2 min read

What’s new in Microsoft Dynamics 365 wave 2?

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The October 2019 Dynamics 365 wave 2 release for Dynamics 365 is, as expected, is a love story to Microsoft’s continued investment in AI and commitment to industry and commerce. The release brings a whole host of AI-infused and industry specific capabilities and brand new world-class innovations that provide meaningful capabilities to digitally transform organisations of all shapes and sizes.

The enhancements and improvements to Dynamics 365 suite of applications include hundreds of brand new capabilities across the usual business process applications.

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer Service
  • Field Service
  • Project Service Automation
  • Finance
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Talent
  • Retail
  • Business Central

Microsoft October 2019 release for Dynamics 365 wave 2

We recently shared an article covering AI driven sales insights, market insights and customer insights capabilities and enhancements. Additional release announcements include Dynamics 365 Product Insights, which connects product telemetry to Microsoft Business Applications, bringing valuable in-branch, store-level insights and gives visibility into product and service performance and customer interactions.

Enhancements to Dynamics 365 Customer Insights extends the reach of the tool further from mainly B2C scenarios. Additional features will now allow organisations to generate powerful insights into complex B2B journeys too and understand and serve leads and accounts better.

At Redspire HQ, we’re very excited about Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service. This is a vital tool to deliver enhanced customer service and experience, and is improved with with brand new authoring capabilities. This allows users to test and deploy AI-powered chat bots with greater speed, freeing front line agents to focus on more complex issues, and providing deep insights into customer satisfaction and experience.

Security and risk is also covered. Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection provides a formidable fraud protection solution,  decreasing fraud costs and helping increase acceptance rates for customer payment transactions.

The Power Platform

The Power Platform is bringing unbelievable new hands on automation and innovation superpowers to organisations and internal teams globally. The new wave 2 capabilities really extend their reach and maximise the power of AI for everyone from pro-devs to front of house teams. Read more in yesterday’s Power Platform article or get in touch with us to find out more.

About Redspire 

Whilst just scratching the surface of the top tier Dynamics 365 wave 2 enhancements here, our technical team are delving deep into the new capabilities to bring them to our clients. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, leading business transformation in Banking, Insurance, Government and FMCG, we know Dynamics 365 inside out and we love getting under the hood of our clients’ businesses to innovate, automate and return on your digital investment.

To read more about the Microsoft technologies driving digital business transformation, download our guide today. To discuss how Dynamics 365 and the latest technologies from the Microsoft stack can transform your business, please get in touch with our team of specialist Microsoft-accredited consultants today for an informal chat. Ask about our suite of on-site business transformation workshops. Call 0845 226 8170 or email info@redspire.co.uk.

 

 

8 min read

Banking on AI with Microsoft Dynamics 365

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“Artificial intelligence isn’t going to replace bankers. It’s going to optimize how banks work by helping them become more agile, make smarter decisions, and, ultimately, stay more competitive.” (Banking on AI, Microsoft, 2019)

With the October wave 2 release for Dynamics 365 featuring 400 new updates and capabilities across Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform (more about that soon), as well as brand new AI-infused, industry-specific capabilities included in the release, our attention at Redspire is on how AI (Artificial Intelligence) is evolving banking and financial services . Should the c-suite be banking on AI to drive product and service innovation and steer customer excellence? The short answer: yes. It’s rapidly becoming clear that current and emerging artificial intelligence has the power to transform FSI, far more than any other technologies have done in recent years.

Microsoft investment in AI insights

Microsoft’s continued investment in AI is helping the banking sector turn valuable agent, customer, product, sales and competitor data into proactive ideas and action. Existing AI insights are already revolutionising product and service delivery for early adopters of the capabilities in banking. Yet as we hone and develop new and exciting use cases for our FSI clients with the features like AI builder, the opportunity to transform operations is immense. AI-driven agents, rapid implementation model and line of business apps and problem solving bots used alongside constant machine learning will boost team productivity, solve immediate business or operational pain and drive experiences with the sharpest of precision.

