Microsoft has recast its vision for major tradeshows in our industry, and part of that change is that Convergence as we know it is gone. But don't worry—change is good!
In 2016, Convergence will be replaced by Microsoft Envision, and the focus of the event has shifted significantly. What's great about this conference is that it is highly attuned to a specific audience—business and IT leaders looking to meet the challenges of today's digital transformation, improve business insights, and innovate through technology. So, if you're looking for new ideas on how to implement technology to gain better business insights, then Envision is for you!
This year's Envision conference will be taking place April 4-6 in New Orleans, LA. During the conference, there will be over 200 sessions conducted on specific topics around leadership roles in business transformation, industry innovation and disruption, and doing business with Microsoft. You will be able to hear insights specific to your industry and engage one-on-one with Microsoft representatives, customers, and partners. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will deliver an exciting keynote to kick off the conference. You can view the full agenda here.
Overall, Envision will help you:
Gain crucial insights and technology expertise at every level
Hear about technology roadmaps, what's trending, and how to capitalize on today's digital transformation
Discover new solutions, explore successful strategies, and anticipate disruptive technologies
Build connections with innovators, experts, peers, and visionaries
As a platinum sponsor of the event, PowerObjects and our parent company, HCL Technologies, will be on the ground at Envision to meet with attendees and answer questions. We will be running demos of the latest and greatest Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 features and showcasing our PowerPack Add-ons at our booth #437. HCL and PowerObjects will be sponsoring the expo reception on the evening of April 4 and HCL will be hosting off-site customer breakout sessions on April 4 and April 5. We would love to see you there, so be sure to stop by!
PowerObjects SVP Dean Jones will be presenting a breakout session on "Dynamics CRM: The Ultimate Platform for Marketing Automation" and PowerObjects Customer Care Practice Director Greg Moser will be speaking on "Laying the CRM Foundation for High Performance Customer Service in 2016" and "Laying the CRM Foundation for High Performance Field Service in 2016."
Are you interested in attending Envision 2016? You can get $300 off your registration! Use code: CAATPWROBJ to get a special discounted customer attendee rate of $1695 until March 14, 2016 (subject to availability). The Envision 2016 pass includes: access to Keynotes, Sessions, Expo, Meals, Conference Giveaways, Expo Reception, Attendee Celebration, and the Attendee Tools and Resources.
We hope to see you in New Orleans for this exciting event!
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . . PowerObjects Attended Microsoft Convergence 2015 EMEA in Barcelona
2015 was a BIG year for PowerObjects. We continued to grow our team, we put on our biggest PowerUp event ever, we won Microsoft's 2015 Cloud Partner of the Year, and we were acquired by HCL Technologies. As you can see, there was a lot going on this year, and the acquisition by HCL was definitely a high point. One of great things that comes out of us being an HCL company is that we can now forge ahead in new markets we only dreamed of, including European ones. This year, PowerObjects SVP Jim Sheehan attended Microsoft Convergence EMEA in Barcelona, Spain for the first time. We sat down with Jim to ask him about his experience. Let's see what he had to say!
Q: What was your favorite part of Convergence EMEA?
Jim: The best part of the experience for me was being able to see Microsoft take the Convergence I have known and been a part of here in the United States, and execute on it in Europe. It was great to see that the same messages that are landed in the states are driven at EMEA as well.
Q: What did you see or takeaway that you didn't expect?
Jim: One thing I noticed was that even though the attendance numbers were much smaller than the US event, a higher percentage of people and companies at the event were in serious decision-making mode and weren't out there just kicking tires. If someone stopped at our booth and had questions, they were serious. The attendees had real needs they had been tasked with figuring out a solution for.
Q: What was the focus and vibe of the event?
Jim: Well, the stated Microsoft purpose is that Convergence EMEA is a business decision maker's event and not just focused on the Dynamics products. This overall theme came through in the keynotes and sessions, but the people we talked to and the primary focus on the tradeshow floor was still all about CRM and ERP solutions, which meant I felt right at home!
Q: This was PowerObjects, an HCL Company's formal debut into the European markets. What do you see as the future of PowerObjects in Europe? What's to come?
