3 min read

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

, , , , ,

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

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

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

An overview of the Power Platform

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

Microsoft October 2019 wave 2 release: Power Platform

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get in touch with our Microsoft accredited consultants

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

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

 

1 min read

The State of Public Sector Digital Transformation 2019

, , ,

Redspire, Bridgeall and Exactive recently collaborated to host a Microsoft Gold Partner round table event chaired by Future Digital Leaders Director, Dr Jim Hamill. The interactive session presented scenarios covering the public sector workplace of the future.

We invited Public and Third Sector digital leaders to share insights and challenges relating to digital transformation across public service delivery discuss the tools that have helped them drive effective organisational change and improve citizen engagement.

Forum delegates were able to participate in live audience polling, open group discussions and Dr Hamill recorded the findings into a short white paper, The State of Public Sector Transformation 2019.

Download the white paper to read how to accelerate the digital transformation of public service delivery in Scotland and explore key findings from the round table, including:

  • Sector-wide acceptance that digital will deliver more cost efficient, agile and citizen focused public services.
  • The stark truth that less than half of public sector organisations are viewing digital transformation as mission critical and only 26 per cent of organisations have an agreed digital transformation roadmap in place.
  • How to eradicate the worst symptoms of productivity busting hierarchical and bureaucratic pre-digital public sector workplaces.
  • How to embrace innovation and overcome dated legacy systems.

Read more about how Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the latest Microsoft technologies are driving change in the public sector. Get in touch with us today to find out how the Redspire partner approach created organisational efficiencies and improved citizen and stakeholder engagement at one of the UK’s largest public sector organisations.

Download the whitepaper

4 min read

April Release Notes

, , , ,

As we edge closer to the beginning of the new financial year, it signals the latest bi-annual update from Microsoft on the April 2019 release features for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.

The 396-page document details new and improved features across Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Portal, Field Service, Project Service Automation, Finance and Operations, Microsoft’s continual investment in developing the AI capabilities within the platform and perfecting the user experience that it ultimately delivers.

The first thing to note is the introduction of the new Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service platform. The new release joins an already established suite of artificial intelligence applications designed to streamline process efficiency and provide a solid foundation to build the perfect experience strategy. Additionally, AI for Sales is being expanded to feature new predictive forecasting and a wider variety of call intelligence capabilities.

AI for Market Insights updates and correlates search data with analytics and data mined from social media integration. The new AI for Customer Insights key offering provides a very on-brand “single-view” dashboard for statistical data and shared analytics across both human and virtual interaction agents.

The technical advancements being introduced to further enhance the powerhouse that is the Dynamics 365 for Sales module comes with a real focus on collaboration, particularly in integrating with the Microsoft Teams platform. An enhanced focus on integrating LinkedIn data and technology, allows sales reps or relationship managers to view profile information with no additional configuration and subscription required. One of the most important features being a new alert/update functionality which will allow sales and relationship managers to keep up to date on any role/company change to their key contacts within the opportunities section.

New live chat and SMS options will be available as additional support channels for direct engagement and management throughout each stage of the customer journey on Dynamics 365. This is further bolstered by a crisp new Unified Interface, that allows multi session capabilities and slick switching between sessions, screen notifications, knowledge articles, preconfigured quick replies and transfer conversation that improve the flow of the experience on the customers end.

Microsoft have continued their development of the Dynamics 365 for Marketing platform with a host of further enhancements to better combine the tools available with the power of Microsoft technology. One of the key investments from the April release is the development of actionable intelligence which allows for better delivery, building of optimised target segments and supports the effective communication strategy. The solution will continue to be integrated and extended to deliver projects more efficiently and support vertical scenarios. New APIs will better enable journeys to be linked with internal business processes and create target segments programmatically. The configurable Relationship Assistant will be a huge boost to both sales and marketing functions in determining and evaluating how best to progress with a communication strategy.

With the update comes new Power Platform capabilities which combine Microsoft Flow, Power BI and Common Data Service for apps into a true world-leading suite of tools which allow an easy and powerful collaborative integration into Dynamics 365 and Office 365. There is also a huge emphasis on improvements to the usability for data and business analysts, empowering them to build higher-quality reports, apps and workflows more easily whilst still supporting the advanced demands of enterprise and administrator requirements.