Out of the box Dynamics 365 AI tools for banking

The three main pre-packaged AI tools that are really allowing our banking clients to predict customer needs and provide services when the customer wants, just how the customer wants it are:

These insight apps, particularly when powered by Azure AI, enable bankers to apply artificial intelligence within line of business workflows that slicken operations and steer customers to the right channel for their needs. That could be a knowledge centre bot to answer a simple, frequently asked question or a rapidly deployed bot that’s been set up to respond to an emerging complaint theme. This sort of client self-service frees up Relationship Managers and gives them almost superpower like abilities to drive more personal and well-rounded customer experience. Teams can provide tailored, value-driven communications through a 360-degree view of their customer, across all business departments. Predictive intelligence analyses data touch-points like buying habits, financial aspirations and emphasis on income-proportionate savings, and can help banks better understand the customer sets that will respond better to specific and targeted offers, and create hyper-tuned cross-sell opportunities based on the information gathered and analysed by the AI systems.

But what does this look like in action?

Dynamics 365 AI for Sales Insights

If we had to pick a tool from the Dynamics suite that’s absolutely vital to the success of banking sales performance and levelling the playing field for incumbent banks and challengers, this is it. Steering opportunity propensity to close and measuring the sentiment of communications to serve you insight on how the relationship is going is only scratching the surface of the capabilities of the AI. For example, the sales insight tool listens to calls and can provide slick, in-depth feedback and a wealth of learning from the call, such as:

  • Conversation analysis: Did the sales agent provide enough information in line with the customer’s needs? Did they talk too much or too little? This can really hone individual sales capabilities and help create sales playbooks for future opportunities.
  • Sentiment analysis: Cognitive AI measures and reports back on customer mood within the conversation. Were they upset, excited? This can be used to turn the sales opportunity around by recommending next best action if the propensity to close has decreased and also be used by sales and relationship managers for future coaching.
  • Keyword and trends analysis: AI can measure and pick up on keywords and report on an individual level or a collective department or organizational level if there are any keywords that are trending up and down. For example, a banking competitor or new lending product is being mentioned more often than usual. This is reported to the sales manager who can then create sales battlecards to overcome the threat before the competitor has had a chance to steal market-share. Similarly, this tool can report back if there are recurring queries or objections that salespeople are having to overcome and create solutions, collateral or playbooks to support.

With AI for Sales Insight’s predictive lead and opportunity scoring, salespeople are provided with valuable AI insight to prioritise the right relationships, to help close faster and win more business. Sales Managers can analyse individual, team and third party performance and view rich sales activity reports and view pipelines at the touch of a button. This is just a few examples of the tool in action. Get in touch today if you want to chat Sales for AI with our consultants.

Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service Insights  

Of course, it isn’t all just about selling. With customer experience a key differentiator in banking and competition levels fierce, delivering impeccable customer service is vital in both retail and commercial banking environments. What does AI infused customer service look like within a banking? Like Sales Insights, Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service Insights can use predictive analytics to provide actionable insight into business critical performance metrics. AI analyses operational and customer contact data to group cases and provide trends in real time to highlight and create instant solutions – before issues get out of hand. In-house teams receive reports that action is required and they can then create an easily configurable bot to respond and answer basic questions, measure their sentiment and pass the complaint to a team member if they require higher touch interaction. Throughout the entire process the AI and bots are collecting constant feedback and feeding continual improvement Built-in reporting dashboards, interactive visual charts and reports provide views into support operations data across channels, highlighting improvement and best practice that will have the greatest impact. Customer service managers can quickly evaluate and act to meet key performance indicators (KPIs) and maintain customer satisfaction levels.

Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights  

So you’ve got your sales and service performing with AI. What’s next? Understanding your own and your competitor brand position with AI for Market Insights. Interpret what your customers say, do and feel about your organisation online and measure their sentiment against your bank in comparison to key competitors. Are you delivering on brand promise and customer excellence? AI for market insights is also valuable to when managing third party relationships in the banking environment. Are your stakeholders getting what they expect from the relationship?

