1 A Solution Architecture for Connected Customer Centricity Author: Javed Sikander Microsoft Corporation Published: July 2010 Version: 1.0 Abstract Microsoft Connected Customer Centricity solutions provide retailers with a rich set of capabilities for clienteling, loyalty management, and marketing. These solutions allow retailers to effectively connect with their customers across multiple channels. This document presents a solution architecture for Connected Customer Centricity and describes the use of the underlying Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform. It describes the solution capabilities and the underlying enabling technologies, and then it provides a summary of partner solutions. The document concludes with an overview of Microsoft Dynamics CRM from a developer s perspective.
2 Copyright Information The information contained in this document represents the current view of Microsoft Corporation on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Microsoft must respond to changing market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Microsoft, and Microsoft cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication. This White Paper is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR STATUTORY, AS TO THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT. Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for any purpose, without the express written permission of Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft may have patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights covering subject matter in this document. Except as expressly provided in any written license agreement from Microsoft, the furnishing of this document does not give you any license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property. Unless otherwise noted, the example companies, organizations, products, domain names, addresses, logos, people, places, and events depicted herein are fictitious, and no association with any real company, organization, product, domain name, address, logo, person, place or event is intended or should be inferred. rights reserved. Microsoft, Active Directory, BizTalk, Dynamics, Dynamics CRM, SharePoint, Silverlight, SQL Server, Visual Studio, Windows, and Windows Server are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
3 Contents Introduction...5 Technology Enablers... 5 Multi-channel Retailing... 6 Mobility... 6 Customer Experience... 7 Social Media... 7 Business Intelligence... 8 Cloud Computing... 8 Connected Customer Centricity Solution Architecture...9 Loyalty Clienteling Marketing Customer Identity Customer Experience Customer Segmentation Access to Back-end Systems Retaligent Solution Architecture About Retaligent and Charisma 1: Solution Description Solution Foundation Presentation Layer Feature Overview Business Process Engine/Best Practices Wizard Clienteling/Client Book Loyalty Offer Delivery Dashboard Social Networking Raymark Customer Relationship Management for Retail Solution Architecture Retail CRM Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence Cubes Analytical and Operational Reporting... 24
4 User Interface Customizations Rules Engine Data Mining and Predictive Analytics Web Service-based API and Object Model for Multi-Channel Integration Retail CRM Workflows Workflow Scheduling and Event Triggers Automated Customer Segmentation Personalized Item Recommendations Personalized Offers Personalized Marketing Personalized SMS Marketing Promotion Benefit Evaluation Role-based Dashboards and Security Microsoft Dynamics CRM: A Developer Perspective Plug-in Workflows Entities and Relationships Web-Services CrmWebService Web Service MetadataService Web Service CrmDiscoveryService Web Service iframes xrm xrm Application Services Microsoft Dynamics CRM Accelerators Social Networking Accelerator Analytics Accelerator Portal Integration Accelerator Extended Sales Forecasting Accelerator... 38
5 Introduction The customer is the most important component for any successful business. For a retailer especially, treating customers well and ensuring that they have a great experience is the key to success. Technology innovations, such as the Internet, have revolutionized the way people work, live, communicate, and shop. Retailers now need to reach and service customers not only in a physical store, but also online via e-commerce portals or on social media sites, across a plethora of mobile devices, smart phones, and kiosks. While the face-to-face element of retail can never be fully replaced, retailers need to deliver personalized experiences to their customer across multiple channels, and they need to understand and connect the customer interactions across all touch points. Retailers also need to differentiate their brands and build long-lasting customer loyalty. To succeed, retailers must drive customer centricity as a core value across their people, processes, and systems. There are three capabilities that retailers need to focus on to transform their businesses for customercentricity: Loyalty program management Clienteling, or in-store customer relationship management Marketing and campaign management This document explores the technologies that enable these three capabilities and describes a platform for customer centricity. Technology Enablers Technology innovation has forever changed the retail business by putting customer needs and experiences at the forefront. It has enabled retailers to run their supply chains and stores more efficiently, design and develop products that consumers like and use, and deliver these products and services where and when the customers need them. While a comprehensive look at all these technology innovations is beyond the scope of this paper, the following are six enablers that are making retail more customer centric (see the diagram that follows): Multi-channel retailing Mobility Customer experience Social media Business intelligence Cloud computing
6 The following sections describe each of these enabling technologies. Multi-channel Retailing From a marketing standpoint, multi-channel is defined as a marketing approach that uses different ways to reach or interact with existing or prospective customers. In this context, a channel could be a retail store, a website, customer mailings, a phone call, an , or a text message sent directly to a mobile device or social media site (Facebook, Twitter, and so on). Effective multi-channel retailing enables retailers to interact with a customer through the customer's preferred mode of communications, resulting in better conversion of marketing campaigns to actual sales, greater brand loyalty, and an improved customer experience. Moreover, it allows retailers to develop a deeper understanding of customer needs, thereby creating products and services that become household names for generations. For consumers and shoppers, technology becomes important if it makes their lives easier instead of more complicated. To be effective, multi-channel retailing needs to be supported by systems that can interoperate and take advantage of the strengths of different channels. The systems need to be loosely coupled and extensible so that retailers can easily add support for new channels whenever needed. These systems should allow retailers to analyze every single customer interaction, across all channels, so that they can design and execute personalized, targeted marketing campaigns. Mobility Mobility refers to the ability to communicate or interact anytime, anywhere. Mobility allows both source and destination devices, applications, and people to be free from constraints imposed by a physical location. Mobility in the retail industry is based on the seamless interaction between mobile devices and back-end systems. For example, a sales associate could use a smart phone or a PDA device that is connected and synchronized with the retailer's customer relationship management (CRM) and merchandizing systems to see detailed product and customer information. The sales associate could then use this information to close a sale.
