chief Technology Officer Financial Services EMEIA at Fujitsu, says:

Banks were among the first organisations to take the digital transformation agenda seriously, realising the danger to their core business, or even their very existence, if they failed to respond to the threat of disruption from new entrants. Insurance companies are also responding with imaginative new initiatives in areas such as IoT. This year, the banks’ agenda is about driving away from expensive legacy technology and towards becoming cloud native, with all the implications that holds for agility, innovation and cost efficiency.

Cloud CRM or on-premise CRM

At it’s most basic level, on premise solutions are hosted locally on your organisations in-house computers and servers. Cloud software is hosted on the vendors’ servers, accessible via web browsers like Bing, Google etc. Accessibility isn’t the only consideration however when upgrading to cloud CRM or comparing and deciding upon upgrading to Cloud CRM over on-premise. Other factors to consider including software ownership, the cost of software and hardware, updates, support and security.

At Redspire, we have a proven track record upgrading and migrating disparate on-premise legacy or out of support systems to innovation ready cloud-deployed solutions. Here’s our top five benefits of upgrading to Cloud CRM and other cloud technologies.

1. Optimised budgets

When you upgrade to a cloud CRM like Microsoft Dynamics 365, it removes the need for costly IT infrastructure. With reduced needs for capital outlay, servers and equipment, organisations benefit from short and longer term return on investment. Redspire recently partnered with Money and Pensions Services (formerly the Money Advice Service) to upgrade and migrate to Dynamics 365 online. Transforming both customer facing and third party stakeholder operations, the deployment significantly reduced hardware costs, software upgrade costs and timescales, and incorporated support and fix costs for both the system and the hardware.

2. World-class, data compliant security

Mass service outage or even personal user downtime in service accessibility has a massive impact on day to day consumer convenience. Yet security breaches aren’t just an inconvenience to your customers in financial services. They can seriously damage consumer trust as well as their financial wellbeing and data security, as evidenced by the recent TSB security breach and subsequent disruption to services that cost the firm 16,000 customers.

The access and world-class security provided by Microsoft’s cloud technologies are some of the tightest, most secure and compliant security structures available today, and fully optimised to meet PSD2 (Payment Services Directive 2) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) regulations. Connections between Microsoft data centres and end users are encrypted, and public endpoints secured using industry-standard TLS. Additionally, Microsoft review and authenticate over some 40 trillion logins per day. Threats and cyber hacks are managed by Microsoft’s Cyber Defence Operations Centre, which brings together security response experts from across the company to help protect, detect, and respond to threats in real-time. Microsoft’s annual investment in security, data protection, and risk management exceeds over a billion US dollars. Long story short? Your data is safer in the cloud than it is in your back office.

3. Innovation ready with automated updates and constant access to new features

An outdated, unfit for purpose CRM is one of the biggest obstacles to digital innovation and hampers customer engagement and success. Sound data delivered via adaptable technology is the foundation of efficient, exciting customer experience, making it easier to provide the innovative products and services that your banking and insurance customers crave. Cloud technologies are a clear winner over on-premise systems in this respect as they’re constantly updating to the latest and greatest version for all of your people, from branch level and field agents to senior directors. With Microsoft Dynamics 365, automated updates mean you’re always working on the latest version with continuous access to the latest cross-platform and cross-departmental features like integrated web portals, mobile apps and innovations in AI like Customer Service chatbots etc.

April 2019 was a key milestone for Dynamics 365, with all customers updated to the latest version. This release included three brand new Dynamics AI applications that deliver immersive customer experiences, excellent behavioural insights and add useful business controls in security, risk and compliance.

4. Productive teams and engaged employees

Cloud based CRM is the key to delivering differentiated consumer experiences in banking. Real time cross business data updates and a single customer view drive personalisation at a granular level by connect your braches, field staff, call centres and third party providers with the technology, rich data and insights your people you need to provide incredible experiences. Forrester’s Total Economic Impact™ study on Dynamics 365 for Customer Service 2018 indicated that the solution increases banking call centre staff efficiency by 15%, to a value of £4.56million across three years. Customers remain loyal, have better product and service uptake and have increased lifetime value when their needs are met. Employees are empowered with the tools to deliver best practice, show increased loyalty and have higher workplace satisfaction, whilst IT professionals benefit from agility of the solution, and are able to roll out innovation faster. Cloud CRM ensures that banking teams run like well-oiled machines.

Kate Leggett, VP and Principal Analyst, Forrester Research: “As they move to the cloud, companies can leverage cloud technologies and deliver these differentiated experiences. Cloud CRM deployments give you faster time to value.”