How safe and secure is AI for Banking?

Machine learning functionality provides a comprehensive analysis for deeper insight into risk and operational models, as well as real-time response to the intelligence gathered for an enhanced risk management procedure – specifically tailored to suit and meet any regulatory requirements like GDPR or advanced AML checks.

The data collected is safely and securely stored in Microsoft’s award-winning Azure cloud infrastructure, with multi-factor authentication, continuous monitoring, increased transparency and digital privacy protection to ensure all sensitive data adheres to any industry, domestic or global standards

The future of AI and overview of the new release AI tools

By 2021, Gartner estimates that AI augmentation will generate about $2.9 trillion in business value and recover about $6.2 billion in worker productivity

On top of the existing AI capabilities, the October 2019 release brings a whole host of AI-infused capabilities that will help the banking sector thrive. Dynamics 365 Product Insights connects product telemetry to Microsoft Business Applications, bringing valuable in-branch or ATM insights and give visibility into product and service performance and customer interactions.

Enhancements to Dynamics 365 Customer Insights extends the reach of the tool further from mainly B2C scenarios. Additional features allow banking organisations to generate powerful insights into complex B2B commercial banking journeys and understand and serve leads and accounts better.

We’re very excited about Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service, which is currently still in preview. This is a vital tool for all banks and financial services firms, and is enhanced with new authoring capabilities. This allows users to test and deploy AI-powered chat bots with greater speed, freeing front line agents to focus on more complex issues, and providing deep insights into customer satisfaction and

Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection provides a formidable fraud protection solution,  decreasing fraud costs and helping increase acceptance rates for customer payment transactions.

Finally Microsoft have enhanced the Microsoft Banking Accelerator, released earlier this year, with use cases for retail banking and sample APIs for interoperability with the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BAIN). These enhancements enable banking and financial organizations to rapidly build intelligent, data-driven solutions across retail and commercial lines of business, accelerating time to value for a range of customer scenarios.

Banking on AI?

It’s an exciting time to be in banking! Implementing Artificial Intelligence has the power to transform the industry in ways we’ve never seen before. Cost saving, improving the speed and efficiency of decision-making, identifying and supporting new cross-selling opportunities for new and existing customers and most importantly, working towards the full and uninterrupted retention of all current business across the various departments and services. All whilst growing revenue and boosting the bottom line.

For more information on the Future of Banking download our Future of Banking white paper. To discuss what Microsoft and Artificial Intelligence can offer your business. get in touch with Redspire today on 0845 226 8170 or email us on info@redspire.co.uk.

6 min read

Digitising Data in Insurance

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In today’s digital-first world, our way of life is constantly evolving. How each of us is connected to each other, the companies we use, the goods and services we procure and how they’re delivered to us today looks very different to the digital landscape of just a year or two ago.

Despite a cautious approach in the early days of digital transformation, digitising data in insurance is well underway. 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.

Recent research by Microsoft has shows that 76 per cent of customers and prospects have researched your website or done a web search on their query, before they make contact with an insurer. Bruce McKee, financial services industry manager at Microsoft UK says: “By the time they’re on the phone, they already know a lot about the products they want so they’re likely to ask more difficult questions and expect increasing levels of expertise from staff.”

For your insurance business to not just survive but truly thrive, the c-suite are encouraged to focus energies and investment on building CRM driven service and operations. Create a digital-first culture, implement new technologies that drive meaningful interaction to truly transform the systems and processes that drive employee, intermediary and customer engagement. To find out more, read our Digital Insurer white paper today, watch our Digital Transformation in Insurance video series, or sign up for our Digitising Data in Insurance blog series, direct to your inbox.