7 The three key benefits of mobility are: Improve employee communication Businesses today rely on an increasingly mobile workforce. More employees need anywhere, anytime access to more types of communications and collaboration information including , calendars, contacts, tasks, and shared content. Maximize overall productivity By giving employees access to company tools and data on mobile devices, they can be productive regardless of where they are or what time it is. Increase customer satisfaction Real-time access to customer data and insight can lead to improved customer satisfaction because employees will be able to respond to customer queries accurately and quickly. Mobile devices used together with the Customer Centricity solution increase the retailer's ability to conduct business anywhere, and enables them to connect with customers, employees, partners, and vendors. By giving the customer-facing workforce access to mobile devices, retailers provide these employees with a wealth of information at their fingertips. This gives them the ability to access customer interaction history and demographics so that they can present appropriate services, as well as cross-selling, up-selling, and other opportunities to the customer. Customer Experience Customer experience has become increasingly important in the past few years and is a key enabler for a Customer Centricity solution. Customers have come to expect simplicity and elegance in every hardware and software interaction. This expectation has been set by highly successful consumer devices and well-designed productivity software. Retailers need to provide a simple but immersive experience in stores and online. Consumers are already using technologies that deliver multimedia content across channels, elegantly designed screen layouts, and easy-to-use designs that create engaging, immersive experiences. To extend these technologies into the shopping experience, retailers need to give their customers a unified interface across all channels. Social Media Social media represents a new medium for consumer interaction. More and more, people are making decisions on what to read, view, and purchase based on discussions, forums, reviews, and so on, from their friends and other consumers. A retailer that does not adapt itself to social media loses an opportunity to influence the perception of its brands. The most powerful advertisement for a business is its customers. Positive and encouraging feedback on social media outlets is much more beneficial and effective than traditional advertising. Retailers are using social media to listen to their customers, foster new ideas, and validate new product or service concepts. Effective social media tools are allowing these retailers to understand the needs of their customers across blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter entries, and so on. By combining traditional CRM capabilities with social media tools, they can is allowing them to listen to, participate in, and analyze the conversations of their customers.
8 Business Intelligence Business intelligence (BI) is the process of collecting, structuring, analyzing, and making use of data to gain business insight. BI enables more informed decision-making, thereby improving performance and efficiencies across the organization. For retailers, BI can be derived from a variety of systems, including sales, billing, enterprise resource planning (ERP), CRM, and so on. Retailers are using established data warehouse technologies and tools to access information from across the enterprise and to provide deep insight to their business decision makers. Using business intelligence, retailers are making faster and more informed decisions that help them to optimize resources, reduce costs, and improve the effectiveness of front-end and back office activities, ranging from sales to human resources to procurement. Having deep insight is critically important to providing a connected experience for customers. Retailers are using state of the art BI tools to manage and track campaign performance, and to segment and retain their most valuable customers. They can assess the effectiveness of loyalty promotions and partner relationships, track and analyze key service center metrics, and generate a complete picture of contact center performance. These tools and the data they collect and analyze are providing sales associates with a 360 degree view of their customers. Customer-centric BI technologies enable retailers to use past and present data assets to drive productivity and increase customer engagement, thus enabling better, faster, more accurate decision making capabilities. BI enables retailers to extend data to dashboards and scorecards, and measure key performance indicators (KPIs). They can use analytics to make intelligent assumptions so that they can build predictive models and identify new opportunities. Using BI, retailers can create more effective marketing campaigns and measure the effectiveness of these campaigns. Cloud Computing Cloud computing is creating a paradigm shift in how retailers view information technology (IT). Instead of building an infrastructure to handle peak usage (which lies dormant for most of the year), retail chief information officers (CIOs) are looking at cloud computing for infrastructure optimization. The elasticity of the cloud offers them the ability to increase or decrease storage, processing, or bandwidth with minimum cost. Also, by using servers that are centrally managed at a higher granularity (per container rather than per rack or individual server) by a third party, retailers can better manage their IT resources to service their business users. The following are some key benefits that cloud computing is bringing to retail IT environments: Eliminating the need for large number of powerful servers on the premises Reducing maintenance costs Providing limitless and flexible storage, processing, and bandwidth Employing a federated architecture that ensures high availability Providing a more integrated and interoperable application environment
9 Cloud computing is a key enabler for customer centricity. It allows retailers to better connect applications that might be running on the premises and in the private cloud with applications and services running in a public cloud. It makes it easy for retailers to add new channels for connecting with customers without having to add significant hardware, software, or maintenance. Connected Customer Centricity Solution Architecture Microsoft Connected Customer Centricity offers a powerful, flexible, end-to-end solution for retailers who are striving to make their businesses more customer-centric. The solution gives retailers three powerful capabilities: loyalty management, clienteling, and marketing. These capabilities are based on customer identity, customer segmentation, and customer experience. Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides the core platform for building Connected Customer Centricity solutions, as illustrated in the following diagram.
11 Loyalty One of the essential concepts of customer centricity is to identify your best customers and provide them with opportunities to earn special benefits. For retailers, loyalty programs play an important role in attracting new customers, retaining existing customer, and supporting customers after they purchase products. Loyalty programs also are used to increase customer engagement and gain new customer insights from shopping and behavior patterns. To develop a good loyalty program, retailers need to understand loyalty across customers, products, and channels. Retailers need a solution that provides membership management, prepayment management, and a membership portal with easy enrollment via different channels. The portal must also allow easy integration with existing systems. The loyalty solution must provide multiple membership tiers and membership with card and card-less support. In addition, the solution needs to support configurable business rules for earning loyalty points, balance points, aging, and support for different redemption methods, including regular purchases, gift cards, and so on, from various channels. The solution must also provide technology to collect customer information and break it down to meaningful analytics. This allows sales and marketing teams to better understand the customer and find ways to increase their patronage. Microsoft Connected Customer Centricity provides a loyalty management solution based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and developed by Microsoft partners. It provides retailers with a solution that: Allows easy online and in store enrollment for new members. Gives customers the ability to check their balances online, on mobile devices, or in store. Allows customers to accumulate loyalty points without using cards while shopping in a physical store, online, or via a mobile device. Gives customers the ability to redeem their points via gift cards, cash, or payback as credit to their accounts. Efficiently tracks customer information and participation. Monitors customer spending levels and measures tailored loyalty programs. Clienteling By using a clienteling solution, retailers can implement effective in-store and online strategies that can lead to increased satisfaction for the customer and increased profitability for the retailer. A clienteling solution enables the retailer to provide targeted customer information to the sales associate on the shop floor or online. The sales associate can then use this data to better connect with customers and enhance their overall shopping experience. By providing customer-centric data, clienteling helps the sales associate strengthen his or her relationships with customers by personalizing the shopping experience and providing relevant product recommendations before, during, and after the sale. Microsoft Connected Customer Centricity provides a clienteling solution that was developed by Microsoft partners on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This solution enables retailers to:
12 Equip the sales associate with point of sale (POS) devices, PCs, and handheld devices that are integrated with back office systems and customer touch points. Further assist sales associates by integrating customer profiles, preferences, lifestyle information, and various customer interaction systems to give the associates a complete view of the customer. Manage store-level and outbound customer contact. Provide integrated management and reporting across all channels of customer interaction. Analyze customer buying behavior to create personalized promotions for specific channels. Provide extensive customer and product information and easy access to backend fulfillment information. Microsoft Dynamics partner Retaligent Solutions, Inc., provides a clienteling solution built on the xrm platform that extends Microsoft Dynamics CRM for retail clienteling. The solution provides a Microsoft Silverlight-based user interface that runs on an array of devices from POS devices and PCs to ruggedized handheld devices that use the Windows 7 operating system. Retaligent s offering enables retailers to implement proven clienteling practices that drive associate productivity and improve customer lifetime value. Marketing It is no secret that today's customers are increasingly sophisticated and knowledgeable. They have greater access to market information and demand results faster than ever before. To be effective, a customer-centric marketing solution should be able to create and manage campaigns by using customer data. Instead of using a generic marketing strategy, retailers must be able to create customer-focused campaigns based on customer segmentation and buying behavior, and then deliver campaigns by using the customer's preferred method of communication. Customers today do not buy individual products. Instead, they buy complete solutions and experiences. From a marketing point of view, it is critical that retailers provide their customers with a view of the complete solution, related products, well-designed assortments, and promotions based on the combined purchase. Marketing is moving from its classic one-way push model to a two-way interactive customer conversation. With the new and emerging digital channels, marketers have a wide array of opportunities and tools to engage customers in a relevant and valuable way. Retailers can use social media to listen to customers so that they can better understand, analyze, and respond to their needs. Microsoft Connected Customer Centricity provides a marketing solution based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and developed by Microsoft partners. It provides retailers with the flexibility and ease of use to: Use customer data to create a targeted list of customers and then associate them with campaigns. Create rules to trigger responses based on customer interest.
