3 Big Ways AI Will take Dynamics 365 to another level

What does AI (Artificial Intelligence) bring to the table for Dynamics 365? During Ignite 2017 Microsoft announced that AI would continue to be infused into a number of products including Dynamics 365. Source: Steve “Guggs” Guggenheimer’s blog 

I’ll take a look at what AI is and how it could take Dynamics to the next level. Microsoft are no fools, AI is here and they know it will only get bigger, just a brief look at some of the stats backs up this point of view

  • By 2018, 75% of developer teams will include AI functionality in one or more application or service.
  • By 2025, the artificial intelligence market will surpass $100 billion.
  • A 2016 survey reported that 58% of enterprise business executives are already using predictive analytics within their organizations.
  • 61% of those who have an innovation strategy said they are using AI to identify opportunities in data that would otherwise be missed. Only 22% without a strategy said the same.
  • By 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human.

Source: CMO 

What is AI?

AI (pronounced AYE-EYE) or artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. These processes include learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using the rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions), and self-correction. Particular applications of AI include expert systems, speech recognition and machine vision. Source: BBC

Margaret Rouses article provides much more detail on the different types of AI and it’s possible uses across industries.

How will it change us?

The first thing to say it’s here already, here’s just two examples

  • Siri, apples personal assistant, helps us search the internet and add appointments to our calendar. However, machine learning technology enables it predict and understand our requests.
  • Netflix uses predictive technology, based on billions of records, to suggest films you might like.

Source:​ Forbes 

AI, like many technologies, gradually enters all parts of our lives rather than via a Big Bang. This approach helps people adjust to the technology and developers adapt it accordingly.

A lot of people would be nervous about jumping into a driverless car today, so many cars have started to integrate different aspects of the technology from automatic breaking and parking to bringing you back into your lane if you stray to close to the edge of it.

This way of delivering the technology is already happening with other Microsoft products. Cortana, similar to Siri, is a personal assistant that grows and learns with you. Skype now has a built in translator so people can speak real time across countries.

How could AI take dynamics to the next level?

The opportunities seem endless, it could:

  1. Provide customers with solutions, based on experience learned from previous contact, and automated follow ups
  2. Close the deal by identifying the best time to follow up a lead or automatically move customers through a process more suited to their needs
  3. Use big data to automatically surface information to help identify different customer behaviour that could prevent complaints or increase satisfaction

It appears that this is just the tip of the iceberg, AI will gradually work its way into nearly every part of our lives. From a crm perspective it’s a great opportunity to provide a proactive, personalised service for customers. A system that automatically guides and supports users during the contact will also increase adoption. However, your data needs to be pretty robust for all of this to work smoothly. So perhaps the best thing to do at the moment it might be worth focusing on this until the real potential of AI really starts coming to light.


13 Ways To Get CRM Buy In


Its no secret that around 30 to 60% of CRM implementations fail. Its not a good place to be so I wanted to put some tips together to ensure you’re not one of those statistics.

Lack of clear objectives and poor data etc. play their part. But a lack of buy in from staff across the business, from the executive team to managers and end users prevents lift off. Getting buy in shouldn’t start CRM-Failureonce the system is live, it needs to be weaved in as soon as you start the CRM conversation.

13 Ideas to help get buy in

  1. Decide why you want CRM – Questions should include: What strategy does it meet, what smart (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time Specific) outcomes do you expect, what processes will you build in and whos affected. What reports will you need. At this stage you’ll also want to talk to customers. What are there barriers to getting a great service.
  2. Get execs involved in the purchase of the system – This helps give them ownership of the system and a good understanding about what it can do.
  3. Create a great plan – use the ‘why you want crm’ answers to develop your plan. Involve as many people as possible so that you have buy in and cover all the key points, including a go live date.
  4. Put together the right project team – include people from the initial team who’ll go live and any teams who’ll influence the process/development.
  5. Get an exec to oversee the implementation – this will help continue the buy in from the top, by ensuring the top team are in the loop.
  6. Great comms – continually get the message out there, pencil in regular, targeted, comms to the project team, managers, wider group of users. This helps keep crm on everyones mind and ensures no one walks in to a brand new system they knew nothing about
  7. Be clear about what you’ll deliver – this should be laid out in the plan and added to your comms. It also helps keep the team focused and prevent the project getting so big that nothing gets delivered
  8. Get a demo, training area set up  – let people see it early.
  9. Add crm related targets into staff 121’s
  10. Use the project team to train – they’ll understand the new system and how the team works
  11. Lots of support at go live and afterwards – put together a go live support plan to help new users get the help they need
  12. Tweak quickly after go live – identify themes in user feedback and then make minor tweaks to improve the user experience. Bigger pieces of work should be added to your roadmap
  13. Create a roadmap for future delivery – this helps build the crm momentum as you develop the product for new departments across the business. It also helps you understand how the system will be used and how the customer journey could be linked together

Go again and keep pushing the road map. When you get CRM right it can transform your business. Here’s a decent Microsoft promo video to help get the conversation going.


