Microsoft Data Insights Summit is almost here!

Just a quick note to let my guests and regular readers know I will be at the Microsoft Data Insights Summit next week.?http://datainsightssummit.com/

I am really looking forward to the event and just dropped a blog post over at my?AKA home. Read more about why we are going and how you can still benefit even if you are not able to attend.

https://www.akaes.com/insights/aka-to-attend-2019-microsoft-data-insights-summit/

If you are in the Seattle area or plan to be at the Summit as well, let me know. I am always open to connecting with folks.

Thanks!

Mike

 

Green Beacon merges with AKA Enterprise Solutions

Hello All,

Green Beacon and AKA Enterprise Solutions will be merging soon!

Two highly distinguished Microsoft Dynamics partners globally, have signed a definitive merger agreement.? Green Beacon will continue servicing current and future customers while conducting business as AKA Enterprise Solutions.

Both AKA Enterprise Solutions and Green Beacon are leading partners in the Microsoft Dynamics community. Green Beacon has earned a stellar reputation for its CRM solutions and performance in the healthcare, public sector and financial services industries and has been named to the Microsoft President?s Club. ?AKA is a leader in Microsoft Dynamics ERP, with vertical focus and intellectual property in public sector, financial services, media, life sciences, manufacturing, and distribution industries. The company has been recognized six times as Microsoft?s worldwide ERP Partner of the year winner or finalist.

With this move, AKA/Green Beacon clients will have access to a diverse set of Microsoft offerings including CRM, ERP, BI, Azure, Office 365, and mobility.

Terms of the agreement are undisclosed.

About Green Beacon

Since 2001, Green Beacon has been implementing and supporting business solutions built on leading customer relationship management platforms, including Microsoft Dynamics CRM. A Microsoft Gold-Certified Partner, Green Beacon specializes in large-scale CRM implementations that put clients’ strategies into operation.

By combining deep technical expertise with years of experience in a range of industries Green Beacon works closely with organizations to transform the way they do business. This highly collaborative approach has earned us an unmatched reputation for delivering ongoing return on investment.

The company is headquartered in Newton, MA, and has with offices throughout the United States. For additional information, visit:?www.greenbeacon.com.

About?AKA Enterprise Solutions

For more than 25 years, AKA Enterprise Solutions has focused on helping organizations innovate their way to greatness through the use of technology to simplify processes while reducing risk. Specializing in Microsoft Dynamics 365, Business Intelligence, Cloud Services, Business Process Consulting, and Custom Application Development, we combine qualities like industry and technical experience, proven methodologies, and world-class consulting to help you get to where you want to be.

To have the freedom to innovate, you need more than just applications like CRM or ERP, and you need more than just a CRM or ERP services company. You need a partner that specializes in Cloud business consulting, strategic road-mapping, upgrades, and custom development, utilizing trans-formative technologies like Microsoft Azure and Dynamics 365 to deliver to you a solution that starts delivering a return on your investment right away. AKA has what it takes.

The company is headquartered in New York, NY, and has with offices throughout the United States. For additional information, visit:?www.akaes.com.

 

I am joining Green Beacon Solutions as Director of Customer Experience

Hello All,

I have joined Green Beacon Solutions, a Microsoft Gold Certified Dynamics CRM partner, as Director of Customer Experience.

In my new role I will focus on the intertwined worlds of Green Beacon LogoCustomer Relationship Management (CRM) and Customer Experience Management (CEM). And yes, there will be a heavy dose of business intelligence and mobility as they are an important part of an overall customer focused program.

I will continue to post content here on my personal blog and will provide additional content on our Green Beacon Blog.

See my first post on the Green Beacon Blog here: https://www.greenbeacon.com/insights/what-is-the-role-of-a-director-of-customer-experience-and-what-does-it-mean-for-our-customers/

An interesting factoid on “what is a green beacon”. Beacons, in the maritime world, are directional markers. You can think of them as “traffic signals” that guide operators safely along the waterways. They also identify dangerous areas and give directions and information.

I find that so appropriate to what we do; provide direction and help companies and people safely navigate through their CRM journeys. Pretty cool.

About Green Beacon

Since 2001, Green Beacon has been implementing and supporting business solutions built on leading customer relationship management platforms, including Microsoft Dynamics CRM. A Microsoft Gold-Certified Partner, Green Beacon specializes in large-scale CRM implementations that put clients’ strategies into operation.