13 Enable Internet marketing by creating landing pages and data forms on demand, without any coding. Measure and analyze campaign success by using key performance indicators (KPIs). Support mobility solutions to easily access customer data from anywhere, anytime. Enable end to end event planning and execution. Raymark, a Microsoft partner, provides a powerful marketing solution that is built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft SQL Server database software. For more information, see the Raymark Customer Relationship Management for Retail Solution Architecture section of this document. Customer Identity Establishing a customer identity allows you to identify a customer across all channels so that you can service him or her more effectively. Customers should be able to use their loyalty card, phone number, or a private label credit card to identify themselves in the store, and they should be able to log on to your e-commerce site by providing easy to use credentials. Every time a user interacts with or visits a website, mobile phone, or other device, he or she leaves behind personal and behavioral data in the various business and CRM systems. With the customer's consent, web purchasing details should be visible to the sales associates in the store, and the customer's purchase history from the store should drive his or her experience on the website(s). Having a 360 degree view of customer data across all channels and across all products and services is critically important for providing greater visibility into customer experiences and opinions. This information enables retailers to make better decisions to improve brand awareness and customer engagement. Microsoft Connected Customer Centricity solutions are built on a solid identity framework that helps retailers gain insight across social networks, web interaction channels, and point of sale activities. Customer Experience Retailers need to provide a consistent experience to their customers and their employees across all engagement points, including those in the physical and online stores, and in social network sites, kiosks, and mobile devices. Understanding the complete customer experience requires monitoring customer activities from the customer s viewpoint through all the customer channels and touch points. Microsoft Connected Customer Centricity solutions are built on Microsoft Silverlight, and provide seamless, engaging, and immersive user experiences. These solutions not only give a rich and consistent user experience, but also provide capabilities for increasing customer satisfaction by giving field staff insights into customer metrics, operational metrics, IT metrics, and end to end tracking of the customer fulfillment process. They facilitate the service and contact center teams ability to provide superior customer service by providing a case management, service history, and support knowledge base.
14 Customer Segmentation Retailers collect a large amount of data about customer purchases, product/brand performance, inventories, and logistics. This valuable data can be used to make marketing campaigns more effective, create customized promotions, and make pricing more profitable. Microsoft Connected Customer Centricity solutions are built on the Microsoft SQL Server BI platform, and give retailers the ability to segment customers based on location, taste, buying power, product affinity, and lifestyle. It enables brand managers to use proven simulation and data mining techniques to predict customer response to campaigns. Retailers can organize the information into customer segments with distinct benefit groups, such as the following: Customer behavior (brand loyalty, product usage rate, ready to buy stage, and so on) Customer attitude (key behavioral influences, needs, preferences, and so on) Past business history (total amounts purchased, purchasing frequency, response to marketing campaigns, and product affinity) Demographics (age, gender, race, education, occupation, income, marital status, and so on) Geography (ZIP code, state, country, region, and so on) This segmentation creates a useful grouping of customers that is based on each group s tendency to share the same values and respond to marketing in similar ways. This allows retailers to: Create manageable groups for targeted activities such as marketing campaigns. Identify the important attributes, needs, and wants of each customer group. Compare the characteristics of different segments to determine segment-specific actions. Set effective, measurable goals for each segment. Execute in-store clienteling strategies that support multi-channel marketing campaigns. Access to Back-end Systems Microsoft Connected Customer Centricity solutions integrate well with any back-end ERP, supply chain, or merchandizing system. Product relationships and assortment information from the back-end systems can provide cross-sell and up-sell opportunities for sales associates. For sales associates, having real-time capabilities to check product availability data upfront improves customer satisfaction. Integration of point of sale (POS) data with pricing data can help make promotions successful because results can be measured in near-real time, allowing campaigns to be fine-tuned if necessary. Retailers can get an end-to-end view of the order status because connected customer centricity solutions are integrated with back-end order management systems. This view can also identify possible bottlenecks and other issues in the order fulfillment process. Labor management can be tied to promotion and sales data, allowing retailers to allocate resources in the most efficient manner possible. These solutions can also track actual labor hours and costs, allowing retailers to make strategic decisions about staff hiring and readiness to support upcoming and ongoing sales and promotional activities.
15 Microsoft Connected Customer Centricity solutions integrate with each of these back office systems to provide numerous benefits to the retailer, enabling retailers to drive sales, improve profitability, and gain deeper insight all of which can lead to improved decision making across all channels. Retaligent Solution Architecture The following sections of this paper describe the solutions built by Retaligent Solutions, Inc., a Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner. About Retaligent and Charisma 1:1 Retaligent Solutions, Inc., provides retailers with clienteling, assisted selling, loyalty, and gift/wish list solutions. Retaligent s applications are designed to improve sales associate performance while enhancing the customer experience in-store, at the point of decision. These solutions enhance customer knowledge, automate sales processes through task and communication tools, deliver product knowledge and improve operations on a common integrated platform. Working closely with Microsoft, Retaligent recently shipped a complete end-to-end customer engagement solution built on the Microsoft Dynamics xrm platform. This solution is called Charisma 1:1. Charisma 1:1 provides a retail-specific infrastructure that allows retailers to improve the shopping experience and create ongoing learning relationships with their best customers. With Charisma 1:1, retailers can synchronize back-office functions with in-store execution, facilitating relevant, timely customer communication and recommendations, and building lifetime value with their customers. Charisma 1:1 runs on a retail-specific analytics, marketing, and sales campaign management platform that is integrated with Charisma s loyalty and clienteling capabilities. This solution supports retail multichannel marketing initiatives and helps sales associates to support customers effectively across multiple channels. Charisma 1:1 is designed to increase customer traffic, improve the browsing-to-sale conversion rate, and lead to higher average transaction size. Solution Description Retaligent s Charisma 1:1 is designed to make full use of the Microsoft Dynamics xrm platform, as well as additional Microsoft products including SQL Server, SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), Internet Explorer 8, Silverlight 4, Microsoft Outlook, and Microsoft SharePoint. The solution enhances xrm features and combines them with an easy-to-use Clienteling and Loyalty interface for the in-store user (typically, the sales associate). The presentation layer uses the latest Silverlight technology. These products, in combination with xrm, allowed Retaligent to develop an extensible application that delivers critical business features needed by corporate marketing departments, retail management departments, and in-store sales associates.
