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PowerObjects’ Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2017

nlkhkj 300x225 PowerObjects’ Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2017

We’ve had a great year at PowerObjects and that goes for our Microsoft Dynamics 365 blog too! We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 most popular blogs posts for 2017, you check them out below.

10) CRM for Dynamics 365—Relationship Insights

Coming in at #10 is one of the exciting new CRM features of Dynamics 365, Relationship Insights. The Relationship Insights feature is for analyzing our relationships and providing us timely and actionable insights into our sales, communication, and support. If Relationship Insights sounds interesting to you and you’d like to learn more about configuration requirements, then watch this webinar: CRM for Dynamics 365—Relationship Insights.

9) Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update: Multi-Select Option Sets

We predicted one of the Dynamics 365 July 2017 Updates blogs would make it on the Top 10 Blogs of the Year and we were right! The Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update has loads of exciting new features and enhancements. As we see more previews, we’ve prepared blogs and webinars with all that we know so that you are prepared for the upcoming release. Be sure to click here to watch the Microsoft Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update webinar series!

8) A Must Know Shortcut: Adding Hyperlinks to an Email Template in Dynamics 365

Take a look at how this must know shortcut became our 8th most popular blog post of 2017. One feature that is not always utilized by our clients is Email Templates. Email templates work well when you want to send out standardized information to customers, but don’t need to create an entire email campaign. One question we receive from many of our clients is how to turn plain text within the body of an email into a hyperlink. Have no fear, this blog will show you how!

7) Two Rockin’ Ways to Enable Editable Grids with Dynamics 365

There are two ways to enable the new “Editable Grids” functionality delivered with Microsoft Dynamics 365. At the entity level, which will turn every view into an editable grid, or specifically on a sub-grid on any form. This blog shows you the steps for enabling either one! For more Dynamics 365 information, check out our Dynamics 365 page.

6) When You Reassign Accounts and Contacts, All Activities Are Also Reassigned

Dynamics 365 is a wonderful tool and many of the configurations are just as great. There is one configuration in particular that occurs out-of-the-box that can be changed improved in all implementations: the parental relationship between Accounts/Contacts and their child records. This popular blog walks through how to change this behavior for the Account and Phone Call relationship, and these steps can be followed for most Parent-Child relationships in Dynamics 365.

5) Troubleshooting Solution Import Errors

Remember when CRM life was so much simpler that solutions did not yet exist? If you had separate development and production environments and you wanted to move your customizations, you simply clicked Export Customizations and voila! It was done. Those were the days. With CRM 2011, the concept of solutions was introduced, giving us a new set of powers – by picking individual entities, workflows, etc., we now had the ability to group together and move only those customizations we wanted to include in our solution. If you want to learn more about solutions, please have a look at our CRM Book.

4) D365 In Focus: Get Started with PowerChat in 5 Easy Steps [VIDEO]

In the two short months since this Dynamics 365 In Focus video was released, it’s racked up enough views to nab the title of the 4th most viewed blog post of the year! One of our PowerPack experts, Jack Sapp, addresses how you can get started with PowerChat in five easy steps. If PowerChat didn’t excite you, explore the other thirty-plus PowerPacks we have to offer by clicking here!

121417 2058 PowerObject1 PowerObjects’ Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2017

3) 5 Things We Love About Dynamics 365 App for Outlook

Not only do people love the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook but they also love this blog, which is why it comes in at #3 on our list. The Dynamics 365 App for Outlook has gotten faster, smarter, and more convenient. Connecting Dynamics 365 with Outlook, the app makes it easy to track emails, tasks, and appointments without installing any additional software. Click here and find out what else it can do!

2) Top 10 New CRM Features in the Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update

This Top 10 has become so popular it’s made it as the #2 spot! The Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update has loads of exciting new features and enhancements, which makes it difficult to pick a top ten. We’ve done our best to highlight the best new features and enhancements. Be sure to click here to view our complete Microsoft Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update webinar series.

1) CRM for Dynamics 365: Top 10 New Feature

Drum roll please! Coming in at #1 is CRM for Dynamics 365: Top 10 New Features. Along with new branding, this fall release has brought many updates. Many are available for both Online and On-Premises, some – for now – are Online only. See the full list of CRM for Dynamics 365: Top 10 New Features.

There you have it! These are our Top 10 Most Popular Blogs for 2017. To stay up to date with the latest Dynamics 365 news and tips and tricks – be sure to subscribe to our blog!

Happy Dynamics 365’ing!

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PowerObjects- Bringing Focus to Dynamics CRM

“Parts Of It Were The Most Fun I Ever Had”

Fuck Ken Bone and the culture he rode in on. 

Shame on the Undecided doofus of the 2016 Presidential debates himself for failing to take advantage of the endless educational opportunities in the country, remaining a barely formed adult fetus with the brain power of a bottle cap. Even more shame on those among us who felt it necessary to turn the red-sweatered sluggard into a meme, because Americans need to make every last goddamn thing into entertainment, to manufacture moments to fill the desperately dreary lives we’ve fashioned for ourselves, even if this stupidity can get us all killed.

