5 reasons why Agile is better than Waterfall

5 reasons why Agile is better than Waterfall

5 reasons why Agile is better than Waterfall

Waterfall methodology used to be the way all IT deployments were done. It worked, was reliable and suited IT professionals. But then the Agile revolution happened. In a changing world, speed and the agility now matter to customers. They no longer can afford to be locked into long IT projects that, once set in motion, can’t be changed or adjusted. At The CRM Team, we joined the Agile revolution, and it’s now the only implementation method that we use. It’s better for our customers, and that means it’s better for all of us. In the realm of CRM deployments, here are 5 reasons why we believe Agile is better than Waterfall.

 

1. Less prone to error

Waterfall relies heavily on initial requirements. However, if these requirements aren’t documented precisely, or there was a misunderstanding around the detail of what the customer wanted, it makes things very difficult. Not so with Agile – requirements are checked and confirmed throughout the project.

 

2. More flexible

Once a step has been completed in Waterfall, it’s difficult to go back and make changes. In contrast, Agile builds a working version of the whole project (an MVP) so the customer can shape how it’s built. Seeing a working version early on in the project allows the customer to say ‘I like this, but I don’t like that’, and so shape the product according to their requirements. This is harder to do with Waterfall because the customer has to outline all their preferences upfront, without seeing a working version.

 

3. More predictable end product

With Waterfall, the product is mainly tested at the end of the project. If the customer’s needs weren’t captured well initially or they have changed since the start of the project, testing may come too late in the cycle to make big adjustments. The customer then has to find extra budget to get the product they now need. With Agile, testing happens regularly through the whole process, so the customer periodically checks that the product is what they envisioned. This also makes it more likely that the project will finish on time, and on budget.

 

4. More open to changes/additions

Waterfall isn’t geared to take into account a customer’s evolving needs. If business processes change during the project Waterfall isn’t set up to adapt to this. Often a client feels locked into a project that no longer meets the current business need. In contrast, Agile not only has the ability to adapt to changing needs, but it expects them and plans for them.

 

5. More customer involvement

Agile sees the customer as part of the implementation team and includes them at each part of the process. In contrast, Waterfall tends to spend a lot of time with the customer at the start, trying to document all the perceived requirements. But once this has happened, the implementation team usually take over.

Want to find out more? See our approach to CRM implementation.

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Microsoft | LinkedIn: Why competitors are *still* having sleepless nights.

Microsoft | LinkedIn: Why competitors are *still* having sleepless nights.

Microsoft | LinkedIn – Why competitors are *still* having sleepless nights.

It’s been three short months. Satya Nadella, Jeff Weiner and Reid Hoffman stood outside the LinkedIn Headquarters in Mountain View, California and announced the third biggest tech acquisition of all time.

Since then we’ve learnt 3 fascinating facts about the deal:

  1. LinkedIn went with Microsoft over Facebook, Google and Salesforce.com (Say what!?)
  2. LinkedIn went with Microsoft even though Microsoft wasn’t the highest bid. (Say what!?!?)
  3. The battle was fierce and went down to the wire. (Understandable)

And the deal is still making waves!

Last week Salesforce.com’s stock crashed on less-than-expected projected earnings for the third quarter (one wonders why!) Meanwhile, Microsoft quietly overtook them as the world’s biggest enterprise SaaS provider. And that’s without counting LinkedIn’s contribution!

Salesforce’s CEO, Marc Benioff, is obviously rattled. After a period of collaboration and partnership, he has now declared the rivalry with Microsoft is back on. His words are defiant, but it doesn’t look great for the CRM-focused company. Microsoft’s new combined cloud CRM/ERP offering, Dynamics 365, with LinkedIn’s mighty Sales Navigator is going to be a potent combination and a big worry for them. This was a big win for Microsoft and LinkedIn. Salesforce.com lost out – big time.