  1. Deliver omni -channel user experiences via a customer centric CRM to gain competitive advantage and drive long-term customer and agent loyalty

When you place your insurance customers at the heart of an interactive business ecosystem, where they can contact you on their channel of choice, as and when they choose, with a unified cross-channel response and real time knowledge and understanding of their needs and issues; you create an immersive sales and service environment that engages. Customer experiences that can’t fail to stick.

Microsoft’s suite of business application tools are delivering these experiences in the insurance sector. Microsoft Dynamics 365 unifies insurance customer data in real time and integrates with tools like Unified Service Desk, Power BI and PowerApps to help build communication networks that drive sales, inspire loyalty, encourage satisfaction and increase customer lifetime value. Digital self-service via low and no code apps, developed rapidly in-house increases team productivity whilst empowering the customer to transact on their own terms, often without ever needing to engage with an agent.

Additionally, the data insights leveraged across these communication tools, from agent channels and customer portals, to mobile, social and web interactions build an invaluable 360-degree view of your customer and their needs. Predicative AI and relationship insights tools support by taking the guesswork out what of your customer needs and next step actions are. When those insights are available to your people, customers are provided with pro-active consultative support and sales conversations land with razor sharp precision.

Looking at the claims process, that single version of the truth and the productivity tools of Dynamics 365, Unified Service Desk and O365 can speed up the claims process, allowing remote assessment, works management and completion, often without the need for loss adjuster visits.

  1. Creating digital workplaces that empower relationships and service excellence

End user customers aren’t the only winners of a unified data system. Unlike other financial networks, in insurance the eco-system contains third party agents and intermediaries that often aren’t directly employed by the firm. Building loyalty and delivering smooth operations to these stakeholders and third parties is imperative to the bottom line.

That interconnectivity of the business, agents and policyholders can be achieved with bespoke portals that feed in directly to the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM, connecting household data and documents with the correct product and service at the right price point.

It goes without saying that ease of service is under serious scrutiny at this point in the sale. With customers often talking to a number of insurers, both price and experience are key differentiators. Additionally, intermediaries will naturally steer towards the platforms that provide them with great accessibility and experience and the ability to sell, connect and close quicker.

Unified communication via handheld devices, easy access to product and service information, forms and eSign capabilities that connect product, agent, system and customer can replace a laptop or desktop without compromising on service levels. On an access as required status that secures sensitive customer data.

  1. Providing accurate real-time insights

Real time insights provided by Dynamics 365 allows you to unify all of your customer data, applications, claims and complaints into one easily accessible system. With Dynamics data insights you can better understand customers, accelerate applications and decisions; create personalised insurance offers; gain a 360-degree view of internal and external data, predict customer needs and provide custom solutions.

With constant advances in the tech and new bi-annual releases, teams can progress action and help when there is trouble, automate processes and augment human ingenuity with AI and cognitive capabilities to meet customers where they are.

For call centre staff, access to these insights and unified service data help provide a pro-active service to consumers who are informed and often quite far down a sales pipeline via their own personal research. Microsoft Unified Service Desk collates data from the legacy sources and knowledge materials that help agents answer tricky questions and fulfil customer needs. Data insights impact all areas of customer delivery and improve profitability. Eradicating ageing systems and disparate silos also helps reduce over and under pricing and monitor fraud, depreciating trends and unnecessary claims payouts that are impacting your bottom line.

Digital disruption and transformation is in motion from the top down, and across the financial services and insurance sector, everything is to play for. From new market entrants to established High Street names, insurance firms globally are rapidly accelerating and shape shifting into highly focused, strategically planned, modern and agile institutions.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the wider Microsoft ecosystem is steering differentiated customer journeys and operational success. In a rapidly evolving business environment where the strongest and most innovation hungry institutions will thrive and survive, the question is: ‘How does your organisation’s digital strategy stack up?’