Fuck the media for its role in the same, not only for making Bone a supporting actor in a national tragedy but for featuring as its star a racist, ignorant game-show host, helping to legitimize someone who should have been too low and louche to cut the ribbon at the opening of a brand-spanking new adult bookstore, let alone allowed to stain the sheets in the Lincoln Bedroom. And fuck the media again for continuing this dangerous bullshit. Should Mark Cuban run for President? How about Alec Baldwin? Will the Rock enter the race? Why aim so high? This comment is made with all earnestness: Our leadership is presently so dumb and dishonest that even Kim Kardashian would do a better job than our sitting President. Kim Fucking Kardashian.

The Illinois insta-celeb has apparently taken his eyes off of hacked Fappening photos of Jennifer Lawrence long enough to realize that Donald Trump isn’t doing a stellar job as President. Perhaps the unnecessary suffering of Puerto Ricans and U.S. Virgin Islanders and refugees and immigrants and poor people and non-white folks and even the white dummies who voted for a Simon Cowell-ish strongman has finally reached the slow-on-the-uptake Bone? Who knows and who cares. More likely, he’s just moving his mouth-hole again, making ignorant noises at random, because noise, not news, is what rules in this immature, ill-informed nation.

From Luke Mullins’ CNN article about the man who knew too little:

No one is more perplexed by his fame than Bone himself. “It’s almost over,” he says, “and I still don’t get it.”

Bone has experienced the rush and perils of instant celebrity over the past year. He served as a special correspondent for ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live and walked the red carpet at a Hollywood movie premier. But he’s also witnessed police in bulletproof vests sweep his house for explosives and endured withering criticism for comments he made prior to his time in the spotlight.

“Parts of it were a real bummer,” Bone told me. “Parts of it were the most fun I ever had.”

It all started last fall, when Bone, a married father of one living in the St. Louis suburb of Belleville, Illinois, received a call from a Gallup poll researcher asking if he was committed to voting for either Clinton or Trump. He said he wasn’t and agreed to have his name added to the pool of undecided voters under consideration to appear on stage during the upcoming town hall-style debate at nearby Washington University in St. Louis.

Bone, who works at a coal fired power plant, was eventually selected to participate. After CNN’s Anderson Cooper, one of the debate moderators, gave him the floor, nearly 67 million television viewers watched an ordinary 34-year-old man ask a thoughtful question of two deeply-flawed candidates: “What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job loss for fossil power plant workers?”

Right away, Bone’s red sweater lit up social media, with memes including one with a photograph of his chubby, mustached face above the question: “How will you protect my job as a card on Guess Who?” receiving tens of thousands of retweets. His name soon began trending online, and popularity increased further when video footage circulated of Bone taking photographs of the stage with a disposable camera. Less than an hour after the debate, New York Magazine declared that Bone’s “vibrant red sweater, pure and earnest face, and enthusiastically delivered question about energy sources have boosted him to internet-celebrity status.”•


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New White Paper! Mainframe Data as a Service: Setting Your Most Valuable Data Free

Enterprises across the globe still run critical processes with mainframes. Estimates range as high as 80% of transactional corporation data is in mainframe systems. Unfortunately, in most cases the mainframe data in these enterprise organizations remains inaccessible to new data analytics tools that are emerging on a variety of open source and cloud platforms, including Hadoop and Spark.

There is a tremendous opportunity to surface mainframe data into this new world of fast-moving open technology. Organizations that have freed up mainframe data for cross-enterprise consumption are achieving greater agility, flexibility and lower costs.

Our latest white paper, Mainframe Data as a Service: Setting Your Most Valuable Data Free, dives deeper into the complex challenge of connecting Big Iron to Big Data and explores how extending Data as a Service (DaaS) to mainframe data opens up a large and often impenetrable source of valuable corporate information.

blog banner whitepaper MF DaaS New White Paper! Mainframe Data as a Service: Setting Your Most Valuable Data Free

Download the white paper now!

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Syncsort + Trillium Software Blog

Understanding John Doe: Making the Most of Data to Engage Customers

The data you need to understand your customers is all around you. You just need to know where to look and how to work with that data.

blog customer data Understanding John Doe: Making the Most of Data to Engage Customers

To illustrate, let’s look at an example of an opportunity for understanding a potential customer using data.

Introducing John Doe

Let’s call our potential customer John Doe, and let’s assume that the only interaction you have with him occurs when John visits your website.

A website visit might not seem like much to go on, especially if John Doe does not purchase anything or submit any information. After all, you wouldn’t learn much about a potential customer who walked into a brick-and-mortar store and left without buying anything.