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.

Read more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 now, or watch our ‘Why Dynamics 365’ webinar to find out more.

3 min read

Switch on Dynamics 365 V10 in 7 easy steps!

, , , , , ,

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

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

Step 1

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

To get there you can either:

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

OR

Either way will take you to the interface below:

Step 2

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

Step 3

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

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

Step 4

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

Step 5

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

Step 6

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

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

Step 7

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

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

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

Cheers,

Rick Lyle

Redspire Technical Director

3 min read

Microsoft Inspire Keynote 2018: Emerging themes from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s speech

, , , , ,

In his keynote speech at the global Microsoft Inspire conference in Las Vegas, CEO Satya Nadella talked about how technology and connectivity continue to improve human relationships, whilst reinforcing that ethics and user privacy continue to be the most important consideration, as we accelerate though the 4th industrial revolution.

This year’s Microsoft Inspire has been one of the most exciting and rousing yet, with a focus on increased innovation, growth and differentiation. If last year’s key takeaway was Microsoft’s commitment to transforming their partner relationships, this year is about accelerating partner support for the greater collective good. Microsoft’s overarching business vision of “empowering every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more” will ultimately be driven by the Microsoft Partner eco-system.

Our Senior team attended the conference, and have summarised their top takeaways:

The Microsoft partner eco-system is bigger and more impactful than ever before…

…and jam-packed with opportunity. Over 17 million people are employed in the Microsoft and Microsoft partner ecosystem with total business projected at a phenomenal $4.5 trillion. Together we are in a unique position to unleash the power of real partnership for digital and technological success. Not just for business, but for customers, innovators and end users too.

Ethics and personal privacy is a fundamental human right.

Advances in technology and integrated Artificial intelligence (AI) are creating some of the most exciting changes in the world today, but Nadella has warned that they must not come at the expense of personal privacy and human relationships.

He said: “We have to have a set of principles that guide the development of AI and always do our very best work when it comes to privacy. As technology becomes pervasive in our lives, we must approach everything with the fundamental assumption that privacy is a human right.”

The importance of adding value not just creating brand values

Nadella’s message to students looking for a career at Microsoft?

“If you want to be cool, go somewhere else. At Microsoft, our job is making other people look cool.”

Sharing incredible stories of business transformation via the partner eco-system, the message and focus for the future is on driving positive, global impact through cutting edge technology and industry-specific solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365.

People and connectivity is being re-imagined, now.

The future of digital is people and human centric, made possible with by ever-increasing advances in Microsoft’s Azure Sphere secure technology. Internet connectivity is becoming a two-way street, creating a holistic user experience that decouples us from the chains of the tech, whilst improving seamless machine integration in our day to day lives.

Nadella said: “We are going to infuse everything with AI. It’s going to have perception capability, language capability and autonomy that’s going to be built into the applications going forward.”

Over the next few years, more and more consumer gadgets and appliances will connect to the Internet and each other, with the capabilities to talk to us, listen, predict behaviour and act on our behalf. The tech we use will become seamless, multi-device and multi-sensory.

As organisations globally hurtle through accelerated digital transformation, driven by cloud and artificial intelligence, mixed reality and the Internet of Things, these tools and technologies are re-imagining consumerism, business and society for the greater good.

And yet consciously, we may never even be aware that we’ve interacted with a computer…

Ready to find out more about how Microsoft’s up-to-the-minute technology can improve your business operations, sales and service? Contact us today for an informal chat…

6 min read

Public Sector: Digital Transformation through Microsoft Dynamics 365

, , , , , ,

Can public sector organisations afford not to take advantage of digital tools?

It’s a slightly controversial statement but nevertheless true. Whilst commerce and industry advance at speed towards great digital change, the public sector in the UK is in danger of being left behind. Potentially, at great sacrifice to public health, well-being and economic wealth. It’s indeed an uncomfortable truth that our most visionary, forward thinking public sector leaders are challenged every day in a drive to make UK public services world-leading again.

