Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Against this background, it was interesting to note the latest Yammer-ing from MSFT. Yammer has focused its attention to the problem of "social sprawl". In simple words, "social sprawl" is a natural outcome when all enterprise apps running inside your organization are trying to become socially relevant. Think of this common scenario: you could have a customer record going across multiple apps like ERP, CRM, Portal, Collaboration, etc. If each of these apps in turn allow social transactions, you could end up with silos of conversations across multiple apps. With the latest updates, Yammer claims to solve the problem "by creating an Enterprise Graph that provides a standard set of social components. This standardization means that all of a company’s employees and business data can be brought together in a common conversation layer".
Yammer has natively integrated the latest release with Dynamics CRM so that you have social conversations visible both in Yammer and CRM. True to its original direction, Yammer has also updated App directory "allowing users to browse and connect third-party business applications within Yammer". Salesforce.com is one such supported business app.
Yammer has rightly so adopted a longer term "social platform" approach instead of short term focus on "Yammer as an app". This provides Yammer a much better shot at becoming the "Enterprise Facebook" that vendor specific apps like Chatter or SharePoint. On a separate note, Yammer might just have significantly narrowed the social gap between Salesforce.com and Dynamics CRM.
What are your thoughts?
Monday, August 13, 2012
To those who have not been following JC Penny, here is a quick snapshot:
Johnson, the former Apple Inc. retail chief who joined as CEO in November, is trying to win back customers at the 110-year-old chain.
Johnson embarked in January on a four-year overhaul of the retailer in a bid to make it “America’s favorite store.” The executive, who also helped create Target Corp.’s persona of“cheap chic,” has been struggling to communicate a shift to“everyday low prices” to customers as it cuts sale events and coupons in pursuit of a pricing model similar to that of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
His project hasn’t paid dividends. Comparable-store sales fell 21.7 percent in the quarter, the company said in an Aug. 10 statement.
So what went wrong. Is Ron Johnson loosing his magical touch? Is it economic climate of today? No one knows the answer. However I did note something of interest that could provide answers to these questions. According to AP article, in the same earnings call, Johnson also took the time to chastise Wall Street.
"We said this would be a really tough year," he told investors. "Somehow, I don't think that message got through. Your expectation was much higher than ours, but transforming a company is a marathon. It's not a sprint. It takes time."I agree with Johnson - transformation of any company is a marathon and like every marathon runner, he needs time to complete the journey. The problem is that Wall Street is notorious for giving time and typically wants instant results.
Given the scenario, I wonder if JC Penny would have been better off with an "agile transformation" or in simpler words, managed the marathon like a series of sprints. Here are some immediate benefits I see:
- JC Penny could define short term sprint goals and communicate success more often to analysts
- JC Penny would be more flexible to address external or internal impacts after each sprint instead of waiting for the marathon to be over
- JC Penny could have set realistic expectations and a culture of continuous innovation as agile principles promotes feedback early and often with managed failure a welcome outcome
Do you have an "agile transformation" story of your own to share?
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
While not pathbreaking by any measure (I had noted Salesforce.com's commendable "trust center" in a blog post earlier this year), Microsoft releasing its own "trust center" brings out the issue of service transparency and data privacy to the forefront. It puts pressure on other cloud based vendors to provide similar "trust centers", educates prospects so make better buying decisions and provides peace of mind to existing customers.
If you are a cloud-based CRM customer, it would be interesting to know if "trust center" impacted your decision of choosing a specific vendor. Looking forward to your comment.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Yet, lately, I have wondered what does a gathering like Convergence means to us in the age of social media? When we are connected 24 * 7, what extra value travelling to a city like Houston, staying in over-crowded hotels, walking miles inside the convention center provide to us? I am sure we all have our reasons but for me, the "twitter" and "facebook" of the world cannot replace the face to face conversations that Convergence has provided me over the years. It is easy in the world of technology to get caught in the latest trends. Somehow, ironically, Convergence helps me move beyond the hype and be able to find nuggets of commonsense value. Now, that is priceless even in the age of "tweets" and "likes'.
What is your iConvergence about?
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Exactly a week ago, Microsoft and 7 made this announcement in the area of customer service. Oddly enough, I did not see follow-up details, social chatter or community discussions providing a whole lot more than what was covered in the initial press release.This blog explores the partnership between Microsoft & 7 and what it could mean to Dynamics CRM users and the wider world of customer service.
