I recently blogged for TSG’s CTO blog, dontgetbloggeddownbytechnology.com (the puns get even better!)
New applications technology has often struggled to find its real use (particularly business technology). Usually, there has to be a need/benefit combination to justify the purchase of a licence or subscription so that someone in the IT team can go and make the necessary purchase.
However in business, apps, like so many of their consumer counterparts, are starting to find their way into organisations via the back door.
Take Yammer, recently acquired by Microsoft and who placed it within the Office department. Yammer now features in the latest service release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Office 365.
But what is it? And more importantly how do businesses use it to their benefit?
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Review: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Customization & Configuration (MB2-866) Certification Guide by Neil Benson
This book is one of a series by Packt Publishing that covers various elements of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 product. For anyone working with this application, you will know the importance of gaining the approved accreditations required to make you credible (and potentially more valuable to both your employer and your CRM team). This text by Neil Benson, a well respected Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Person) in the CRM community, aims to provide the reader with everything he/she needs to pass the Customization & Configuration (MB2-866) exam.
It doesn’t disappoint. Chapters are logical and flow well in terms of one’s learning, taking you through the simpler topics first allowing you to build up your skill level and experience as you go. Where there is more than one option to choose from in terms of method or approach, Benson provides details of these without passing judgement on which you should choose – that’s up to you the consultant to decide. Anyone who has ever read a Microsoft learning manual will be familiar with the format, even though this is not a Microsoft publication. This ensures that you can essentially skip the part where it defines how to read the book – you know it already. Screen shots and best practices are discussed and there are plenty of tests or tasks to practice before taking the exam. An important aide to anyone taking it.
Here’s a disclosure: I know Neil and have known him for a number of years within the CRM community. He is extremely knowledgeable about CRM and this knowledge really does come through in the text. If you also know Neil, you will appreciate he has a great sense of humour; of I had one criticism of the book, it would be that I feel this doesn’t come across strongly enough – text books can often be dull and, whilst this one is certainly not dull, getting more of Neil’s personality within the book would add to it and make it an even lighter read.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Customization & Configuration (MB2-866) Certification Guide by Neil Benson can be purchased here.
The page on the Packt Publishing site can be accessed here.
There have been a number of reported script errors or missing ribbons on the Case, Product, or Service Appointment entities recently.
Microsoft has identified that this issue occurs because Form Assistant is enabled but not expanded by default for entities. Here are the steps to resolve this issue:
- Open the form within System Customization
- Click the Form Properties button.
- Click the Display tab.
- Check if the Enable Form Assistant field option is selected but Expanded by Default is not selected
If the options appear as shown above, try enabling the Expanded by Default option and publish customizations. If the Form Assistant is not needed, it can also be disabled as another workaround.
More information you can find on the following KB article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2807519
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.
So much has been said about iOS6 and how bad the maps are. I dislike the maps too and, to get a really detailed analysis on why it’s so rubbish, read this article by a mapping expert. However, I’m no Apple expert, but as a user who likes to think of himself as reasonably tech-savvy, and someone who embraces technological change, I just find the introduction of iOS6 a bit, well, irritating.
I should state that I updated an iPhone 4 from iOS5.1 to iOS6. I’m sorry I’m not one of those people who camp out at an Apple store, hoping to get a free Starbucks Latte whilst I wait for the next product release, but I use my phone all the time for a variety of things and, as Apple have allowed the phone be updated, the iOS6 experience can equally apply to me.
This was insanely easy once I’d removed a few hundred photographs taking up the necessary space required for the upgrade.
Introduction of the Passbook
I love the idea of this, but with only Lufthansa offering the service, it’s a bit of a let down. They should have just waited until you can actually use it.
I can cope with the redesign. I actually prefer to enter a password the first time I select something to be updated. It stops those little people with little trigger-happy fingers updating my apps without me knowing (I realise my child control mechanism is my issue to resolve; I’m just saying the old way of doing things suited my situation).
Data on 3G
For some reason, I can no longer collect email or connect to the internet via 3G. Various people have suggested contacting my network provider, but why should I have to?
It seems sluggish to me. Perhaps I have too much on my iPhone already, although I’ve seen many friends with many more apps on theirs. Maybe I don’t have enough space. It could be that the model is too old – but in that case, why not withhold it from older models?
I think I’m going to roll back to iOS5.1 if I don’t see an improvement soon. There are little things I do like – for example, I like the way the title bar(?) changes colour to match the relevant app. And I genuinely love the Do Not Disturb feature. I just don’t feel there’s enough for me to be an advocate of the OS and it’s made a pleasurable experience less pleasurable.
I was pointed to this post by Microsoft’s TechNet on the BYOD ‘trend’ as they put it. It gives some stats on how organisations feel about it.
Every organisation suffers from glitches in their technology. Perhaps not all so much in the limelight as NatWest has this week. Unfortunately for NatWest/RBS, the banks are not exactly everyone’s favourite institutions right now and this, I feel, is clouding everyone’s judgement on how NatWest has responded.
Sure, people have had payments not been processed and, yes, this will have left people in difficult positions. But I am a NatWest customer and, although I don’t seem to have suffered adversely by their glitch, I have had text messages from NatWest apologising and explaining the situation. They have proactively advised me of what their next steps are and, of course, they’ve opened most, if not all, of their retail branches on a Sunday to help customers.
I really don’t know what else they are supposed to do. I say ‘well done’ NatWest for trying your best to minimise the disruption and keep your customers informed.
