Microsoft | LinkedIn: Sleepless nights have arrived for Microsoft’s competitors!

Microsoft | LinkedIn: Sleepless nights have arrived for Microsoft’s competitors!

Microsoft | LinkedIn – Sleepless nights have arrived for Microsoft’s competitors!

Microsoft and LinkedIn are throwing out their first challenge to Salesforce.com
Last year we wrote about Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn and why competitors will be having sleepless nights.

Now those sleepless nights have arrived!

On Monday, Microsoft and LinkedIn threw out their first challenge to Salesforce.com. In an article released by Reuters, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella shared the companies plan to integrate LinkedIn data with their Dynamics 365 offering.

According to Microsoft, the upgrade will help salespeople become more efficient. With new insights from LinkedIn’s 500 million professionals, this solution will help salespeople improve their pipeline by,

  • Recommending ways to save an at-risk deal.
  • Displaying LinkedIn personal and company information on every lead, contact, account, and opportunity page in Dynamics 365.
  • Daily updates between systems, which automatically save accounts and contacts in Dynamics 365 to Sales Navigator.

 

The new solution will comb through a salesperson’s emails, CRM, and LinkedIn to gain insight into their relationship with a potential customer. And ultimately give recommendations on the next best action to take.

 

We’re introducing a single offer that brings together LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365 for Sales… at about half the cost of competitive solutions.” Said Microsoft on Monday.

Microsoft and LinkedIn Big Data
Nadella also said that artificial intelligence (A.I.) will be central to this software.

 

“I want to be able to democratise A.I. so that any customer using these products is able to take their own data and load it into A.I.”

As the first major product initiative built off the Microsoft, LinkedIn deal, this will be a turning point for Microsoft. In an interview last year, Business Insider asked Nadella why they bought LinkedIn. His response was simple.

 

“This is really all about expanding the opportunity we have, going beyond productivity and collaboration tools, to having a professional network.”

We all know LinkedIn is the business social hub and is a fantastic source of data for salespeople. So, we’re excited to see the first updates to Dynamics 365 that will include LinkedIn.

Read the full article here: Microsoft’s Nadella banks on LinkedIn data to challenge Salesforce

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Why our customers chose Dynamics 365 over Salesforce

Why our customers chose Dynamics 365 over Salesforce

Why our customers chose Dynamics 365 over Salesforce.com

In our post, Microsoft Overtakes Salesforce.com, we shared an important market shift: Global analyst Forrester placed Microsoft ahead of Salesforce.com for the first time.

This is hugely significant. To understand this trend, we asked our customers why they chose Dynamics 365 over Salesforce.

Here were their top 6 reasons:

1. Integration with Outlook, LinkedIn and other Microsoft technologies.

simple

“We searched for well over a year and went through multiple platforms… Dynamics’ superior flexibility, scalability, ability to integrate seamlessly with Office 365 and Azure were all factored in the final choice.”

 

Most companies already use Microsoft’s products: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook etc. So, it’s no surprise that Microsoft is the leader in integrating those technologies with Dynamics 365.

Our customers love the fact they can work in Dynamics 365 without leaving Outlook. With Office 365 and Dynamics 365 built on the same common data model and hosted together on Azure, your data couldn’t be more integrated. And with Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn, LinkedIn’s powerful Sales Navigator syncs directly with Dynamics 365.

While Salesforce also offers integration with Outlook, Exchange, LinkedIn etc. our customers said that the integration was more difficult and limiting in terms of functionality.

2. Value

simple

“In just seven months we saw an 87% increase in sales”

 

 

Our customers are being asked if they are seeing value in their technology investments – if it’s having an impact on their bottom line.

This is something Microsoft is very strong in. Feature-by-feature, analysts consistently find little to choose between Dynamics 365 and Salesforce. But when it comes to the price of those features, there is no comparison. Microsoft is consistently lower in cost. And lower cost means a quicker time to proving value.

For instance, if you compare the core enterprise offerings, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Plan costs $115/user/month. In contrast, Salesforce’s Lightning Enterprise Edition costs an extra $35 per user per month at $150/user/month. However, with the Customer Engagement Plan, you get Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation, Powers Apps and Microsoft Flow – all included. In contrast, Salesforce only includes the sales elements.

Microsoft’s offering not only costs less, but it’s a complete, robust, multifunctional CRM. It’s much easier to get business value with a platform where you get more for less.

3. Simpler Development & Greater Flexibility

simple

“What started as a conversation about lead management consulting help quickly grew, in an exciting way, into a vision of building a new system with functionality we just hadn’t even considered.”

 

Your business isn’t static, so neither should your technology. The ability to customize and develop your platform should be a key consideration when choosing between Dynamics and Salesforce.