5. Cross business accessibility

With 24 hour a day, seven days a week access to banking and financial services the norm, and the move away from office based 9 to 5 roles, cloud CRM supports both customers and teams by giving them access to service functionality as and when they need it. Dynamics 365 is accessible to colleagues on any device with an internet connection. On-the-go employees are able to capture and share the same real time insights as desk-bound teams and even collaborate with with teammates and customers as they travel via an in-system common interface, giving them the tools and insights that increase employee engagement, drive customer satisfaction and deliver the strategic company vision.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is next-generation business management and digital transformation system that unifies ERP, CRM and business intelligence into one slick application that can be uniquely tailored to your business needs. Blending people, culture and technology, it feeds all areas of the financial services business from day to day frontline branch operations to boardroom vision and strategy, whist allowing IT teams to innovate new initiatives instead of problem solve day to day. For more information on improving the digital transformation strategy to grow alongside your business, get in touch with Redspire today, or check our one of our free upcoming webinars, including “The benefits of migrating your CRM to the cloud”.

8 min read

Achieving the four pillars of Digital Transformation in Banking with Microsoft Dynamics

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Not so long ago, digital transformation in Banking meant keeping pace throughout the third industrial revolution; meeting the digital challenge by providing basic online banking functionality that supported bricks and mortar mainstream branches. As digital evolved, account and loan applications were added, along with mobile transactional functionality to allow people to bank on-the-go. Personalisation and big data made its way into Board and Executive strategy conversations. The Retail Banking sector in particular, rose to the digital challenge, proving itself agile and adaptable to change, despite the unchartered territory of balancing strict risk and compliance controls alongside the necessary digitalisation of the customer experience.

As we hurtle towards 2020, through the fourth industrial revolution, digital transformation has become a lot more meaningful and immersive than simply providing online and mobile transactional functionality. Corporate and Commercial Bankers now find their marketplace in an accelerated state of change, alongside Retail Banking and the wider Financial Services sector. AI in banking and financial services is revolutionising the industry. FinTech, InsureTech, RoboAdvice and open banking capabilities are shifting the goalposts, stealing market share from incumbent banks, building societies, credit unions, insurers et al. And doing so with a side order of brand sass that appeals to younger audiences, almost as much as their instant gratification banking services do.

So how sound is your organisation’s digital strategy?

A recent report by the Boston Consulting Group highlights that executives in the banking sector lack confidence in their organisation’s digital futureproofing. With Big Tech and FinTech threats looming, over 40% of c-suite executives in banking reported that their own organisation didn’t have a digital strategy – never mind a sound one – despite 80% of respondents being aware that digital is leading transformation in the sector. Only 20% of banking executives believe that their bank has a market-leading digital presence, with the number one barrier to effective digital transformation cited as dated infrastructure and challenging legacy systems. Yet legacy IT needn’t hold you back as you map out future transformation and it doesn’t mean you need to rip out and replace high value tech to get started. The power of Microsoft Dynamics is that you can integrate legacy data sources right into the solution for quick results, now.

The four pillars of digital transformation in Banking and Financial Services

So, it’s clear that the opportunity to thrive, not just survive still exists for hungry market players with an eye on innovation. Boston Consulting Group recommend four key pillars for effective digital strategy in Banking and Financial Services. These key priorities align neatly with Microsoft’s four pillars of effective digital transformation and provide a cohesive starting point for reviewing and renewing your digital business strategy, market position and current capabilities. The possibilities, done right? End-to-end customer-focused journeys and increased satisfaction through the latest technologies in the Microsoft stack; from a safe and secure cloud-based Dynamics 365 CRM that unifies your people, data and business processes in a single, intelligent system, to AI for customer services and sales integrations that automate processes and decision making. All driven by sound data and providing enhanced operational workflows for every single person in your business.

Why is it so important to reach digital maturity in banking and financial services now? New technologies are constantly emerging, however, only digitally-enabled organisations with the right foundational solutions in place will be able to make use of these new innovations. The beauty of Dynamics 365 cloud platform is that once implemented, it’s constantly updating. Meaning you’re always working on the latest version, and able to access new release tools as soon as they hit the market. Recent releases include live chat and SMS functionality and new Power Platform capabilities which combine Microsoft Flow, Power BI and Common Data for apps which allow an easy and powerful collaborative integration into Dynamics 365 and Office 365.

Of course, these operational changes and strategic digital improvement can’t and shouldn’t be disconnected à la carte projects and initiatives undertaken in a silo. Successful digital transformation is a unified and co-ordinated business project, created in the Boardroom as a comprehensive, enterprise-wide strategy and implemented, with a clearly defined purpose, and an industry expert and experienced external partner like Redspire supporting the process.