By combining deep technical expertise with years of experience in a range of industries Green Beacon works closely with organizations to transform the way they do business. This highly collaborative approach has earned us an unmatched reputation for delivering ongoing return on investment.

The company is headquartered in Newton, MA, and has with offices throughout the United States. For additional information, visit: www.greenbeacon.com.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics 2016

Microsoft in Leaders Quadrant…Again!

As I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago?http://www.michaelhammons.com/gartner-magic-quadrant-for-bi-and-analytics-2015/ the latest?Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics 2016 has been officially released.

If you didn?t catch last year?s MQ, here is a link: Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics 2015

And here is a link to the 2016 version: Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI & Analytics 2016

A summary of the 2016 highlights of Gartner’s?assessment on Microsoft BI below.

Microsoft is seeing strong uptake due in large part to?substantial product improvements?as well as very aggressive pricing. The Pro version is a very affordable $9.99 per user per month. Compared to pretty much any other BI and Analytics options available, it is the most cost effective.

Here is one of my favorite quotes “Microsoft is positioned in the Leaders quadrant, with strong uptake of the latest release, major product improvements, an increase in sales and marketing awareness efforts, new leadership and a clearer, more visionary product roadmap.” Well said, Gartner.

Key Strengths Summary

  • Microsoft provides a cloud-based delivery model and one of the lowest per-user pricing / TCO ? Ease of use for business users and the availability of skilled resources rounds out this strength.?
  • Microsoft received?high scores for online tutorials, community support, conferences and documentation. I have to agree here whole-heartedly as they have done a really good job on tutorials, blog posts, and learning materials. Something I have seen in the Dynamics CRM world as well. All this helps business achieve?product success much more quickly and cost effectively.
  • Microsoft continues to expand the number and variety of data sources for?connectors and content that includes pre-built reports and dashboards. These too help users get up and running and connected very quickly. In today’s world, agility and rapid time to value are key requirements to success.

If you haven’t checked out Power BI yet, do it, and as quickly as you can. If you would like some help to get up to speed quickly, feel free to reach out to me via my social channels or the contact form on this page:?http://www.michaelhammons.com/about-mike-hammons/?

Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics 2015

Microsoft in Leaders Quadrant

It’s almost that time again and we shall soon see the Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics 2016.

If you didn’t catch last year’s MQ, here is a link: Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics 2015

I will paraphrase the highlights of their assessment below.

In Gartner’s view (and I share much of this), Microsoft’s leadership position BI and Analytics is driven by product vision and road map. In addition, and this one is spot on, Microsoft has a “clear understanding of the market’s desire for a platform that can support systems-of-record requirements and deliver easy-to-use data discovery capabilities”.

Power BI is gaining traction as it matures and cloud adoption grows. I concur and have seen a rapid increase in interest and adoption. I am confident we will see an uptick in the position as Microsoft has been rapidly adding new capabilities to the Power BI platform and it is near parity with the BI applications that have traditionally been selected over it. Add the fact that the “other” BI applications are currently much higher priced; in both acquisition and? deployment costs. This is also noted by? Gartner, “Overall cost of ownership and license cost remain the top reasons customers choose Microsoft.”

To give you an idea of the “power” of this great application, below is an example proof of concept that was provided to a customer recently. There was some shock in awe in that what typically takes them a couple of days to collate the date, do all the Excel lookups and filters and cleanup took several days to complete. This took less than a day to create and is now completely automated.

Power BI Example DashboardThat’s why I am so excited about Power BI.

To wrap up this post, a great Power BI learning event is upcoming called the Microsoft Data Insights Summit, March 22-23, 2016.? At this event Microsoft will be hosting hands on training, advice from some great experts in Microsoft Power BI and Microsoft Excel. I plan on being there so please reach out if you would like to connect. Go here to see more detail and register: http://www.datainsightssummit.com

Power BI Is Going to be Huge

I just have to say, that Microsoft Power BI is completely awesome and amazing.? I?ll explain more in upcoming posts, but it just keeps getting better; almost on a daily basis.

Quite simply:? Power BI, is going to be huge, just huge, and I’m mean enormously huge.Power BI Logo

For those of you who don’t know me, I am rarely quick to endorse or embrace a particular product or technology platform.? For me, I have to see it, experience it and believe it before I give my unequivocal support.? So let me just say that I am jazzed and excited about Microsoft Power BI; and more importantly what it can do for you and your business, and I want to share that with you.

No more waiting. No more wasted effort. Far, far less expense.

