Microsoft Convergence 2012?Notes from Houston?Day 2

Another exciting day at Convergence. The energy around Dynamics CRM is palpable and at the highest levels I?ve seen or felt it. If this is any indication, the growth of CRM is going to explode.

No Keynote today so I started with the ?Developer?s Guide to Integration with Dynamics CRM? session. While I?m no longer a day to day developer, I am still know enough to be dangerous and found a lot of value in this session. Keeping my technical skills sharp helps me help clients better understand the technologies, tools, approaches and options to solve business problems.

This session focused on integrating user experience, business processes and data across multiple systems for both on-premise and online (cloud). A lot of detailed information was presented for data augmentation, e.g. updating contacts with profile information from external data sources. In the Life Sciences industry as it helps ?fill in the blanks? for the health care practitioners that Life Science companies typically interact with. Data augmentation in this case includes specialties, areas of focus, research interest, clinical studies, even background information like where a physician interned.

Topics included the use of Plugins, embedded URL?s, web services, dashboards, API?s and when to use these compared to using full on data integration with tools like SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) or third party tools like Scribe, CozyRoq, Paribus and others.

The session ended with a review of best practices and recommendations from Microsoft based on the experience their large enterprise and online/cloud implementations.

Next session was:

Document Management & Collaboration Best Practices With Dynamics CRM.

This session was particularly great as it included information for both flavors of CRM (on-premise & online) as well as SharePoint on-premise and Office 365.

One of my favorite topics as it includes both Dynamics CRM and SharePoint which is an awesome collaboration and document management system. SharePoint is in fact, the fastest growing enterprise product in Microsoft history. The 2010 release only makes SharePoint an even better system and I?m confident will continue its skyrocketing growth.

The value of SharePoint includes:

  • Document Management
  • Automatic Versioning
  • Workflow
  • Presence
  • Search
  • Collaboration (internal and external)
  • Group or Multi-user Authoring

The value of Office 365 is it includes all of the above and:

  • Exchange Email
  • Lync
  • SharePoint
  • Office Web Apps
  • Cost effective
  • Doesn?t require an IT degree to setup and configure
  • Scalable
  • Affordable

The session also included some Activity Feeds best practices. If you haven?t used Activity Feeds yet (free update for CRM 2011 users) I highly recommend it. The more I use the Activity Feeds feature, the more I like it. It?s a very fast way to keep your team updated on important actions related to your clients, leads, opportunities, cases and really any CRM Data.

For those not familiar with Activity Feeds, it provides real time notifications and quick sharing of information kind of like Facebook or Twitter for CRM users. Activity Feeds enable a user to follow and listen in on important activities that take place around the people, accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities or anything else that they care about.

Feed status updates can be posted manually by users or automatically based on business rules and workflow, e.g. auto post to the wall when a case is created for a customer your follow as well as email the account owner. Activity Feeds can also be posted to by external applications using web services, e.g. a SharePoint site. Bonus! Activity Feeds can be viewed and updated with a free Windows Phone app that is awesome! I hear through the grapevine this will be available on other device in the near future (this is unconfirmed rumor at this point but I?ve heard it more than once in the halls of Convergence)

Collaboration wouldn?t be complete without Microsoft Lync real-time presence, screen sharing, IM, phone calls and emails capabilities. Another app that increases productivity and efficiency especially when used in context of CRM.

Customer Service Excellence with Dynamics CRM

Focused on the customer service capabilities of CRM. This session reviewed some advanced examples of:

  • Guided Dialogs
  • Call Scripting
  • CTI Integration
  • Dashboards
  • Call center goals

We also got a peek of future release features which include:

  • Facebook & Twitter ? integrate with ability to create a case, communicate, respond, and track these interactions in CRM
  • Easier web customer portal
  • Field service improvements
  • Gamification

An example of gamification would be a call center application that has game like features in it. E.g. badges earned when certain activities are performed, avatars for users, points to do value added things, scoring, chat, bonuses, quick tasks that launch a CRM dialog, etc.. These capabilities are borrowed from games to engage and guide end users through their customer service activities.

That wraps up today?s post. I will be posting updates with examples and more details for the items I discussed above in the near future. The future of Dynamics CRM and complementary products looks bright. Microsoft has really been stepping up their game lately and things are looking awesome!

Power of Possibilities ? Notes from Houston?Convergence 2012

Microsoft Dynamics CRM ? Power of Possibilities ? General Session

Bill Patterson, Dynamics CRM Program Manager, presented an overview of the what?s coming for Dynamics CRM.