Jim: This was our big entrance and now it is up to PowerObjects to leverage our parent company's strong position in the United Kingdom and turn it into a significant portion of business going forward. PowerObjects will bring a multi-segment-focused CRM practice to this part of the world and do what we have done successfully in the states. There's no holding us back now!
Q: What is PowerObjects going to bring to the table next year?
Jim: Great question, but a little early to predict! Right now we are focused on the US Convergence happening this spring and will plan a more formal strategy as a new company once we get past that event. If I had to guess, we will probably bring a larger practice and a more focused CRM solution set to Convergence EMEA in 2016, along with our signature PowerObjects excitement and buzz. No one does events quite like PowerObjects does!
Looks like Jim had a great time in Barcelona! You can bet that 2016 will be a big year for PowerObjects as well! Make sure you subscribe to the blog so that you can stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest happenings in the world of Dynamics CRM year-round.
Best Practices using EasyAnswer in Parature, from Microsoft
The goal of Parature, from Microsoft is to improve the customer experience with self-service by allowing customers to get answers fast and without opening a support ticket. If you can effectively facilitate this experience for your customer, it is a win/win because that means you are saving time and money on customer service tickets. With that cost savings, Parature can pay for itself within 6-12 months.
Creating this kind of self-service (also known as ticket deflection) is only as good as the design around it, however. In order to suggest the appropriate Knowledgebase Articles for the necessary tickets, you must first design an intuitive interface that seamlessly leads the customer to their resolution. In this blog, we'll discuss how to most effectively set up the EasyAnswer capability with Parature for maximum results.
The Customer Experience
As the customer enters text into the Summary or Details field of the ticket Parature will present to them articles containing the characters they are typing.
With an effective Knowledgebase structure and EasyAnswer Mappings the customer will inadvertently filter the Knowledgebase and Download content for themselves before they type in these fields. In the below example you would have parent "Product" folders in your Knowledgebase with child "Problem" folders. The user would be choosing one folder to search with the ticket form.
Let's walk through how you would set this up.
How to set it up
This is done by creating ticket fields and pre-chat questions that "filter" your Knowledgebase and Download Content while the end user fills out the form/answers the questions. These fields should be option sets. Each option set value will have a corresponding folder. Whenever one of the options is selected all solutions not underneath the associated folder will be excluded from the possible solutions presented to the end user.
NOTE: Articles may live in more than one folder, for example, a "How do I change my Password" article may live in EVERY folder.
The most common fields used to set up are:
Product: denoting what the end user is seeking service regarding.
Problem: a more granular field that provides detail or context around the problem as it relates to the Product.
In order to structure the Knowledgebase to work with these two fields you require two levels of sorting.
First, select the folder with the name of your department (top most folder of the tree).
Click the New button to create the first product sub folder.
Name the first sub folder the first value in your Product option set, or other pertinent field.
Example: If Product 1 = X1 Carbon Lenovo Laptop then your first sub folder should = X1 Carbon Lenovo.
Select the folder "X1 Carbon Lenovo" (or whatever your first product folder is) and click New.
The "New" button will always create a sub folder underneath the folder you have selected. You may adjust folder order from within the creation of a folder as well. The sub folder under "X1 Carbon Lenovo" should be the different Problems that are possible for this product. Some examples may include Hardware, Software, Screen, Keyboard etc.
Setting up EasyAnswer mappings
Now we need to set up the EasyAnswer Mappings. EasyAnswer Mappings are where we set which field values search which folders.
Navigate to the Setup tab, expand Portal, select EasyAnswer Mappings, and then click the New Mapping button.
Select the field you are filtering on then the value of that field (field must be Option Set).
You may then check the box next to each folder that you would like to be searched when the field value you entered is selected.
Example: Our example we would select the field Product and the value "X1 Carbon Lenovo" then we would check the box next to our "X1 Carbon Lenovo" folder in the Knowledgebase and check the box as to whether you want to include sub folders automatically. You may create 1 mapping per product or 1 per problem, depending on how granular you would like to get.
2. Now navigate to Setup à Portal à EasyAnswer Settings and choose the Search Type from All words, any words or exact phrase, depending on how particular you would like to be.
