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Amazon Recommends ...

I think it is pretty funny that I had an e-mail from Amazon today recommending my book to me. 

"Amazon.com recommends "Sam's Teach Yourself Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 in 24 Hours" and more ....

The best thing about this is it is a good reminder that my original book is still packed with a ton of great learning that applies to both v4 and v2011!!


CRM Industry News and Cloud Debates

Lauren Carlson, a CRM Market analyst over at The Software Advice blog, recently shared a number of new videos that some of you might be interested in.

The first I watched is an up close and personal interview with Brad Wilson answering the question

"What percentage of [CRM] customers choose the Cloud?"

To watch the full video click here !

A few interesting points from the video and from my thoughts for debate.

1) The cloud offers smaller customers the option of an instantly available application without any of the server installation or support requirements.

2) The cloud offers larger customers the option of an instantly available application without being queued up in the often over loaded information services department list of tasks.

3) If you pick the cloud and want to switch to OnPremise, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM code base is the same for both environments, making a switch in the future an option.

4) .NET extensions and plugin options are not (easily) available in the cloud. If you want to extend Dynamics CRM beyond the power of Customization and simple workflows, you potentially need OnPremise.

5) Smaller customers often need as much power (or more) as larger customers when it comes to traditional CRM. Relationship building and management of prospects and support handling and management of customers. Why? Because they have fewer people with more titles and responsibilities. CRM can greatly supplement human resource time constraints.

6) Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online does offer a bit more out of the box marketing functionality (web lead capture, different analytics), but the OnPremise ISVs in this arena really kick some tail. If you need advanced marketing features, such as click through analytics, then there are additional variables to consider.

7) Data matters, Security matters:  but who has better security? A professional hosting company whose reputation and business is on the line every day when it comes to their business model or your computer room or data center where the network administrator (s) live? The debate and history shows an even 50/50.  There are weaknesses in both arenas

To summarize the perfect CRM environment is different for each customer as each comes with positives and negatives, so I have to give Microsoft kudos for choice.

Despite the overhead of keeping two offerings current and defined (and yes there are significant overhead costs), Microsoft made the right choice in giving customers options.

These include Microsoft's Dynamics CRM Online, partner hosted Dynamics CRM and the OnPremise "customer hosted" Dynamics CRM.

Not only did they give customers the option of choice, they also give customers the option of changing their mind.     


Bit by the Dynamics CRM 2011 Marketing Bug? Read this First

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 has been released now both as an Online offering and as an OnPremise offering.

The buzz from the field is that the product is packed with 500+ new features and a ton of new options with regards to customization and after working with the product I have to agree. The team is offering some incredible power and flexibility while still maintaining all that is great in v4.0.

Power however comes with a price. As partners and customers across the world learned in Dynamics CRM v3.0 and v4.0 if you don't take the time to understand then it is easy to dig your own hole of frustration.

So how can this be avoided by those just getting interested? Particularly given that 2011 offers even more!!

Here are five key steps to getting off on the right foot!

1) Take baby steps and small bites, grow with the product 

2) At a minimum READ the installation guide twice (OnPremise)

3) Remember, just because it is easy to configure and customize doesn't mean you know the best way to configure and customize. Tap into experience.

4) Good "CRM" partners have already invested in the basics and offer those as part of every project (why pay to rebuild these, just for the learning exercise? There are better ways)

5) Senior .NET developers who don't know XRM/CRM still have a lot to learn when it comes to thinking XRM. Junior XRM/CRM developers still have a lot to learn when it comes to thinking .NET

           and as a little bit of extra - Item 6

6) Many of the features within Dynamics CRM are version 4.0! but some are v1.0 - set proper expectations when utilizing a specific feature set.