Digital transformation in the public sector

In the UK’s Institute for Government’s Manifesto for Changing Public Services it’s estimated that up to £46billion could be saved across UK public sector year on year with digital transformation that eradicates out-dated legacy systems and the need for costly suppliers. Which equates to an additional 1m frontline public servants.

Which begs the question, can public sector organisations afford not to take advantage of the digital tools available today?

Innovative public sector leaders value digital change

Innovative leaders in the public sector continue to push the mandate in a positive direction, encouraging their boards and final decision makers to engineer the digital change that will steer the UK and its people in the right direction. All the while, commercial private sector businesses, innovative third sector organisations and manufacturing, banking and financial services leap ahead with digital transformation that’s energising their business, boosting their bottom lines, massively slashing costs and increasing customer satisfaction tenfold.

Deploying an innovative digital toolkit has the power to solve much of the organisational pain our local authorities and service providers face, whilst correcting the disconnect that so many of our citizens feel from our elected leaders and public services. Saving heaps of money from public funds in the process.

CRM for citizen engagement

As the demographic make-up of our country ages and shifts, it has never been more important to reach citizens at a time that suits them, where they naturally consume their media and messages. Our culturally diverse and digitally switched on nation demand personalised multi-channel, multi-lingual interactions. Keeping citizens informed, engaged and aware in a cost effective, timely manner, and in a way that speaks their metaphorical language is invaluable. Yet a difficult operation without the right digital tools.

CRM solutions for the public sector

Enter Redspire and Microsoft Dynamics 365, with the tools and expertise you need revolutionise your organisation. Bespoke solutions built to your organisational needs, these purpose-built Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications work seamlessly to help manage specific business functions across the organisation including Customer Service, Operations, Finance, Field Service, and Marketing, and all contribute to Customer/Citizen Insights.

CRM in simple terms simple terms is a category of integrated, data-driven solutions that improve how you interact and do business with your clients. CRM systems and applications are designed to manage relationships, track engagements and sales, and deliver actionable data, all in one place.

The next generation of intelligent business

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the next generation of intelligent business applications that enable organisations to grow, evolve and transform. As technology continues to transform the world, Redspire are a driving force that will help public sector organisations optimise operations, reach and engage with the public and empower employees to deliver services and the most personalised and powerful ways

Digital Transformation is here. And it isn’t only for corporate, digitally focused businesses. The tools must be deployed for public sector organisations. Our public services can, and should be as accessible as Amazon, as easy to use as Google and as exciting and flexible as Uber and AirBnB. And all delivered ethically to deliver front end services, in the public’s best interests and with the ability to save millions in public funds.

AI for the Public Sector

Artificial Intelligence has become ‘The New Normal’ and touches many aspects of our everyday life. Early adopter public sector agencies like Enfield Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council are already seeing the transformative value for services and citizen engagement, investing in AI chatbots to improve customer service, simplify internal processes and to guide residents through various form fill processes.

Constantly learning from previous conversations with residents, these revolutionary bots have the power to improve response times to generic service queries in areas like benefits and council tax queries, refuse collection requests and so much more.

Future planning with CRM

What does the future hold? The certainties are improved efficiencies, reduced demand on services and employees, a holistic citizen view that creates a better client experience and improved insights that lead more effective service provision. Digital tech provides a tremendous opportunity to improve all citizens life, for the common good of our country, and with ethics, security and privacy at the forefront of all decision making.

The fourth Industrial Revolution is here

We are now part of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The McKinsey Institute has stated that AI is contributing directly to a tremendous transformation of society, “happening ten times faster and at 300 times the scale, or roughly 3,000 times the impact” of the Industrial Revolution in the 1800’s.

What does this mean practically? Digital learning and skills development will be a core component of literacy and basic life skills. From pre-school to higher education, our education system must revolutionise and ‘keep up’ with the constant digital developments to ensure we don’t face skills shortages or challenges with talent acquisition.