The four key priorities for effective digital transformation in Banking

  1. Reinvent the Consumer Journey

The outdated banking model is dead. Customer expectations continue to rise, desiring and demanding service and personalised sales processes their way. Seamless, safe and secure fingerprint or facial recognition log in, one-click withdrawals, remembering personal preferences at every customer touchpoint and Alexa voice integrations are the bare minimum that customers expect when they interact with their bank today. Market disrupting challengers and nimble, born-in-the-cloud FinTechs have evolved the customer journey and traditional banks, building societies and insurers should do the same to remain competitive.

Cloud-based CRM is one of the most vital tools in the innovative banker’s arsenal. Gain a single view of customers and prospects with Dynamics 365, your entire business in one neat, expandable solution. With all customer data in the one place, available to your cross-departmental agents in real time, you can exceed and delight customers with insights that sell, service and convert. Seamlessly merged with big data, business intelligence and AI integrations, your agents can pick the next best action, systems are automatically updated and your customer gets the service they’ve come to expect from Big Data players like Amazon, Apple et al.

Before kick-starting any digital transformation project, spend time selecting the right partner and mapping the customer journey collaboratively to put your customers at the centre of your business. The beauty of Microsoft’s cloud technologies are that they can be moulded and integrated to suit your bespoke needs, reimagining and redefining your customers experiences. When you understand what matters most to different subsets of customers during critical junctures in their user journey – supported by the the immense capabilities of the Microsoft stack – can build user experiences that reward, engage and create long-term loyalty. On-board a client in just a few clicks with Adobe Sign. Automate lending decisions with Flow. PowerApps and Portals connect access to Credit Reference Agencies third party tools. The limitations are endless, with a quantifiable ROI evidenced from the outset.

  1. Discover the power of data

What’s the point of harvesting data if you don’t harness its power? Microsoft Dynamics and Power BI reporting provide insights that help you understand your clients and prospects, uncover missed opportunities, identify high-ticket clients or cross-selling opportunities and reduce the cost of acquisition, satisfaction and retention too. Dynamics online and Power BI allow your team to create, share and view immersive visual dashboards on the go, within global geographies, and are key drivers of building consultative client relationships that last.

During a recent Dynamics 365 implementation within the small business banking division at CYBG, unifying data from legacy systems allowed Relationship Managers and Team Managers to deepen customer relationships, easily identify key accounts and identify those at risk of default or depreciation. Data precision and clarity allowed the team to gain 3,175 days in increased productivity through increased data analytics and an 11 x increase on customer outreach calls, with impressive impact on annual results too.

  1. Redefine the operating model.

Living in an increasingly time-poor world, consumer needs have shifted in their banking relationships. That close relationship with the bank manager has become a convenient online digital relationship that’s easily accessible via their devices as and when they need it, outreaching for that human touch only when they have more complex needs. Hybrid sales, customer service and experience operating models that are well executed can inspire loyalty and delight a customer. Executed badly, can frustrate and have them abandon ship for a competitor without even stopping to let you know where you’ve failed.

Banks who successfully combine the human touch with self-service capabilities via AI bots and custom-built portals can expect to see up to a 15% increase in revenue and satisfaction levels and up to a 35% saving in branch network costs. Utilising bionic networks, whilst being open to collaboration with other FinTechs and Open Banking players can create the high value service levels that your customers desire and create seamless services that deliver on brand promise and value.

  1. Build a Digital Driven Organization

The final priority of successful digital transformation in banking is facing organisational culture hurdles face on to build a digital-first business.

When you set out strategically, with board, CEO and senior executives aligned on a vision to build a digitally driven banking business, you reaffirm to your customers, your people and your stakeholders that digital transformation is a priority. You state that every action in the future roadmap leads to agile and digital-first working methods, earmark funding and help recruit the best talent and partners in the sector to make your vision a reality. It takes collective vision to shift a traditional financial provider mindset into a radically changed innovative digital culture. Strong top down leadership is vital to make success happen, with the right partner steering your vision every step of the way.

The boldest incumbents and challenger banks are taking cue from FinTechs, mirroring their agility and born-in-the-cloud best practice to overcome legacy challenges and red-tape laden showstoppers that dampen customer experiences.

Data driven customer experiences, with a human touch

Digital transformation in banking today is connected, blending people, culture and technology to provide personalised service, slick and connected operations that service the customer how they want, when they want and where they want it. It’s speedy and agile, data-driven, with a human touch. Banking executives and the c-suite are under tremendous pressure to keep up and ensure a coherent digital strategy delivers on corporate vision. For more information on improving customer experience and gaining competitive advantage in Banking, join our webinar on Thursday 20th June @ 11 am.

3 min read

Digital Transformation in Banking: Four Key Solution Areas

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As the financial sector experiences its own shift in priorities in response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, organisations are placing a much larger focus on the technology that will lead them through digital transformation in banking.

