Three key waves dominated 2020 and continues into 2021. Along with the Covid-19 Pandemic and Brexit, digital transformation has taken centre stage as companies had to adapt to new ways of working and embrace, at pace, the new ways their customers and employees were interacting with their business.  2021 is the year companies need to further ramp up their transformation strategies.

Our team has been driving transformation with our customers quickly and securely this year, BUT what do they personally love about Dynamics 365 and Power Platform?

We caught up with a few members of the Redspire team to find out what gets them excited about the technology.

 

  1. “I love the D365 Sales Insights capabilities, but specifically I love the new visual view of opportunity pipeline, which is a prime example of Microsoft’s continuations investment in the Dynamics 365 Sales Insights capability. – Tamara Phelan, Head of Sales

 

  1. “Power Automate is what excites me I’m probably not in the minority here. I think most people that come across Power Automate end up taking a huge liking to the technology. I love Power Automate because it’s literally as though the possibilities to automate daily tasks are endless! I’ve used Power Automate to create intense and complex validation algorithms to make business processes more efficient for our clients, and I’ve also used it to quickly set my out of office before starting annual leave. Those are two very different ends of the spectrum! This year, I’m excited to get some time to explore the capabilities of Power Automate Desktop and gain more familiarity with some connectors I haven’t used before so I can bring more value to the clients we work with!” – Ross McGhee, Consultant

 

  1. “For me, it has to be the ability to drive insights and branded visual reporting. The market-leading analytical platform Power BI is something I’m excited about, it can allow organisations to build and lead a data-driven culture. All users are given the power to turn data into insightful branded visualisations from a variety of data sources in real time, driving quick and informed decision-making whilst also bringing the data to life”. – Helen Murphy, Marketing and Partner Relations Manager

 

  1. “I love the ability to visually gain insights with Dynamics 365 Dashboards these are easy to create, visually appealing and allow you to drill-down on the data displayed to obtain even greater insights! – Conor Brady, Marketing and Business Development Executive

  1. “Low-Code Capability. I love that D365 & PP can be developed without being required to know any coding languages, meaning that applications can be developed by people who understand business processes.” – Iain Kennedy, Solution Specialist

 

  1. “I like Power Apps, it brings a no code, or low-code to a development environment. This can make building applications simpler. There are a number of Canvas Apps and Power Automate templates that can be implemented as they are or enhanced and tailored to fit the business needs.” – Colette Rodgers, Consultant

 

  1. “My favourite feature is Power Automate. It can automate many different processes from something very simple to something very complex. It also empowers users to connect to a wide variety of data sources without being an expert in API development.” – Josh Reeves, Senior Consultant

 

  1. “Invoicing Capabilities! My favourite aspect of D365 is the invoicing capabilities which allow our project management office the ability to create, edit and send invoices to our partners. Powerful reporting also allows the team, in conjunction with the finance department, to drill down to view the current status and track any outstanding invoices.” – Greg Tierney, Project Coordinator

  1. “Along with quite a few of my colleagues, it has to be Power Automate. It provides endless possibilities to automate and enhance systems without coding knowledge.” – Ewelina Bredzinska, Junior Consultant

 

  1. “I love Power Apps Portals! You don’t need coding to be able to create a cool website that can interact with all the different parts of Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform such as CRM and Power Automate.” – Sohail Rafiq, System Support Analyst

Find out more about what’s happening at Redspire and how we’re helping businesses connect their data, people and processes, build competitive advantage and shape their digital transformation. Visit our blog page or have a read of a few of our customer stories for more information.

The hires meet planned growth targets for the year, despite COVID-19 interruptions and challenges to mid-year on-boarding.

Expanded teams will help meet increasing demand from new and existing Financial Services clients.

Redspire, a Microsoft Gold Partner announced 18 new hires today, to support continued growth within their Financial Services business units.

The Glasgow and London based firm, led by CEO and founder Billy Lyle has secured a number of significant new client wins in Banking, Insurance and Capital Markets groups this year.

Today’s announcement comes on the tail of their year-end results which highlight 39% turnover growth on previous year.

The firm commented that strategic, on-going transformation continues to be a prime focus for their FSI clients, despite the very real challenges faced by the sector due to coronavirus.

Since March, the firm have also led a number of tactical projects to support business continuity throughout the pandemic. These include a partnership with Beazley, the specialist Insurer, to help Brokers and Underwriters stay connected when lockdown closed the Lloyd’s of London trading floor.

CEO Billy Lyle said: “It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for all businesses in the UK but our clients in Financial Services have shown real resilience. We’re very fortunate to be working through these challenges with them, making best use of the tech available and to be able to grow the team and offer employment opportunities during the pandemic, when many people are looking for work.”