16 Solution Foundation The Retaligent Clienteling application is designed and architected for the Microsoft platform, and uses the latest product and architectural features of that platform. The solution provides a customized experience for users including the store sales associate, store manager, mid-level executive, and corporate executive user. At the center of this clienteling solution is the Microsoft Dynamics xrm platform. This platform provides the key elements needed to rapidly implement an extensive enterprise solution through a variety of components, including, but not limited to: Data and metadata services Access and security infrastructure An advanced search engine A robust workflow runtime Retaligent designed the solution with system integrators (SIs) and corporate IT in mind. The solution is easy to configure, enhance, and deploy. The development approach allows for seamless product upgrades and future enhancements, whether provided by Retaligent or by an SI partner. To manage an array of complex clienteling and CRM business rules, Retaligent created plug-ins that address retailspecific synchronous requirements, and reusable workflow components that manage the configuration of common best practice activities. Presentation Layer The Clienteling presentation layer is fully independent from the business logic, making it easy to modify, brand, or redesign the interface without redesigning any of the underlying logic. Entities are wrapped in a series of web services and exposed for consumption by a variety of platforms and applications. Retaligent s Charisma 1:1 also leverages web services by using Microsoft Active Directory to authenticate the user and secure the application. The core of the front-end Clienteling client-side application was developed in Microsoft Silverlight to support multiple platforms, including POS devices, kiosks, personal computers, and Windows Mobile devices. This approach allows the application to offer visual web interface components that could be componentized, if appropriate, to meet other specific requirements. Feature Overview Retaligent's Charisma 1:1 solution consists of the following integrated components: Business Process Engine/Best Practices Wizard Clienteling Loyalty Offer Delivery Campaign Management
17 Analytics and Segmentation Performance Dashboard Social Networking These eight components are designed to function on the Microsoft Dynamics xrm platform in either a standalone application configuration or as a combined solution. Additionally, the solution suite incorporates Microsoft SQL Server, including SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), as well as SharePoint with advanced presentation capabilities. The solution also provides hooks into other key Microsoft products, such as Microsoft Exchange, which is a key component for integrating the solution with corporate tools. Lastly, Retaligent is developing pre-built integration adaptors to several products, including the Microsoft Retail Management System (RMS) and the Microsoft Dynamics product suite, including Microsoft Dynamics AX. The following sections briefly describe each component of the Charisma 1:1 solution. Business Process Engine/Best Practices Wizard The Best Practices Wizard provides overlay functionality across all components. This wizard is the cornerstone of the Retaligent Charisma 1:1 offering, and provides features that support retailing best practices through an easy to use business process workflow. The Best Practices Wizard provides a front to back, configurable solution that lets the retailer focus on very specific business needs, and assists the retailer in developing all of the elements necessary for a particular campaign or initiative. These areas of focus include: Increasing traffic Increasing average transaction size Increasing repeat visits and visit frequency Increasing sales associate productivity Increasing Items per transaction Increasing margin Providing other relevant retail business metrics When the retailer identifies a sales campaign or initiative, the wizard walks the retailer through a stepby-step process to identify a targeted, specific solution. Based on the initiative, the application assists the retailer in preparing the needed items to execute the program. Analytics incorporated in the Retaligent CRM solution allow for segmentation of the customer base by demographics, spending habits, lifestyle, affinity, cross-shop metrics, and so on. The analytics feature can be used to perform the following retail-focused activities: Analyze data to determine those clients who belong to an existing or newly created segment.
18 Analyze data to provide a list of likely customers who will respond to an offer or receive a campaign. Analyze data to uncover relationships that can be used to create lists of customers that can be leveraged through offers or campaigns. Segments are used for analytics, targeted outreach, campaigns, and offers. They can be used to determine the following: Lifestyle segmentation based on purchase history, preference data, demographics, and potential third-party data Deciles segmentation based on customer spending Psychographic/demographic segmentation Buying habit and buying preferences segmentation Clienteling/Client Book Retaligent used the Microsoft Dynamics platform to deliver an in-store CRM Clienteling component that incorporates Retaligent s clienteling application expertise. The Client Book replaces the little black book used by some retailers. It is built on the Microsoft Dynamics xrm platform, and makes use of the flexible CRM entities, as well as key elements of the BI/analytics and workflow features. The solution supports global deployment, and provides multi-language and multicurrency capabilities and a role/permission based architecture. The Clienteling/Client Book component was developed in an ASP.NET and web-services environment, and has an interactive retail user interface built with Microsoft Silverlight, as shown in the following illustration.