Microsoft frame digital transformation through 4 key solution areas:

Modern Workplace

With an increase in new business models, internal processes and a changing environment that encourages wider collaboration, the right digital tools are key to ensuring stability and productivity throughout a period of growth in the banking and financial services sector.

Some of the key integrations like Skype for business and Microsoft Teams strengthen an already diverse and functionally capable Office 365 suite, purposely designed to improve collaboration, creativity and empowerment within cross-departmental functions.

Business Applications

Functional business processes are becoming increasingly digitised as part of an industry evolution for organisational efficiency. The Microsoft solution model is designed to prevent cross-function disconnect and transform the customer journey by equipping individuals with single-view access to collaborative platforms like Dynamics 365, PowerApps and data-driven insights for customer service and marketing.

Digital transformation in banking starts by simply having better access to information, more powerful tools to analyse the data, and the processes in place to infuse it into the decision-making process. This allows banking organisations to better ensure customer acquisition and retention are at the very heart of their overall business objectives.

Applications & Infrastructure

Cloud-based infrastructure has become one of the main areas of investment within Microsoft over the last year. The Azure platform is a complementary solution that helps empower banking organisations to build business applications into the very core of their business. The multi-device accessibility and functionality is a crucial component of digital transformation in banking; building a streamlined mobile experience for customers, based on their interests and behaviour.

With such a huge emphasis on security and the privacy of customer data within the banking industry, the Azure cloud solution features safeguarding tools like threat intelligence, information protection and multi-step authorisation to ensure absolute safety to both the user and the data subject featured within the application.

Data & Artificial Intelligence

Modern-day business change is driven by data and insight. By combining this data with AI applications, banking organisations can leverage process automation to better service customers immediate needs. As customer experience becomes a more prominent consideration in decision-making, financial services organisations will be in a better position to offer more personalised recommendations on all touchpoints and product and service offerings by utilising the data analysis and AI relationship within the Microsoft technology suite.

Watch our video below for a short overview of the key solution areas and their impact in Banking:

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, FMCG, 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, our expertise in Dynamics 365 and the wider Microsoft ecosystem help our clients achieve operational excellence and project delivery that improves bottom lines.

Join our upcoming webinar: “Driving Change and Meaningful Customer Engagement in Financial Services with Dynamics 365” to dig deeper into how your own business can leverage the technology to better steer customer-focused organisational change.

2 min read

Redspire partner with Microsoft MVP Neil Parkhurst to boost digital skills talent in Scotland

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Redspire are excited to announce a year long partnership with Microsoft MVP and award-winning Dynamics 365 consultant Neil Parkhurst. Our Gold Partner agency will collaborate with the D365UG Global All-Star on an internal best practice programme that provides bespoke training and development for new recruits, front line project delivery and an open market events and webinar series designed to upskill developers, analysts and architects across the sector.

With over thirty years plus experience in IT, Parkhurst is a highly regarded leader in Dynamics, Unified Service Desk, Field Service and Project Service Automation. Boasting an extensive client roster, a popular YouTube channel and a series of sector awards, his contribution to the Dynamics space extends globally. NeilParkhurst.com – a free resource dedicated to supporting and upskilling students and professionals working towards Dynamics accreditation – has accrued over 1.7 million hits since launch in 2016, achieving double digit growth year on year, and gaining notoriety within the IT sector as one of the most valued digital resources available.

The collaboration will also extend the reach of Redspire’s on-going commitment to The Microsoft Pledge, which they signed in August 2019, a promise to help create a strong digital talent pool entering the sector and prevent skills shortages.

Second phase plans intend to take the Redspire and Parkhurst partnership from the workplace to the classroom, in a bid to help Scotland’s students and businesses prepare for the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and reduce skills gaps in IT graduates entering the workplace.

Redspire’s Services Director Steven Brown says: “Like Neil, Redspire is driven by delivering organisational business change to our clients, alongside building the best IT talent in the sector. Collaborating with Neil in the coming twelve months support our key business goals for the year ahead and will allow us to achieve ambitious growth plans in terms of talent acquisition and project delivery.”

Parkhurst says: “There’s real synergy between Redspire’s commercial goals and mine and I’m pleased to be partnering with them in this year ahead.”

Redspire is a CRM Consultancy, specialising exclusively in Dynamics 365. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we help UK businesses solve organisational challenges and help our clients achieve long term strategic goals, via bespoke CRM solutions that revolutionise how they do business.

As part of the Microsoft account managed teams, Redspire work collaboratively to drive digital transformation, improve processes and help businesses understand and engage with teams, customers, clients, citizens and members like never before. With particularly strong capabilities in Financial Services, Government and the Media, our client base includes the Money Advice Service (now trading as the Money and Pensions Service), Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group (CYBG), Golden Charter, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and GroupM.