He continues: “Right now, years worth of transformation is happening with every month that passes. The demand for strategic, continuous transformation is greater than ever, in addition to the at-pace projects that are helping the sector meet new and evolving challenges the pandemic poses. The Microsoft cloud and suite of business applications has risen to the challenge.”

“Now, that the market has adapted to new ways of working, we’ve turned our focus back to investing in talent in our technical, delivery and commercial teams. This ensures we have the capacity to meet the strategic requirements our clients’ like Virgin Money and Golden Charter have in 2021 and beyond.”

Services Director Steven Brown said: “Like many businesses, these past few months haven’t been without their difficulties. However, we’re working hard with our clients through times of uncertainty and shifting technology needs to support their people, customers and operations.

“Like many technology-first companies, we’re fortunate to have the infrastructure to be able to switch to remote working practically overnight and help our clients maintain service levels. Now, we can now focus our attention on growing our team and hitting the ground running with strategic projects as we head into 2021.”

Redspire is an IT Consultancy, specialising in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform technologies. As part of the Microsoft account managed teams, Redspire work collaboratively to drive future-proofing digital transformation, improve processes and help businesses understand and engage with teams, customers, clients and partners. With particularly strong capabilities in Financial Services, their client base includes the Money and Pensions Service, Beazley and Virgin Money.

The Challenge

As their legacy Dynamics system approached end of life/support, Martin Currie Investment Management Ltd required a new CRM system to support their global Sales, Marketing and Business Development front office, who operate in disparate time zones. The project was deployed in two phases.

  • Migrate and upgrade to dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement
  • Implement and integrate Dynamics 365 for Marketing

Stability, maximised efficiencies and a simple UX were key requirements, as well as the ability to augment existing systems and provide teams with a single customer view. The project sought to future proof digital infrastructure and processes and end reliance  on a single system, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in all time zones.

The Solution

Redspire’s approach was to rebuild Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement, hosted by Microsoft online. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing to provide an integrated digital marketing suite. Out the box functionality was maximised with customisations and configurations, rather than development, to remove any dependencies on specific partners going forward. Furthermore, this approach allowed Martin Currie to leverage existing Office 365 Licenses using the out the box integrations to Outlook, SharePoint and PowerBI.

Redspire’s approach was based upon sound, proven methodologies that ensured the new Dynamics 365 system and integrations were built precisely to the client’s needs. The project’s digital and data infrastructure not only achieved Martin Currie key outcomes, but provided the perfect foundation for the future continuous digital improvement that the business sought.

Business Outcome Highlights

  • System stability: The global sales teams can reply on a secure and stable cloud based system that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in all time zones.
  • Significant cost savings per annum: In just three months’ post Go-Live, Martin Currie Investment Management Ltd report significant annual savings attributed to support costs and zero system downtime.
  • Additional cost savings and productivity gains: A user-friendly, unified system with established and connected processes to help attract, acquire, on-board and manage customers and their interactions.
  • Resource efficiencies: No more manual updates.
  • Connected sales, marketing and BD teams: Data is more accessible and dashboards shareable on the core system and by email. Dashboards are easy to build with no manual reporting required.
  • Integrated email and CRM: Automations mean nothing is missed and improved succession planning.
  • Automated RFP request and tender process
  • Adoption and confidence: Improved team confidence in new, slick systems and processes
  • No manual updates required: Dynamics twice yearly wave releases provide access to the very latest features and capabilities without any manual oversight or updates.
  • Informed business decisions: Improved MI and capabilities for qualitative analysis have allowed business decisions to be made quicker.

Why Redspire?

“Our analysis and scoping led us to Dynamics 365. It offers more features available out the box, was customisable to current and future needs and suited our wider technology suite. Microsoft then recommended Redspire as a technology partner for implementation. Apart from understanding the scope of work, they were stand out partner in terms of approach and rapport. They didn’t try to oversee or overdevelop the project, they listened carefully and met our requirements.

Redspire’s approach and turnaround was efficient and effective. During implementation, updates and progress reporting were daily and structure. Communication was good and I was aware of progress at every stage. They’re a great client facing consultancy with strong people. The weekly project call and status report gave me really useful insight to share with the key stakeholders and financial teams too”

Hayley Keenan, Head of CRM, Data and Change

 

The Client

Martin Currie Investment Management Limited is a global organisation that offers asset management, equities, securities, investment strategies, financial planning and advisory services to customers worldwide. Operating since 1881 with £11.2bn Assets Under Management, the business has 110 employees operating across five global offices.