At Redspire, when we partner with you, we become your dedicated Dynamics partner throughout your whole improvement journey. We have particularly strong capabilities in Financial Services, FMCG, Government, and Third Sector and we have worked on the biggest operational challenges facing these industries today. From Small Business Banking improvements at CYBG, client and stakeholder engagement at Money and Pensions Service and our expertise in Dynamics 365 and the wider Microsoft ecosystem within insurance firms like Ellipse, Saffron and The Judge, we help our clients achieve operational excellence and project delivery that promises return on investment.

Want to find out more? Download The Digital Insurer white paper today. If you’re ready to chat, contact us on 0845 226 8170 or email us at info@redspire.co.uk. We’ll get back to you right away.

4 min read

The Graduate Apprenticeship Q&A: Greg Tierney

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22 year old Greg Tierney has been working with Redspire for just over a year, as a Junior Business Analyst. He joined the business on the pilot Graduate Apprenticeship programme having completed a HND in Accountancy at Glasgow College. With a real enthusiasm for technology, he was the idea candidate for the newly created post. We’ve grabbed a coffee with Greg to ask him a few questions about his first year in post.

Tell us about a typical Redspire day?

I tend to get in the office around 8:15am, throw together a smoothie from the free office supply and get to my desk to catch up on emails before our 9am delivery team stand up. This meeting, along with a one to one with the project manager right after sets the tone for the whole day. I spend the morning on daily reporting, resourcing and billing before lunch. It’s a young, friendly team in Redspire, so lunch is usually with a colleague somewhere local. The afternoon is usually planned project work with the odd reactive, ad-hoc client piece.

What’s been the highlight of the last year since joining Redspire?

It’s just a really great business to work for and the experience I’ve gained in the last year has been incredible.

Redspire aims to be – and is well on the way to becoming – the number one CRM and Microsoft business applications consultancy in the UK. We’re the go-to partner for digital transformation for Financial Services organisations, not just in Glasgow – where some of our partners and clients like CYBG and Golden Charter are based – but across the rest of the UK too. Our vision helps financial services firms create business flows that don’t just improve internal operations but completely revolutionises how their customers bank, save, borrow, buy, interact and transact.

Being involved in that sort of project work and producing workflows, documentation and reports on high six figure projects that really make a difference to our clients’ operations, as well as sitting on the working group that implemented new processes for how projects are created and delivered through the Redspire Project Lifecycle (RPL) were serious highs for me. These are dream projects and I still get excited that I get to gain a BA (Hons) in Business Studies whilst working on both client work and internal business flows that have long term impact.

It’s great to see the work I’m involved in improve operations in such huge commercial businesses and to create lasting impact on the wider financial services industry at large.

As well as our work in the local business community, we’ve also signed the Microsoft Pledge, which aims to reduce the digital skills gap and create a strong pool of digital talent entering the workplace. My Graduate Apprenticeship position is testament to that!

How do you balance workload and studying?

Applying for Redspire, being able to study at Strathclyde and gain on the job experience whilst on a demanding graduate scheme has been incredible. However, it hasn’t been without hard work, sacrifice and lots of focus. It’s a demanding workload and good time management skills are required to balance work and studying. However, being able to work with clients like Money and Pensions Services, Skills Development Scotland and Civil Aviation Authority and gain on the job skills is the massive payoff to that.

Working in tech in a business that makes a real difference to clients and their customers, and the opportunities provided by the Microsoft Gold Partner relationship is pretty much my dream job so the hard work will be worth it.

There’s a great social aspect of life at Redspire too. There’s always something going on, whether it’s a team night out, lunch and learn or a training event. Some amazing Microsoft grassroots events have happened here recently too, like D365 Saturday or App in a Day, where I got to learn directly from some of the biggest names in the Microsoft space.

Any advice for Graduates interested in a role with Redspire?

Read up and learn about Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. Redspire have a great staff induction and training programme to gain your accreditations and really invest in upskilling you. But the more you know about the technology, the further ahead you’ll be. Show your enthusiasm and hunger for success. This business is build by people with real passion for IT and the sectors we work in so if you can show that you have that drive too, it will be a real bonus!