But brick-and-mortar stores are not websites. There is a big difference. Simply by visiting your site, John Doe has revealed a trove of information that can help you to understand him better.

blog banner eBook Know What You Dont Know 1 Understanding John Doe: Making the Most of Data to Engage Customers

Leveraging Server Data to Understand John Doe

You can use the data in your Web server’s logs to approximate John Doe’s geographic location, identify the amount of time he spent using your site, figure out which links he clicked on and glean information about the type of device, operating system and so on John used to access the site. This is all standard information that is recorded by most Web servers.

All this information can be leveraged to help you understand John Doe better. For instance, if you know which type of device he used – an iPhone, an Android phone, a laptop or something else – you can make predictions about his income level, gender and other characteristics based on that information alone, because there are differences between the typical users of an iPhone, Android device or laptop. People with iPhones have higher than average buying power, for example.

You can also use the data from the site visit to help identify trends about potential customers. Are people who visit your site clustered in certain geographic areas? Do they tend to visit during the workday – meaning they might be interested in making purchases on behalf of a business – or after hours, when they are more likely to be browsing for personal reasons? Identifying patterns like these can be of tremendous help in perfecting your marketing operations, and even in designing products.

Automating the Process with Data Analytics

Of course, to recognize trends and make predictions like those described above, you need analytics tools. Typical server logs can accumulate thousands of lines in a single day.

There is simply no practical way for a human being to pick out patterns or correlate information through manual processes.

Analytics tools, however, can parse through reams of log data with ease. They can find and reveal the important patterns for you.

blog customer binary data Understanding John Doe: Making the Most of Data to Engage Customers

Data Quality Matters, Too

On their own, data analytics tools are not enough to help you understand John Doe fully. You also need data quality tools to ensure that the assumptions you make about John Doe are accurate.

To understand why, let’s say John Doe fills out a form with his mailing address while he is visiting your site. When he does this, he gives you another important source of information about him.

To use that information reliably, however, you need to ensure that it is accurate. Maybe John Doe made a typo when he was entering the abbreviation of his state. With a small slip of the finger, NJ could easily be entered as NY or NH, for example.

The only way to determine that you know whether John Doe lives in New Jersey, New York or New Hampshire is to use data quality tools to parse the information he entered. If John Doe entered his state as NY but his city as Newark, your data quality tools can identify the error by correlating John Doe’s information with known lists of cities and states. There is no Newark in New York, of course, and this is an easy error for a data quality tool to spot.

Using data quality tools, you can find errors like these in an automated way, and on a massive scale. You’ll not only understand your customers better, but also save money by avoiding wasted marketing efforts. You don’t want to mail promotional literature to Newark, New York because of a data quality error, only to have it returned to sender.


In the digital age, organizations enjoy a wealth of new opportunities for collecting data about potential customers and understanding it. To make the most of these opportunities, organizations need to deploy the right tools – such as those in Syncsort’s suite of Big Data solutions. By providing both data integration and data quality tools, Syncsort offers the key data management capabilities modern companies need to enable them to understand customers through data.

Syncsort’s eBook, Know What You Don’t Know About Your Customers, looks at how you can reduce your risk while capitalizing on data-driven opportunities in a three-step strategy to real-time customer data verification.

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Syncsort + Trillium Software Blog

Digitalist Flash Briefing: Data Is Your Most Valuable Government Asset

277357 l srgb s gl 300x200 Digitalist Flash Briefing: Data Is Your Most Valuable Government Asset“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

As a part of the last wave of Millennials joining the workforce, I have been inspired by Jobs’ definition of innovation. For years, Millennials like me have been told that we need to be faster, better, and smarter than our peers. With this thought in mind and the endless possibilities of the Internet, it’s easy to see that the digital economy is here, and it is defining my generation.

Lately we’ve all read articles proclaiming that “the digital economy and the economy are becoming one in the same. The lines are being blurred.” While this may be true, Millennials do not see this distinction. To us, it’s just the economy. Everything we do happens in the abstract digital economy – we shop digitally, get our news digitally, communicate digitally, and we take pictures digitally. In fact, the things that we don’t do digitally are few and far between.

Millennial disruption: How to get our attention in the digital economy

In this fast-moving, highly technical era, innovation and technology are ubiquitous, forcing companies to deliver immediate value to consumers. This principle is ingrained in us – it’s stark reality. One day, a brand is a world leader, promising incredible change. Then just a few weeks later, it disappears. Millennials view leaders of the emerging (digital) economy as scrappy, agile, and comfortable making decisions that disrupt the norm, and that may or may not pan out.

What does it take to earn the attention of Millennials? Here are three things you should consider:

1. Millennials appreciate innovations that reinvent product delivery and service to make life better and simpler.

Uber, Vimeo, ASOS, and Apple are some of the most successful disruptors in the current digital economy. Why? They took an already mature market and used technology to make valuable connections with their Millennial customers. These companies did not invent a new product – they reinvented the way business is done within the economy. They knew what their consumers wanted before they realized it.