Now the portal will present Knowledgebase articles regarding the X1 Carbon Lenovo as soon as the end user begins typing in either the summary or details field of the ticket form and ANY WORDS match our Knowledgebase Article. The idea is to present them with their solution prior to them submitting their ticket.
Ticket Deflection is an ongoing battle. Two ways to always be improving your deflection are:
Link to Article – When providing a solution to the end user via a chat or ticket interaction you should always insert the link to the article rather than the text. This will take the user to the portal to view their answer within the Knowledgebase. The idea being that, once they realize the knowledgebase exists, they go to the portal to search for their own answer prior to attempting to file a ticket.
Suggest to KM – KM = Knowledgebase Manager – Any time a ticket or chat interaction is closed with a solution that the CSR determines may be a repeat issue they should suggest the interaction to the KM. By constantly expanding your Knowledgebase you are, ideally, exponentially creating less work for yourself by deflecting more tickets.
Parature is a fantastic tool for both ticketing and knowledgebase management. However, when the two ideals are leveraged together, you are able to unlock the true potential of your Parature solution. For more information about the Dynamics CRM Unified Service Desk and case management visit the main PowerObjects blog. We have previously covered "10 Tips for Managing Auto Case Creation and Case Routing" and "Case Form updates for Dynamics CRM". For more ideas on how to improve your Parature instance, please visit the Parature Support Portal!
PowerObjects Presenting in Webinar on Dynamics CRM for Healthcare Sponsored by Microsoft
PowerObjects is pleased to be a presenter in a webinar on Dynamics CRM solutions for healthcare sponsored by Microsoft. Content will provide information for professionals at hospitals, provider networks, HMOs and other large healthcare providers on XRM solutions to improve care delivery. There will be two sessions: December 18th from noon to 1 pm CST, and January 22nd from noon to 1 pm CST. Learn more and sign up here.
As part of our RxRM initiative, PowerObjects has been working hard on developing tailored solutions that answer the specific needs of professionals in the healthcare space. Our own Tim Pratt, solutions design consultant for the health and life sciences, will be demonstrating our physician referral management system developed on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform during this webinar.
The physician referral management system is designed to provide visibility into and management of the entire referral process from start to finish. It was developed with input from an advisory committee made up of MDs, PhDs and healthcare operations experts, resulting in a tailored RxRM solution that will be used to improve productivity and patient outcomes while reducing legal risks. Tim will be showcasing the power of this solution in the webinar.
Microsoft will open the webinar with a presentation on its commitment to supporting customer and partner compliance with HIPAA and HITECH regulations. Microsoft partner Avanade will also be presenting its readmission management solution.
If you want to attend this webinar on Dynamics CRM for healthcare, read more about and sign up for either the December or January session.
His iPad, Her Surface
Guest blogger: Gretchen Opferkew shares her personal experience with the Microsoft Surface tablet
This past Saturday, we ventured out to the Mall of America Microsoft store to get the new Microsoft Surface. To date my husband and I have been sharing his iPad2 for the consuming of information and entertainment, which has worked pretty well–except when we both want to use it!!! Thus, I have wanted my own tablet for a long time.
Yes, the Microsoft Surface Tablet Did Cost More Than His iPad
The Microsoft Surface tablet was $599, plus tax, for the 32GB Windows RT Surface bundled with the keyboard. In addition, I had to get the optional Microsoft Complete care plan for $99 because I might have a history of whacking, dropping, knocking, and dipping my favorite gadgets. In the event that I should destroy my Surface, Microsoft Complete allows me to exchange it for a new one up to 2 years–no questions asked—just pay a $50 fee).
At first glance, I can tell you WHY the Surface costs just a little more than the iPad–it does a lot more!! It’s a laptop AND a tablet combined. Needless to say, my hubby had to get his hands on it, too. As an information worker, the fluffy iPad was never a productivity tool for me. Recipes, movies, Facebook and Pinterest for sure, but the larger screen and Microsoft platform allows me to connect to all my applications at the office and as a business traveler.