What is certain however, is that change resistance within the public sector is beginning to break down. The opportunities for cost and efficiency savings, shared resources and joined up processes are too phenomenal to be ignored. Case in point, the Smart London plan, in which the City of London sets out the bold yet achievable ambition to become the smartest city in the world through mobilised services, data innovation and Artificial Intelligence. Improving the lives of some 30 million visitors, residents and workers.

Accelerating Digital: An Interactive Forum for Public Sector Leaders

Redspire has been a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner for over 15 years, helping all types of organisations across the UK transform through digital innovation and improvement. Our ever-expanding team of Microsoft certified consultants bring Dynamics 365 to life, with a bespoke solution that overcomes unique organisational challenges with a straightforward, customer centric approach. Our clients stick around, partnering with us long term, every time.

If you’re a digital leader who’d like to be part of the discussion on advancing digital transformation for the greater good in your organisation, reserve your spot at our interactive forum for public sector leaders today.

This not to be missed forum at Microsoft Scotland HQ, Edinburgh on 1st November 2018 will be chaired by Dr Jim Hamill – in association with Microsoft, Bridgeall and Exactive. Together, we’ll set the tone for the future of digital innovation in Scotland, and provide invaluable tools and support that persuades stakeholders and key decision makers on your future vision.

Full details can be found here – Accelerating Digital: An Interactive Forum for Public Sector Leaders. Sign up today.

1 min read

Accelerating Digital Event: An Interactive Forum for Public Sector Leaders

, , ,

The need for public sector organisations to transform digitally is now widely accepted. Senior Executives seeing the value and embracing change and digital innovation that will positively shape their future of the organisations they lead.

With the focus shifting from the WHY to the HOW of transformation, Redspire and our partners invite you to the Accelerating Digital Interactive Forum for Public Sector Leaders, which will present scenarios covering the public sector workplace of the future.

Microsoft Gold Partners Redspire, Bridgeall, and Exactive, invite public sector leaders to share how the Microsoft toolset – including 365 – has helped them drive change in their organisations.

Using live interactive audience polling and open group discussion, forum participants will be able to:

  • Share their hopes, aspirations for and experiences of driving digital change.
  • Evaluate the digital transformations progress currently being made, benchmarked against accepted best practice.
  • Assess the main drivers, barriers and obstacles to change.
  • Review how these can be overcome, providing highly practical advice to achieve success.

The forum findings will be developed into a short White Paper: “The State of Public Sector Transformation, 2018” and made available to all participants after the event.

Please join us in this interactive and highly valuable event and add your voice and experiences to the debate on accelerating digital in the public and third sectors.

You can find more information about the event and register to attend, free of charge, here.

The Redspire team, and our valued partners look forward to seeing you there.

 

 

3 min read

The Lowdown on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Licensing

Dynamics 365 licensing has been our hot topic this past month.

We had so many questions about it that we prepared a webinar and a guide that would help businesses get their heads around it.

The first impression was that it was going to be a real change for the businesses already using Dynamics CRM Online.  Increasing the scope of the platform and the way that access is granted was always going to be something for existing customers to get their heads around but it’s been quite straightforward.

So we said goodbye to basic and professional (except for customers who had to wait for their renewal dates) and we welcomed Team Member Licensing, Application based licensing and Plans.

The changes have essentially made enterprise grade technology available to SMBs who previously relied on off –the-shelf CRM or ERP systems. The joined up approach we are now seeing from Dynamics 365 is reducing the need for expensive customisations that only Enterprise firms could meet the costs of in the past.

Now that Dynamics 365 is within reach of every size of business, businesses that were previously getting by with CRM and accounting software can look at the tech the big boys are playing with.  The new features such as advanced analytics, the use of AI for customer insights and the integrations of the sales and financial components means that improvements are visible from day one.

It’s seriously tempting to rush out and get Dynamics 365 and get it going right away and no Microsoft Partner is going to turn you away. However, two notes of caution. Firstly, no platform in the world is going to give you what you need if you haven’t decided what those needs are in the first place. A good Microsoft Partner will work with you to establish corporate objectives, to understand your current processes and see how best to implement Dynamics 365 to meet those goals. It can be a detailed process but it doesn’t have to be long winded. Don’t let any previous experience of Off-the-Shelf be your guide. Trust your partner.

