Saturday, January 23, 2010

Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2010 - Atlanta

Microsoft Convergence  2010 Atlanta, April 24-27


Convergence is the Microsoft Dynamics premier event! Here are 4 great business reasons why one should attend this event.
  1. Learn how to get the most out of Microsoft Dynamics solution.
    • Learn how to use the technical resources and support available.
    • Understand how to empower people to use functionality.
    • Investigate additional Microsoft Dynamics functionality, plus third-party vendor solutions that could better position you for success.
  2. Connect with other users and Microsoft product experts.
    • See firsthand how other users optimize their solutions to drive business success.
    • Consult with solution provider and Microsoft product experts.
    • Get free technical support and participate in hands-on lab exercises.
  3. Get up to date on Microsoft products and technologies.
    • Take advantage of more than 400 sessions covering Microsoft Dynamics and the latest Microsoft products including Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ERP (including Microsoft Dynamics GP 11), Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft Office SharePoint, and Microsoft SQL Server.
    • Learn how solution integrates easily with these technologies to maximize efficiency.
  4. Learn the Microsoft strategy and future plans for Microsoft Dynamics software
    • Understand the product development strategy 
    • Get insight into Microsoft’s future direction and investments 


Sounds great !! To learn more about Convergence 2010 Atlanta, just visit the
 Convergence Web site.

Leverage The Power Of Dynamics Live For Your Business

Its a chilly winter night and I just bothered to sneak into MIX Conversation Video over you tube and finally i realized the power of Dynamics CRM and how it aids web based Line of business applications development. Sometimes I wonder why people get so crazy about CRM application development and  I have seen the CRM buffs in my organization trying new things now and then ranging from Telemarketing to Bing Maps Integration to SMS Integration with Dynamics CRM and CRM Live and then I thought why not to expose the power of Dynamics Live for the readers of this blog.

As all of you know Microsoft Dynamics CRM is not just an Account or Contact Management Suite. It incorporates Sales, Service and Marketing as well. I guess this product has hit the roots in the Sales Force sector. This CRM Suite really fascinates people with its rich set of integrated technologies, Business Analytics and extensiveness. It has deep process automation and one fine day we could see this suite expanding branches in all enterprise domains.

With the launch of Dynamics CRM Suite a wave crossed the minds of CRM geeks on how to customize an entirely new product. Over the years Microsoft has been providing constant support with Web Services, APIs to aid easy development and customizations and provide a good night sleep to all the developers.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live combines your everyday productivity applications with powerful online CRM software to improve marketing, boost sales, and bolster customer service interactions.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live equips business professionals with online and offline access to customer information through a suite of marketing, sales, and service solutions within a familiar Microsoft Office Outlook interface to ensure quick results and process automation.

For Sales

Enable salespeople to create a single view of the customer with tools that streamline and automate everyday sales processes promoting shorter sales cycles, higher close rates, and improved customer retention. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live gives sales professionals fast access to customer data and history online or offline so they can work smarter and spend more time selling rather than sipping more and more coffe along side searching customer data . It has strong integration with third party applications like communication server and Skype to aid sales people to quickly communicate with customers. I wonder if later on they integrate a video tool with this suite for visual meetings.

For Marketing

Powerful campaign management features, and  insightful marketing analytics to increase the effectiveness of marketing programs, generate demand, and better track key performance indicators. It provides comprehensive tools to monitor results for better performance. It also supports bulk mailing and email campaigns. I would definitely promote this CRM Suite for Marketing sector.

For Service

Deliver customer information, to the desktops of customer service people, giving them the tools to deliver consistent, efficient service that enhances customer profitability. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live provides a comprehensive customer service solution that is familiar to users, and is completely customizable to match support process.