Much more than CRM

But it would be unfair to make this a deal about Dynamics CRM vs Salesforce.com. It was much bigger than that. And both Microsoft and LinkedIn know this. You can’t box the 10,000 strong, 433 million member, professional network megalith as a simple CRM add-on. Jeff Weiner, who remains as LinkedIn CEO, said that Microsoft gives LinkedIn “advantages most companies can only dream of leveraging”. That’s got to hurt, Marc.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, was also very excited about the deal:

‘[it] brings together the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network’

We agree. With a combined reach of 1.5 billion+ people (Microsoft’s customer base and LinkedIn’s membership), the possibilities are staggering.

Nadella told his 114,000 employees:

“Think about it: How people find jobs, build skills, sell, market and get work done and ultimately find success requires a connected professional world.”

Microsoft already helps over 1.2 billion people become more productive through the Microsoft Office suite. Imagine integrating LinkedIn with this. LinkedIn’s reach increases dramatically, and Office’s usefulness gets better and better. Nadella has stated that Microsoft wants to integrate the LinkedIn data with their artificial intelligent assistant Cortana. As Nadella said, “Imagine walking into a meeting and Cortana tells you about people you are meeting and what you need to know about them”.

But it won’t just be Microsoft Office that benefits from LinkedIn. Microsoft wants to integrate their powerful machine learning capabilities with the professional network. And being part of the world’s biggest software company will have also have its benefits. Not only can LinkedIn now get input from the best engineers from Microsoft’s 114,000-strong workforce, but partnering with Microsoft also brings a healthy financial stability. Jeff Weiner said we are now,

‘not pressured to compromise on long-term investment… or hamstrung in the way we can reward and acquire new talent due to stock price concerns’.

Weiner predicts that through combining with Microsoft they’ll now be able to innovate and disrupt in some of the following areas:

“the corporate directory, company news dissemination, collaboration, productivity tools, distribution of business intelligence and employee voice…”

Prepare for more creativity and innovation from LinkedIn.

And the timing is great.

Digital Transformation is going to be a huge thing for companies in 2017 and much of this will result in big growth for cloud computing (read: Saas, PaaS and Iaas).

The SaaS (Software as a Service) market is growing rapidly (33% growth last quarter) and there is plenty of scope for Microsoft | LinkedIn to dominate here.

  • LinkedIn: Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn has been extremely successful at SaaS. On its own, it’s been in the top SaaS providers in the world for years. Last year it’s recruitment suite, Talent Solutions, brought in $2 billion (!) in revenue alone. Combined with its sales tool, Sales Navigator, it already has a healthy subscriber base of 2 million people. This will grow rapidly through the access to Microsoft’s 1 billion plus customer base.
  • Microsoft: Microsoft has already had a successful transition over to SaaS. Its launch of Office 365 five years ago saw it move its famous desktop brand into the cloud. (Recently, even Facebook announced its adoption of Office 365). It also offers SharePoint Online and now, this Fall, their ERP/CRM clouds solutions will be relaunched as Dynamics 365. We at The CRM Team, have already stated our belief about how seismic a shift this will be. Integrate this with LinkedIn and it becomes even more powerful.

When it comes to IaaS and PaaS (Infrastructure/Platform as a service), Microsoft are already positioned well here, second behind Amazon, but ahead of Google and IBM. If, as predicted, LinkedIn moves its hosting to Microsoft’s Cloud (Azure) then that will bolster Azure even further.

But the Microsoft | LinkedIn deal is not just a strategic move to stop Amazon getting LinkedIn’s business. What Microsoft and LinkedIn realise is that currently their offerings and customer base are quite different. Place them all on one platform and the combined graph is eye-watering for developers:

Who can compete with that?

This deal is a great move for both Microsoft and LinkedIn and it’s going to shake up many industries. There should be lots of companies having sleepless nights – for a good while to come.

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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!

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.

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.

“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

“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

“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

“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

 

 

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.
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.

But no more.

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

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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