Their stock-focused approach is driven by in-depth fundamental research and skilled portfolio construction. Martin Currie’s key goals are to gain a holistic view of investment companies and an insight into their culture to build an understanding of material risks and opportunities develop conviction in ideas, and deliver differentiated client outcomes.

Martin Currie Investment Management Limited is a Specialist Investment Manager of Franklin Resources, Inc. which has Assets Under Management totalling US$1.4 trillion (as of 30th June 2020).

 

Client Feedback

“The project was delivered on time, it restored system dependability and increased confidence across our sales and commercial teams in multiple geographies. A key objective was removing reliance on a single system and partner. Dynamics has solved that for us.

The team now spend more time on qualitative data analysis and access data much easier, thanks to improved visual reporting and MI capabilities. We have such great visibility now on workflow and can manage resource effectively. We’re actively using every capability the solution offers, to the huge benefit of the business.”

In recent months. Financial Services organisations have seen a years’ worth of digital transformation for every month that’s passed (Satya Nadella). Redspire and Microsoft are working together to deliver transformation in the sector, from remote teamwork, connected operations and critical cloud infrastructure to sales, marketing and customer service.

The intelligent office is the future of Investment Management. Download our Sales Professional Guide to Dynamics 365 to find out how machine learning and AI can drive automations, or read more on the power platform.

Redspire is a Microsoft Gold Partner with strong capabilities in Financial Services. We’ve worked on the biggest operational challenges facing the industry today. From Business Banking improvements at VirginMoney and business automations at Beazley Insurance to client and stakeholder engagement at Money and Pensions Service. Our expertise in Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform helps our clients unify operations quickly, deliver transformative projects that solve business pain and future proof for all scenarios.

When the developer team aren’t deep in Redspire client work, we’re usually found over at the Virtual Power Group (VPG) developing our technical skills and growing our network. The VPG is a Community Forum for Power Platform and Dynamics 365 users of all levels to come together to share knowledge and best practice.

This month, VPG was joined by Microsoft’s Lucy Bourne to cover the functionality and features of the Wave 2 release in the Microsoft Business Applications stack.

Staying on top of the ever changing platform and their twice yearly updates is a mammoth effort. Lucy’s session gave us a major leg up, with her run through of the features coming to the stack from October onwards.

There are two major releases of functionality to the Microsoft stack in a given year. One in April (Wave 1) and one in October (Wave 2). You can opt in to these features early, or preview in a trial instance. Though please note, once applied it cannot be removed so exercise caution. For existing implementations, it is advised to apply in a Sandbox environment and test that your solutions are not negatively affected by any conflict with new (or potentially retired) functionality. If you want support with this, reach out to a VPG Admin to discuss.

These major release waves do not launch all this new, cool shiny stuff immediately in to your environment – though there will be some. October 1st marks the beginning of the release wave and this functionality is launched – some elective – landing over the coming months up to the next release wave in the following April/October.

During her session, Lucy gave us a fantastic introduction to Power Apps for Teams and a rundown of the major highlights. Some of these were showcased in real-time alongside announcements at Ignite, adding a little extra excitement.

Here’s my highlights from across the main products:

Sales 

  • Mobile Experience Changes
  • Forecasting and Gamification
  • Usability enhancements
  • Sales Insights Updates

Marketing

  • Natural Language Segment Editor
  • Enhanced Customer Journey Canvas
  • Form Submission Enhancements
  • Improved Email Customization
  • and more…

Customer Service

  • Agent Productivity Dash (Multi Session Experience)
  • Omnichannel for Customer Service
  • Integrated Insights with Built In AI
  • Native Call Functionality in Omnichannel Framework

Field Service

  • Insights Dashboard
  • Customer Voice Survey Integration
  • Proactive Service Delivery
  • Scheduling experience improvements
  • Technician Success and mobile app enhancements

ERP/Commerce/Project Ops

  • CDS Integration improvements and various Cross App Capabilities
  • Document and Electronic reporting enhancements
  • Major updates to SCM
  • PayPal Integration for Commerce
  • And upgrade path plan for PSA to Proj Ops

Dynamics HR

  • AAD Integration enhanced
  • CDS Integration with Skills, Certificates, Performance and Benefits
  • Teams Self Service GA and further enhancements

Power Apps and Power Automate

  • Power Virtual Agents available within Power Apps Portals
  • PCF control support in Power Apps Portals
  • LOADS of RPA Capabilities in Power Automate (direct quote)
  • Power Automate Visual in Power BI

This is a session that I’ll not only watch again but be recommending to colleagues and clients to stay ahead of the tsunami of features scheduled to land this October. Watch the replay below.

