One thing that i have been thinking about recently is the future Microsoft story. I am not talking about Microsoft Corporation in total, mainly around the offerings for the MS Dynamics line of business product lines.
I mean sure the Dynamics AX ERP and the Dynamics CRM product have now reached their competitors in their respective categories. As with any new software there are always challenges and features that have to be tested and tried before a real leveling effect can occur within the marketplace.
I believe myself, and from what i have recently seen from others as well is that they are achieving this with their latest software releases. But that is today and now. What about the future? What could the ERP & CRM landscape actually look like say in 2013? I believe that the future Microsoft Dynamics story is the one that shows us the most promise and interesting potential.
As customers become more familiar in their daily lives with the idea of external data storage they will most likely enjoy the benefits of low IT overheads and more reliable systems at their disposal. We already have seen this in the past with traditional SAAS giants such as salesforce.com and other solutions such as windows live and amazon web services as well.
For the companies that have a single model only they are now going to be the ones facing a mounting uphill battle it would seem. For instance, Microsoft now offers the ability to store and run their software locally on premise, off premise, hosted by Microsoft, or hosted by partners. This is going to be a hard pill to swallow for most SAAS only solutions that don’t have a plan in place for new additional consumer offerings soon.
In the past Microsoft has been focused heavily on building stable on premise solutions first, and now they are taking these solutions “to the cloud” so to speak and giving customers the choice about how and where they want their software available.
Another interesting piece i think we will see is segmentation of data and prioritization of how data is stored. In the future customers will additionally have the ability to store specific information that they have either in the cloud or locally providing a true “hybrid” storage system. This will allow future users the ability to store more secured information in house and less sensitive information in the cloud for a tighter control of business critical information.
I think that this will be only one of a few major distinctions that are going to make it hard for other competitors to cope with the changing tides. I truly feel that the Microsoft story will be the one solution that truly will cater to all customers no matter how or where they want to use their systems.
Continuing on my look at CRM 2011, I’m looking into Part 2 of the Application New Features.
- First item up, *DYNAMIC* Marketing lists!! Yes, I’m a little excited about this one. Being CRM support, how many times do you imagine I get someone asking about how to update their marketing list because they need to add new accounts/contacts to it, and it’s not updated automatically. Well, pretty much every time they need to use it. No more! This was one of my disappointing features in CRM 4 because, while it had great use, every time you want to do a distribution email, etc, you have to update the marketing list, because our list of customers never stays the same.
- Bulk Management For activities – Another feature that’s new is Bulk Management for activities. This allows you to add notes to a bulk of activies, or mark them for complete, add them to a queue, etc. This is helpful if you do a lot of activities in CRM, and maybe you need to move all activities from one day to another, etc. Some activities are limited to you only selecting the activities of the same type.
- Custom Activities – When creating a new entity, you have the option to specify the entity is actually an Activity entity. These records will show up in the activity area. This is helpful if you want to create an Activity type that is not defined by default.
- Recurring Appointments – I don’t use this much, even in Outlook. However, it is pretty easy to create recurring appointments now in CRM. Even when selecting the activity you want to create, you can select Recurring Appointment instead of an appointment, and then making it recurring. Makes it that much easier. CRM does also notify you if there’s a conflict of schedules, much like Outlook does.
- Field Level Security – Yes, that’s right.. Field Level Security is here!!!! Once you’re done cheering and can sit down, I’ll fill you in. You can set permissions to a field to allow a user to Update, Create, and/or Read a field. You can look at the lessons to read more on how to do this, but in general, it is done via Field Security Profiles. The general idea is, when you define the Field, you specify that Field Security is enabled. When you do this, it becomes inaccessable by all users except for sys admins. All that shows in the form is the field with the data masked by *. You can enable read/update/create permissions for users via the Field Security Profiles.
- Dialogs – This allows the standardization of conversations with customers. This is along the lines of a Script that guides the user through a process, or maybe use as a survey for following up with customers. This is nice in that, you can set it to an account or order, and later on, go and look at the Dialog Sessions for that entity, along with the responses.
Well, with the end of 2010 quickly coming upon us, so is the release of CRM 2011, also known as CRM 5. Microsoft has released some videos to show the new features of CRM 2011. To be honest, I’m quite excited by the changes. I think they’re even bigger than the switch from CRM 3 to CRM 4. While some of the user interface is different, the basics are still there, but are just better. While I cannot do a writeup on all of the changes, here’s a few quick hits of new features I saw from their first videos.
- New menu/Ribbon, more closely reflects the menus you see in Office 2010
- Can select records in your view by a checkbox, including multiple records
- Get started Pane – helps users get to what they need faster.
- Recently Visited list(I like this one!)
- Will show up to 50 records
- Can “Pin” record to list so they’re not removed from your list
- Email link to record from your Recently Visited list
- When you highlight a record type, you can select a view from a pop-up sub-menu rather than going to the records first, THEN changing your view. Saves time!!