I’ll write more later on the value, but numero uno for us personally–my husband and I can have separate logins on the Surface. Unlike the iPad, we can each have our own interface, as well as different apps installed, and our own Email and calendar. What a relief after having to log each other out of Facebook on the iPad every time it switched hands–or worse yet, when I’d accidentally post “You look great” on my girlfriend’s pic, only to find out I’m still logged in as my husband.
This kind of stuff can ruin marriages!!
Not only do we each get to express our own personalities and interests with how we set up the Surface tablet experience, but the visual cues indicated the logged in user, and you just simply click the picture on the top right corner to change the logged in user.
My Advice When Buying a Microsoft Surface Tablet
1. Get a Live ID beforehand
Set up at the store was super quick because I already have a Live ID with a SkyDrive account. You can set up multiple Email addresses, so I set it up to receive both work and home Email.
2. Get the case from Microsoft
The problem with being an early adopter is there is a serious lack of accessories. The Microsoft store had a selection of cases for $49 ($39 online), which I wish I would have purchased. Instead I took to the streets in search of a less expensive case and found a couple of cheaper cases that aren’t the best fit. So, I’ll probably end up going back to get the case designed for the Surface tablet.
3. Find a nice quiet place to explore the Surface and enjoy!
It took me about two hours to feel like I had a good handle on most of what it can do; although I’m still discovering things.
Stay tuned for more personal experiences and tips from users Microsoft Surface tablet, especially as PowerObjects continues to develop Windows 8 applications!
Fun being the underdog – Microsoft Dynamics CRM
At PowerObjects we watch with interest when our main business partner does anything – we watch with awe as MS pumps huge amounts of R&D into a product that we have based our whole company on – Microsoft Dynamics CRM. As you can imagine with a company of nearly 50 people all doing MSCRM, we get into many competitive battles with SaleForce.com. SFDC has done a great job of leading the way with software as a service (SaaS) – but other players including Microsoft have decided this is a space to be in and they want to be the leaders.
So what happens next…Well the first thing was that Microsoft ramped up product development – they took a couple years to really add the features into the product that is the most compelling set of tools for the end users and they built out a cloud infrastructure that is second to none with financially backed SLA's. Next they ramped up the partner community – this in my opinion is really the main advantage here – think of all the people out there selling and making a living on this product and you have sales teams that no other publisher can compete with. Now for the final act they get serious about taking market share from the leader and come out with all guns blazing.
Today they came out with a Cloud CRM for Less offer that is offering to pay SFDC customers $200 per seat to switch to MSCRM. This follows on the heels of a $34/seat pricing that compares to the $125/seat pricing of SFDC. Even if you are paying the lower cost of $65/seat on SFDC - $34 is almost 50% less and you get $200 seat on top of that.
So what happens next??? Well in January the next version of the product will release – CRM2011. This will take the features/benefits to a whole new level, but more importantly it opens up the cloud platform for partners to put custom code in CRM Online – allowing us to sell and drive this even faster. Microsoft has lined all the pieces up and I predict come this time next year they will be near the leading position for Cloud CRM!
If I get out my crystal ball I also see the price pressure driving the price of SFDC down….followed by a collapse in the Stock price (not very big stretch given a PE of 225 – what are investors smoking??), and for the final act they will more than likely get acquired by Oracle….
So right now we get to enjoy the underdog status, but I think we will need to enjoy it quickly because Microsoft is doing what I believe will bring them to the top!
If you are thinking about how to leverage the "switcher" offer please get ahold of us – the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Experts and we can help you get the most out of the offer, plus add a little of our own magic to make your CRM system be the best it can be.
Gold doesn’t always mean the same thing for Microsoft Dynamics CRM
This might not be big news out there for our customers – but something here at PowerObjects we will pound our chests about! Over the past year Microsoft has been reworking the partner program in an effort to distinguish Partners that are truly experts in certain areas. In the past, pretty much any partner you talked with could say they were "gold", there wasn't much that set one gold partner apart for another gold partner. The problem was that gold could be achieved in anything and truthfully it was mostly based around the number of technical people you had licensed in your organization. So if you were looking for someone to do your CRM system, you might reach out into the partner community and only look at Gold partners – but a group that might have dabbled in CRM and achieved gold based on a deep expertise in infrastructure looked no different than the gold partner that only does CRM (like PowerObjects)
So in the infinite wisdom of Microsoft (that's for our Microsoft readersJ) they have upped the ante to really becoming recognized as a top level partner with Microsoft. It is no longer just about a group of great technical people – not that they aren't important, but at the end of the day Microsoft wants and needs customers to be successful with their software and this takes more than smart developers….you need knowledgeable sales people, pre-sales people that live the technology, project managers that know how to bring success to a project, customers that vouch for your success, a dedication to the product line, and yes a bunch of really smart technical people.