19 The Clienteling/Client Book works seamlessly with the other seven components and is comprised of the Customer and Associate modules. : Customer Module The Customer elements of the Client Book are comprised of key data elements related to a client (a customer), and the ability to augment this data after each customer interaction. The key elements of the Customer module include: Customer Profile The Customer Profile is a view of the core client data, including contact information, sales summary, and interaction summary. Purchase History The Purchase History element displays all purchases related to a client, and lets the user filter purchases based on various product, department, and associate attributes. Interaction History The Interaction History displays all interactions that have taken place through the Client Book component, and is supplemented by a history of customer touch points initiated from Charisma s seven other components. This feature provides a holistic view of all client interactions. Preferences Preference functionality supports the ability to capture and display specific client preferences at the business unit level. Preferences are created, published, and managed by the retailer, and can be viewed by all or by only relevant user groups. Social Networking The Social Networking element provides a history of online interactions with a client, captured on various social networking sites. In addition to allowing an associate to communicate directly with an identified customer, the Social Networking element enables interactive outreach, such as posting items for a customer to consider and allowing the customer's friends to vote on the most popular item. Search Search capability is critically important for any in-store experience. The retailer must be able to effectively search against an array of customer data to identify the right client to review or contact. The solution supports both basic client text-based name search capabilities and complex ad hoc query capabilities that search on virtually any customer data elements. Associate Module The Associate module is designed to support sales associate activities. It has four functional elements: At-A-Glance The At-A-Glance page is the equivalent of an associate dashboard, with the flexibility to provide associates with relevant news or corporate updates. Additionally, it supports day planner functionality (with access to Week/Month/Year) so that users can view and manage their work. Tasks Tasks are assigned to associates as either operational tasks or customer communication tasks. Customer communication tasks represent the essence of Clienteling. These tasks are supported by communications tools (described later in this document), and are populated in several ways:
20 Through various back-office functional components (Campaign Management and Business Process Engine) By the associate who will access the client profile and set a task Through manager team-related tools Task completion is dynamically updated through use of the system, allowing for a wide range of manager reporting capabilities. Appointments The Appointments element enables an associate to create, update, and complete an appointment that is either tied to a task, or is a stand-alone agenda item. This element is often used for scheduling in-store events and appointment sales. All appointments are tied directly to a client, allowing for click through access to a client profile. All appointment information is tied directly to sales data, allowing a retailer to see the success rate and productivity of an associate s appointment sales. Appointments can be one-time or recurring. Communication Tools To deliver a seamless user experience for the associate on the store floor, Charisma 1:1 incorporates communication tools that guide the sales associate in daily customer interactions. The solution provides templates for text, letter, and communications, as well as scripts for outbound telephone calls. The interface will also track the completion and outcome of all customer communication for single or multi-step campaigns. Loyalty Charisma 1:1 supports various loyalty schemes and in-store programs. The Loyalty component features are tightly integrated with the rest of the solution, and provide one key identifier that is used throughout the application to refer to various program-related processes. The loyalty components are based on a single-client entity; therefore, households can share loyalty cards or they can use different cards for each user. Because Charisma s Loyalty features are tightly integrated with other software components, loyalty information to be shared by the BI/Analytics, Campaign Management, Dashboard, and Clienteling components of the system. The Loyalty management system is designed to create and manage loyalty accounts and facilitate multi-channel point s management with functionality such as points accrual, reward thresholds, promotions, points to next tier, points redemption, points reporting, and customer statements. The following illustration shows a typical Loyalty page. The Loyalty component has the following features: Create member online or in-store. Manage and calculate accrual of points. Create customer status based on thresholds. Provide appropriate data for monthly, quarterly, and yearly statements. Redeem points via POS, ecommerce, or marketing communications.
21 Use multiple and/or flexible calculation rules for special rewards events. Offer Delivery Charisma 1:1 uses BI/analytics, plug-ins, and workflows to create customer offers such as discounts, coupons, incentives, or special buys. Offers can be delivered across multiple channels through the Offer Delivery components. Offers can be extended based on a data-driven triggering event that might be the result of a multi-step campaign or for attaining a loyalty program threshold. Features include the ability to display queued and real-time offers and messages across channels such as POS terminals and kiosks, track responses to these offers, and provide this information to campaign management. The Offer Delivery management system includes the following capabilities: Track how often an offer is to be displayed by a channel. Prioritize offers and offer types based on channel and client specific segments and/or preference data. Set redemption rules. Track response and activity. Dashboard The Charisma 1:1 Dashboard provides a graphical display of relevant business metrics, and highlights possible areas of improvement. The Dashboard is configurable, allowing users to customize the experience with the data they find most relevant. Based on the myriad user types within a retail environment (Executive Management, Marketing, Store Operations, Training, Call Center, Store Managers, and so on), the tool can be configured to provide specific, targeted interfaces based on user needs. The Dashboard uses SharePoint capabilities to function on different device types, including POS terminals, web portals, kiosks, and various mobile devices. A Dashboard can display the following types of information: Specific campaign metrics by campaign type and associate type Segment metrics Customer aggregate and detail metrics (for example, cross-shop, affinities) Overall profile metrics for clients Possibilities for improvement (based on Analytics and the Best Practices Wizard) Stored performance and associate performance metrics (for example, benchmarking to support planning) Application usage metrics (for components, as well as clienteling usage) Exception reporting
22 Social Networking This component uses the Microsoft Social Networking Accelerator. It enables the sales associate or the marketing team to view and manage communications with their customers and to gauge the perception of their communication across the most popular social networking sites. Social network can be used to create a new customer profile or can be appended to an existing profile. Retaligent uses the Social Network Accelerator to compliment the following retail programs: Branding By tapping into target communities to increase share of voice (SOV) and obtain feedback on brand perception, and to gain immediate feedback on advertising via traditional media. Community building By helping to refine target demographics and find new or emerging demographics by closely monitoring friending relationships. Extending customer intelligence gathering By using voluntary surveys that provide a vehicle for customers to submit complaints, and also a way for retailers to gain deeper insights that can affect promotional and merchandising planning, and improve consumer profiling, allowing retailers to create new psychographic profiles from personal interest information.
23 Raymark Customer Relationship Management for Retail Solution Architecture Raymark s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for Retail solution is a powerful customer analytics and personalization engine for retail businesses. The solution is based on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform and business intelligence tools. It enables retailers to use customer profile and interaction information (purchases, activities, and so on) collected throughout the retail network to execute marketing strategies. Comprised of marketing automation features and functionality for retail, the solution incorporates multi-channel data from the POS, , direct mail, mobile applications, text messaging, third-party applications (websites, social networks, and so on), staff handheld devices, kiosks, digital signage, customer service touch points, deliveries, surveys, and more. This rich solution allows retailers to create effective, targeted campaigns that deliver personalized item recommendations, offers, discounts and promotions based on deep customer profiling and cross-referencing. The solution includes the following features: Customer analytics and reports for retail Marketing automation based on business rules, workflows, and events Multi-channel touch point integration Personalized item recommendations and offers Automated customer segmentation Campaign management and response tracking Role-based dashboards and security Architectural components, technologies, and extensions to Microsoft Dynamics CRM included in the solution are described in the following sections. Retail CRM Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence Cubes Based on Microsoft SQL Server database and analytics technology, the Retail CRM data warehouse and Business Intelligence cubes extend Microsoft Dynamics CRM entities and relationships, and represent the core retail CRM data model of the solution. The data model is extensible to meet custom business requirements. The following diagram illustrates the solution architecture.
24 Analytical and Operational Reporting Retail CRM-specific analytical and operational reports, such as campaign performance or customer recency, frequency, monetary (RFM) monitoring reports, are based on Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services and (optionally) on Microsoft SharePoint Server for multi-dimensional analysis and data drilldowns. User Interface Customizations The Microsoft Dynamics CRM user interface, as well as entities, attributes, relationships and navigation have been customized to meet the needs of the retail-specific solution. Examples of such customizations include entities for customer segments, retail points of business, channels, and related items, as well as custom UIs for workflow scheduling and item recommendation rule configuration. The solution makes heavy use of iframes and custom ASP.NET pages. Rules Engine To take full advantage of the depth and breadth of information in the retail CRM data warehouse, the solution includes a powerful and retail-specific Rules Engine. The Rules Engine drives runtime querying and decision making in campaigns. As an example, a retailer might want to limit item recommendations for customers to a specific set of product categories, brands, or price points in an campaign. Rules for item recommendations are configurable by users when they design a campaign, and the runtime engine resolves selections at the time of campaign delivery.