Unlike Salesforce, Dynamics 365 is only built on widely used programming languages (.Net, C# etc.) . This means it is easier to adjust your platform – because you have a broader pool of developers to draw on: either in house, or through Microsoft’s extensive partner network. And it also reduces the next issue…

4. Avoiding Getting Locked In.

Because many of the customisations on Salesforce are done in their own proprietary code, it makes switching platforms harder. If you do switch, you often have to start from scratch, meaning the longer you go on with Salesforce the more you are set to lose when you switch.

5. Avoiding Hidden Costs

Salesforce has developed a reputation for hidden costs. These hidden costs often don’t reveal themselves until deep into the purchase process.

                       

  • Add-on Pricing – Salesforce sells all add-on functionality at an additional cost. In contrast, many of these features are bundled in Dynamics. eg. Salesforce’s Einstein Analytics Platform is extra, but Microsoft’s Cortana Intelligence Suite is part of the core Dynamics offering. Other modules such as Field Service, Customer Service are included in the Microsoft core offering. With Salesforce, they’re extra.
  • High Storage Costs – Additional storage for Salesforce can be as high as $250 per GB per month. In contrast, Dynamics 365 is just $5 per GB per month. As your platform matures, this will become more and more of an issue.

6. What’s coming in the future

simple

“I quickly saw access to really interesting new Microsoft tools in the stack like propensity management, digital Web chat support, machine learning and analytics to build better models of customer behavior and needs. That sealed the deal for me, ultimately.”

 

Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning. There’s a huge technological wave coming. Companies will either surf on top of this wave or be crushed underneath. Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft – all the big hitters are investing heavily in this. Salesforce realized this recently and went on a spree of purchases of AI start-ups. But in terms of spend, they can’t compete.

For instance, Microsoft’s annual R&D budget is $12Bn (at least $4Bn of this is AI). In contrast, Salesforce’s turnover is just $10Bn. Microsoft is pumping the benefits of this research into Dynamics 365 at a tremendous rate and have made it a key focus in future development.

In Conclusion

Dynamics 365 is at the forefront of helping businesses like yours become more efficient and improve your bottom line. It will cost you less than Salesforce and you’ll get more for your investment.

Why not join our customers and discover what Dynamics 365 could do for your business?

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Privacy and Protection: GDPR – what you need to know

Privacy and Protection: GDPR – what you need to know

Privacy and Protection – What you need to know about the GDPR

Does your company deal with data from individuals or companies in the European Union (EU)? If so, read on.

Data is everywhere – and at the heart of almost every business. Yet recent data breaches have meant heightened security concerns.

Here in South Africa we are familiar with the impending PoPI Act. But if you have clients that are European Citizens, or based in the EU you’ll also have to navigate a new piece of legislation: GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation).

The GDPR: a 5-second overview

At core, The General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR) is about safeguarding the privacy of individuals and companies in the EU, and reflects the implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy.

What will the GDPR do?

The GDPR will place new rules on companies that deal with EU residents. It will also apply to companies that collect or analyse data tied to EU residents, no matter where they are located.

To do this, the GDPR establishes global requirements governing how companies manage and protect personal data – and respect individual choice. Importantly, it is a law that will apply no matter where the relevant data is sent, processed, or stored.

When is it due to take effect?

The GDPR comes into effect on 25 May 2018.

What will the impacts be?

Depending on what data a company holds, the GDPR may mean a number of changes. These may include updates to personal privacy policies or strengthening how data is protected.

What are some of the key elements of the GDPR?

  • Enhanced personal privacy rights. Part of the law looks to improve data protection. It will do this by giving EU residents the right to: access their data, correct inaccuracies, erase or move their data, or object to processing of their information.
  • Increased data protection duties. The accountability of companies that process personal data will be reinforced and their responsibility for ensuring compliance increased.
  • Mandatory data breach reporting. In the event of a breach, companies will be required to report the situation quickly, generally no later than 72 hours after the fact.
  • Penalties for non-compliance. The GDPR will mean sanctions and fines can be imposed on organisations that have failed to comply.

Does the GDPR apply to my business?

The GDPR applies to companies (operators or controllers) in the EU.

It also applies to those outside the EU who offer goods and services to, or collect personal data from, EU residents.

What kind of data does the GDPR consider ‘personal data’?

The GDPR considers personal data to be any information related to an identified – or identifiable –natural person. This relates to direct identification data (such as a legal name). However, it also covers indirect identification data (data that makes it clear who is being referenced).

Personal data also includes online identifiers (such as IP addresses and mobile device IDs) and location data.

I use Dynamics 365. What types of data might be affected?