As ever, I’m so excited to be working in this field where, as it was said on the call tonight, “change is the only constant”.

This article was first published on Viritual Power Group. For more information on forthcoming events, visit the website or connect with me on LinkedIn.

The insurance sector in the UK is built on rich traditions and face to face operations. Just a few months ago, 7000-plus industry specialists walked in and out of Lloyd’s of London market place each day to exchange risk propositions, discuss policies and close deals on the 300-year old trading floor.

The coronavirus lockdown closed the doors to the Lloyd’s underwriting floor and forced these deals into living rooms and home offices, driven by the latest cloud technology. For a sector notoriously resistant to replacing valuable in-person operations with digital processes, insurers pushed their own limits and embraced new ways to transact, meet and close deals. In fact, our clients across the Financial Services sphere responded to the crisis with real creativity and imagination to keep the cogs turning, with long-term positive impact on their businesses

One such example is how Microsoft’s Power Platform technology allowed Redspire client Beazley to work with us to being a solution – Beazley Booking – to market, in days and weeks instead of the months and years strategic projects can often take.

Let’s take a look at the Power Platform for insurance use case for the booking app.

Power Platform for Insurance booking app: solution overview

The solution is built on three key processes and scenarios:

  1. Power Apps for Underwriter Availability Management.

Underwriters assign their availability in the Power Apps Model Driven App which is then visible to the brokers to review.

  1. Broker Portal for Booking a Timeslot

Brokers log on as external users to the Broker Power Apps Portal, see which underwriters they want to meet, see time slots available and can create an agenda, attach documents like insurance slips and submit the booking.

  1. Power Apps for Booking MI

Underwriters and brokers time is automatically booked out in their Outlook diary for the meetings, which can be set up on Microsoft Teams and WebEx. Booking MI is available to view in the Power App.

Process 1: Power Apps for Underwriter Availability Management.

Built on a Power Apps model driven app for internal users, including Underwriters and Underwriting Assistants.

Contact Record with custom fields

  1. Created contact records for underwriters within the internal Model Driven App.
  2. Custom fields created to enable the booking process, including insurance type drop down, contact details, time zones, WebEx or Teams meeting ID
  3. On tab 2, Underwriters and Assistants can manage their time, and set timeslots, length of meeting and availability throughout the working week, and set exceptions for unavailability for things like other meeting types, personal appointments, focus time and annual leave.
  4. Power Automate takes all of this information and creates a range of timeslots for Brokers to view and choose, displaying date, time, length of appointment and time zone; important working across multiple geographies.
  5. Built on the Common Data Service, information and data is now available within the portal and available to Broker and other external users.

Underwriters can set their availability

Process 2: Broker Portal for Booking a Timeslot

Within the outward facing Broker Portal, built on a Canvas App, external users can view their forthcoming bookings with Underwriters, book new appointments and add documents to upcoming bookings.

External user portal view

When an external user logs into the Portal, they’re taken directly to a view of all of the bookings they currently have with their chosen underwriters at a glance.

  1. Key meeting information is displayed via Subject, time slot, booked by, underwriter, insurance type and link to video-conferencing fields.
  2. Each appointment is also sat in each user’s calendar, sent by Power Automate.
  3. Within this view, external users can also book a new timeslot via the book timeslot button in a simple three step process.
  4. Step 1 – select insurance type to filter available underwriters from that business area. Select underwriter from the drop down menu, before adding subject.
  5. Step 2 – the system surfaces the available time slots for the user to choose from. When a time slot is selected, users can add agendas and upload documents like insurance slips to allow the underwriter to gain context to the meeting and prepare accordingly
  6. Step 3 – here you can review all information submitted and make any amendments before submitting the booking request.
  7. Upon booking the timeslot, there are two actions that take place. The timeslot is created in the Underwriter’s Model Driven app and Power Automate will send a calendar invite to both parties with the high level information, videoconferencing link, agenda and any attachments.
  8. My time slot Portal front page will now show the new appointment in the view.
  9. Back in the Underwriter’s Model Driven app, the management information will show the new booking and the meeting sits in their Outlook calendar, with no need to respond to the sender.

Booking an Underwriter appointment

Process 3: Booking MI

Booking MI is the Underwriter’s go-to view to prepare for the week ahead and mange their workloads and opportunities.