Millennials thrive on these companies. In fact, we seek them out and expect them to create rapid, digital changes to our daily lives. We want to use the products they developed. We adapt quickly to the changes powered by their new ideas or technologies. With that being said, it’s not astonishing that Millennials feel the need to connect regularly and digitally.

2. It’s not technology that captures us – it’s the simplicity that technology enables.

Recently, McKinsey & Company revealed that “CEOs expect 15%–50% of their companies’ future earnings to come from disruptive technology.” Considering this statistic, it may come as a surprise to these executives that buzzwords – including cloud, diversity, innovation, the Internet of Things, and future of work – does not resonate with us. Sure, we were raised on these terms, but it’s such a part of our culture that we do not think about it. We expect companies to deeply embed this technology now.

What we really crave is technology-enabled simplicity in every aspect of our lives. If something is too complicated to navigate, most of us stop using the product. And why not? It does not add value if we cannot use it immediately.

Many experts claim that this is unique to Millennials, but it truly isn’t. It might just be more obvious and prevalent with us. Some might translate our never-ending desire for simplicity into laziness. Yet striving to make daily activities simpler with the use of technology has been seen throughout history. Millennials just happen to be the first generation to be completely reliant on technology, simplicity, and digitally powered “personal” connections.

3. Millennials keep an eye on where and how the next technology revolution will begin.

Within the next few years Millennials will be the largest generation in the workforce. As a result, the onslaught of coverage on the evolution of technology will most likely be phased out. While the history of technology is significant for our predecessors, this not an overly important story for Millennials because we have not seen the technology evolution ourselves. For us, the digital revolution is a fact of life.

Companies like SAP, Amazon, and Apple did not invent the wheel. Rather, they were able to create a new digital future. For a company to be successful, senior leaders must demonstrate a talent for R&D genius as well as fortune-telling. They need to develop easy-to-use, brilliantly designed products, market them effectively to the masses, and maintain their product elite. It’s not easy, but the companies that upend an entire industry are successfully balancing these tasks.

Disruption can happen anywhere and at any time. Get ready!

Across every industry, big players are threatened — not only by well-known competitors, but by small teams sitting in a garage drafting new ideas that could turn the market upside down. In reality, anyone, anywhere, at any time can cause disruption and bring an idea to life.

Take my employer SAP, for example. With the creation of SAP S/4HANA, we are disrupting the tech market as we help our customers engage in digital transformation. By removing data warehousing and enabling real-time operations, companies are reimagining their future. Organizations such as La Trobe University, the NFL, and Adidas have made it easy to understand and conceptualize the effects using data in real time. But only time will tell whether Millennials will ever realize how much disruption was needed to get where we are today.

Find out how SAP Services & Support you can minimize the impact of disruption and maximize the success of your business. Read SAP S/4HANA customer success stories, visit the SAP Services HUB, or visit the customer testimonial page on SAP.com.


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Digitalist Magazine

Act Global, Be Local with the Most Broadly Deployed Cloud ERP

websitelogo Act Global, Be Local with the Most Broadly Deployed Cloud ERP

By Craig Sullivan, Group Vice President, Product Management

Earlier this year, I was privileged to present our International Product strategy as part of Evan Goldberg’s keynote at our annual SuiteWorld event.

After several years hosting the event in San Jose, this year we found ourselves in Las Vegas presenting to more than 7,000 attendees, representing customers and partners from all around the world. Literally. There were people in attendance from over 60 countries – from locations as far afield as Norway, the Philippines and Japan… By that measure alone SuiteWorld 2017 was the most international NetSuite event ever.

Our customers have deployed NetSuite in over 190 countries, across all verticals and that, by any measure, demonstrates that NetSuite is by far the world’s most globally deployed cloud ERP system. NetSuite OneWorld – designed to run a global business – is helping multi-national businesses run more efficiently and effectively, providing unprecedented insight into global business operations across dozens and, in some cases, hundreds of subsidiaries deployed around the world. No other cloud ERP system is deployed as broadly.

We have spent a decade since the inception of the OneWorld product in refining its depth and breadth of capabilities for our global customers and, as we showed at SuiteWorld this year, that investment continues with new capabilities such General Ledger Impact Locking, Inter-Company Journal Automation and great new cash management and bank reconciliation capabilities. Not to mention the other hundreds of other improvements covered in other sections of the keynote and product sessions during the course of the week – the majority of which are designed to run at global scale for you to more efficiently and effectively take advantage of business opportunities wherever they may be. From sourcing product in China and delivering it to your customers in Europe, to assigning project consultants in the US to work on a client’s service project in South America, such complex business processes are made far easier with NetSuite OneWorld.

And as I discussed in the keynote, our focus and investment in supporting international and multi-national organizations is only increasing. Indeed, Oracle recognized the vast potential still ahead of NetSuite in growing our international product and go-to-market capabilities across even more countries and, by leveraging the scale and geographic footprint of our new shareholder I am pleased to say we are doing just that. From hiring product managers in and focusing on new countries, to hiring development teams around the world to execute and deliver on our Act Global, Be Local vision. Most recently, we’ve added offices and localized capabilities in the Nordics and Benelux regions. And by working hand-in-hand with new hires in sales, marketing, professional services and support in Oracle offices located around the world, we are able to reach and help businesses in more locations, better and faster than ever.