Metro is everywhere and Dynamics CRM goes Metro too. The future of CRM will be more like the apps we love to use. The design focus will be HTML5, Business Process Management, Engagement, and will be Adaptive and Insightful.

Metro is Microsoft?s new design language. Modern, clean, immersive, fast, in motion, content is king, authentic.

Metro design principles (me likey):

  • Delight don’t disrupt
  • Give vs. get
  • Purposed experiences
  • Notifications & Action
  • Contextual

Bill was definitely encouraging developing Metro style apps for Dynamics CRM and other apps you may need. It is possible to start now. Microsoft has built tools for Metro HTML/CSS, Windows runtime, Win library for JavaScript, .Net for Metro and more to come.

The Metro focus is on the next gen app experience, which will push information to us via live tiles, an active canvas, notifications, and no popups.

The future of Microsoft Dynamics CRM will feature improved sales/business processes, be more collaborative (think deeper integration with SharePoint and Activity Feeds), seamless shared apps (Office), and will surface communications/actions across all applications.

That?s it for this session. I definitely like what I was seeing and hearing. If you are responsible for delivering apps to users, I highly recommend boning up on Metro and incorporate this design into what you deliver to your users.

Opening KeyNote – Notes from Houston – Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2012

A jam packed day of great sessions. The opening keynotes featured Kirill Tatarinov, President of the Microsoft Business Solutions Division (MBS) and Kevin Turn, COO.

This is the biggest Convergence yet with over 10,000 attendees. There is a palpable excitement at this event. People are really jazzed to be at the event this year.

Kirill opened with a short introduction and quickly turned the stage over to Kevin Turner. Key messages Kevin discussed:

  • The overall theme for this event is Anytime, Anywhere.
  • Microsoft has over 1.5 Billion users.
  • Spends over $9 Billion on annually on R&D (largest in the world ? and a staggering amount for 1 company)
  • Cloud is huge. Forrester predicts cloud to grow from current $40B to over $240B by 2020. Microsoft thinks this is a low estimate.
  • Microsoft to embrace all platforms (I have to say I have seen this in action, e.g. Office 2011 for Mac, Apps for Android and iOS, Office 365 works on all browsers and OS, etc.)
  • SharePoint is fastest growing Microsoft product, ever. Dynamics is the fastest growing group.
  • The central theme for Microsoft moving forward is Re-imagined. Touch and Metro everywhere. Dynamics theme is Proactive. Connected. Mobile.People Centric. Exciting new era.

Next up on the presenters list was Dennis Michalis, GM for Dynamics CRM. Dennis? core messages for CRM:

Power of Possibilities

  • A perspective shift to Re-image CRM.
  • Central themes for CRM will be Big Data, Social, Cloud, Mobile (and Metro).
  • Expanded focus will be on Business Process, Predictive Analytics, Industry Templates and Consumerization.
  • CRM Anywhere. Mobility, browser flexibility, social, industry templates, SQL 2012 with Analytics
  • We saw a quick demo of the new mobile app, which looks great with it?s Metro look and feel. Also saw SQL 2012 Analytics Dashboard that looked good and a few CRM 2011 templates will be available soon.
  • Microsoft also announced an investment in InsideView and cool new integration with LinkedIn.

The keynote was wrapped up with a cool demo of a Win 8 Metro demo of an app that was built for New Belgium Brewing. Color me impressed. I am definitely looking forward to Win 8, especially on a Tablet.

Stay tuned for more?

Howdy Houston?Notes from Microsoft Convergence 2012

It?s hot and humid in Houston. I wonder if it is ever not humid here. Anyway, reporting live from Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2012 (Twitter #CONV12) this week.

The turnout is impressive, lots of people here! Yesterday was primarily the Dynamics Communities User Groups DayONE event. Bob Peskin and I had separate presentations to the Customer Relationship Management Group (Twitter #CRMUG). Bob did a presentation on upgrading CRM from v4.0 to 2011 while I did one on ?Taking Full Advantage of Dynamics CRM?, a tips and tricks presentation. Great attendance for both sessions, very lively with lots of great interaction. Look for the content and follow up repeat webinars on the CMRUG website. If you are not member yet I recommend you check them out. It?s a user group by users for users and is worth joining if you have anything to do with Dynamics CRM.

The Welcome party was a big hit at the Houston Minute Maid Park. Impressive facility and I?m sure would be great to see a game there. I won?t be able to post pictures of the event, however, people were having a great time. The band Daughtry, American Idol winners, were playing some great jams.

The Keynotes start this morning and I am looking forward to hearing from General Colin Powell for Wednesday?s keynote. He has had an impressive career and a phenomenal leader and I?m sure his session is going to be great.