  • Customer data. This spans all text, sound, video or image files and software.
  • Administrator data. This is information about administrators supplied during signup, purchase, or administration of Microsoft services. It includes names, phone numbers, email addresses and aggregated usage information.
  • Payment data. This is the information companies provide when making online purchases with Microsoft, including credit card numbers, security codes, names and billing addresses and other financial data.
  • Support data. This information is supplied in a support request or results from running an automated troubleshooter.
  • A special note on children’s data: Children (defined as a natural person under the age of 16 or as specified by Member State law) need specific data protection. Data controllers will need to get the consent of a parent/guardian for using the child’s personal data.
Where do I begin? Dynamics 365 users have four stages to follow in the journey toward GDPR compliance: discover, manage, protect and report. Step 1 – Discover: Companies need to identify what personal data they hold have and where that data rests. This means both searching for and identifying the relevant personal information and then classifying it. Step 2 – Manage: This relates to governing how personal data is used and accessed. This means, among other things, putting in place a governance system that can: notify subjects about how their personal data will be processed, get consent from data subjects around the processing of their personal data, provide a way for subjects to ask that processing of their data be stopped, correct inaccurate or incomplete data, transfer and save data. The system should also make it clear how data requests are processed and resolved. Step 3 – Protect: Companies need to establish security controls to prevent, detect, and respond to data vulnerabilities and data breaches. Companies must put in place data privacy and security controls that ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of personal data. Encryption is one tool that satisfies the GDPR requirements. Step 4 – Report: To show GDPR compliance through reporting, companies need to maintain an audit trail of all processing activities, requests and their resolution. Companies will also need to track and record flows of personal data into and out of the EU and third-party service providers. Moving toward GDPR compliance needn’t be an involved or difficult process, but companies should start thinking today about the steps they may need to take. At The CRM Team, we’re helping our customers keep in step with this legislation. There are many ways this can be done, but our preferred platform is Microsoft Dynamics 365 – a suite of intelligent business applications that brings all your customer information together in one place.

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4 Reasons Why Microsoft’s Becoming Cool Again

4 Reasons Why Microsoft’s Becoming Cool Again

4 Reasons Why Microsoft’s Becoming Cool Again

During the 1980s Microsoft dominated the business world. In that era, being loved or hated didn’t matter much because it was all about winning. And Microsoft was a winning machine.

 

 

But something happened in the 1990s – Microsoft didn’t just continue to win, they also became cool.

I remember it well. I was on a work experience placement. After I had done a week of making tea, the boss of the IT department called me over and whispered ‘Have a look at this.’ It was a beta version of Windows 95 – and it blew my mind.

Windows 95 was a turning point for Microsoft. If you remember its forerunner, 3.1 (C:\>win), Windows 95 was a big jump.

windows 95
And people wanted it.

They queued round the block to get their hands on a copy – take that Apple! Friends stars, Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston did an hour-long instructional video for it

 

windows
 

And the Rolling Stones were paid $8m to use ‘Start Me Up’ for the television ads, which are still pretty good today.

Windows 95 ushered in a golden age of PC usage. People no longer just used computers at work, they bought one to use at home. Microsoft continued to be dominant – but it was hip as well.
windows
As everybody knows, Microsoft lost a bit of their shine in the last decade. They still have kudos as a major world player but other firms snuck up on them and stole their buzz. These days people are no longer queueing round the block for Microsoft products.

 

But change is in the air.

 

You may not have noticed it, but a quiet revolution is happening in Redmond. A revolution that is reverberating round the world. In the whisper of my work placement boss, ‘Come have a look at this’

 

1. Collaboration has replaced Confrontation

 

Gone is the brashness and talk of world domination. No longer are competitors vilified, but under new CEO Satya Nadella, they’re embraced as partners.

satya
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella being interviewed at Dreamforce, Dynamics CRM’s rival Saleforce.com’s world conference.

 

2. Design has been Elevated in Importance

 

Steve Jobs famously criticised Microsoft for having ‘no taste

Packaging was cluttered with slogans and symbols. Many people had fun with this, imagining how Microsoft, in contrast to Apple, might have packaged the iPod:

packaging
But no more.

Have a look at this screen shot from a current Microsoft webpage.

packaging
We are just not used to this use of white space, and crisp photography.

And then there’s the use of bright, bold colours…

packaging

3. Their Software is Becoming Slick Again

 

It’s not just an up-to-date look, there’s substance to the packaging. To steal a phrase, Microsoft are making some ‘insanely great’ products again. As we’ve come to expect with our phones and tablets, software should just work – and with these it does. Slick is the new norm and Microsoft are embracing this.