While we can’t meet every customer in every country – although perhaps a great bucket list objective – I am spending as much time as possible when traveling to get out to meet with as many customers as possible. Doing so helps us understand our customers’ businesses and how they think about their business systems in helping them achieve their vision and objectives. In fact, just a couple of weeks after SuiteWorld, I was spending time with customers onsite in Tokyo, Singapore, Germany and the UK; learning about how they are already transforming their business with NetSuite, listening to their future plans and understanding how we might further enhance and improve the system to meet their needs. It was energizing to see and hear about the successes they had achieved so far, and interesting and insightful exploring what they would like to see in NetSuite to support their aspirations.

As we continue this journey, I and the team will be providing regular updates on the progress we are making on our international expansion mission and how the customers we meet are providing feedback that helps us shape how we implement new capabilities to help them Act Global and Be Local in their businesses.

I am looking forward to meeting even more of you at our upcoming Next Ready Business Tour Event in London on 16th of October. For details, visit http://www.netsuite.com/events/nrbt2017/nrbt2017.shtml.

Posted on Tue, October 3, 2017
by NetSuite filed under

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The NetSuite Blog

Conference Season Prep: Make the Most of Trade Shows

blog title conference attendees 351x200 Conference Season Prep: Make the Most of Trade Shows

Conference season is upon us. In reality, this so-called “season” is now a year-round affair. There’s always something to plan for, travel to, or attend.

We can all admit that conferences can be a bit overwhelming. After all, there are lots of people, lots of activities, and lots of choices. But with a little planning and strategizing, it’s entirely possible to get a lot of value out of your conference season ‒ and even have a smooth and enjoyable experience along the way. Here’s how to make the best of it.

Planning an Event

First, let’s look at what it’s like to plan a trade show or conference. Whether you’re working on a smaller in-house show for existing clients or a big event with international appeal, you need to keep a lot of plates spinning in the air to plan successfully. You’re not asking for much, just great speakers, a top-notch venue, a high-visibility slot, effective promotion, excellent food, memorable swag, industry-leading keynotes, and, above all, a packed house. In addition, you want the attendees’ experience to be seamless and wowing. … On second thought, you are asking for a lot. But that’s how great conferences are made.

So, how do you get all those great things for your conference? Here are some helpful tips:

  • Brainstorm everything, from little to big – As I’ve said before, brainstorming is one of my favorite activities. I love to sit in front of a whiteboard or blank piece of paper and dream. When planning an event, you get to dream, both big and small. Let’s face it, some attendees show up only for the free swag and keynote moments on the main stage. Yes, you want the splashy stuff that draws those people in, but you also want to take care of the smaller, more trivial details. Remember, small details add up to a big impact. In the height of conference season, you’ll be competing with other trade shows for registrations – attention to details can make or break your conference!
  • Budget – Next, it’s time to bring your dreams into reality with numbers. Just how much money do you have to work with? That can help you reel in your ideas and put concrete plans together. Much like a football team would be wise to not spend all its money on one star player, be careful not to blow your budget on one “Big Wow” speaker or moment. You want to offer a rich, comprehensive event across the board.
  • Document a plan ­– Use spreadsheet, notebooks, or lists. So many lists. Make sure you check them off. Marketing automation can help here – by helping you track what’s already been done and what is next. (More on this in a moment.)
  • Look back – Once you think you have a solid plan, take a step back. Literally. Look in the books to examine what you’ve done in the past. What worked and what didn’t? Do you have customer surveys or other feedback? Use this to inform or confirm your curriculum, plan, schedule, venue, food – everything. And if you didn’t collect data, start this year. You’ll thank your future self next year.
  • Lean in to marketing automation – In the land of event planning, marketing automation can be one of your closest allies. From segmenting your audience to sending your email invites, you can automate some of the more administrative tasks and focus your efforts elsewhere.
  • Recruit – Once the event is planned, the date set, and the venue secured, it’s time to start attracting attendees. You may use email, social media, blogs, direct mail … the list goes on. Capture those attendees and get them to register. Marketing automation is really your friend here, helping you tactically tackle the administrative components of event planning so you can get out the door faster ‒ and smarter ‒ with your information.
  • Nurture – Once people sign up to attend, continually engage their interest with targeted updates regarding event details they’ll be interested in, such as sessions geared particularly toward their interests (see: segmentation). You’ll also want to send alerts that revealing enticing draws, such as the keynote speaker or the conference entertainment (food, music, etc.). The cadence of how and when to reveal these details is yours to set – in fact, it could be worth an entire separate blog post. But keeping your audience informed and engaged is key.