Introduction to 7
The following chart does a pretty good job of explaining what is 7.
7 is solely focused on improving the customer service experience by predicting the customer needs, providing the customers a simplified way to get service and in the process, learn more about the customer with each interaction. The underlying glue to achieve all these goals in the concept of “big data”.
Introduction to Tellme
Microsoft Tellme engines power all of Microsoft's speech-enabled products and services. Behind all speech technology are two speech engines: speech recognition and speech synthesis. When used together, the two speech engines work as one, as with a call center, whose computers process customers' spoken commands and synthesize speech in return. Tellme speech engine functionality is in 26 countries.
Tellme + 7
Deborah Cage at WSJ has written a detailed blog post on this strategic marriage between Microsoft & 7.
In her words,
“… Microsoft invested an undisclosed amount of money in 24/7, but it will also merge some of the assets… into 24/7’s technology and give 24/7 coverage under Microsoft’s portfolio of speech patents. 24/7 will in turn integrate its technology with Windows phone, the Microsoft search engine Bing and Microsoft Dynamics, which is Microsoft’s customer relationship management software …”
Cage continues later in her post,
“ The result of all this technology should be a cloud-based software platform that will let customers contact a company over their mobile devices, the Web, the TV or the telephone and use intuitive, conversational interfaces that support speech, touch and gestures, with the software anticipating what might happen next.”
Tellme + 7 & the world of customer service
The concepts around 7 as well as Tellme are not really new – predictive modeling as well as speech engines have both been around. What is new though is how we are using internet today. In this example, cloud powering big data promises better predictive accuracy, faster processing and tremendous agility. Here are some scenarios called out on the 7 site:
Communications | Bill Inquiry
Financial Services | Fraud Alert
You can check out more scenarios here.
Tellme + 7 & the world of Dynamics CRM
Microsoft has not released any specifics on how Dynamics CRM will leverage all this innovation being proposed. have worked with several customers on customer service and call center implementations and know many of the challenges called out first hand. As a customer, calling customer service is certainly not the most pleasant to do task for most of us. It even feels very outdated considering how far technology has become. If done rightly, I personally see Dynamics CRM benefiting tremendously from this agreement. Let us revisit the scenario above.
“Kelly might have had more questions and concerns on how the fraud occurred and what she can do to avoid in the future. Such a conversation typically would be handled by a different team and at a later date. Imagine Kelly’s appreciation if she was to get a follow-up call from Saving Bank after few days of the fraudulent charge incident to make sure everything is Ok.”
This scenario would have been possible if the initial fraud transaction was automatically logged in the CRM application. CRM could then route the case to the fraud follow-up team, initiate activities required to complete the case and when the case is completed, share “relevant” and “certified” data back with Tellme + 7 engine.
The recent focus in the customer service world has been to leverage social and mobility tools. This agreement between Microsoft and 7 takes a different approach by leveraging predictive modeling powered by big data. I hope that Microsoft will release more details in the near-term and create visibility that such an investment deserves.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Microsoft recently announced a list of certifications (focused on both data center and CRM Online services) to be in place by the next release. The blog post explores these certifications, provides a deeper understanding of the standards in place and compares 3 CRM vendors when it comes to compliance certifications. Happy Reading!
Microsoft’s next release has several key updates such as mobile client, x-browser and x-platform support, social enhancements, etc. Also included, but perhaps missed in the glitter of other functionality listed above, were a list of certifications that Microsoft has pursued since the completion of the engineering efforts with the previous service update (R7).
Here is a quick snapshot of the certifications that have been identified in the release preview guide:
Breakdown of R8 “Certifications”
ISO/IEC 27001 is an Information Security Management System (ISMS) standard published in October 2005 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
ISO/IEC 27001 requires that management:
- Systematically examine the organization's information security risks, taking account of the threats, vulnerabilities and impacts;
- Design and implement a coherent and comprehensive suite of information security controls and/or other forms of risk treatment (such as risk avoidance or risk transfer) to address those risks that are deemed unacceptable; and
- Adopt an overarching management process to ensure that the information security controls continue to meet the organization's information security needs on an ongoing basis.
Click here for more details.
