Social Engagement on Microsoft Dynamics 365

Because the name has changed, and the product has evolved, there is some confusion about the details around what is now known as “Social Engagement” and Microsoft Dynamics 365. This article aims to clear up any confusion and to also explain what can be done with this component in the context of Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Background and Setup


Social Engagement (formerly known as Social Listening) provides the ability for users to track and analyze social communications across public networks about specific topics. There is a broad range of social “channels” that can be monitored, such as blogs and social apps. Within these channels are the obvious sources, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, to name a few. This is accomplished with “Social Profiles”, each of which is a little different to set up, depending on the policies of the social provider. For instance, for Facebook, there are “access tokens” that need to be set up and renewed periodically. For other sources, the setup is a bit simpler. Each profile is created as needed in order to establish a source of information.

Once the sources are identified and configured, data acquisition begins. Because Social Engagement has a limit of 10,000 posts collected per month, there sometimes needs to be adjustment made to the topics to narrow or broaden the search. For this reason, it should be understood that Social Engagement is something that needs to be monitored itself. After some data has begun to be collected, the application provides for a rich set of analysis tools. Figure 1 below shows a typical dashboard:

Figure 1 – Typical Dashboard for Microsoft Social Engagement

Integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365

Social Engagement comes with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise Plan 1, as well as the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise Sales and Service apps. However, it is essentially a standalone product that is configured in a separate “tile” in the Office 365 admin portal as shown below.

Note that in the Office 365 Admin center, Dynamics 365 and Social Engagement are managed separately, as each has their own “Admin Center.” However, they can be configured to integrate with each other.  What this specifically means is that data that is automatically captured in Social Engagement can be moved into Microsoft Dynamics 365, both automatically and manually. 

The integration starting point is found in the management section of Social Engagement. In Settings  Connections you will find the ability to connect to both Microsoft Dynamics 365 and even Microsoft Azure Event Hubs, which is used to process massive amounts of data.

Once you have connected your Social Engagement to your instance of Microsoft Dynamics 365, you have the ability to bring that data into your CRM system.

 

An example of how this integration can work is shown in the figure below, which is a part of Social Engagement called the “Social Center.”  In this instance, I have selected a post in Social Engagement that could be a lead in CRM.  To bring up this window clicked the link as shown and I can now create the lead from the post itself.  Once I click Create a lead with show up in Dynamics 365 for me to interact with in my defined sales process in Dynamics 365.

 

This is a demonstration of the ability to create a lead from a social post without leaving Social Engagement.
As you can see, by clicking on the small link icon (circled here) it’s also possible to create Cases (service requests) from posts in the same way. It’s also possible to automate this. For instance, it’s possible to configure the integration in a way where certain posts are added automatically as social activities in Dynamics 365, and then create a workflow in Dynamics 365 to convert certain types of social activities to Cases or Leads.  More information as to precisely how to achieve this is found here.

New Features

A few new features have recently introduced as explained below.

Selling Assistant

With this new feature your team can get personalized recommendations to share on their social networks and enable them to increase their social presence, and ultimately generate more leads. As with all parts of Social Engagement, this requires some configuration – particularly “Get Insights” where users will configure groups of topics that will generate insightful recommendations. This is configured in the new “Social Selling” tile in the Social Engagement app.  Once it is configured, the Social Selling Assistant will provide recommendations, such as the one shown below, where it is suggesting that I Share a post.

Social Insights, Relationship Insights and Customer Insights

This is where it might get a little confusing, because “Social Insights” is a borrowed part of what used to be called Inside View and is now called simply Insights.  Same for Relationship Insight sand Customer Insights.  Previously, Inside View provided information streamed into Microsoft Dynamics CRM about a given Company or topic.  This ability has now been applied to Social Engagement and the Selling Assistant, where there is now an “Assistant” section of the activity pane.  The Relationship Assistant will present a “card” which appears as a sort of reminder as shown below, which is reminding me front and center on the first dashboard I see when I log in about an important task. The same is true for the Selling Assistant. For Customer Insights, an Azure subscription is required and additional configuration as well. Shown below are some “cards” presented in Microsoft Dynamics 365 from the Relationship Insight assistant.

The same card appears under the Assistant section in my Activity Pane:

Summary

Social Engagement as a standalone product provides a one-stop shop for the collection and intelligent analysis of selected parts of the massive social universe that is available to us.  It is a way to focus and present to you and your staff what you may consider the most important part of the “noise” – the part that matters to your business.
Beyond the use of the standalone product, it becomes especially powerful when the data collected from Social Engagement makes its way into the platform you use for sales and service, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise for Sales and/or Service.
The product continues to evolve, especially with the merging of Insights and Social Engagement, and with the release of various “Assistants” to feed actionable information to the Dynamics 365 user. Properly configured, these improvements can have a real impact on the productivity of your teams.
The fact that Microsoft now offers this as an integral part of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise at no additional cost provides a compelling reason to take the time to configure this powerful solution and integration. If you have questions beyond what they article provides, or if you need help in configuring this solution,  please feel free to reach out to us for more information.

