At a local Dynamics-team meeting, we had a healthy discussion about Microsoft Flow and its fit for business applications as a cross-platform workflow engine. I've been a long-time user of If This Then That (IFTTT) and I'm excited at the prospects of having this kind of service-connecting tool right here within the Microsoft toolset. It shows the embracing of Connecting the Data with 3rd party services(if you will indulge me), without having to rely on custom code 🙂
Coming out of that meeting, Britta and I wished that the discussion had been recorded. It wasn't. But we put our heads together to outline the topics that were covered and discussed them on this episode of our podcast Implement This. The content is still relevant
You can listen at the top of this post, or click through to the episode on our website.
The Dynamics 365 Workflow engine, which is the behind-the-scenes part of the process engine, is massively powerful. For host Britta Rekstad, who has presented on how to use Dynamics workflow at multiple conferences, this is an absolutely critical aspect of the platform for new admins to understand.
Co-host Matthew C. Anderson shares about how some of his early experiences in configuring Dynamics 365 involved workflow. This experience also included a spoken agreement to be careful as the workflow engine (used without care) can cause some pain for other users and admins alike.
We seem to have different perspectives on using the workflow engine, however, there’s no disagreement on how important and powerful this tool is when implementing Dynamics 365. A very flexible tool, this part of the process engine sits out-of-sight to most users but serves an important role.
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Joel and I revisit our discussion about productivity tools. This time we discuss:
Have you ever had a situation where a little delay makes the difference between an “important request” and “never mind…”? Joel and I talk about walking that fine line on using procrastination as a tool to see whether some tasks may not be worth acting on ASAP.
Let me start by saying I have high expectations around what “good” looks like when I’m buying something. When I buy a product or subscribe to a service, I expect a good customer experience. When I am considering a purchase, I want answers to my questions. When I want support, whether that’s through chat, email, or phone, I want someone with knowledge about the product I have (the exact one I have). When I go to their website looking for accessories, I don’t want to have to sift through gobs of irrelevant options for products I don’t own.
I’m not alone with these high expectations.
In my role as a Solution Lead, I regularly talk with people who could benefit from tightening up their customers’ experiences. Customer Relationship Management systems like Dynamics 365 have evolved beyond the traditional “sales forecasting” or “account management” systems into integrated platforms that enable better experiences for customers…without ever knowing that this interaction is powered by what has been historically viewed as “just a CRM system”.
Any Dynamics 365 online or internet-facing on-premises deployment can be hooked up to a website using the API—this isn’t new and many solutions take advantage of this (simple lead capture forms come to mind). There are ISV solutions as well as pure custom development options.
Microsoft has released their Dynamics Portals solution, which is a big, exciting step.
This solution is easy to deploy with all of the plumbing done for you to provision a website. Simply start with one of several available templates:
– Customer Self-Service Portal
– Partner Portal
– Employee Self-Service Portal
– Community Portal
– Custom Portal
– Partner Project Service Portal (requires Project Service solution)
– Partner Field Service Portal (requires Field Service solution)
Dynamics portals also support interaction tracking of logged-in users. Said another way, this means that by understanding the pages that someone visits, a better user experience can be provided through intelligent suggestions or relevant content.
But there are situations where the personalization needs to go further, or fold into a larger content and engagement strategy. CRM, social, web, e-commerce, in-store, email, mobile app…it’s a big list! Where do we look to?
I connected with a few different colleagues that know the content management and delivery side of this, who could answer some of the questions I had as someone with more of a CRM background. There were three big buckets that came up:
– Advanced lead capture – going beyond a simple “form on a page” – understand the journey that started before they filled out the form
– Enhance customer experience with CRM information – Personalize the website experience based on information about your relationship that come from CRM
– Enhance CRM with customer activity – collect information about anonymous users (both prospects and customers) and connect that history as you build a relationship
In order to meet the high (and rising) expectations for customer experiences, content management tools like Sitecore are your friend, and they include ways to have a deeper connection with your customers across platforms.
There are dozens of questions that come to mind when I start considering the possibilities of what a client’s next questions would be. A few include:
– Who should drive this kind of project, and who else needs to be at the table to ensure success?
– What are some of the milestones that can help measure incremental success of this kind of integration?
– When should we start tracking information about a prospect or client’s activity or preferences, then align that across so many different channels?
– Where is the balance point for the level of detail that should be passed between Dynamics 365 and the CMS?
– Why would we choose a consolidated platform vs. building integrations between services that are already in use?
– How do we make sure that behind the technology, we provide a great client experience across these different channels?
I feel a little like I’m standing at the top of a rabbit hole, excited to see just how deep it goes. Fortunately, I have a really smart team who can help drive answers to these questions. Let us know in the comments if there are specific aspects of this you are curious about.
This post originally appeared on the RBA blog.
How do you figure out when you hit that point of diminishing returns? Joel and Matt cover a few real-world examples…
Wouldn’t it sound crazy to suggest that having kids makes you more productive? Neither Joel nor Matt recommend being re-productive solely for the purpose of becoming personally-productive, however they do have some interesting points of how kids shift the perspective on productivity.
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How do you prepare yourself to have a productive week? Matt asks Joel for feedback on his weekly planning routine and swap a few ideas to shake things up.
Processing email is a constant need, is it best to keep on top of it via your mobile phone? Joel and Matt talk about how they try to deal with this.
It’s not often that Microsoft holds a webinar where they cover so many upcoming Microsoft Dynamics 365 features that are in preview (unless it is shown under the cover of a nondisclosure agreement). But in late June, it was like Dynamics Festivus came early.
There were many exciting details shared during the June “Executive Briefing” from Microsoft…but it also left some questions.
With the upcoming release of Dynamics 365 (9.0) there will be two different flavors of Dynamics 365
(If you’re using Dynamics 365 today–July 2017–you have Enterprise Edition)
Okay, that might not seem like that big of a deal, so allow me to elaborate. The Business Edition will be released with a greatly improved user experience (called the “unified client”) for web, phone, and tablet which comes with a grip of improvements over the current experience. There are many more features that will be available for Business Edition customers when it is released.
If you’re on Enterprise Edition today, you can’t just switch to Business Edition. This means that some new features will be immediately available to Enterprise Edition clients (including notable things like the unified client.
You might not want to anyway (even if it were allowed) because there will be some limits imposed in the Business Edition. Things like a limit of the total number of Users, Account records, and custom entities (with specific details to come).
The custom entity limit is a bit misleading, though, since it appears that the entities in apps available through AppSource will not count against this total. Effectively, this message is to look for a chance to buy an app instead of rolling-your-own when it comes to meeting your requirements.
If you’re an existing Enterprise Edition client…there’s a pretty good possibility the answer is “no”. Plenty of clients may have a low number of users, but the record limits and custom entity limits will likely cut down the number of people who would even be able to consider the change. Not to mention that it would be a separate instance of Dynamics that would need to be configured and have data migrated to it.
Instead, I think most Enterprise Edition customers should look forward to getting features as they’re made available (and keep your eyes and ears open for the Private and Public Previews that Microsoft mentioned).
If you’re still considering the Dynamics platform–then the Business Edition will have a lot to offer as you get rolling (and an upgrade path to Enterprise in the future).
Are you considering Dynamics 365 Business Edition in your organization? Share what you’re most excited about in the comments!