SAS Type II
Statement on Auditing Standards No.70 (SAS 70) is an internationally recognized auditing standard developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) in 1992. It is used to report on the "processing of transactions by service organizations", which can be done by completing either a Type I or a Type II audit. A SAS 70 Type I is known as "reporting on controls placed in operation", while a SAS 70 Type II is known as "reporting on controls placed in operation" and "tests of operating effectiveness".
Examples of service organizations are insurance and medical claims processors, trust companies, hosted data centers, application service providers (ASPs), managed security providers, credit processing organizations and clearinghouses.
Click here for more details.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (often shortened to SOX) is legislation enacted in response to the high-profile Enron and WorldCom financial scandals to protect shareholders and the general public from accounting errors and fraudulent practices in the enterprise. The act is administered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which sets deadlines for compliance and publishes rules on requirements.
The following sections of Sarbanes-Oxley contain the three rules that affect the management of electronic records.
- The first rule deals with destruction, alteration, or falsification of records.
- The second rule defines the retention period for records storage. Best practices indicate that corporations securely store all business records using the same guidelines set for public accountants.
- This third rule refers to the type of business records that need to be stored, including all business records and communications, including electronic communications.
Click here for more details.
The European Commission’s Directive on Data Protection went into effect in October of 1998, and would prohibit the transfer of personal data to non-European Union countries that do not meet the European Union (EU) “adequacy” standard for privacy protection. While the United States and the EU share the goal of enhancing privacy protection for their citizens, the United States takes a different approach to privacy from that taken by the EU. In order to bridge these different privacy approaches and provide a streamlined means for U.S. organizations to comply with the Directive, the U.S. Department of Commerce in consultation with the European Commission developed a "Safe Harbor" framework. All 15 member countries are subject to the agreement, which means that data transfers can proceed without requiring individual authorization. U.S. companies that don't join Safe Harbor must obtain authorization separately from each European country. E.U. organizations can check a list of U.S. companies that have joined the collective to ensure that the Safe Harbor Privacy Principles will be adhered to.
Click here for more details.
SSAE 16 SOC 1 (Type II)
SSAE 16 is an enhancement to the current standard for Reporting on Controls at a Service Organization, the SAS70. The changes made to the standard will bring your company, and the rest of the companies in the US, up to date with new international service organization reporting standards, the ISAE 3402. The adjustments made from SAS 70 to SSAE 16 will help you and your counterparts in the US compete on an international level; allowing companies around the world to give you their business with complete confidence.
If a Company ABC (the ‘Service Organization’) performs outsourced services that affect the financial statements of another Company XYZ (the ‘User Organization’), ABC will more than likely be asked to provide an SSAE16 Type II Report, especially if the XYZ is publicly traded. Some example industries include:
- Payroll Processing
- Medical Claims Processors
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
- Data Center
- Network Monitoring Services
Click here for more details.
Data Processing Agreement (DPA)
The purpose of the Act is to protect the rights and privacy of individuals, and to ensure that data about them are not processed without their knowledge and are processed with their consent wherever possible. The Act covers personal data relating to living individuals, and defines a category of sensitive personal data which are subject to more stringent conditions on their processing than other personal data.
Click here for more details.
EU Model Clauses
On December 27, 2004, the European Commission recognized a set of standard contractual clauses proposed by seven leading business associations as providing an “adequate level of data protection” under the EU Data Protection Directive for transferring personal data outside the EU. Recent updates to the clauses reflects the reality that organizations subcontract and may be of particular use in the outsourcing arena and for intra-group transfers to centralized service centers. For the first time, organizations that outsource services involving personal data can transfer that data to their suppliers located outside the EEA, and those suppliers can in turn pass it to subcontractors for further processing, without the need for the customer organization to take any further steps. Such sub-processing of data is built into the terms of the new contractual clauses.
Click here for more details.
Business Associates Agreement for HIPAA
By law, the HIPAA Privacy Rule applies only to covered entities – health plans, health care clearinghouses, and certain health care providers. However, most health care providers and health plans do not carry out all of their health care activities and functions by themselves. Instead, they often use the services of a variety of other persons or businesses. The Privacy Rule allows covered providers and health plans to disclose protected health information to these “business associates” if the providers or plans obtain satisfactory assurances that the business associate will use the information only for the purposes for which it was engaged by the covered entity, will safeguard the information from misuse, and will help the covered entity comply with some of the covered entity’s duties under the Privacy Rule. Covered entities may disclose protected health information to an entity in its role as a business associate only to help the covered entity carry out its health care functions – not for the business associate’s independent use or purposes, except as needed for the proper management and administration of the business associate.