Working with Redspire

Head of Operations, Kristine Steele says, “Redspire recently signed the Microsoft Pledge to highlight our commitment to upskilling future generations and reduce the digital skills gap. We’re thrilled to also be able to open up a development opportunity for a young person in Scotland in the shape of a brand-new Graduate Apprenticeship, and Greg has become a valuable team member in the past year.”

To find out more about working with Redspire or our Graduate Apprenticeships programmes, get in touch with Kristine Steele.

 

6 min read

Bank to the Future: The Microsoft technologies driving radical transformation in the sector

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Customer bases in banking sprawl wide, interconnected networks that hold trillions of disparate, but rich valuable customer data points. Most customers have multiple accounts, collectively carrying out hundreds of thousands of different applications, transactions and requests each day and interacting across different departments, platforms, and geographies. It’s essential to manage this vital customer data safely, securely and efficiently across all subdivisions of the banking network, not just to treat customer data safely and securely within the regulatory banking landscape, but to harvest and mine these rich data insights and understand and predict customer needs.

Yet many Banks and financial services organisations still hold this data in silos, wasting the opportunity to gain a 360-degree picture, truly know their customer, and service them with the expected brand experience.

Microsoft is leading the way globally in the future of banking technology. Constantly updating cloud solutions, AI technology and immersive tools that make common data model technologies work harder and smarter are leveling the playing field for new banks and High Street stalwarts. Incumbents moulding technologies like Dynamics 365, the Power Platform, Azure, SharePoint and Office 365 to fit their precise needs retain competitive advantage against new cloud-ready market entrants.

Managing customer data across the banking network

The data-centricity, security and productivity gains available via the connectivity of Dynamics 365 and other Microsoft technologies like Office 365, Azure, SharePoint and Power BI are immeasurable. Banks can create department-specific processes and flows; connect, automate and solve problems with apps and portals; and create reporting dashboards that understand, analyse and report on business performance and pipeline, as well as manage and monitor growth and risk. The return on investment from the tools prove immeasurable and a solid foundation on which to expand the scope to solve ever-evolving business and backend processes.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 cloud online and the Power Platform integrations are the most effective digital transformation tools available on the market today. At their simplest, Dynamics resolves business pain for banks by unifying data, systems and processes into one, single intelligent system. With the capability to connect multiple, disparate legacy data sources from all across the business, key business information can be served up via intuitive, custom-built real-time dashboards.

Teams are provided with the tools and insights they need, from a real-time, single view of the customer to relationship insight tools that automate and suggest next step action. All integrating neatly into the Office 365 technology and Windows hardware that your employees already know and love, and Power Platform functionality that puts the tools to deliver no-code services tailored precisely to your business needs, right in your team’s hands.

A shared data language in banking

The long-term goal of the banking sector at large as FinTech and Open Banking partnerships become the norm, is to define a shared data language in banking and the wider financial services sector. It becomes easier for organisations and their partners to connect systems, disparate data silos and standardise data formats and definitions across the industry.

Microsoft’s suite of connected business applications, cloud solutions, AI technology and productivity tools and dashboards have started the journey already, providing improved processes and insights, easily deployed in any environment, on any device.

Here’s a short overview of the tools in action;

  1. Retail Banking

Lending teams and relationship managers can make use of analytics and productivity dashboards to gain a high-level view of the day ahead, with predictive analytics and machine learning identifying prospects most likely to close, highlighting any key referrals and expiring KYCs (Know Your Customer). These insights allow relationship managers to plan their day effectively and connect with customers with a propensity to close. Onboarding new customers also becomes easier for relationship managers as manual processing of new prospects, loan and mortgage applications, KYC and other retail banking workflows are automated and managed via custom-built dashboards and portals. The benefits of these step by step business processes mean relationship managers are more productive administratively and can focus on relationship building and providing consultative support to prospects and existing customers.