PowerObjects has been following this transition very closely and made sure we came in at the highest level right out of the gates – hey it's all we do so we better be recognized as one of a handful of top ranked companies.
Big deal?!?! What does this mean to me?
A Consultant Looking for a Job – If you love Microsoft Dynamics CRM you’ve found an organization that loves it as much as you do.
An Organization Looking for a Partner – You are in good hands with PowerObjects when it comes to your Dynamics CRM needs. Our focus will make your project successful.
Consulting Company Looking for a Partner – We can add value with our focus on Microsoft Dynamics CRM, leverage our expertise to help bring your vertical solutions to the cloud.
Everyone else – Not really sure why you are reading this blog 😉
OK enough beating our chest for one day, but I'd like to congratulate the whole PowerObjects team on this accomplishment!
Want to Learn More About PowerApps?
Traditionally, there are two schools of thought on using apps to solve business problems: 1) Buy off-the-shelf apps, or 2) Build custom apps from scratch. In many cases, off-the-shelf apps do not solve all business problems, and since they're rarely customizable, you are expected to modify your processes to fit into the way the app functions. This roadblock can be tackled using custom apps, but custom apps are expensive and time consuming, making it difficult for businesses to justify the time and cost of custom app development. This is where Power Apps comes into the picture.
Power Apps is a set of services and apps that enable you to:
Build line-of-business applications directly via web, tablet, or mobile
Use skills you already have to build apps (think PowerPoint + Excel skills)
Share apps across your organization
Rapidly and cost-effectively improve and scale your application as your business requires
Connect to a large selection of applications
How can I access PowerApps?
Power Apps apps are developed in Power Apps Studio which can be accessed via a web browser or a Windows app. Once an app is published, it can be shared with users across the organization through web.powerapps.com. Apps can be run on a browser, tablet, or phone.
What can Power Apps connect to?
Using your existing solutions with Power Apps is easy. Power Apps has connectors for hundreds of cloud-based solutions and allows creation of custom connectors for solutions that do not have a built-in Power Apps connector. Here is a list of all the out of the box connectors available for PowerApps.
On Prem vs. Online
Have data in an on premises database? No worries! Power Apps has an on premises gateway that lets you connect to your on premises SQL Server, SharePoint, and other platforms in an easy and secure manner.
If you'd like to get a deeper look into the capabilities of Power Apps and see a few demos and use cases, be sure to view Microsoft's Business Applications Spring 2018 Release video on PowerApps.
Have you heard about PowerObjects' Power Apps competition, running now through Tuesday, June 19?
If you are a current PowerObjects customer and have an idea for a Power Apps solution that would benefit your organization, we want to hear about it! The organization that submits the best use case(s) will win and have their app(s) built at no cost. To participate and for more details, click here!
We are excited by the extensive capabilities of Power Apps and are ready to invest in this platform to help our customers further transform their businesses. Keep an eye out for more Power Apps content coming to our blog in the coming weeks!
In the meantime, happy D365'ing!
Capital Markets 365: LinkedIn, Discovery Data, and Dynamics 365
In today's global economy – and with Capital Markets firms looking to keep top-of-mind awareness with distribution channels, investors, partners, and institutional relationships – it is now more important than ever to have a superior segmentation approach. That's why PowerObjects has partnered with LinkedIn and Discovery Data. Together, we can bring all of the information you need into a single view so that you can deliver personalized, proactive, and predictive customer service experiences every time with Capital Markets 365.