25 Data Mining and Predictive Analytics Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services based data mining and predictive analytics features are available in two core areas of the solution: in analytical reporting (to determine past and future best performing customer segments, for example) and in the Rules Engine (perhaps to drive item selections for campaigns based on system identified trends). Web Service-based API and Object Model for Multi-Channel Integration A Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) based web service API and object model are included in the solution to support multi-channel integration of customer-facing applications and touch points. The solution uses the Provider Model design pattern to communicate with adapters to external systems. The web service API and integration objects can then be used to move data in and out of the solution and to make application calls (such as GetItemRecommendationsForCustomer or GetPromotionBenefitForItems). Retail CRM Workflows Custom-developed workflows, such as one for item recommendations by and another for birthday promotions, are included in the solution as a starter kit for retail marketing automation. These workflows are configurable and can be extended to meet business requirements. Others can be created to operate on any of the entities in the retail CRM data warehouse. Workflows for data integration based on the previously-mentioned object model are also included. Workflow Scheduling and Event Triggers A flexible module for scheduling the execution of workflows (every night at 12:00 midnight, for example), or having them be triggered in response to a system event (such as after every POS transaction), is included in the solution. Microsoft Dynamics CRM plug-ins and custom-developed Microsoft.NET components are used to enable these capabilities. Automated Customer Segmentation Customer segmentation is a core activity in retail marketing. It simplifies the process of personalization by defining a small number of customer identities to work with. Included in the solution is a module to define and manage customer segments and to have them automatically and continually populated with retail customers. Segments can be based on socio-demographic attributes, spending levels, and/or other data elements. Depending on the fields used for segmentation, a customer can be moved from one segment to the next over time (based on spending levels, age, shopping frequency, and so on). The Rules Engine module, combined with custom workflows, is largely responsible for keeping the segments updated with the right customers. Personalized Item Recommendations The solution includes a Rules Engine driven API call to retrieve personalized item and cross-selling recommendations for customers. The API can be called from any touch point that a customer is using.
26 Recommendation rules can be adapted to meet the requirements of a campaign, channel, or business unit, and can be used to cross-reference consumer profiles and purchase history. Personalized Offers The solution includes a Rules Engine driven API call to retrieve personalized offers and promotions for customers. The API can be called from any touch point that a customer is using. Personalized Marketing The solution includes a Personalized Marketing Engine that uses the Personalized Item Recommendations and Personalized Offers modules to manage and deliver the right products, at the right time, at the right price, to the right customer's inbox. Included are an template design module, intelligent item selection controls, response tracking, and more. Personalized SMS Marketing The solution includes a Personalized SMS (Short Message System, another name for mobile text messaging) Marketing Engine that uses the Personalized Item Recommendations and Personalized Offers modules to manage and deliver the right products, at the right time, at the right price, to the right customer's mobile phone. Two-way SMS is supported (provided that the SMS gateway supports it). Included are an SMS message template design module, intelligent item selection controls, response tracking via SMS short codes, and more. Promotion Benefit Evaluation The solution includes an API call to evaluate the benefit (discount, complimentary or bundled item, and so on) to offer to a customer in a dynamically-generated cross-selling scenario. For example, if a customer is viewing a webpage that describes Product A, and the page calls the Personalized Item Recommendations module to select a related product, Product B, based on the customer s profile for cross-selling, then the Promotion Benefit Evaluation module can be called to determine that a 20 percent discount should be offered on the bundle, based on pre-configured promotion rules. Role-based Dashboards and Security The solution includes a role-based dashboard that is built on custom and personalization-enabled ASP.NET web pages and security. In this module, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM role and hierarchy based security features are used and extended to reflect the organizational structure of the retailer. Dashboards give access to role-specific reports (flash and detailed) and shortcuts to functionality.
27 Microsoft Dynamics CRM: A Developer Perspective Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a customer relationship management solution that provides rich capabilities for sales, marketing, and service management. Microsoft Dynamics CRM gives customers the flexibility to use the solution on the company premises, as a service in the cloud, or hosted by a third party. In addition, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is easy to use, deploy, and maintain. From a developer perspective, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is really an application platform that provides sophisticated services and tools to facilitate rapid development of business applications. This chapter explores the power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and xrm from a developer perspective, with a focus on extensibility, deployment, and management. Microsoft provides a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Software Development Kit (SDK) that allows developers to extend the product beyond the built-in features. You can find a detail documentation of the SDK on MSDN at The following provides an overview of key extensibility mechanisms. Plug-in A plug-in is a.net assembly that subscribes to Microsoft Dynamics CRM events, intercepts events, and triggers a custom action. For example, a plug-in could reserve items in inventory before creating the order. Typically, plug-ins are used to integrate CRM with back office and legacy systems. Plug-ins can be written in.net-compatible languages such as C# or Microsoft Visual Basic.NET (VB.NET). They implement a simple plug-in interface (IPlugin) that requires implementation of a single method. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM SDK provides a registration tool and registration API to associate plug-ins with platform events. Plug-ins are extension points that developers can use to integrate custom business logic with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Plug-ins can subscribe to a published set of events that will run whenever one of the events occurs. To function in this way, a plug-in needs to have event handler code that runs in response to a platform event. The event handler must implement the IPlugin interface. Workflows Microsoft Dynamics CRM workflows enable the automation of business processes. Microsoft Dynamics CRM ships with several workflows and exposes capabilities that you can use to create, extend, or customize workflows to suit specific business needs. One way of extending workflows is by creating custom workflow activities, which are.net assemblies that can be created with the Microsoft Visual Studio development system. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM workflow capabilities are based on the Windows Workflow Foundation programming model. The Visual Studio Workflow Designer lets you use the Visual Basic.NET and Visual C# programming languages to create workflow templates and custom workflow activities that extend the workflow capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In addition, a workflow designer that can be used to create workflows is now incorporated into the Microsoft Dynamics CRM web application. It is available to all users whose role includes workflow