- User Defined Default View – Yes, every user can set their own default view
- Sticky Views – When switching between record types, instead of going back to the default view, it brings up the last view you were using for that record type (lose sticky views when you exit CRM)
- Instead of using tabs, there is a sort-of hierarcy menu on the left above where your related records are listed.
- Forms now have a header and footer area that do not scroll when you scroll through a form. Only catch is, the fields in the header/footer are read only.
- Can use “Sub-grids” in a form. ie: list contacts for an Account in the form
- Can switch records while you have a record form open (easier to switch records!)
- Can change view when looking at Associated records (show all contacts even though you’re looking at contacts for an Account)
- Lookup search utilize System Views
I was reccomended this book from a fellow CRM Consultant, and not having it in my office i decided to give it a read. I mainly decided i should read this book because i until that point had not seen too many books that are specifically focused on the idea of CRM as a RAD for developing Custom Line of Business Applications. So basically…. yes, it sounds really funny.. CRM as a RAD for LOB’s. Say that 3 times in a row… LOL!
I mean i have written about it before a few times in the past such as “CRM – the ultimate business platform?” but i was interested that this book covers new topics such as integration with Microsoft Silverlight.
A technical and in depth conversations about web services, and the CRM 4 Metadata API, Plugins and Callout functionality is what i was really looking for. This book didn’t actually replace the SDK like it promised, however it complemented it quite nicely in my opinion. A book for the CRM Solution Architect… Yipee Great Stuff!
Here are the rules of the $19 per user per month for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. Get 60% off the user price if you act before June 30th, 2010 !
Microsoft CRM Online is a complete sales, service and marketing application that is native to your user experiences. It integrates seamlessly into Microsoft Office, and the Microsoft CRM online service even has a new 99.9% (SLA).
Here are the rules and the regulations:
* Subscription must be activated by June 30th, 2010.
* Applies to an unlimited number of seats, but there is a 5 seat minimum purchase.
* Offer is available to new Dynamics CRM Customers Only
* Offer is available to any Microsoft Dynamics GP Customers Registered in Voice
* Offer available only in US and Canada, and cannot be combined with any other promotions
* Customer may cancel subscription in the first 30 days without any cancellation fees. Cancellation Fees of $175/seat will apply after the first 30 days.
* Price Guaranteed for one year and so long as the subscription remains active; if customer terminates their subscription, they are not eligible to reenroll at this discounted price.
If you have interest and don’t know how to get started please feel free to contact us toll free at 1.888.525.4220 and ask for the Dynamics CRM Team.
We can assist with getting you setup for a Free CRM 30-day trial and help you talk about different Dynamics GP and CRM possibilities such as integration assistance as well.
Looking forward to hearing from you all!
I found this while surfing through the internet looking for sharepoint 2010 update training. Nice free book on office 2010.
Well…. It was another great convergence. One thing that always happens when i attend the event is certain. I am always insipred by what i see, and from what others have achieved with CRM and GP and i know the sky is the limit for the platforms.
The cloud is definately alive and here and has become a force in the marketplace. How vars adapt to the changing market will be interesting in the next 5 years, but this will allow so much value to all businesses who get involved with these solutions.
It was good to see the release of Dynamics GP 2010, and participate in the upcoming Sharepoint 2010 releases. There were some great advanced troubleshooting CRM and GP sessions put on by the premier support engineers team as well.
Great things to come in 2010 and looking forward to Atlanta 2011 as well.
I am wrapping up a integration project and thought i would post some valuable information in case anyone else out there is also looking to integrate some older MySql applications with Scribe and Microsoft CRM 4. I learned a few pointers during the way and i hope that it helps.
I faced a few obstacles with the Scribe in a particluar MySQL to CRM Integration.
1.) The first obstacle was that there is no native integration adapter with the community edition of mysql. Most websites and other applications use the community edition because it has been free and is still free (currently) for use. Since Oracle has purchased MySql it may not be so for much longer but that is only my personal opinion…
Scribe promotes that they integrate natively with MySql and they do…. But…. the catch is not actually with the free community edition of the software! If you want to use scribe and the customer doesn’t mind paying the annual license fee for mysql enterprise ($900) then scribe will work natively with that version and the oledb adapter that comes in scribe insight.
Otherwise you will get a message that it doesn’t work with the community edition. ughh…. Actually really what is the difference in connecting to the database itself? Anyways…
2.) The next obstacle faced was that using the odbc drivers would time out your integrations in the Scribe Workbench. Ughh… You only have to use the odbc drivers because you cannot connect natively with Scribe, but either way another workaround.
A work around for this is to create your statements ahead of time, and not actually “build” them in the scribe workbench (as intended). Otherwise the odbc driver connections would time out. You can quickly paste them into the workbench as a source and click next to define your source as quickly as possible.