I’ve read a few articles recently about bringing your own device (BYOD) to the workplace and it seems to crop up in various conversations in our office. It’s certainly an interesting talking point and one which, over time, will generate plenty of discussion between people in different roles within an organisation.
From what I’ve observed, the points raised by people are essentially this:
General Office Worker – it’s the company’s responsibility to provide equipment and look after it.
Senior Manager – as long as I can connect my iPad to the network and get various pieces of information, I’m happy.
Technical Role-based Worker – if the company gives me a rise in salary to cover it (or a suitably high enough spec), I’d much rather choose the devices I work with. I’m happy to put some of my own funds towards getting even higher spec equipment if this means I can work faster/better. I’m more capable of looking after my device than our IT team so I just need the right security clearance.
IT Manager – I’m glad I don’t have to look after the equipment, but the security issue is a big problem. Having so many different types of device puts too much pressure on the IT team. I don’t want people using applications that they have installed for their personal use connected to my network.
It does seem as though most workers I speak to (in the techie world don’t forget) are in favour of BYOD, but that their respective IT teams are not. The IT managers seem protective of their network (not unwisely) and will have to shift, psychologically as well as practically, if BYOD were to be successful within their organisation. I suspect that BYOD will creep in as more people use tablet and mobile devices to access organisational data. As more and more business applications move to either public or private cloud-based hosting models (see Office365 as a good example), I suspect there will simply be less need for the device to be owned by the business; to me, that seems like a huge positive.
I moved house recently and, being the organised individual I am, arranged for my phone and internet services to be transferred so that they would be ready and active on the day I moved in. The phone line was no problem at all, Virgin Media got this up and running with BT Openreach by the time we were given the keys to our new home.
Not so ye olde interweb.
Despite my prearranging, no router was sent ready for the day, nor the next, nor for the next 20 days. It turned out that the router hadn’t even been ordered, the line hadn’t been activated and, between BT and Virgin Media, no one could tell me what was happening, nor had they the wherewithal to talk to each other and work out a plan to get broadband to me.
However, if you follow me on Twitter, you will have already been bored senseless by my incessant moaning about the situation at the time. Interestingly, I had many replies from @VirginMedia themselves with helpful, but ultimately fruitless, suggestions.
Anyway, I digress. The point is, that during those three weeks without broadband, my wife (web-savvy netmum, photography entrepreneur that she is) and I lived with just our iPhones as ways of connecting to the web. Suddenly we realised what we couldn’t do. Here are some examples:
- Check bank balances (important for the house move)
- Change some address details (where it had to be done online)
- Shop online (uber convenient when you have kids)
- Watch CBeebies on demand (if you have kids you will understand, if you have ever tried to move house with kids, you will REALLY understand)
- Check which school our four year old had been admitted to (why did we move at such a stupid time?)
There are more, but they seem trivial and, of course, you can actually do most things without having the internet.
For me, it demonstrated how much we live in the digital age; how we take it for granted, and how one seems bereft of normal life without the immediate response of a service. Having gone through it, I believe it’s ridiculous, shallow, grotesque even, when there are so many in the world unable to obtain essential services, such as clean water. I need to find a way to balance my demands, get a reality check on them. Services will continue to move to web use and I will continue to move with them but, if it was new year at this point I’d make this my new year’s resolution: that I will try and view the internet as a necessary, but not essential, part of life.
There was a time, not so long ago, when it just wasn’t cool to be ‘a PC’. The iPhone was released and, yes, it revolutionised the mobile phone market. Let’s face it, even Microsoft’s alliance with Nokia and the Lumia 800/900 is still no match. The iPad still dominates the tablet market and there is simply not going to be an end to the launch day queues any time soon.
But I notice something going on at Microsoft, emphasised by a visit made this week to their UK campus at Thames Valley Park.
A couple of Stormtroopers were casually walking round the building (as is the norm one assumes) for the launch of some Star Wars game for Xbox 360 with Kinect. Kinect, now there’s a fantastic idea, and I don’t even own one. I was told of a method of using Kinect to walk through a warehouse process in an ERP system, and how such technology could be possibly used for CRM processes in a similar manner.
That was my mind actually exploding.
I love the Metro style. Apple is sleek and unmistakably cool, end of story. But I like the simplicity of Metro and the concept is radical enough, given it’s just an extension of touch concepts. They’re still playing catch up but the gap is narrowing.
Perhaps the thing I like the most lately about Microsoft, is it’s willingness to show us concepts. Microsoft Research gives us snippets and toys to play with. We get ‘consumer previews’ (betas) and options to feedback. I don’t doubt for a moment that we don’t get to see anything near to the real top-secret cutting edge stuff, but all we get from Apple is secret, hype and, lately, let downs (see iPhone 4S for reference).
I am a PC, and always will be. At least I can be a bit more open about it.
Ah, how sweet. It’s been a year since I started blogging. What have I learnt in that time?
- Blogging needs to be fun, not a bind. I don’t want to blog every day and it’s not a competition to see who blogs the most. Why bother blogging stuff that’s totally irrelevant? (Apologies if this post ironically falls into this category)
- Always link to as many previous posts, blogs or websites as possible – this increases traffic
- But it’s not all about how many readers you have – I do this blog for me.
- Make your blog look personal and different. Whilst you probably will use a theme, don’t use the theme that everyone else uses.
- Publicise your blog using multiple media networks: Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter
- Make sure you’re grammar and spelilng is correct – no one likes to read bad English.