Our CEO at The CRM Team spent a little while playing around with Power Apps and exclaimed ‘I’ve just built an app in 30 minutes that would have used to have taken a developer 3 days!’– and apparently he can’t even code. We’ve already got Flow working to automate some of our repetitive tasks – and it’s damn good.

Have you tried Power BI yet? Data is becoming accessible AND beautiful again. We’re very excited by this and are already helping our clients see the information they need in a format that actually invites you to delve in.

And we’ve already stated how excited we are that Dynamics 365 is on its way!

 

4. They are back on the cutting edge.

 

Microsoft are investing heavily in the Internet of Things, and Machines Learning. And we are very excited about the business implications of this. But they are also doing some really fun stuff as well. When a promo video gets these sorts of comments on YouTube we know things are starting to change:

“Probably the first ad I’ve ever clicked on because I actually wanted to watch it – holy crap”

 “What is this sorcery?”

We hope you agree, but it looks like the Seattle Megalith is getting its cool back.

 

 

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Dynamics 365 – Is there substance to the hype?

Dynamics 365 – Is there substance to the hype?

Dynamics 365 – Is there substance to the hype?

There’s been a lot of buzz around Dynamics 365. At their recent world conference, it was Microsoft’s big announcement. And it marks their latest move towards cloud-only computing. Is it just good marketing? Or is it something substantial? Let’s look at this in detail.

Use of the ‘365’ Brand

Five years ago saw Microsoft launch their cloud version of Office, Office 365. Reportedly, Office 365 is their ‘fasted growing business’ in their history.[1] Given this success, It’s not surprising that Microsoft are applying the ‘365’ to their new, cloud-only, version of their Dynamics suite. But are they just leveraging the 365, or is it a good comparison?

For those not familiar with Dynamics, Dynamics is currently the overarching name that Microsoft use to refer to their various ERP products (AX, Nav, GP, SL etc) but also includes their CRM suite. We heard a rumour that CRM was going to be separated from the Dynamics brand, but it looks like something much bigger is on the cards. If Dynamics 365 is as good a product as Office 365 then we are in for something truly great.

[1] http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01/21/microsoft_windows_azure_uptake_claim/

A true single source of truth – company-wide.

Dynamics 365 product list
Dynamics 365 is certainly a bold declaration. Not only are Microsoft promising to bring together ERP and CRM together under a common data model, they are promising this will be the same data model that Office 365 uses. So, your data that currently sits across Office 365 will easily sync with your ERP and CRM systems – if you upgrade to Dynamics 365 of course. This is huge for Microsoft, and should be a big concern for many of its competitors.

In a world where Microsoft CRM and Dynamics AX/NAV/GP… etc competes against some big players, offering a common data sync with Office 365 is something that should get everyone else very nervous. Which company doesn’t use at least one of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Outlook? Not many.

At The CRM Team, we already relish being able to say to companies how easily CRM Online links up with their O365 but sharing a common data model is a whole new level of love. Built on Microsoft’s ever developing Azure network, it means easy access to powerful machine learning, and the exciting new development of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) – think automated monitoring and servicing of devices or machinery.

The end to software bundling.

Another big change with Dynamics 365 is the ability for companies to pick what applications they want instead of having to buy everything.

Do you remember the era of having to buy whole music albums to get the one song you wanted? It sucked. But then iTunes came along, and people could buy just single songs. It was great. That’s what’s happening with Dynamics 365.

Instead of buying CRM you can just purchase their sales module, or just the marketing one – you can mix and match according to your needs. Have a contact centre? Then purchase that module for your contact centre staff. Have a field service team, or project team, then buy those modules. ERP comes in a module called ‘operations’ and a new module is introduced called financials. Simply buy licenses for the modules you want.

Additionally, Microsoft have also introduced different licenses for different types of staff. Some admin staff may just need to have limited access to data in modules but not need the full functionality of each module – they get a cheaper licences, under what’s called a ‘team view’. They can see the data, and do simple tasks but are restricted to certain functionality. Staff who need the functionality can get an app licence. For example, the marketing team can get a licence for just the marketing app. Staff who need greater access across many apps can get tailored plans. We think our customers will love this new flexible way of licensing.

The Evolution of XRM

Another big announcement is Microsoft’s app store, ‘AppSource’. Built on the success of Google’s Play and Apple’s App Store, AppSource is a place for Microsoft Partners and Developers to offer useful add-ons, simply and quickly. Customers can still commission custom adaptions and add-ons (XRM to the initiated) but now there is an option to see if somebody has already developed what you need. This is a great development for partners and customers alike. AppSource is live now so you can check what’s already available.

Dynamics 365 is a bold, exciting move. Something we believe will not only live up to all the hype – but be even better.

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