Attending an Event

As an attendee of a trade show or conference, you too must plan – like which conference(s) to attend and which things within the events to do. Here are tips to help maximize your conference season, and get the most out of trade shows you decide to attend.

  • Set goals – First things first. Why are you attending? I was recently speaking with a friend about possibly attending a national conference and was on the fence about whether to shell out the money to go. She shared wise wisdom: “Make sure you have an agenda – at least one key thing you want to get out of attending. Without that, you’re lost.”Having attended the same conference a year ago without a plan, I can tell you this is great advice. At that event I wandered around aimlessly, unsure which panels to attend or which activities to participate in. Sure, I learned something, but I could’ve gotten a whole lot more out of it – more bang for my buck – if I’d had an actual goal.So, what is your goal for this conference? Why are you attending? That goal can be as limited or as lofty as you like. Some goals include finding a new business partner, securing a deal, or collecting five new business cards. These are just a few examples. I recommend you spend time writing your own goals and deciphering what, exactly, you want to achieve.
  • Plan your schedule – This is a cousin of the above. Once you have your goals in mind, drill into the details. Look to see who’s speaking or has a booth at the conference. Here’s how I do it:
    • First, I read the conference schedule and highlight panels or speakers that interest me.
    • Next, I pull out a piece of paper or bring up a Google doc and start plotting my wish list into the days to see where the chips fall. I note their date, time, and location.
    • I look at this list as a daily calendar view next. This is a big gut-check moment because I can see if it is actually possible to attend all the things I want to. As Murphy’s Law usually comes in to play here, I often find myself gravitating toward overlapping events. This is when I need to assess what is truly possible to attend, and then adjust my schedule accordingly. Will I have to make concessions – trade off one great for another? Am I just filling in the day to “stay busy,” but nothing is truly capturing my interest? This is another moment where I may decide to attend – or not.
    • If things look fairly balanced, then I’ll pull the trigger by registering to attend. I always sign up in advance (if possible) for sessions of particular interest.

Note: I realize you may not have the luxury of deciding whether to go or not – for example, if your company is requesting your presence at a certain conference. But here’s hoping you can at least have the choice to pick and choose specific sessions that will interest you or help you learn something new.

  • Ask for deals – Before you set foot at the event, check where you can save some dough. Many conferences offer early-bird registration. If you’re an “industry insider” or volunteer, you may even be able to slip in for free. Ask the organizers. As well, when booking your accommodations, seek deals on lodging and transportation. Many event planners partner with hoteliers and airlines, for example.Once you get on the ground, here are a few to-do’s:
  • Attend panels strategically ‒ Many trade shows or industry events offer breakout sessions. It can be tough to select what you want to hear. If you’re interested in several things that overlap, try to drop in on both – 30 minutes in one, and 30 minutes in another, for example.
  • Don’t skip the keynotes – The mainstage events are where the big reveals – the “big wows” – happen. You may not get a lot of tactical advice out of these, but you’ll probably walk away feeling buoyed. An added benefit is that these are also good water cooler discussion topics, so you’ll have something to break the ice with at parties.
  • Do skip the keynotes – I know, I just contradicted myself. But sometimes you just need a break. A keynote can be one of those natural breaks. These mainstage events are often recorded for later viewing, or at least blogged about, so you can get the “Cliffs Notes” version later and instead use that keynote time to network, rest, or get some “real” work done.
  • Wear your badge – While the event is going on, wear your conference badge around town. As dorky as you may feel wearing a name tag in public (just me?), it could pay off because many local businesses offer discounts for conference attendees. And, this is a great way to identify who’s in town for the event and strike up networking conversations while waiting in line at Starbucks or for your Lyft.
  • Go to the parties – Most every conference has one if not several big to-do’s to celebrate the attendees. Tempting as it may be to blow these off for some down time, the fact is that these parties are a natural place to make connections. You never know who you’ll brush elbows with.
  • Take care of yourself – This tip is oft forgotten, but so important! Take time for yourself, slip away for a 10-minute nap, tuck in early, hop on the hotel gym’s treadmill, and don’t overdo it on booze or sweets. You may even consider strategically staying “off-campus,” away from the conference, to get a break.

That’s a wrap!

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite conferences or what’s on your travel schedule for this conference season. Here’s a rather comprehensive list of upcoming marketing events. And if you’re in the London area, consider attending our Act-On i <3 marketing event. Get more details here.

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Marketing Automation Still a Work-in-Progress for Most B2B Firms

blog title marketing team collaboration 351X200 Marketing Automation Still a Work in Progress for Most B2B Firms

Modern B2B marketers seem to understand what marketing is about these days: it has become a process of collecting and using data from a series of touchpoints that customers and prospects have with brands. These touchpoints are individual tiles in a larger mosaic, that when viewed collectively, reveal precise and timely insights about customer sentiment and intentions. For marketers, it’s an increasingly complex process to navigate for a couple of key reasons: there are myriad channels and marketers are prolific content creators. These two things intersect to produce a dizzying array of touchpoints that produces lots of data about customers on their journeys.