Until relatively recently, turning data into actionable insight has been overwhelmingly a chore that simply takes far more time, effort and expense than it should.

  • Time waiting on a Business Intelligence (BI) team to finish their last project before they get to yours; and that’s only if other priorities don’t keep knocking it further down the road.
  • Effort required to get access to the data; and in a usable format that can easily be used by non-techy types. More often; it still requires a collection of spreadsheets and exports and imports and vlookups and filters and, and, and… ? very repetitive, labor intensive, and chaotic.
  • Expense unless you are doing the aforementioned Excel dance; most applications and tools have been very expensive. I mean thousands of dollars $$ per user per year expensive. Plus all the time and expense required to learn the darn things.

Power BI can literally transform your data into rich visuals and dashboards to see, understand and act on on what matters to you. Stay in the know, spot trends as they happen, and push your business further.

I’ll be posting more content in the coming weeks and months that I believe will get you as excited as I am about this new(ish) platform.

For starters, here are the slides and a link to a webinar I did recently titled “Power Up with Power BI”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK1sfN2BTsw

Welcome to your brave new world!

CRMUG Dynamic Duo Series: Power Up Your CRM with Power BI

Join Me for this CRMUG Webinar

Thursday, November 19, 2015 (2:00 PM) to Thursday, November 19, 2015 (3:00 PM) (Eastern Time)
CRMUG Virtual Event

Sign up here:?http://bit.ly/1HP8Md9?

In this CRMUG OneSource Dynamic Duo series webinar, you will learn about the powerful out of the box integration functionality available with Power BI and Dynamics CRM Online. Expert Mike Hammons will show how you can analyze your CRM data with interactive Power BI dashboards and reports, providing you with quick self-service insights into the data you need to manage your business.

About the OneSource Dynamic Duo Series:

This CRMUG OneSource series dives into the robust functionality that comes from the Dynamic Duo of Microsoft Dynamics CRM + Microsoft Office/Office 365. Recent Dynamics CRM updates have deepened the integration of CRM and Office, making your experience simple, familiar, and immersive. Learn how to harness the great power and productivity delivered by this pair of heroes with the CRMUG OneSource Dynamic Duo Series!

Dynamics CRM User Group Summit 2015

CRMUGSummit 2015

Another important conference coming up is the Dynamics CRM User Group Summit 2015. This event just keeps getting bigger and better every year. LOTS of great learning content, networking and fun. Make plans to join us in Reno, Nevada, Oct. 13-16, 2015, for CRMUG Summit 2015, the ultimate Microsoft Dynamics? CRM learning and networking event! You?ll enjoy an incomparable opportunity to learn in a collaborative environment, share Dynamics CRM knowledge and take advantage of unrivaled networking opportunities.

Save Money with Advanced Pricing Discounts. Act Quick – Discounts End September 15 http://www.crmugsummit.com/register

I will be presenting a few sessions at this great conference. The 3 sessions we will be presenting are:

Wednesday, October 14 ? 1:30pm – 2:30pm The art and science of dashboard and reporting visualizations

  • You need to produce a new dashboard or report. What’s the first step? To have a lasting impact and support insightful decisions, slow down and document the requirements, consider the visual details, and plan how it will be delivered and used. We’ll walk through these critical preludes to actually writing the report.

Friday, October 16 ? 8:00am – 9:15am? xRM For Newbies – Because We’re Not Dummies

  • New CRM Administrators are given a plethora of great features and tools to use at their fingertips with many out of the box features in Dynamics CRM. However, you may want to evaluate xRM offerings. So what is xRM? What can you do with it, and where should you go from here? This presentation shares some best practices in the “why” of xRM and when it should be applied outside of OOTB features already natively available to you.

Friday, October 16 ? 10:30am – 11:30am CRM Form and Entity Customizations 201

  • This session takes the lessons learned in the form and entity customizations 101 class and discusses quick create forms, quick view forms, sub-grids, collapsing tabs, related entity navigation, and other form customizations and performance optimizations you will need as you take on more advanced CRM Administrator tasks.

If you are a Microsoft Dynamics user, and that means any of their products; CRM, AX, NAV, GP; this is a great event to attend.

Resco.Next Mobile CRM Conference

Mobile is a hot topic these days. According to a recent Aberdeen study, Best in Class organizations that provide their sales teams with Mobile CRM, a whopping 65% meet or exceed?their sales quotas. In a similar study, Forrester found as high as 60% improvement in customer service. No wonder it?s a hot topic. To learn how you can increase user adoption, improve customer service and become a Best in Class organization, join me at the Resco.Next Mobile CRM Conference.