 

 

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Getting Started with Dynamics 365 PowerApps

Today, the business world relies heavily on mobile technology. We don’t just work from cubicles, offices and desktop computers; we work from subways and taxis, coffee shops, and basically anywhere that we are. We have the luxury of being able to tackle nearly any work-related task from our phones.

It’s not unheard of, however, that some business tasks still have to be done on computers. Mobile apps for business tasks have lagged behind. Those apps that do exist have not always been as comprehensive or accessible as desktop solutions.

Microsoft saw this issue and presented a remedy: Microsoft PowerApps, which is part of Microsoft Dynamics 365.

But what is PowerApps? Essentially, it’s a simple way for the average person to create the apps they, specifically, need, while leveraging the rich and diverse data sets that are provided with the Dynamics 365 Business and Enterprise Editions.

Developers and other employees alike can quickly create the apps they need with data they already have, be it on-premises or cloud-based.

PowerApps will appear within the app menu of Office 365. Upon logging in for the first time, users will be met with a couple things. In addition to a popup window explaining, in the simplest of terms, what PowerApps can do, there will be several short videos and images showing the user how to go about getting started. In the bottom left corner of the screen, there is a New app button. Click this button, then choose one of the two options that appear: PowerApps Studio for Windows or PowerApps Studio for web. If you aren’t running Windows 8 or 10, you’ll want to choose the web version.

If you’ve chosen PowerApps for Windows, click Get when the page appears, then click Launch once PowerApps has downloaded. If you’ve chosen the web version, you can skip that step.

Within the New tab, choose to either start with your data, or start with a blank canvas or template. For this example, we’ll start with existing data. Click Phone layout for the desired data connection.

Choose the desired dataset from the list that appears

Choose the desired table, then click Connect

The page that appears will allow you to design the app; you’ll choose what order you want data to appear, whether or not to include images, and more. After designing the app, you can share it with any desired individuals.

Don’t think you’re stuck because you don’t have an app that does what you need; PowerApps makes it not only possible, but easy, to create the apps you need in just a few minutes.

Please feel free to reach out to us if you need help with PowerApps or have additional questions.

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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Release

Today (11/1/2016) marks the first Microsoft Dynamics 365 release – specifically, the initial release of Dynamics 365 Business Edition in the US and Canada (initially consisting of Dynamics 365 for Financials), and the release of Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition worldwide. In 2017, not only will additional Dynamics 365 apps come out (for Sales and Marketing for the Business edition), but Dynamics 365 for Financials will be released in an additional four countries. This bold set of applications together are being billed as nothing less than a “Digital Transformation” of businesses of all sizes.

In short, Dynamics 365 helps you automate and streamline your business processes as comprehensively as you like. It is the only cloud-based solution that tackles your customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) needs in one place, along with Office 365, using a “Common Data Model” (CDM). Whether you need tools for sales, customer service, operations, financials, field service, project service automation, or marketing, Dynamics 365 has an app. Today’s release provides the first day of general availability for most of those solutions. The value proposition here is that businesses of all sizes can choose just what they need and pay for those tools to get started, and then grow into a wider set of functions as required.

For small business, today is the first day that Dynamics 365 Business is available, which, at the moment, consists of the “Financials” app.  The Business edition is intended for small businesses with between 10 and 250 employees (although there is no minimum seat count), and allows for simplified accounting and business management. Dynamics 365 for Financials was previously in preview in the US and Canada as Microsoft Project Madeira, and in terms of functionality, it is based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV. It provides contact management and financials for small business with features such as Quotes, Orders, Invoices as well as accounting functions.

NOTE: since Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will no longer be available, and Microsoft recognizes that this will leave a gap for small businesses until the Sales app becomes available, they have agreed to offer the Dynamics 365 Sales, Enterprise edition (this is the “Sales” app that most closely resembles the CRM Sales Module as we now know it) at a reduced-priced for a limited time. Specifically, this app contains the Sales Module entities, such as Leads, Opportunity, Contacts, Accounts, etc. as well as some of the Marketing Module entities, such as campaigns and quick campaigns. The price is $40/user, there is no minimum seat count, but there is a 15 seat maximum. This offer will be available from December 1, 2016 until June 30th, 2017, or until the Dynamics 365 for Sales, Business Edition is released – whichever comes first. Finally, a company who purchases this app now will be eligible to also purchase the $5/user/mo “Team Member” subscription, which provides what amounts to read-only data across the Common Data Model (for now, Leads, Opps, Contacts, Accounts, and other entities available in the Sales app.)

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition is intended for larger organizations (over 250 employees), and is, essentially, a combination of Dynamics AX and CRM, using a CDM. It will eventually make use of Adobe Marketing Cloud suite, the result of a recent partnership with Adobe. The use of the Adobe Marketing Cloud suite differs from the Business edition, which will use Dynamics 365 for Marketing starting in 2017. What is now known as “Microsoft Dynamics Marketing” will no longer be available.

Since change can be stressful, Microsoft has lessened the burden by providing an Assisted Setup & Tasks section on the homepage of Dynamics 365, as well as the offer described above. There is a Getting Started tour to give you an introduction to the application, and then there are access points to create a trial company, import existing company data (vendors, customers, etc.), and set up sales tax, email, and more.

Keep an eye out for instructional posts and videos from xRM to get you started using Dynamics 365,and please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions.

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