Highlights from Convergence 2015 Barcelona

Highlights from Convergence 2015 Barcelona

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This year's conference focused on Microsoft's business systems is over.@ProsessPilotene were present along with about 100 other Norwegians. In all, there were more than 5,000 participants from 79 countries representing 2,236 organizations. The conference keynote group this year was aimed at decisionmakers. In this article, we will summarize some main points from the conference.

Product news

Dynamics CRM 2016

Dynamics CRM 2016 was officially launched on 12/01/15. ProsessPilotene have tested the product with Microsoft since August, and we have already performed an upgrade for one of our clients.  The main news in the product include:  

  • The knowledge base has become really good. A single article can be translated into several languages, include pictures, and be published on web portals.  
  • Machine learning. Anyone who uses CRM can now get the benefit of "artificial intelligence", machine learning, without any kind of development or configuration. In sales processes,  CRM will display proposals for "Cross-sell" and "up-sell" products, which makes it possible to increase sales via portals and for merchants using the CRM. For employees in customer service, the same technology suggests relevant knowledge base articles for resolving a case. It is the first time this type of technology has been made so easily accessible to everyone.  
  • Document production. CRM has also had solutions for document production added as a default. These are not as good as our recommended partner"XperiDo" , but it will work for those who have very simple document production needs. 

For the technically minded, it must be noted that CRM 2016 has been fitted with a modern RESTFUL API, making it very easy to build portals or integrate CRM with other systems. Now, there are also built-in solutions for handling those authentication processes required to create web portals, e.g. a support portal.

From a design standpoint, CRM 2016 is very similar to previous versions, which renders the need for training after upgrade non-existent. All forms have been given better contrasts for increased readability. We think the most significant part is that the overview of task lists has been made to look great. The word "Timeline" is introduced, to show what has happened or will happen, for example in a case or project. 

The CRM application for mobile phones now supports offline access! You will be able to take your CRM data along with you when traveling in areas without internet coverage. This was previously only possible with Resco's mobile solutions.

Finally, we must highlight the fact that Outlook integration has become outstanding. It is actually possible to link an email to a sales opportunity directly from your phone without installing any additional software. This is a welcome feature for users and IT departments that do not need to install additional software on the computers. 

Office 365 and telephony 

The dial tone is coming to Office 365 and Skype for business. That means you can give each employee a phone number associated with Skype. Employees can make outgoing calls. Skype already covers over 50% of international telecommunications traffic, and now Microsoft has set a goal to take over the national traffic as well. This means you can get telephony and CRM integrated in perfect harmony without the need for 3rd party software.
 

As seen with ProsessPilotene's eyes, this opens up numerous opportunities such as automatic logging of phone calls in CRM.  

The solution will not be made available to users in USA and Europe in the first half of 2016. 

Skype for business 

Skype for Business, formerly called Lync, has received several useful features. TL. Microsoft said that it takes an average of 12 minutes to get a video conference started. With the latest version of Skype, Microsoft's Capossela promises that this time will be reduced.  

The other important news is that Word will be integrated into Skype. This means that participants can prepare documents jointly. Anyone who writes in the document can see what the others write in real-time.  

PowerApps 

PowerApps have been launched, but what exactly is a PowerApp? Put simply, it is a mobile application that you create yourself and share with others. PowerApps removes the development from mobile apps and provides you with the ability to create your own mobile app. In many ways, PowerApps are similar to other services that allow you to create mobile apps yourself. The main advantage of PowerApps seems to be that Dynamics CRM is already integrated as a data source. This means you will be able to quickly create an application for order entry only by point-and-click. Press here for more info! 

Changed business models

The business world is changing more than ever, which means that you need to create new, more efficient business processes.

This is why a lot of time at the KeyNote speeches was spent on showing how Microsoft as a company and their services can contribute to different transformations. The background is the ongoing digitalization that changes how business is executed. 94% of all companies have some form of digital strategy, but it seems to be unclear what such a strategy must contain. 

Important to this transformation are four key points: 

Summary:

  1. "Built for teams and network" 
  2. Personal &  organizational insight 
  3. Adaptive systems 
  4. People Centric security 

Microsoft see these four points as key to increasing productivity and enabling organizations to achieve a digital strategy. In the below, we summarize what Microsoft thinks about each item:

"Built for teams...." 

All organizational changes are a team effort. That is also why interaction has much greater focus Microsoft's products and services. The latest versions of CRM are proof of how Microsoft is developing its products now. Execution of of tasks, document sharing internally and externally, and teamwork pervade the entire product.  

The OneNote scratchpad can now be used directly in CRM or on its own, e.g. for meeting minutes. You can write quotations along with your other colleagues simultaneously in Word, you can automate the production of sales reports. 

What especially pleases ProsessPilotene greatly is that Microsoft places so much focus on the value-added processes, and less focus on products/features. In practice this means much more than one would think. The idea behind this is that you should be able to produce an offer or process a case without having to deal with a bunch of different tools. 

Personal and organizational insights 

Microsoft is betting big on selling suites of solutions. With Cortana analytics suite, you get bundled services for reports and queries on a single platform. PowerBI is a part of this. So what does this mean in practice? That means that from your Windows 10 PC, you can ask for last week's sales figures. Cortana will then retrieve that information from CRM and present the graph directly. You do not need to open CRM or PowerBI to check the numbers. ProsessPilotene have already delivered PowerBI solutions that support such solutions, but when will the information become available directly from your PC's start menu?

Microsoft acquired the Norwegian "Fast"  environment in 2008. This environment is behind the Delve search engine, which indexes all data from SharePoint and now also CRM. In this way you get a search engine for all your data. When you can simultaneously use Cortana to search for data for you, this is indeed really handy.  

The mindset behind this is that an employee should be able to find the data that she needs when she needs it, without having to look through many different systems.  

Cortana is very similar to Apple's Siri solution, with the difference that Cortana knows your company's business data, and personal data. The aim of Cortana is to be your personal assistant.  

Adaptive systems 

A very important point of the digital transformation is creating IT services that adapt themselves to provide relevant information. Machine learning is a key point here. We talked aboutmachine learning in 2014, and now, one year later, this has become reality in CRM. 

People centric security 

When it comes to the point of safety, it is important that Microsoft is the first major vendor that has adopted ISO/IEC27018 standard. Read more about what this means to you as a user of Dynamics CRM here! We have previously mentioned how Microsoft is embracing privacy and security. It's good to see that this focus will continue.

Norwegian evening

As usual at these conferences, all of the Norwegian participants are invited to a dinner. ProsessPilotene shared a table with some very great people. The atmosphere was impeccable. But if you would like to know what happened there, you would have had to be there. See you at Convergence EMEA 2016.

ProsessPilotene, Frode Stenstrøm.

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