Microsoft Dynamics User Group Summit Recap

Microsoft Dynamics User Group Summit, October 15 – 18 in Phoenix, proved to be THE place for users of the Microsoft Business Applications platform. Users of Dynamics 365, AX, CRM, GP, NAV, and SL joined forces to learn, network and have a little fun.

Adage was present in multiple capacities as we work with clients to seamlessly integrate systems for their business needs and are also end-users of CRM, Power BI, SharePoint and other Microsoft tools internally. Below is an overview of educational resources, new product announcements and information on the current and future goals of Microsoft shared at the 2018 Summit.

Microsoft – Where They’ve Been and Where They’re Going

I’ll begin with a recap of James Phillips’ keynote on “Powering Digital Transformation with Microsoft Business Applications.” James, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft started by sharing his definition of digital transformation which is a digital feedback loop utilized as a benchmark and guide known as MAUI.

Modern – relevant and innovative
Adaptable – business needs are ever-changing
Unified – common data model and processes
Intelligent – add value and create insights

These concepts assist in organizational change that result in a better customer experience. As the needs of customers’ change, companies’ and business processes need to change. For example, the systems used when selling cars (i.e. supply chain software) is different than selling a car-as-a-service (mobile app, geo tracking), such as Uber or Lyft.

Polaris Industries was used to show how Microsoft Business Applications are being used to gather data, transform products and learn about customers. “Your website is where it starts,” says James as he guided us through a customer journey from both the customer and organization’s perspective. Polaris also uses Episerver and with the unified data provided by Microsoft Products, Polaris continues to improve product development, customer engagement and operations.

Microsoft Educational Resources

Power BI

Power BI is a cloud-based business analytics service that enables anyone to visualize and analyze data with greater speed, efficiency, and understanding. Belinda Allen, a Microsoft MVP User presented an overview of how Power BI works and demonstrated how Power BI visualizations can be used to share information, educate stakeholders and assist in decision-making.

Power BI is a collection of tools, services and connectors that allows users to present multiple points of data in one dashboard. Belinda shared cool features and best practices like the need to “model” data before building dashboards and visuals. Belinda noted, “data modeling (setting up, normalizing, cleaning) is 90% of creating Power BI dashboards.”

XrmToolBox

As a CRM admin, I was delighted to learn about the XrmToolBox. This desktop application connects to Dynamics CRM and makes customization, configuration and operation tasks faster and easier. Activities such as bulk security role updates and view modification have a faster publishing time. Plus, its free!

Showcased Products

Unified Commerce Solution

The need for a unified commerce solution was apparent at Dynamics Summit. When speaking with attendees and exhibitors alike, I received the following feedback:

An IT manager from a manufacturing company looking for a cloud-based solution for scalability, with a desire to work with a single database (or single-source of truth) to increase her departments efficiency.

Marketing and sales representatives from a retailer looking to provide customers with the same buying experience in-store and online. They also want to send personalized marketing campaigns and provide intelligent product recommendations to increase average order size.

We recommend Episerver Commerce for Dynamics, a solution for both B2C and B2B organizations to achieve unified commerce easier and faster.

Marketing Automation Platform

Released in April of 2018, Microsoft now has its own Marketing Automation Platform or product. At first glance, the tool seems to have everything from scoring (current CRM capability) and email marketing with templates, to landing pages with dynamics content, marketing calendar and event management.

It is difficult to determine which of these features are out-of-the-box and which will require add-ons or custom code. That said in the near future I am curious to learn more about how the Microsoft Marketing Automation tool performs against industry front-runners like, Marketo, Hubspot and Act-on.

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Rene Reiter

Author Rene Reiter

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