Convergence 2014 Wrap Up

I was not overly enthused about returning to Atlanta for a 3rd time, however, Convergence was just as informative as ever.  I joined the other 12,000 attendees taking in as many sessions as possible and talking to as many users/partners/MSFT people as I could.  There was plenty of excitement around Dynamics CRM, GP, and AX.  This year I found myself gravitating towards CRM, as well as Microsoft’s new Power BI tools within Excel.

Dynamics CRM

Over the last couple of years, Microsoft has acquired companies that complement the Dynamics CRM solution (NetBreeze and MarketingPilot(one word)).  Finally we are seeing how Microsoft is integrating the MarketingPilot solution into CRM.  It will be a separate module and I was pleasantly surprised to also learn that it will be offered as a standalone solution as well.  The module/solution is called Dynamics Marketing.  Microsoft has stepped up its game with this tool!  The module will be adding and/or strengthening lead tracking, lead to revenue, email marketing, lead capture, lead scoring, social marketing and campaign management capabilities.  The power of lead scoring alone excites me.  This functionality will enable companies to create one or many scoring models that continuously evaluate and re-evaluate lead behavior.  This will help marketing and sales people determine the quality of the lead and which leads to actively pursue.    Microsoft gave marketing a try several years ago in an early version of CRM and failed.  However, now, this is an awesome addition and improvement, and I cannot wait until it is fully released.

Power BI

How many of you have heard of Power BI with Excel?  Are you using O365 E3 or Office Professional Plus?  Power BI is self-service analytics for all your data.  Yes, that is right, a self-service tool from within Excel.  Microsoft is now including Power views and Power maps within Excel.  These tools will allow you to visualize your data.  Use Power View to create reports and analytical views through interactive charts and graphs that help you explore and present your data visually in Excel.  Explore and navigate geospatial data on a 3D map experience with Power Map.  During one of the sessions, the presenters pulled up restaurants and food customers that had health code violations.  Using Power BI, they merged the code violation data with geospatial  data and mapped the locations.  This allowed us to see specific zones and condensed locations of violations.  You could even zoom into the restaurants.  This data could be useful for any number of companies.  If I were a restaurant cleaning company, I could target geographic territories.  Health code inspectors may also want to target specific area’s to double back and re-evaluate each restaurant.

Although I was not enthusiastic about heading back to Atlanta for Convergence, I am glad I went since Microsoft provided fantastic content for all things Dynamics.

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