Using your Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser, one can quickly create online CRM solution and begin transforming your business right away. Start using the marketing, sales and service capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live. It provides configuration capabilities to quickly add or modify fields, forms, workflow, and reports to tailor it to fit your business needs.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live helps ensure that customer data is available when and where it’s needed and in the necessary format through the user interface, web-services interface or as a file.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live works in a way that is familiar to users. Whether accessed online through a browser or Microsoft Office Outlook, users can work in an environment they already use and understand.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live can fit the unique needs of any size business and can adapt and grow as your company grows without expensive upgrades to hardware. This will definitely ensure huge money in your wallets.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live comes in two versions Professional and Professional Plus. Both editions offer a full suite of sales, service, marketing, and analytics functionality.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live Professional has the following capabilities.
  • Data Storage per Organization 5GB 
  • System Customization 
  • Workflow Automation 
  • Microsoft Office Integration
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live Professional Plus has the following capabilities.
  • Data Storage per Organization 20GB
  • System Customization 
  • Workflow Automation 
  • Microsoft Office Integration
  • Offline Data Synchronization

Microsoft Dynamics Live has come out as a lifeline for thriving businesses as well as startups.
Recently I heard a loud noise about Microsoft Office Live and lets see how far it helps to make businesses better. I would definitely share some more information about Microsoft Office live in my next post.




Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Import Data Wizard and Automatic Customizations

The Import Data Wizard for CRM Online makes customer’s life easy by powerful features such as the automatic customizations of field width (for text data) and list values (for picklists).


1. The Field width customization feature increases the length of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM text or ntext field on the fly based on the length of data in the source file.
When import data wizard encounters a mismatch in the field lengths of source data and target field it deduces following:

i. Is the field customizable.
ii. Finds the maximum length of the source data in respective column of given source file.
iii. Checks whether the length found in step 2 is more than the default length of the field and is less than the maximum allowed length for the Text column (which is 4000).

If both conditions mentioned in Step iii are satisfied, it updates the metadata of an attribute to the length found in step2 and changes the column length in database.

Import Data Wizard applies field width customization even if some advanced transformations like Concatenation are applied on source data, and concatenated data is then mapped to some CRM field. If the data obtained after concatenation has length more than the default length of the field to which it is mapping, Import Data Wizard will apply field width customization in that case also.

2. Import Wizard can handle the picklist customization when user has chosen Map Automatically or has chosen to Use and existing data map while importing data. This is what the import data wizard does in case of picklists:

i. Identifies all the unique values of the column in source file, which is mapping to picklist column.
ii. Identifies which source values are having an exact string match with Microsoft Dynamics CRM fields' picklist string values and can be imported without additional customization.
iii. To create new picklist value for the unmatched source values, system verifies:
a. Whether the number of new picklist values which need to be created is less than 400 else system fails the entire import file.
b. If the target field is customizable. Pick list is not created unless the field is customizable and those records fail with appropriate error otherwise.
c. In case field is customizable then system creates new picklist values in CRM with the same label as that specified in source unique value.

Read more about the Import Data Wizard and Automatic Customizations at:
http://blogs.msdn.com/crm/archive/2010/01/11/microsoft-dynamics-crm-automatic-customizations.aspx

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mid Market Buzz



Microsoft is trying to exploit its desktop applications strength in large enterprises and promote its now-more-robust business applications to this sector.

Buyer interest in Microsoft solutions is high in the market and is growing in the enterprise segment. Enterprise buyers will be attracted to Microsoft Dynamics CRM if they have made a commitment to a Microsoft infrastructure in order to lower their TCO in buying and managing business technologies. Buyers also like Microsoft Dynamics CRM usability and its quick time-to-value compared with traditional CRM applications. 




Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides a wealth of sales analytics and automation capabilities that help organisations to zero in on their sweet-spot and institutionalise best practices for improved sales alignment. Microsoft has branched into various in-house technology integration with CRM Suites. The latest concept of (X)RM has proved to be a successful engagement to leverage rich set of technologies to counter diseased markets.


When you are looking for a feasible CRM, it's important to draw comparison with other products. If you consider the mid-market you can see that Oracle Siebel and SAP are moving down in the market, and Microsoft is busy with efforts to extend the customer base. Siebel's scores high when it comes to functionally rich CRM applications and first rate interface. Microsoft dynamic CRM seems to have bright prospect with the mid marker companies.However, Microsoft should consider including more effective business-to-business (B2B) marketing and sales features.






Friday, January 15, 2010

Marketing Campaigns - Recording Campaign Responses


Nice read on how to capture Campaign Responses in MS CRMMicrosoft CRM includes four ways to create campaign responses:


• Record responses manually : Enter responses based on a direct marketing campaign activity.

• Convert an existing campaign activity to a campaign response: When someone responds to the marketing material you’ve sent them, you can convert the corresponding campaign activity, such as a phone call, e-mail, or appointment, to a campaign response.