Secondly, remember your people.  End users need to adapt to new processes and standards. Dynamics 365 will undoubtedly make your business more efficient and productive but your employees are human so it’s essential that you consult with them.

 

Dynamics 365 Licensing Explained

 

A quick recap of the license types and prices as of Jan 2017:

  • Team Member – aka light users. These are for the employees that don’t need access beyond visibility and minor edits.
  • Apps – role based licenses. So, a sales employee may need the sales app, a customer service employee; the customer service app, a project manager; the project app. You get the drift. All of the apps have their own fixed price and that doesn’t change based on volume.

The big gain so far is that you’re only paying for the access and individual needs rather than access to the whole system when they will only interact with a few screens.

Simple so far.

Interestingly, when you get to one employee needing more than one app, it’s cheaper to move to a plan – a sign of Microsoft’s intention for volume.

So, e.g. a Client Services Director who needs access to the Customer Service App and the Field Service App should be on Plan 1.  He may still want to have visibility of the Sales app to see what is coming in but he could have team member licensing on that.

Plan 2 brings in what were the ERP features in the old Dynamics language so that would have been the AX for Operations and Financials.

 

SO, where does that leave you? We’re always happy to talk you through your options over the phone or email.  Just get in touch.

 

 

 

 

 

4 min read

Why Dynamics 365 Changes The CRM Conversation

When we started to introduce our existing customers to Dynamics 365, the big question was ‘what’s so new?’

And here’s what we outlined.

 

Firstly, let’s look at the market Dynamics 365 has launched into.

  1. 52% of organizations now have confidence that cloud apps are as secure as on premise-based apps.
  2. The decision making for technology budget allocation is shifting from IT to Line of Business.
  3. Productivity is universally recognized as the key business driver for scale and technology is universally seen as the way to achieve it.
  4. Business approaches are evolving for the technological age. In every department, businesses are looking for ways to improve productivity, to increase customer service, to evolve product, to understand action and result.

 

Now, let’s consider what CRM has been doing really well.

First, let’s start by clarifying that all CRM systems are not created equally and finding the right one for you takes research but in the main, businesses using a CRM system are already benefiting from the five most compelling benefits (if they have had it scoped and customized properly).

Improved Customer Experience is the main reason most businesses invest in CRM. Customers and prospects are more easily and accurately segmented, their needs identified, and because the status of a company’s relationship with them is accurately tracked, companies can interact with them meaningfully at the right times, leading to more sales, faster sales and higher customer retention and satisfaction.

When customer relationships are being more carefully managed with the right tools to support staff, accountability is clearer. Employees across each department understand their responsibilities to customers throughout the customer lifecycle and when those responsibilities aren’t met, it’s easy to identify what went wrong, where, who fell short and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

A good CRM system, implemented and adopted well by employees naturally raises the value of data. By housing the data in one central system, data analysis and insight inform decisions about process, product and strategic planning. It’s also possible with marketing automation tools and third party apps to run email campaigns and other customer communications directly from the system. Of course, the only reason that can happen is because the data is current and correct, containing the most up to date information about a person’s interaction with your business. That can only happen because it allows your employees to work more efficiently with less duplication and miscommunication.

 

And not so well..

It all sounds somewhat adequate doesn’t it? Well, it once was. But let’s be honest. The benefits are mainly restricted to the customer service, sales and marketing functions. Sitting away from that, most businesses have a whole raft of other functions, producing products, designing services and ensuring customer deadlines are met. They’re using ERP systems to handle it all and once again, their systems are working for, well, those departments.

So, you have two sides to the business working as hard as they can to produce the best service based on the insight they have but what they don’t have, is a 360 degree view of any one customer. So, a customer service gap remains and their insight is lacking. Productivity is not what it could be and employees are not empowered.

 

Dynamics 365 Changes the Conversation

 With this platform, Microsoft has shown us what the developments in Cloud and Technology have been driving towards. The strategy behind their acquisitions of recent years is clear and they are now in the process of delivering a platform that can do what what CRM has promised since the 80s.