28 privileges. By incorporating the workflow designer into the web application, many features including advanced find and reporting are automatically enabled for workflows. Entities and Relationships Microsoft Dynamics CRM uses the word entity to refer to the structures used to store and manage data. Conceptually, an entity is comparable to a database table except that it includes more information. An entity includes the form, views, and behavior of that entity in a system. Entities correspond to the types of records Microsoft Dynamics CRM manages. In addition to the default system entities, you can create custom entities. The ability to add custom entities is a powerful way to extend Microsoft Dynamics CRM functionality and does not require that you write code. When you create a custom entity, you probably want to relate it to another entity. A stand-alone entity is not very useful because it is not connected to any other data in the system. To relate entities, you add a relationship from an entity form. The following are different types of entity relationships that are supported in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0: One-to-Many System-Custom A custom entity that is linked to a system entity. The custom entity has a lookup field to associate it with a system entity. One-to-Many Custom-Activity/Note A common relationship that can be created automatically when you configure notes and activities associated with a custom entity. One-to-Many Custom-Custom A relationship that occurs when you include a custom entity as the child of another custom entity. The child entity has a lookup field to associate it with the parent custom entity. One to-many Custom-System A relationship that occurs when a custom entity is linked to a system entity. This cannot be a parent-child relationship type; it can only be a referential relationship type. A lookup field is added to the system entity, but it is not a required field. Custom-Custom A referential relationship between two custom entities. This means that you can create two relationships between two custom entities, which creates lookup attributes on both entities so that each entity has a reference to the other. However, if a parental relationship already exists, creating this type of relationship introduces a cascading circularity and is not allowed. System-to-System Relationships between system entities. This allows you to link multiple relationships between accounts and contacts. The account entity already has a primary contact; this allows you to add a secondary contact as well. Many-to-Many The many-to-many relationship was called Associate in CRM 3.0. This is modeled after the way you link competitors with opportunities. Multiple Relationships Enables relationships such as having multiple users associated with an entity. For example, you could use this relationship if you have a project entity and you want to know who created it (Created By), who modified it (Modified By), and who it is
29 assigned to (Owner), but you also want to know who the lead program manager, lead developer, and lead tester are. Self Referencing Relationships An entity that refers to itself. This allows you to build trees and hierarchies of entities. CRM will also automatically check for circular references. Web-Services Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 provides three web service APIs to access and manipulate application data. These services are: CRM Web Service (CrmService.asmx) Metadata Web Service (MetadataService.asmx) Discovery Web Service (DiscoveryService.asmx) Microsoft also offers three assemblies that you can use to programmatically interact with Microsoft Dynamics CRM instead. These assemblies are: Microsoft.Crm.Sdk.dll Microsoft.Crm.SdkTypeProxy.dll Microsoft.Crm.Outlook.Sdk.dll When developing assembly-based solutions, such as plug-ins and workflow assemblies, we recommend that you reference the API assemblies rather than using the web references. For web development applications, you can use either the Web Service Description Language (WSDL) or the assembly reference approach. CrmWebService Web Service The CrmWebService web service is the core API mechanism for programmatically interacting with all entities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It provides strongly typed access to all entities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, including custom entities and attributes. This web service also allows execution of all supported operations, including those with built-in business logic and specialized operations. It provides valid WSDL that is dynamically generated on the server to include the latest customizations, and provides a single endpoint for your code. Common Methods The following six methods provide the basic create, read, update, and delete (CRUD) operations for entities, including custom entities. Create Creates a new record for a given entity. Retrieve Returns a single record based on the entity ID passed in. RetrieveMultiple Returns multiple records based on a query expression. Update Edits an existing record.
30 Delete Removes a record. Fetch Returns multiple records based on a FetchXML query. Execute Method In addition to the common methods, the Execute method is provided to perform any business logic that is not addressed by the common methods. The Execute method executes a message that represents either a specialized method or specific business logic. Execute uses a message-based approach, and supports a message class hierarchy to group similar operations. It takes a message request class as a parameter and returns a message response class. MetadataService Web Service The metadata for Microsoft Dynamics CRM is stored in the SQL Server database tables. These tables contain the entity, attribute, and relationship definitions for each organization. This includes the metadata for your customizations. The MetadataService web service contains the messages that you use to read or write the definitions for all the entities in a Microsoft Dynamics CRM installation. It can also be used to build a client-side cache. Use the MetadataService web service to: Create a custom entity. Retrieve the metadata for a specific entity, either system or custom. Retrieve, add, or update attributes for an entity. Create or delete relationships between two entities. Determine metadata changes and identify custom entities from all entities. CrmDiscoveryService Web Service The CrmDiscoveryService web service enables the caller to determine the correct organization and URL for their needs. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 is a multi-tenant environment; a single Microsoft Dynamics CRM server can host multiple business organizations. Each time a server handles a web service method call, it could be for a different organization. Therefore, the web services must be notified of the target organization that a user is intending to reach. The CrmDiscoveryService web service enables your code to discover the CrmService and MetadataService web service endpoint URLs and other information about the target organization. iframes One of easiest ways to extend Microsoft Dynamics CRM is to use iframes (inline frames). When you use iframes, the Internet or LAN connection is very important because it must maintain a connection to the underlying application and data. You can use the forms editor in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM client to embed an iframe in a Microsoft Dynamics CRM form. iframes can be used for a variety of customizations, such as:
31 Incorporating a page from a SharePoint site Adding HTML code to the page; for example, to define a button Showing a commercial web site; for example, Embedding a custom application xrm Microsoft Dynamics CRM is an application platform that can be used to develop business applications. To develop an application for the platform, you build an xrm application (where x stands for anything and RM means relationship management). To build an xrm application, you can customize the existing customer relationship management applications that are included in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, or you can design completely new line-of-business (LOB) applications that are not based on the sales, service, or marketing capabilities included in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. With either approach, your application will use Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a platform, and will take advantage of the capabilities of the platform to deliver business value to your user. Retailers can use extensible data models and application frameworks to provide a wide variety of functionality. An xrm solution can be a custom application within CRM that exposes new functionality or an LOB application solution on top of CRM. It might be a Silverlight application or a.net application. xrm is essentially an application development framework to rapidly develop relational business applications. It is designed to accelerate the development of LOB applications through the use of flexible, dynamic application services. xrm uses familiar Microsoft technologies as building blocks, including Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook, SQL Server, and the.net Framework. In addition, you can use the Advanced Developer Extensions included in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM SDK. This set of tools simplifies the development of Internet-enabled applications that interact with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The following sections describe the xrm services that you can use to develop Microsoft Dynamics CRM based LOB applications. xrm Application Services xrm provides the following ten application development services to allow developers to rapidly build their business logic, create user experiences, access data, and help secure access (see the diagram that follows): Data and metadata services User experience services Access and security services Analytical services Extensibility services
32 Integration services Architecture services Management services Point and click customization services Process automation and orchestration services These services are described in detail in the following sections. Data and Metadata Services A major feature and benefit of xrm is that each application is completely defined in metadata and not in code. This provides great deal of flexibility and extensibility to application developers and business users. Non-technical users can also add new fields that extend the behavior of XRM applications. Keeping application definitions in metadata simplifies the application upgrade process and allows changes to be published and propagated with no down time. Newer applications built on the platform inherit all these capabilities, thus avoiding rework. The schema and its customizations can be exported and imported, allowing changes to be managed and migrated easily. The tools for managing the schema are all web-based and do not require any special installations. Knowledge of SQL is not required to take advantage of these features because the UI allows the creation or modification of the data fields and schema, automatically enforcing referential integrity rules and data relationships. The following illustration shows the components of xrm data modeling.