3 Easy Ways To Improve CRM Design

Many of the world’s largest corporations use a CRM system as the foundation for their business and sales development. In each of these companies, only a few people understand how it operates. CRM systems handle interactions with customers and, therefore, has a long lasting effect on a company’s image. To that end, CRM design might turn out to be more important than you realise. (How to Improve your CRM UX Design, WalkMe)

A well designed user interface (the screens people use to navigate around CRM) encourages more people to use the system. A poor design has the opposite affect, it can put off and even prevent people from using it. This stops key information getting into CRM. A lack of information means missed sales opportunities or a poor customer service. People struggling with the system will probably make more support calls and require more training or 121 support. This takes you away from your key priorities….Developing CRM/Rolling it out to other departments.

The stats below relate to the design of websites but as users become more tech savvy I think they can be easily transferred to business applications.

  • 94% of a website user’s first impressions are design related
  • Up to 15% of IT projects are abandoned and at least 50% of a programmers’ time during the project is spent doing rework that is avoidable. A proper UX process upfront would help to prevent the majority of this wasted time and cost.
  • Spending 10% of your development budget on usability should improve your conversion rate by 83%
  • 70% of projects fail due to lack of user acceptance

(Usability Matters)

The Technology acceptance model

The technology acceptance model is based on the theory of reasoned action (TRA) (Azjen & Fishbein, 1980) which suggests that an individual’s behavioural intention to use a system is determined by two beliefs: perceived usefulness (PU) and perceived ease of use (PEOU) (Venkatesh & Davis, 2000). Davis (1989) defined perceived usefulness as “the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would enhance his or her job performance”. Perceived usefulness for the individual is most likely the result of improved job performance and user motivation (Robey & Farrow, 1982). Studies have reported that perceived usefulness is positively associated with system usage (Thompson, Higgins, & Howell, 1991). Perceived ease of use is defined as “the degree to which a person believes that using the system will be free of effort” (Davis, 1989). According to TAM, perceived usefulness is also influenced by perceived ease of use because, other things being equal, the easier the system is to use, the more useful it can be. People who perceive ease of use are more likely to believe in the ease and usefulness of the system (Robey & Farrow, 1982). (Adoption of ERP system: An empirical study of factors influencing the usage of ERP and its impact on end user, ScienceDirect.com)

Ok, the stats and science say design helps adoption, where do I start?

In his blog, An Introduction to Design Thinking for Innovation Managers, Paul Hobcraft suggests if you want to change something from the present situation into a preferred one, design thinking helps you achieve this. It takes you through a process. It helps you reduce the risks by engaging with internal and external people seeking out a new solution that solves a need, problem or challenge. This comes through a series of prototypes to learn from, to test and then continually refine concepts to get them to the finished value adding point, taking away the issues.

One of the best illustration of the Design Thinking process is shown here:


Paul continues, design thinking helps the innovator gain greater clarity, to find viable, feasible and desirable ideas, design thinking should force user-centricity as central to innovators thinking. In its most simple form, design thinking can be thought of as building the series of conversions that draw out the needs, that eventually becomes the solution.

3 Easy Ways To Improve CRM Design

  1. Win hearts and minds by adopting design at every stage of the project – Many of the barriers are around perception. If someone thinks the new system will be difficult to use then it will be. Understanding how users interact with CRM to do the day job and communicating this will help manage those perceptions
  2. Engage with users throughout the process – use prototypes to learn, test and refine concepts. Design thinkers rely on customer insights gained from real-world experiments and direct engagement not just historical data or market research.
  3. Think mobile first – Great mobile functionality will be easy for people to use however they’re consuming CRM. Microsoft has noticed this and made Dynamics 365 v9 web based forms similar to mobile ones.

One final note, great design also does one massively important thing, it improves accessibility. This is great for everyone.

Need some more practical ways of putting this to practice? The xRM Coaches provide tips, tricks and best practices in their DYNAMICS CRM Form Design: Art or Science video.