Microsoft Forms is a service that allows for the creation of a basic form quickly and easily. Forms are no longer in preview just for educational organisations and are now in preview for everybody with a valid Office 365 Licence, which means we can now look at how this service can fit into the Dynamics 365 stack of technologies as it offers an alternative to other services such as those that are designed to create Landing Pages within Dynamics 365, or produce Surveys, essentially any sort of fast data collection or submitting you want the user to do. (There’s always positives and negatives of course which need to be weighed up with what you want out of the service you choose)
Organisations often request what is called a ‘Customer 360’ view within their CRM systems. This is unfortunately a term which has become overused, misused and actually quite misleading. Feel free to listen to why in one of my YouTube videos (this one) but in short, human beings are not owls, and we cannot consume a large amount of information at any one time.
One of my favourite things about Microsoft Dynamics 365 is that it includes a fantastic xRM platform that enables users to leverage what it can already do but also extend the out of the box system and build alongside and on top of it. With every release since 2013 there has been a huge expansion to the out of the box functionality.
It is fairly regular that you will be navigating the internet to then come across a pop up on the side of your screen asking you if you require assistance. This live support functionality is designed to capture needs right as they happen or very shortly after so if your having a problem, such as not being able to find what your looking for, you can ask immediately without having to email a support ticket and then wait and manage the response.
The release of Dynamics 365 at the end of last year saw some new features available for public preview. One of the features in preview is the Cognitive Services integration, currently available in the US. The Cognitive Services APIs are a group of APIs that span across different categories such as vision or text analytics. A large number of them have a Machine Learning component where a model will be created and then adjusted over time based on the data that it feeds upon, however not all of them require this and instead perform computation without having the ‘learning’ ability.
Over the past month I did a video series which was intended to be a ‘Sales 101’ style experience, so for those who are being introduced to the amazing world of Microsoft Dynamics, they can use the videos as a learning companion to get to grips with the basics of the Sales functionality.
I definitely didn’t intend for them to be that long, but then the difficultly lies in the detail – I needed to go into more detail in some areas, so that reflects more in the Lead to Invoice videos for example, compared to the Sales Literature material.
I’ve linked all of the videos below (with #1 being linked above in the post also) I hope they are useful and if you have any questions, please put them in the comments below!
Sales 101 #1 – Accounts, Contacts and the Product Catalog in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Sales 101 #2 – Lead to Invoice in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Sales 101 #3 – Goals and Connections in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Sales 101 #4 – Sales Literature and Activities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
There is a large chance that you will have seen the news surrounding the future of CRM Online and the way Microsoft is taking this, which is all surrounding a product called Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 will include CRM, but also a few other applications as well, including what has been referred to as the ‘Common Data Model’ which is the foundation for the intergration and interoperability between those applications. More information can be found here about that, but i’d also recommend you check out the linked blogs by MVP’s Scott and Jukka first to get a good overview.
What is this project? What is the motivation?
This post’s intention is to introduce what is called the ‘Dynamics 365 Community Schema Project’ so you might be wondering where the ‘Community Schema’ comes into this picture, right? The project is the product of optimism of ‘there being a better way’ from what is a very common problem in CRM Projects. That problem being where time is spent on every project customising the Account and Contact records (and more!) to ‘fit’ the requirements for the customer that you are working with. Those requirements can be based on industry, features or even both. The project aims to be able to create features, which are suggested and created by the community, so that common requirements of businesses (or part of) are already created for you and it is those features that can be based on industry specific (e.g. Financial) or they can be more generic (e.g. Social Media).
How can you help? How can you contribute?
This is positioned as a community project that everyone can contribute to, we need your experience and enthusiasm and there are many ways you can contribute to the project. To get started, go to the project page on GitHub here and you can submit issues. Issues can be something you think will be useful to be added into the schema or even you can post questions and thoughts surrounding the problem area. From a time perspective this is a very quick process. If you want to take this further and work on a feature, you can follow the process below:
The time you commit to the project is completely up to you and is flexible. Some features can be small, and in fact it is recommended if you have something big in mind so it can be broken it down into separate parts making it easier for you.
The Schema Extractor Tool
Scott has built a custom tool for the project which extracts the XML and relationship information out of your system for you, so it makes contributing to the project even easier. These ‘artifacts’ that can be utilised as part of the project can then be the XML (as the core information) and documentation surrounding what the feature is.
To use the tool, download the tool itself and a ‘How To’ guide at the main home page for the project here.
An expanded site via Github has been created to give you some more insight into the project and the plans for the future. We are aligning this project closely with CRMUG, not only because its a fantastic organisation which values community contribution and insight, but because it really has that community ethic and is a fantastic platform to introduce this to.
Scott and I will be presenting an introduction roundtable session for the project at the November CRMUG Session on 23rd November 2016 at the Microsoft Reading HQ Campus. More information in the link above! This is a free event where food is provided and you get to meet and discuss CRM with lots of friendly and like minded people. Register now!
Will there be more community events?
There are more community events planned, especially surrounding CRMUG and also Skype events. Keep an eye on twitter and also on the main home page for the latest information.
There will also be the opportunity for other CRMUG Chapter meetings outside of the UK to be able to run sessions surrounding the project!
Finally, there will be a first release presented at the CRMUG Summit 2017 which is currently in planning, so watch this space!
I hope you are as excited as we are! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or ask us on twitter! We look forward to hearing from you!