Our customers understand this ecosystem better than we do. They know we have data about their preferences and buying journey. Furthermore, they expect us to use that data to serve them better with the content they want, that they can easily find (or we’ll deliver when they want it,) and through their preferred channels – creating more personalized interactions. The ability to do this well is crucial to creating a positive, differentiating customer experience. Companies that fail to do this well put themselves into the category of those who don’t get it – a status that is hard to overcome.

The task of executing against these lofty expectations would be daunting, were it not for marketing automation software. Without the technology assist marketing automation provides, marketers are left to carpet bomb customers and prospects with content they hope resonates, through channels that may or may not reach those customers. With marketing automation, we have the tools and data to not only meet customer expectations, but consistently exceed them.

Act-On and Econsultancy have just completed a joint study on the state of B2B marketing automation, and the conclusions that the study drew need to be understood by all B2B marketers, whether or not they are using marketing automation. For those that are not yet using it, the message is simple: you’re now in the late majority of adoption. The benefits of marketing automation are so well documented, there are few valid reasons a company can come up with for not using it. For example, cost is often cited as a barrier to adopting any marketing technology. But as the study shows, that reasoning doesn’t hold up for marketing automation, because of how properly implemented marketing automation positively impacts the revenue pipeline.

One of the most insightful findings from the study applies to firms that are using marketing automation. There’s a spectrum of maturity where usage is concerned, and the study found that not all organizations are fully utilizing the capabilities of the software. In fact, less than half of the B2B organizations in the study feel they are using marketing automation to its fullest capacity. Many organizations confess to not having progressed beyond leveraging their platforms for email, web forms and landing pages, functions that the study report refers to as low-hanging fruit. These functions represent the low end of the maturity spectrum, and the platforms can certainly do these things well. But if their usage is limited to these functions, the biggest benefits of marketing automation are unrealized. Companies that halt their implementations at this level are like the neighbor that buys a sparkling, new RV but never takes it out of the driveway. What’s the point of that?

Completing this maturation is where the biggest opportunity lies, because doing so is what allows a marketing organization to transform itself from an expense to a revenue-generating center. Here’s why:

1. A properly implemented marketing automation system becomes the most important repository of customer data. If it doesn’t contain the data directly, it can integrate with other, important customer data sources. It logs the customer’s buying journey, recording all the touchpoints, and as such, this data is a massive source of potential energy.

2. Marketing automation systems have the tools to turn this customer data into kinetic energy, in a way that measurably impacts revenue.

The study report makes it clear that for many companies, the marketing automation toolbox is under-utilized, but in which areas? Companies that are leaders in the use of marketing automation are exploiting account-based marketing, doing sophisticated lead scoring and nurturing, integrating business intelligence and social data to get precise insights into individual customers. These insights are actionable, allowing sales and marketing team members to do things that accelerate sales, expand deal sizes, increase retention and loyalty, get referrals, or all of these outcomes.

So, what does it take for marketing automation users to gain maturity, to completely open up the toolbox and fully utilize all that lies within? There are two, broad critical success factors for a marketing automation implementation:

1. A vision. It is important to approach implementing marketing automation with a vision that lives up to what the solution can attain. The results of this study seem to imply that many organizations are thinking too small where the vision was concerned. To be more specific, recent Demand Metric research reveals a big difference in the reasons why companies implement marketing technology.

  • Firms that identify themselves as “Innovators” cite gaining a competitive advantage as the primary motivation for implementing marketing technology.
  • Firms that identify themselves as “Laggards” have boosting productivity as their primary motivation.

These motivations are very different. Innovators are essentially using technology to play offense, while Laggards are using it to play defense. Specific to marketing automation, the highest and best use of the platform is to grow revenue. If saving some time and executing email campaigns more efficiently by using marketing automation is your vision, you’re not dreaming big enough.

2. Half of the respondents in the Act-On/Econsultancy study identified skilled experience as a barrier to success. Investing in skills is too often seen as optional, training as something to do when time permits. Anyone who has been in marketing for any length of time knows the truth: time never becomes available for training to build skills. The skills gap that exists in so many companies is really rooted in culture. Innovators understand that an investment in skills flattens almost all other barriers to success, and they view learning as one of the few ways to gain a sustainable competitive advantage. Laggards see training as a luxury they can’t afford.

If the thoughts I’ve shared here are perceived as an attempt to shame companies who are under-utilizing their marketing automation investment into stepping up their games, then I’ve failed. The message for those companies is this: a mature marketing automation implementation can transform marketing into a formidable revenue engine. If you are still climbing to the summit of the implementation peak, the view from the top is worth the climb. Keep going, and download a copy of “The State of B2B Marketing Automation” report for practical insights and advice about how to get there.