 Let’s be clear. This is no ordinary CRM upgrade. It’s not just a new name.  In fact, the letters CRM have been dropped. Rightly so, because the term Customer Relationship Management doesn’t cover half of what Dynamics 365 will be able to do. It’s a system that glues together the final silos of data and processes of ERP and CRM bringing customer service, sales, marketing, field service, finance and operations together.

Ultimately, it creates one big feedback loop for businesses of every size, starting with what they need and entirely scalable. So business processes essentially start to become insight advantages.

 

The Challenge

As is always the case, what is a game changer now, will become the expected standard rapidly and if you are not on the train you could be left behind as industries across the world continue to transform in the next couple of years.

So, if you’re not in the conversation yet, now’s the time. If you don’t know where to start, you can download our Step-by-Step Guide to Getting CRM Right or give us a call and we’ll get you started.

3 min read

4 Productivity Resolutions for Business Leaders

, , ,

There’s something different about the time between Christmas and the return to work in early January.

The office environment is a little quieter, the pace is slower and people are more communicative. Inboxes are dealt with, junk mail deleted, desks tidied, to-do lists revised, outstanding tasks achieved.

Organisation brings calm. Calm brings clarity. Clarity brings vision. Visions are for sharing. That sharing brings collaboration. Collaboration brings effectiveness. Effectiveness brings productivity. It’s a virtuous wheel that often gets punctured because we are being busy fools, working at a frenetic pace to just get things done as quickly as possible. We miss opportunities for smarter thinking.

In a bid to keep the spirit of ‘tween days, you need to address the basics.

Here are our simple, often forgotten, business leader productivity tips that will bring calm and effectiveness into your day and organisation.

 

  1. Control Your Email

Do you control your email or does it control you? Here’s something worth thinking about. Email represents us. People do judge us based on our email habits. You need to be organised and responsive.  However, the trick is doing that without letting it disrupt your day.

  • Decide when to tackle your emails – twice to three times a day should do it. Once a week, try to clear your inbox, filing what’s important, deleting what is not. It’ll stop the email becoming white noise.
  • Be succinct in your emails, keep to one main point and you’ll get a quicker answer.
  • Confirmation or conversation? If your email will most likely result in a ping pong of emails or if you don’t want something in writing, use the phone instead.
  • Remember that emails are easily misconstrued. Avoid group emails unless it’s simply to distribute information. A group of people will always have differing interpretations and you can quickly lose the point.

 

  1. Control Your Diary

If you’re anything like our MD, Billy Lyle, you’ll be in demand. Everyone wants a slice of your time but you still have your own tasks to complete and clients to look after.  There are so many tools and apps to help you manage your diary better but ultimately, it comes down to this:

  • You only need one calendar.
  • Use one digital task manager and get rid of all the post-its.
  • Theme your week if you can – client meetings, research, prep, people.

 

  1. Control Your Knowledge

What information do you need each week to manage the business? When was the last time you felt able to study your area? Just for fifteen minutes? How much time do you spend finding out answers when they’re suddenly urgent? How many times have you felt poorly informed in a client situation? By being on top of your knowledge sources, you’ll identify the ones worth having and the ones to lose.

  • Set proper time aside for your management reports.
  • Build a reading list and habit, whether it’s daily, weekly or fortnightly where you commit time to get on top.
  • Schedule thinking time and objectivity will become a habit making for better decision-making and productivity.

 

  1. Control Your Meetings

Meetings need to happen; information, status, brainstorm, one-to-one, strategy, board, committee. It’s the most productive way to discuss and collaborate, to make things happen but employees dread time away from their desks.  They often come to the meeting distracted and poorly prepared.  Here’s how to make it more productive for everyone:

  • Have a clear purpose
  • Have an agenda (circulate it in advance!)
  • Have an agreed end time
  • Have a good moderator
  • Have agreed actions

It’s remiss of us not to point out the huge benefits of Microsoft Dynamics 365 in addressing so many of these points (and hundreds more) to improve productivity and profit throughout all sizes of business. But we’ll get back onto that in January!

For now, the team here at Redspire would like to wish you all a productive and prosperous 2017.