What is Capital Markets 365:
Capital Markets 365 takes Dynamics 365's core capabilities of Marketing, Sales, Client Service, Client Onboarding, and Operations and enhances them with advanced segmentation capabilities with Discovery Data and LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
Advanced Hierarchy & Associations
LinkedIn & Discovery Data Integration
What your data may look like without Capital Markets 365 – too much siloed information broken up between CRM, tasks and emails, and transactional systems:
What your data can look like with Capital Markets 365 – one common data layer platform!
To learn more about this integration, check out our solution overview and connect with our Financial Services Practice Director today!
PowerObjects' Financial Services team is on a mission to create the most seamless solution for maximizing the power of data. One way that we are enhancing Dynamics 365 for Financial Services organizations, is by creating an integration between Dynamics 365 and Discovery Data. To hear about this exciting integration and from experts in data accuracy and data segmentation, join PowerObjects, Discovery Data, Microsoft, and LinkedIn for our Financial Services Data Innovation Day in New York City.
When: Wednesday, February 7, 2:00-5:00pm
Where: Microsoft Technology Center, 11 Times Square, New York, NY 10036
Data Accuracy Best Practices: Learn more about the importance of data accuracy and how to manage Information – AUM, performance, relationships, activities, history, marketing campaigns, etc.
Data Segmentation Best Practices: Utilize data to define investor, wholesaler, retail and channel segmentation to drive revenue, marketing strategies, and relationships
The Solution: See how our newly integrated Dynamics 365, LinkedIn, and Discovery Data solution will drive proactive, personalized, and predictive messages to your investors, partners, and channel every time
Networking: Join us for happy hour immediately following this event
We hope to see you there! Be sure to register or reach out with any questions!
Happy Dynamics 365'ing!
D365 In Focus: How Microsoft Keeps Your Dynamics 365 Data Safe and Secure [VIDEO]
Over the last few years we have seen a trend of businesses moving to the Microsoft Cloud. However, there are still many businesses out there that are a little apprehensive about making the switch. In this Dynamics 365 In Focus video, Venkat will answer some of your biggest questions about Cloud security and how Microsoft keeps your Dynamics 365 data safe and secure. Want to make your Cloud security a priority? Join our webinar with PowerObjects customer, Ken Kelly of Kelly Roofing, where we'll discuss privacy of data and the Microsoft Cloud in depth.
Microsoft Ignite in Numbers
The PowerObjects team is known for going ALL OUT at Microsoft Ignite and 2017 was no exception. Check out our numbers to see the swag, expertise, and FUN that we brought to the expo floor last week!
3,000 Hoodies PowerObjects gave away 3,000 Dynamics 365 hoodies during our week at Ignite. Whether you were on the expo floor, at a session, or even at a nearby restaurant or attraction, you were bound to see a blue hoodie everywhere you turned!
400 #IgniteYourD365 Posts Ignite attendees took to social media to show off their new Dynamics 365 swag and give PowerObjects a shout out!
45 PowerObjects Team Members With one of the largest teams present at Ignite, the love for Dynamics 365 was strong day-in and day-out at booth #1019.
6 Scavenger Hunt Winners Each day, Ignite attendees had the opportunity to win big by participating in our PowerObjects scavenger hunt!
-5° Customer After Party 'Cause who doesn't want to unwind at a bar made totally out of ice when in Orlando?! A cool experience indeed…
4 Grand Prizes At the end of each day, the PowerObjects team gave away a grand prize – a brand new Microsoft Surface! Four lucky winners were chosen throughout our week at Ignite.
2 PowerObjects Speakers Our very own Marco Amoedo and Alex Fagundes lead two lively sessions at Ignite. Alex brought the house down with a show-and-tell session on Marvelous Marketing Automation with PowerPacks and Marco co-lead a session on Achieving Marketing Success with Dynamics 365, Adobe, and PowerObjects, Microsoft's Modern Microsoft Partner of the Year. Way to go, team!
1 Dynamics 365 Booth The PowerObjects booth stood out as a landmark at Ignite with a five-foot-tall, three-dimensional "D365" standing out in the crowds. Whether you came to Ignite to learn more about Dynamics 365 or not, we guarantee you left with a little extra love for Microsoft's business apps. As we always say, Happy Dynamics 365'ing!