33 User Experience Services Developers can use xrm user experience components to create consistent user experiences across multiple LOB applications. This approach reduces training time and increases user adoption. The xrm user experience components allow deep Microsoft Office integration, can be synchronized with Microsoft Outlook, have accessibility features, and are available on standard clients and devices. Each xrm application includes standard prebuilt user functionality. This functionality includes features such as mail merge, presence visibility, a knowledge base, task and activity management, user queues, scheduling management, advanced find and query, smart search, and so on. The following illustration shows the user experience components provided by xrm. Access and Security Services xrm allows for a granular security model that uses role-based access and controls. User administration is simplified by the use of the Microsoft Active Directory directory service. Security access can be specified for different role profiles. Users can be assigned to these profiles, resulting in a diverse security model with correct access permissions. An additional benefit is that these roles have to be created just once and can then be exported for use in other environments, such as test, staging, and production. The following illustration shows the access and security components provided by xrm. Analytical Services xrm provides analytical services that ensure data and insight consistency across all LOB applications. The analytical services use proven Microsoft technologies, such as SQL Server, SQL Reporting Services, the SQL Analysis Service, and a central monitoring server that provides centralized data access, storage, and caching services. The monitoring server also supports view rendering and enables better scaling by spreading the database load. Additionally, a dashboard designer makes it possible to create complex dashboards and scorecards. These dashboards and scorecards can be viewed as web pages or via Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft SharePoint. A report creation wizard is available so that business users can easily create reports and get visual insight into the data. In conjunction with the workflow capabilities present in the Microsoft Dynamics
34 xrm system, users can take action in response to the analytics. You can use SQL Reporting Services to schedule reports, make them viewable offline, and export them in numerous formats. The types of reports that can be created include OLAP charts, OLAP grids, pivot charts, pivot tables, Excel spreadsheets, trend analysis, web pages, and so on. Extensibility Services xrm extensibility services enables IT departments to support many different business requests and rapidly create extensions to fit the unique needs of every application. Extension points are available throughout the architecture so that developers can easily extend the system. The following illustration shows the extensibility components provided by xrm. Integration Services Microsoft xrm provides a wide array of integration capabilities so that developers can rapidly compose applications. These can be categorized into the following four areas: UI integration UI integration lets you create composite applications and enterprise mashups. You can build an integrated UI by simply using the forms editor and adding iframes to forms that load external application screens. You can also have external applications load xrm forms by creating URL addressable forms. UI integration is low cost and requires less maintenance because the different applications involved are very loosely coupled. This allows for rapid innovation and implementation that would take much longer with traditional applications. Data Integration xrm supports building applications by using a more traditional approach in which data is integrated via APIs. xrm provides fully operational data retrieval APIs for common tasks such as create, read, update, or delete (CRUD) operations. Using these APIs gives retailers a higher degree of control at the right level of granularity that their business requires, and makes it possible to have a higher level of security over the data coming into or going out of the system. xrm has a Metadata API that provides entity, attribute, and relationship definitions for each organization, including any customizations. You can use this API to build a client-side cache for attributes such as the possible state names or pick-list values. The Metadata API also allows you to customize CRM and LOB applications by adding functionality. Business Logic Integration xrm lets you use existing logic from other business applications. xrm provides access to all the business entity data including data for custom entities and properties by dynamically generating web services. In addition, xrm supports the use of plug-ins to extend functionality. This lets you integrate custom business logic, such as custom
35 data processing rules with specific conditions under which the custom business logic is to execute. Process Integration xrm uses a powerful workflow engine to allow processes to flow across applications. It also includes prebuilt connections for integration platforms, such as Microsoft BizTalk. Architecture Services xrm enables developers to build applications that support a broad set of global business application needs. Multi-tenancy is built-into the xrm architecture, and lets developers create applications that support multiple organizations and users on the same application instance. Applications developed on xrm are multi-language because xrm supports more than forty languages, including right to left languages such as Arabic. xrm supports multiple currencies and supports base currency roll-ups. Management Services xrm provides tools that reduce administrative costs and tools that streamline and simplify operations. In addition, applications are fully portable, which streamlines the product lifecycle from development, testing, staging, to production. The following illustration shows the management components included in xrm. Point and Click Customization Services xrm comes with a powerful tool to allow rapid development of applications with minimal code. These point and click tools can be used by both technical and non-technical users. They support fast deployments and an iterative lifecycle, resulting in less time and resources required for development. Some of the components accessible through point and click customization are modifications to relational data schema because all entities are abstracted. The point and click tools help users to create forms and define navigation rules easily. Security can be set based on user roles. Custom business rules can be coded into the forms and their interactions. Rich analytics and reporting capability can also be configured, allowing users to easily provide a complete application. All the changes and customizations created are dynamically made available to the rest of the system, including the workflows, analytics, wizards, search, and so on. The following illustration shows the point and click customization components.
36 Process Automation and Orchestration Services xrm uses the Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) and enables the automation and orchestration of processes that are required by LOB applications. As business processes are automated and orchestrated, there is a corresponding cost reduction that results from time and resource savings and enhanced user productivity. Workflows can be configured to fit a retailer's business processes. This way, the best practices that the retailer developed over time can be captured and included in the automated operation. The system facilitates easy creation of workflows through the use of wizards, and also allows for personalization. For more information on xrm, see the following whitepapers: "The xrm Advantage for Solution Builders" (http://crm.dynamics.com/docs/ms_dynamics_crm_xrm_for_solution_builders.pdf) "Maximize the Value of your Custom Business Applications with Microsoft Dynamics CRM" (http://crm.dynamics.com/docs/ms_dynamics_crm_maximize_value_with_xrm.pdf) "Relational Productivity Applications - Leveraging Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint for Enhanced Business Impact" (http://crm.dynamics.com/docs/ms_dynamics_crm_sharepoint_and_xrm.pdf) Microsoft Dynamics CRM Accelerators Microsoft offers the following accelerators to expand the current capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to fit specific business scenarios: Social Networking Accelerator Analytics Accelerator Portal Integration Accelerator Extended Sales Forecasting Accelerator To find out more about these accelerators and download the latest versions, go to The following provides an overview of these accelerators. Social Networking Accelerator The social networking accelerator for Microsoft Dynamics CRM seamlessly integrates social network channels into existing marketing methodologies, enabling retailers to launch online marketing
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