Check out our Twitter feeds for up to the minute into on InfinityInfo and MikeHammons.

Add CRM to Outlook Shortcuts

At our recent Infinity i3 Event I provided a presentation on New and Hidden Features for Dynamics CRM, Recipes for Success.

We had a lot of people comment on how they get a lot of value from these types of presentations, so, I thought we would share them all in a Recipes for Success video series.

First on the menu is Adding CRM to Outlook shortcuts. This is a quick and easy little tip to save a couple clicks for getting to your most often used records and entities in Dynamics CRM. The instructions are posted first, if your prefer to just read them, or click on the video to see it in action!

  1. In Outlook (2007 or 2010), click Shortcuts in the navigation pane. image
  2. Right-click Shortcuts and click New Shortcut. image
  3. The Add to Navigation Pane window opens, simply scroll to the CRM entities and select the ones you want. image
  4. Navigate to desired CRM entity

Add now, the video?.

Adding Dynamics CRM to Outlook Shortcuts

FDA Updates Social Media Guidelines for Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industry


The FDA recently announced (some) updated social media guidelines for pharmaceutical and medical device firms. The actual title of these imageguidelines are ?Guidance for Industry: Responding to Unsolicited Requests for Off-Label Information About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices?.

This is still considered Draft Guidance and is an update to previously released guidance. This is, however, the first time the FDA mentions ?emerging electronic media? with specific examples related to YouTube and Twitter.

The full FDA Draft Guidance can be downloaded here:

The document is fairly short (12 pages), by government standards, and I highly recommend you read the whole thing if you are responsible for sales, marketing or customer service for pharmaceuticals or medical devices.

I will point out some important bits below, particularly, related to responses as outlined in the FDA document. This is particularly important for maintaining compliance and is a great example of why CRM systems are very important for social media interactions and staying compliant with regulations.


1. Information distributed in response to an unsolicited request should be provided only to the individual making the request directly to the firm as a private, one-on-one communication.

2.  Information distributed in response to an unsolicited request should be tailored to answer only the specific question(s) asked.

3.  Information distributed in response to an unsolicited request should be truthful, non-misleading, accurate, and balanced.

4.  Information distributed in response to an unsolicited request should be scientific in nature.

5.  Responses to unsolicited requests for information should be generated by medical or scientific personnel independent from sales or marketing departments.

6.. Information distributed in response to an unsolicited request should be accompanied by the following:

  • A copy of the FDA-required labeling, if any, for the product (e.g., FDA-approved package insert and, if the response is for a consumer, FDA-approved patient labeling or, for new animal drugs, FDA-approved client information sheet)
  • A prominent statement notifying the recipient that FDA has not approved or cleared the product as safe and effective for the use addressed in the materials provided
  • A prominent statement disclosing the indication(s) for which FDA has approved or cleared the product
  • A prominent statement providing all important safety information including, if applicable, any boxed warning for the product
  • A complete list of references for all of the information disseminated in the response (e.g., a bibliography of publications in peer-reviewed medical journals or in medical or scientific texts; citations for data on file, for summary documents, or for abstracts)

7. A firm should maintain the following records:

  • The nature of the request for information, including the name, address, and affiliation of the requestor
  • Records regarding the information provided to the requestor
  • Any follow-up inquiries or questions from the requestor


1.  If a firm chooses to respond to public unsolicited requests for off-label information, the firm should respond only when the request pertains specifically to its own named product (and is not solely about a competitor?s product).

2.  A firm?s public response to public unsolicited requests for off-label information about its named product should be limited to providing the firm?s contact information and should not include any off-label information.

  • The firm?s public response should convey that the question pertains to an unapproved or un-cleared use of the product and state that individuals can contact the medical/scientific representative or medical affairs department with the specific unsolicited request to obtain more information.
  • The firm?s public response should provide specific contact information for the medical or scientific personnel or department (e.g., e-mail address, telephone number, facsimile) so that individuals can follow up independently with the firm to obtain specific information about the off-label use of the product through a non-public, one-on-one communication.

The customer service module within Dynamics CRM is particularly well suited to helping your team monitor, respond, and document social media interactions. We have a lot experience helping companies maintain compliance with regulations using CRM. If you need help, just call or fill out the request below and let us know.

Not really my first blog post.

I decided it was about time to actually start using my domain since I have been paying for it for all these years.

This site will be a drop box of sorts for linking my various professional and personal blogs, interests, and whatever else I decide to post here.

If you have an interest in CRM, Office 365, SharePoint, Business Intelligence (or Analytics if you prefer) and Mobility related stuff, then I encourage you to check some of my links, or just stick around here where I’ll cross post things from all of my sites.