  1. Go into management info tab within the Underwriter’s Model Driven App.
  2. Three charts to provide high level info to underwriter on their week ahead by broker, by attempted timeslot bookings and active timeslots, thus allowing them to plan for the week ahead.
  3. These insights allow Underwriters to understand which brokers are booking and how often, to gain visibility on the brokers attempting to book and to measure where their time is being spent for maximum efficiencies.
  4. MI is fully extensible to additional integrations to fit wider business needs or to evolve with future iterations or augmentations.

Management Information within the Model App

Power Platform: no limits extensibility

Beazley’s CTO Mark Moerdyk says: “Beazley Booking uses the Microsoft Power Platform to improve the quality of interactions with brokers and ensure that our underwriters have access to data that can help improve service in the future. This is not only a system that improves our service during this period of social distancing but also has the capability to provide long-term support as the market adapts to a more efficient and flexible model.”

Less code, more power: 86% of Fortune 500 companies use Power Apps

With 86% of Fortune 500 companies using Power Apps, there’s never been a better time to modernise your data and harness the power of the Power Platform and Microsoft Dynamics 365. No-code, low code capability is here now and can augment your legacy systems to fit the new normal in days and weeks. Want to hear more?

About Redspire and the Microsoft

Redspire are a CRM Consultancy and Microsoft Gold Partner, specialising in Dynamics 365 and The Power Platform. We partner with the UK’s leading Financial Services organisations to lead them through powerful digital transformation, improve operations and process automation with Microsoft’s suite of business applications. Interested in the awesome power of Power Platform? Find out more about Power Apps and Beazley booking on the Connecting Brokers and Underwriters webinar with Megan Meneely, Billy Lyle and Beazley’s Mark Moerdyk.

Want to talk all things Power Platform or Dynamics 365? Get in touch with us touch on 0845 226 8170 or email us at info@redspire.co.uk.

Power Apps is a high-productivity development platform for business apps, and has four major components:

  • Canvas apps
  • Model-driven apps
  • Portals
  • Common Data Service

Microsoft Power Apps is a suite of apps, services, connectors and data platform that provides a rapid application development environment to build custom apps for your business needs. Using Power Apps, you can quickly build custom business apps that connect to your business data stored either in the underlying data platform (Common Data Serviceor in various online and on-premises data sources (SharePoint, Excel, Office 365, Dynamics 365, SQL Server, and so on).

Apps built using Power Apps provide rich business logic and workflow capabilities to transform your manual business processes to digital, automated processes. Further, apps built using Power Apps have a responsive design, and can run seamlessly in browser or on mobile devices (phone or tablet). Power Apps democratizes the custom business app building experience by enabling users to build feature-rich, custom business apps without writing code.

What is a Model Driven App?

Model-driven app design is a component-focused approach to app development. Model-driven app design doesn’t require code and the apps you make can be simple or very complex. Unlike canvas app development where the designer has complete control over app layout, with model-driven apps much of the layout is determined for you and largely designated by the components you add to the app.

Model-driven app design provides the following benefits:

  • Rich component-focused no-code design environments
  • Create complex responsive apps with a similar UI across a variety of devices from desktop to mobile
  • Rich design capability
  • Your app can be distributed as a solution

What is a Canvas App?

Canvas apps start with your user experience, crafting a highly tailored interface with the power of a blank canvas and connecting it to your choice of more than 200 data sources. You can build canvas apps for web, mobile, and tablet applications.

Canvas apps give you the flexibility to arrange the user experience and interface the way you want it. Allow your creativity and business sense to guide how you want your apps to look and feel.

You can start to build your app from Microsoft tools where your data lives, such as:

Creating a canvas app is easy; with Power Apps, you can find or create your app in several ways:

What is Power Apps Portals?

 Portals help you create external-facing websites that allow users outside your organization to sign in with a wide variety of identities, create and view data in Common Data Service, or even browse content anonymously.

What is the Common Data Service

 The Common Data Service is the data platform that comes with Power Apps and allows you to store and model business data. It’s the platform on which Dynamics 365 apps (such as Dynamics 365 Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Marketing, and Project Service Automation) are built. If you’re a Dynamics 365 customer, your data is already in Common Data Service.

Common Data Service allows you to securely store and manage data within a set of standard and custom entities, and you can add fields to those entities when you need them.

Power Apps and Redspire

Interested in exploring new ways that processes can be engineered and how modern tools like Power Apps can be applied within your business? Get in touch today or watch the on demand Power Apps in Insurance webinar. Respire and Microsoft have partnered to provide a number of hands-on workshops to FSI organisations. For fresh ideas and access to some of the UK’s top solutions architects, get in touch with Redspire today on 0845 226 8170 or email us via info@redspire.co.uk.