  1. Commercial Banking

Like Retail Bankers, the commercial lending and commercial relationship managers

can identify opportunities and see a holistic view of their portfolio utilising loans and relationships dashboards. Teams can view accounts with a high propensity for closing, track deteriorating accounts that need immediate attention and predict success for the week ahead. This insight, supported by artificial intelligence and smart next-step actions helps commercial bankers and team managers plan their working day and strategically view and diarise future cross-selling opportunities. Augmented workflows slicken up administrative tasks like completing loan applications. Commercial bankers can quickly understand if an opportunity is won or lost, ensuring maximum productivity and avoiding too much time being focused on the wrong accounts.

  1. Branch Management teams

Branch managers benefit from a unified data model and a common data language across Retail and Commercial banking. With a comprehensive 360-degree view of the entire bank operations from business mortgages issued through to commercial lending performance, it’s easier to track performance and KPI’s across different geographies and branch locations.

Not only does this help set strategy and plan for the year ahead, but advanced data analytics insights also help improve processes and provide operational efficiencies that drive team productivity on a micro and macro level. Working on real-time data across different branch locations makes delivering meaningful, in-person customer experiences that much easier.

  1. Cross-business referrals

Connect departments across the banking eco-system with PowerApps and Portals to simplify the referral sharing process across retail, commercial and branch. This can be as simple as retail banking inputting a new business lending opportunity lead on a unified customer 360 form, which instantly shows up within the commercial banker’s 360-degree customer view. With existing customers, the commercial team can access rich customer data like existing product portfolio, KYC history, and previous interactions to become an invaluable business consultant in the next phase of their client’s business, understanding their needs in advance of connecting.

How does your Bank’s digital strategy stack up?

In the new, differentiated banking marketplace, everything is to play for. At Redspire, we’re proud to be leading radical digital transformation in the sector via world-class Microsoft technologies. Together, we’re helping retail and commercial banks understand and engage with customers like never before.

No matter what stage you’re at in your transformation journey, there’s no doubt that your customers are already expecting the banking standards of the future, now. Download our white paper on the future of banking today and together we can explore the art of the possible.

4 min read

From Graduate Analyst to Solutions Architect: A Redspire Graduate Journey

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It’s been a busy twelve months at Redspire HQ with lots of exciting client work, innovative partnerships, brand new faces joining the team and promotions and team shifts. Our headcount has grown once again to 33, we’re attracting some of the best UK tech talent, closing the team gender gap and partnering with global and local grassroots organisations to bring the best tech events to Glasgow.

This week we’re reflecting on the Redspire Graduate journey, interviewing Jamie Logue, who joined the business as a Graduate Analyst. Jamie excelled through the programme to become Solutions Architect managing a team of his own consultants and leading communications between clients, architects and analysts.

The Redspire Graduate Q&A

Jamie joined Redspire after graduating from UWS – University of the West of Scotland, with a BSc in Business Technology in 2015. This interview follows on from his first Graduate interview until today, where Jamie shares his journey of the last few years.

Jamie tell us about a typical Redspire day?

I know it’s maybe a clichéd response but there’s no typical day in my role. What I will say is that it’s been an exciting few years with Redspire and I’ve loved the varied mix of projects that I’ve been involved in. From working with clients like CYBG and Money Advice Service to delivering real tangible business change to working collaboratively with Microsoft, this is exactly the sort of work I’d envisaged doing whilst I was at university.

My working week is typically a good mix of client work, from face to face meetings with clients all over the UK and hands-on work on project development and build, to creating user adoption training programmes or go live deployments.

If I’m not on-site with a client, my day usually starts with a short stand up team meeting to set the tone for the day. If we’re not on-site, we use Microsoft teams and Outlook to collaborate remotely, which can often be a great way to showcase the tools to clients!

As well as my project work, I also work closely with business support on technical writing and creating bespoke marketing materials. As lead Solutions Architect for the Banking and Financial Services sector I was recently interviewed for some explainer videos on the which was really interesting and a chance to reflect on the wider implications of the work we do instead of the granular detail of systems, solutions and projects.