3.) The third and definitely largest problem was that the scribe trigger and shadow tables generation script don’t exist for MySQL! Ok, so with Sql Server Scribe provides native scribe shadow and trigger scripts that allow you to natively use Scribe on databases and tables with large datasets without any additional coding needed.
You must understand that this is not so with MySQL, “Triple ugh”. This means that the idea of “real-time” integration with scribe and a MySQL data source isn’t even possible “out of the box” with the software without some additional application changes, but we can find a solution to that also.
There are (2) ways that I found around this issue.
a.) Go into the application that you are wanting to integrate with and attach a flag field to every db table, and update your entire application to additionally write lines into the a shadow table for processing from scribe. (definitely not an option with the site we were integrating)
b.) The second and the option we chose was to create our own trigger scripts and customized shadow tables for each MySql table that needs the ability for “real time” integration. After looking at the application there were only a few tables that actually needed “real time” capability because the rest are not updated as often.
We created an exact copy of a table’s structure (without primary keys of course), and created triggers for Mysql to dump into those tables anytime that the table had a new record added, or a record updated. The record then ends up in the shadow table with the record itself an additional timestamp, scribestatus, and an update type (insert or update) appended to it.
This allowed complete integration without having to dig through the complete application and change all pages in it.
Using option (b) we are also able to control the status of the record in question to be updated, but this actually gave way to another problem, but at the same time it gave us a resolution as well.
The problem was that processing the DTS records will take a certain amount of time. During this time we need to ensure that only specific records are inserted/updated, and that the rest that are populating in the tables are left untouched until the integration completes and is re-ran in the next DTS cycle.
This is where the Pre-and Post integration commands come in handy. Before the WorkBench DTS runs we can do a post mysql command to change our status field in the shadow table to something meaningful. In my case I changed it to the number “2”. 2- means “being processed by Scribe”.
The DTS Job that runs only looks for fields in my shadow table with the value of 2 for source records. From there it does all the processing needed, and logs any errors for the integration job.
After the DTS processing is complete I run the Post integration job to cleanup any records in the shadow table with a value of 2. Leaving the new and untouched inserts and updates in the table with a value of 1, ready for the next scribe DTS cycle. Perfect!!!
This way I can schedule the integration to run every few seconds 10-15 and will have a very small number of records to process (based on the tables current usage), and this will give the ability for a real time integration for the application that is integrated.
There are lots more to this, but i will cut it short for now, and i just wanted to say that Scribe is a great tool for integration but sometimes you have to get a little creative with it and unsupported data types.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to let me know. Thanks!
Here is a GREAT list of CRM 4 resources that i found from Wim Coorevits Blog – http://wimcoorevits.blogspot.com/
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 User’s Guide (Document – Microsoft)
- Microsoft CRM 4.0 User Handbook (Site – Redware)
- Using Microsoft Dynamics CRM (Site – Microsoft)
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM Resource Center Video (Video – Microsoft)
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Resource Center (Site – Microsoft)
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Resource Center (Site – Microsoft)
- Main Microsoft Dynamics CRM site (Site – Microsoft)
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM Forums (Site – Microsoft)
- Dynamics CRM Online Video Gallery (Site– democrmonline.com | Microsoft)
These videos will introduce you to Microsoft CRM Online functions and capabilities. Here is the list of videos related to using Dynamics CRM:
- Video: General Overview – Time: 15:00 (Video – democrmonline.com | Microsoft)
This video will provide a navigation overview of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online via the Outlook client and Internet Explorer Web Browser.
- Video: Sales Overview – Time: 12:00 (Video – democrmonline.com | Microsoft)
This video will show the sales features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online from creating a lead that leads to an opportunity that then
leads to a quote.
- Video: Workflow: Sales Process Overview – Time: 25:00 (Video – democrmonline.com | Microsoft)
This video will show to how easy it is to utilize workflow to create a sales Process.
- Video: Customer Service Overview – Time: 14:54 (Video – democrmonline.com | Microsoft)
This video will provide an overview of the customer service functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
- Video: Marketing Overview – Time: 21:04 (Video – democrmonline.com | Microsoft)
This video will show the marketing features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, including Campaigns, Marketing Lists, Campaign Activities and Responses, and Reporting.
- Video: Service Scheduling Overview – Time: 13:55 (Video – democrmonline.com | Microsoft)
This video will provide an overview of the service scheduling functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
- Video: Reporting Overview – Time: 15:29 (Video – democrmonline.com | Microsoft)
This video will show the reporting capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
- Video: Working with Accounts & Contacts – Time: 05:30 (Video – democrmonline.com | Microsoft)
This video will show how to work with Accounts & Contacts within Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
- Video: Mail Merge – Time: 08:03 (Video – democrmonline.com | Microsoft)
This video will show how to create mail merge templates and create emails and Word labels with mail merge.
- Video: Internet Marketing – Time: 02:29 (Video – democrmonline.com | Microsoft)
This video will show the new Internet Marketing capabilities with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
Straight From MSDN CRM Blog….. Sweet!!!!