Take Your Dynamics CRM to the Next Level with the Resco.Next Mobile CRM Conference.

September 14-15, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts

Insightful Sessions from CRM Experts. Hands-On Trainings. Knowledge Sharing

Plan on attending Resco.Next ? the educational conference designed for all mobile CRM enthusiasts. Over the 2 days with 3 parallel tracks consisting of technical & business sessions to choose from, you will gain in-depth product knowledge, new insights about the CRM market and learn how to mobilize your CRM solution to move your business forward.

I will be presenting a session titled ?How to Win Deals, Create Raving Fans and Explode CRM Adoption?

In this session we will review a couple of case studies on how Resco was used to successfully differentiate from the competition and provide significant wins.?We?ll look at case studies of how organizations get the greatest value out of CRM by creating compelling solutions with Resco Mobile CRM.

What You Will Learn:

  • The steps we took to create a compelling vision
  • How Resco was configured to excite users
  • Open forum to ask questions and share ideas

Interested in attending? It?s not too late. Sign up here for a $230 discount. Special price of USD350 via this link.

Dynamics CRM 2015 Online Update 1

Dynamics CRM Update 2 coming soon.

 

It?s almost time again for the next Dynamics CRM Update. Technically called the CRM 2015 Fall Release, it?s more formally called Update 2 and is due probably in November. No official release date yet but it will be here before you know it. This will also be the formal rollup for on premise customers as well. So all the goodness from the CRM Online Spring Release will also be rolled into the Fall Release and made available for on premise customers. The NDA has not been lifted yet on what?s coming. IN the meantime, below are the major highlights from the Spring Release (Update 1).

 

 

Themes

You can now formally brand CRM!

Themes offer the option of changing the default colors and adding your logo to the top navigation bar. Match you corporate colors and even change the name to whatever you want.

 

New Form Rendering Engine ? Faster Page Loads!

  • A new form renderer was built to provide better performance.
  • Forms will load significantly faster and more efficiently.

What will end users notice?

  • End users will not notice anything different, other than forms loading faster.

 

New Form Navigation

If you’re working in a complex form with lots of fields, the new form navigation drop-down list makes it easy to get to just the data you need.

Choose the drop-down list next to the form title, and then select the section of the form you want to go to.

 

Improved Menu Navigation

  • Faster and easier!
  • No more scrolling right/left.
  • The home icon has been replaced with a main menu option (hamburger icon)

 

Recently Viewed

  • Quick access to recently reviewed Records and Views.
  • Pin your favorite or most used records and views

 

OneNote Integration

  • Users can now easily capture meeting details using OneNote from within CRM Online.
  • This functionality allows the information to be available to other CRM Online users in the Social Pane.
  • Share your OneNote?s with non-CRM users as well.

 

Advanced Find ? Older Than X

  • Advanced Find Adds Older Than option
  • The use cases for this option are many and empowers users to access the information they need more efficiently.
  • g. contacts with an activity Older Than 4 Weeks; All Open Cases Created Older Than 3 Hours (to meet SLA?s), etc.

 

Export to Excel Redesign

In addition to replacing the wizard with a single click to download feature (as if that was not fabulous enough), the record limitation for both import and export has been increased to 100,000 records or 32MB! Yes you read that correctly, this increased from 10,000 to 100,000 records!

 

Immersive Excel

Users on the go will love this functionality. When starting from a view, selecting Export to Excel and then Open in Excel Online you can quickly analyze or edit data in Excel Online.

That?s right, edit it online and you can even save changes back to CRM!

 

Folder-level Email Tracking

Exchange email users can establish a tracking folder so incoming emails can simply be dropped into the folder (manually or by leveraging Exchange Inbox rules) and automatically tracked in CRM.

Works with Outlook Web Access and Outlook client.

Works on phones too!

Note this requires server-side synchronization.

 

Mobile on Smartphones

The phone app has been enhanced to provide the same mobile experience as CRM for Tablets.

Available in respective phone app stores.

 

System Administrator and Customizer Platform Improvements

New functions on calculated fields: Now() and DateDiff are available

Rollup fields now support AVG operator, aggregating across related records (e.g. phone calls, emails, etc.)

Business rules: can now be set to null or removed

A date only field is now available

Create system rules that will automatically create or update a record based upon an incoming activity (such as an email)