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How to Get the most out of your CRM Investment

CRM Blog How to Get the most out of your CRM Investment

 MS Dynamics 365 for Sales vs Salesforce

Learn more about Dynamics 365 for Sales features

It’s a big misunderstanding that if you just buy and implement a CRM system, it will immediately boost your revenue. Getting a CRM system on board, is just the tip of an iceberg. Below are three tips on how to get the most benefits from your CRM system:

Accurate Data is a Key

You may have the fanciest features in your CRM system, but they won’t get you any useful insights, once your data isn’t accurate. Make sure that the process of data input is easy, quick and clear, so your employees will be motivated to provide your CRM system with accurate information.

Customize it

Don’t use just a general setup of a CRM system. Enjoy the full power of a customized CRM system, as it can be tailored to your specific needs and wants. No doubt, it will bring you the desirable benefits as soon as possible.

Make it Easy to Access

Just imagine, how the productivity of your salespeople can decrease if they need to use a CRM system only from their office desks. Choose a cloud CRM system that can be easily accessed anytime and through any device and it will make the process of a new system adoption much faster.

Start getting benefits from the day one with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales. Download our free demo now to make sure that your investment pays off.

Alina Hura, Digital Content Creator, WebSan Solutions Inc., a 2017 Microsoft Modern Marketing Innovation Award Winner

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Most Businesses Want Agility but Few Have It

Although many organizations recognize that agility enables better responses to changing business conditions, few have taken the necessary steps to reach that goal, a new study from
CA Technologies suggests.

Although two-thirds of the respondents to the firm’s recent survey saw value in business agility, only about 12 percent said their organizations were on their way to achieving it.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said improved business agility could provide a better competitive advantage; 65 percent said it could lead to higher customer satisfaction and retention; and 58 percent said it could result in better employee satisfaction and retention.

Despite those clear advantages, though, many businesses face hurdles in their quest for better agility. Sixty-four percent of survey respondents cited complex environments as an impediment to achieving that goal, while 58 percent cited cultural and political barriers. Twenty-five percent said there was a lack of financial commitment, and another 25 percent cited outdated apps and tools.

“Success today requires that companies quickly sense and adapt to changes, pivot to address market changes and customer needs, and do so at scale,” said Surya Panditi, general manager of agile management at CA Technologies.

High-Level Execs

More than 150 top executives at selected companies participated in the survey, which Gatepoint Research conducted between March and June of this year. The survey pool’s composition was 19 percent C-level, 15 percent vice president level, 36 percent director-level and 30 percent managerial-level company officials.

CA Technologies has focused heavily on the development ops and cloud space since its 2015 acquisition of Rally Software Development Corp., a provider of agile development software, for US$ 480 million.

“We’re at a tipping point, and this is just the beginning,” CA Technologies Director of Marketing Marla Schimke told the E-Commerce Times.

Vantiv Case Study

Among the companies that CA Technologies has helped transform since the Rally deal is payment processing solutions provider Vantiv, a customer using CA’s Agile Central tool.

CA Technologies worked with Vantiv to get its products to market more quickly and improve collaboration between its product and IT organization, enabling it to be more responsive to customer needs.

“The goal was to grow our organization in a way that would separate us from the competition by enabling us to deliver, incrementally, the right thing,” said David Kent, enterprise agile coach at Vantiv.

“In doing so, we would be much more engaging with our clients, deepening our relationships — and, again, getting them what they wanted and needed without the excess they wouldn’t utilize,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Elusive Objective

“For most companies, the likeliest impediments to agile adoption are organization complexity, and cultural or political resistance,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

“In the first case, agile adoption works best when it extends across the enterprise, not just a few departments,” King explained, “but that requires senior executives to be on board with the strategy and be willing to lead — forcefully, if necessary.”

Like individuals, organizations tend to resist change, he said, especially when it may lead to a shift in the balance of power, or threaten the position of various individuals or groups.

“Unless agile projects and strategies are carefully nurtured and monitored, organizations run the risk of efforts being nudged off track,” said King, or becoming “subject to painful or even fatal delays.”

The perceived difficulty in attaining business agility may be clouded by the challenge of assessing a company’s performance in real time, suggested Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

“I find it hard to believe that a company can adequately evaluate if they are agile or not. The only way to really determine if your organization is agile is through hindsight,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

“Changes in business can come from just about anywhere — the economy, business segment, competitors, regulations, customers, etc. The only truly agile businesses are startups, because they have to react to anything that comes their way to survive,” McGregor explained. “As companies grow and mature, they naturally become less agile just by adding structure.”

The study’s release comes at a time when BMC Software reportedly is in talks on a potential deal to merge with CA Technologies.

BMC had contacted banks about obtaining financing for such a deal — one that would create one of the largest leveraged buyouts since Dell went private in 2013, Reuters reported in June. CA at the time had a market capitalization of about $ 13 billion.

CA spokesperson Leslie Marcotte told the E-Commerce Times that the company does not comment on rumors or speculation.
end enn Most Businesses Want Agility but Few Have It

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.

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