Social, Mobile, Analytical & Cloud – Microsoft is Putting the SMAC Down
February introduced a new CEO for Microsoft and much has been said about Satya Nadella already. At AKA we certainly feel that this is a great choice for Microsoft and the customer and Partner community in the Dynamics space. His experience and recent leadership in Cloud & Enterprise is very comforting in what we see as the direction of a new Microsoft. During our Vision 2013 event last November, AKA co-owners Jack & Alan discussed, with input from Microsoft’s Tom Fehrer, their increased use of and interest in tablet pc’s and different ways of utilizing the cloud for personal use (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and for business use (Private and Public cloud). With the new CEO it is expected that the Microsoft One direction, set by former CEO Steve Ballmer will accelerate with perhaps a few changes in the strategy to support the growth in areas of strength, as also mentioned in this week’s Economist publication. So let’s take a look at what this means in terms of some of the 2014 CRM and ERP trends. 2014 will be a SMAC year, with Social, Mobile, Analytical and Cloud leading the conversation.
CRM Companies are looking at different ways to grow their businesses and offer their services. The old “dial and smile” way of trying to drum up business is not cutting it anymore and customers are truly tired of it. Same goes for the high pressure sales call, which puts people off and I truly cannot fathom why companies still try this model. It is clear that organizations need to innovate themselves to attract, retain and increase their opportunities to do business, therefore we believe the 3 following CRM trends are going to be important.
- Social CRM
For some industries this will be of less importance, but Social networking sites offer valuable sources of data for many that want to tap into what excites and drives their customers. In recent years Social CRM has shown value in analyzing the unstructured data on these sites and offer insights that typically are not discovered in the more traditional ways. It is worth including Social CRM in your overall marketing campaigns and considering how the ability to connect with customers for product innovation and improvement can provide a long-term competitive advantage.
- Mobile CRM
Both Bill Gates and Satya Nadella continue to mention Devices in the same sentence as Cloud, and with the mobile workforce ever expanding we will see a major step into utilizing CRM on Mobile devices in 2014. Organizations will have to adjust their IT environment and support their mobile apps, providing hungry sales and services team members with access to their sales and customer management tools. This is an investment that will have a quick ROI due to higher customer satisfaction, cost reduction and sales increases.
- Analytical CRM
In order to benefit from the growing amounts of available data out there, companies need the right user-friendly tools to access it. Combining CRM with Business Intelligence tools makes it possible to drill much deeper into the available data within CRM to review buying trends and histories and use this data to fine tune their marketing campaigns to unlock opportunities that were not visible before.
Now onto ERP, ERP has already seen a shift over the past 2 years or so where there has been an increase in Cloud (SAAS, PAAS, IAAS) and Mobile in particular, and we will see now further expansion into Social (Yammer)
As I mentioned earlier, we at AKA strongly support the Cloud direction, and are embracing the idea and solutions through our own Cloud offering. Microsoft’s direction and especially with AX2012 R3, which took a huge step forward towards the integration with Cloud services, is very promising and will offer our customers a much more agile and scalable solution than ever before.
Social tools allow ERP users to interact with vendors, suppliers, customers and employees more effectively. This form of collaboration can be very effective when product problems arise, or when supply chain problems risk the delivery of goods and customer satisfaction impact. Social tools like Yammer offer users a platform to engage in real time, along with Skype and Lync allow users to share issues in an interactive way. Over time these platforms will turn into sales platforms and help simplify the sales process and thus reduce the overall cost of sales.
As with CRM, mobile has proven to be very important for ERP users in all industries. We have pushed ERP outside the four walls of the Enterprise through Portal’s and some level of integration over the past 5-8 years, but moving forward ERP will need to offer full mobile solutions to support each level in an organization.
ERP systems have improved and are richer than ever. The improvement Microsoft has made in AX 2012 R3, where Process and Warehouse Management have been massively enhanced due to the recent purchases of this functionality. There will still always be necessary integrations such as Factory Robots, 3D Printers, Handheld Devices and other peripherals to help you run your business more efficiently. The Microsoft Dynamics platform comes with strong tools to make this happen which is an advantage compared to other ERP solutions which rely on third party middleware to make this happen.
Customers who understand how these trends will improve their businesses will embrace these changes and fully take advantage of what the Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM platforms offer. This doesn’t require deep pockets or large IT budgets, nor does it require too much time from team members who are already stretched thin. One of AKA’s Shared Values: Client Empathy, speaks to the core of how our customers can take advantage of this. These new technologies will accelerate the capabilities of ERP and CRM. So what does this mean for the Microsoft customers, with Satya Nadella at the helm? Perhaps his quote will sum it all up: “What drives me every morning and what keeps me up every night is one thing: this business is not about longevity, it’s about relevance.” That thought makes me think that we will see many of the updates mentioned above incorporated into Microsoft products and that will benefit Microsoft Dynamics.