Examples of business associates include accounting or consulting firms that work with covered entities, such as hospitals or doctors, or any number of other organizations that have or could have access to PHI or PHR. Updates made to the HIPAA regulation by the HITECH Act require business associates to comply with HIPAA mandates regarding the handling and use of PHI. As of February 18, 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services can audit business associates for HIPAA compliance.
Click here for more details.
It is amazing how difficult it was to find compliance information from different cloud vendors. A solid exception was Salesforce.com who even has a site established for “trust”. Click here if you want to check out. I started with what I consider top 5 CRM services of significance but had to narrow down to only 3 as I could not find sufficient information for all. The information below is mainly based on what was easily available in the public domain. It might not be an accurate representation but hopefully will give you an idea.
While the growth of publicly hosted cloud based applications has been phenomenal, it has not been without its fair share of skeptics and legitimate concerns. Few years ago, the cloud scenarios were very specific, the industry immature & “early adopters” open to higher degree of risk. Fast forward to 2012 - the users have matured, industry standards are in place, the customers have choice and the public cloud has evolved into a global platform housing a wide variety of applications across all industries including government, healthcare and finance.
As a techno-business professional, I find the “certifications” that Microsoft is addressing a big step in the right direction. It would not only make Microsoft’s CRM cloud more attractive to prospective buyers and existing customers, it could also propel healthy competition and transparency amongst cloud CRM services.
Monday, February 6, 2012
mCRM (mobile CRM) is one of the fastest growing and visible category of enterprise mobile solutions. It is fascinating to watch the tremendous explosion of scenarios and business models leveraging mCRM solutions. No longer restricted to mobile sales and field service teams, there is increasing demand for mCRM from all types of CRM users mirroring the overall shift to mobile platforms of the general population. Given this background, 2012 was expected to be “the” year when CRM vendors finally caught up with end user expectations. Technically, a no easy feat to achieve but strategically, required to stay relevant.
Kudos to Microsoft for taking mobility head-on. Today’s announcement around Q2 2012 release puts mCRM up, front and center of Microsoft’s CRM product strategy. Indeed, there is not one but two ways of enabling “CRM Anywhere”. Yes, with a caveat – the path chosen will likely be driven by how you define “CRM Anywhere” for your organization.
The goal of this blog is to help us all understand the different paths to “CRM Anywhere” so you can plan your own mobile strategy.
- Path 1: MICROSOFT DYNAMICS CRM MOBILE:
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile is powered by CWR Mobile CRM, a well known and respected mobility partner of Microsoft. Key features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile:
- Native platform Apps (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone)
- Hosted in the Cloud
- Monthly fees ($ 30 per user per client). Includes 3 devices per user
- You can subscribe just a subset of your CRM user population
- Available for CRM 2011 Online or CRM 2011 On-Premise IFD (internet facing deployments) only
- Supports “offline mode” (except Windows Phone)
- Available at release in 24 markets and 10 languages
- Path 2: X-BROWSER | X-PLATFORM CRM
In the hype around mobile apps, it is easy to ignore the cross-platform innovations being called out. This offers a no-cost option to “CRM Anywhere since the Q2 2012 service update provides the flexibility to consume Microsoft Dynamics CRM through the common web browsers running on both PC and Apple computers and tablets.
These two paths do not negate the current mobility options that Dynamics CRM offered to its users. You could pursue all options given the variances in your user base. For example, you could have all users take advantage of X-BROWSER | X-PLATFORM capabilities, most users take advantage of current outlook integration driven mobility but only few users subscribe to MICROSOFT DYNAMICS CRM MOBILE.
All in all, looking forward to how mCRM shapes up. 2012 is just getting started. If IT consumerisation trends are any indication, it will not be long before users will demand more innovation in the mCRM space. It will be interesting to watch if this time around the CRM vendors will be one step ahead.
Disclaimer: The blog is based on how I have interpreted different announcements and tweets on 02-06-12. Please enhance the conversation by providing your feedback.