• Automatically generate responses: For e-mail activities you’ve included in your campaign, you can also use Microsoft CRM to generate the campaign responses automatically. When customers respond to e-mail activities, you can choose to have Microsoft CRM create the corresponding campaign response records automatically.
This option is available only if e-mail tracking is enabled. This is a setting your administrator can set. If you are an administrator, set the Track e-mail option to Yes on the E-mail Tracking tab on the System Settings dialog box, and verify that Create campaign responses for incoming e-mail is set to Yes on the Marketing tab in this dialog box.

• Import campaign responses into Microsoft CRM from an external file: In addition to creating campaign responses within Microsoft CRM, you can also create them outside the system and then import them.

You can find the article at:

http://www.ics-inc.com/bpa-blog/?Tag=Microsoft%20CRM%204.0

Report server : Encryption Keys Error


Ever got the error when viewing any report in MS CRM:
System.Web.Services.Protocols.SoapException: The report server cannot decrypt the symmetric key used to access sensitive or encrypted data in a report server database. You must either restore a backup key or delete all encrypted content.
Here's the solution to it:1. Open Reporting Services Configuration Manager
2. Connect to your RS server
3. Select 'Encryption Keys' from the left pane
4. Press the 'Delete' button to get rid of your encrypted content

5. After doing this, you will need to re-set the connection strings and stored credentials on your reports.

PS: If you do have a backup, press the 'Restore' button instead of the 'Delete' button.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Error message in the Environmental Diagnostic wizard when you try to install the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Connector for SQL Server Reporting Services

When MS CRM and SQL Server are installed on separate server machines, we need to install MS CRM Connector on the server running SQL reporting services. While installing this, I faced an error saying “Unable to validate SQL Server Reporting Services Report Server installation” in the Environmental diagnostic wizard.

As stated by Microsoft support, this issue comes in the following scenarios:
1. You try to install the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Connector for SQL Server Reporting Services on a server that is not running Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services (SSRS).
2. You try to install the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Connector for SQL Server Reporting Services on a named instance of SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services.
3. You try to install the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Connector for SQL Server Reporting Services on a SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services installation that uses a nondefault Web site.

In my case, the issue was due to named instance of SQL server 2005.
To resolve this issue:-

For the first scenario above, install the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Connector for SQL Server Reporting Services on a server that is running SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services.

For the second and third scenarios, follow these steps:

1. Copy all the files in the SrsDataConnector folder on the installation CD to a folder on drive C. For example, copy the files to the following folder:
C:\SrsDataConnector
Note The SrsDataConnector folder is located in the following folder on the installation CD:
drive:\Server\i386

2. Locate the folder in which you copied the installation files. Right-click the Install-config.xml file, and then open the file in Notepad.
3. Add the following information to the Install-config.xml file:

• The reportserverurl tags
• The URL for the server that is running SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services

For example, if the server that is running Reporting Services has a named instance of Titan, the reportserverurl tags resemble the following example.
http://servername/Reportserver$Titan
4. If the server that is running SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services has a named instance, modify the instancename tags.

For example, if the server that is running Reporting Services has a named instance of Titan, the instancename tags resemble the following example.
Titan
5. After you complete steps 3 and 4, click Save on the File menu, and then close the Install-config.xml file. The Install-config.xml file should resemble the following example.
<crmsetup>
<srsdataconnector>
<configdbserver></configdbserver>
<autoupdateconfigdb>1</autoupdateconfigdb>
<reportserverurl>http://servername/Reportserver$Titan</reportserverurl>
<autogroupmanagementoff>0</autogroupmanagementoff>
<instancename>Titan</instancename>
<configsku>OnPremise</configsku>
<!-- Set enabled = true for DB webstore integration. Set configdb="true" for config db webstore integration-->
<webstore enabled="false" configdb="false" />
<monitoring>
<!-- Monitoring service account name and password. It can not be local system or network service account -->
<serviceaccountname></serviceaccountname>
<serviceaccountpassword></serviceaccountpassword>
</monitoring>
</srsdataconnector>
</crmsetup>

6. Open a Command Prompt window, and then locate the folder in which you copied the installation files in step 1.
7. At the command prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER:
C:\SrsDataConnector> SetupSrsDataConnector /CONFIG path of the folder that contains the Install-config.xml file\install-config.xml

That’s it! I hope it helps.