What’s been the highlight of the last 4 years since joining Redspire?

There’s three key stand outs for me during my career here.

  1. Being able to constantly learn, which is a gift once you leave university! Redspire is all about continual progression and training, and it’s all shaped around my current skills, career aims and development requirements.
  2. Progression and opportunity. I believe I was able to fast-track to my current position thanks to Redspire’s approach to learning and development. You get out what you put in and that hunger to keep learning and go the extra mile is rewarded.
  3. All client work is rewarding but working on the Small Business Banking project at CYBG was one of the most interesting I’ve ever worked on. Seeing the quantifiable productivity gains and high user adoption levels as we move onto next phases of Power BI implementation is really satisfying! I believe that our attention to ensuring user adoption is what sets Redspire apart from our competitors.

How has the working environment changed at Redspire?

We’ve grown and taken over additional office space since I first joined, however the team spirit hasn’t changed. The team is really friendly. We’ve a great social area, regular nights out, team-building activities and an open door policy where everyone from junior team members to managers can drop in on each other as and when they need. We’re all really invested in each other’s progression too, so are constantly sharing information and insights with each other or taking part in lunch and learn sessions to share knowledge picked up on the job or via our Microsoft interactions.

Any advice for Graduates interested in a role with Redspire?

Immerse yourself in all things Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform and learn as much about the solutions as you can. YouTube has great resources from our in-house consultant Neil Parkhurst. That foundational knowledge will help when it comes to accreditation! And as before, do your research on the different roles available, ask lots of questions and throw yourself in.

To find out more about working with Redspire, keep an eye out for our careers page coming soon and in the meantime,  send us an email if you’d like to find out more.

1 min read

Redspire shortlisted for Financial Technology Partner of the Year Award

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Redspire has been shortlisted for the Financial Services Technology Partner of the Year Award at this year’s Scottish Financial Technology Awards, in collaboration with DIGIT.

The shortlisting celebrates Redspire’s commitment to innovation and transformation in the sector. Our partnerships with some of the UK’s biggest financial brands and customer-facing Government financial organisations have led them through radical digital transformation and business improvement projects, revolutionising how they do business and connect with customers.

DIGIT’s Scottish Financial Technology Awards

The Scottish Financial Technology Awards are designed to recognise effort, innovation, and impact. The judging process looking to acknowledge exceptional accomplishments, invention and improvement and reward individuals and organisations that are making a difference to frontline customers and industry progress, as well as those making valuable contributions beyond the sector and into the wider community.

The winner will be announced at the Scottish Financial Technology Awards which take place on September 25th, 2019 at the Sheraton Grand in Edinburgh.

The Redspire management team is proud of our hard-working teams and excited to be selected in such a prestigious category. Thanks to DIGIT and the Scottish Financial Technology Award team for selecting us. We’re looking awards ceremony to celebrate the incredible FinTech industry in Scotland and look forward to seeing you there!

About Redspire

Specialising in Dynamics 365 and the limitless integrations of world-class Microsoft’s Power Platform technologies, Redspire solve organisational business pain, improve operations and create a unified digital eco-system that can be constantly enhanced or improved as digital evolves.

With particularly strong capabilities in Financial Services, FMCG, Government and Third Sector, when we work with you, we become your dedicated Dynamics partner. Our client base includes Money and Pension Service, AIG Group, RPMI, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group (CYBG) and GroupM.

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

The Partner Approach to Effective Digital Transformation

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

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

What are the next steps?

The partner approach to digital transformation

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

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

The benefits of working with a partner

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

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

Getting started and selecting the right partner

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

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

About Redspire

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

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

7 min read

Reflecting on Microsoft’s 2019 Biz Apps Summit in Atlanta

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

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

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

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

Why do I go?

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

biz apps conference screen

Over 1 trillion operations globally run by Microsoft

What rocked?

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

Artificial Intelligence

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

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

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

PowerBI

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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