Thursday, April 23, 2015

Reflections from eXtremeCRM Madrid 2015

A few days ago on the flight down to Madrid, I wrote about
   my Expectations for eXtremeCRM.

Now the conference is over, I am back in the flight seat heading home to Sweden.


Twitter The Social Buzz

If you want to follow a sort of backwards timeline from the conference, I did post a few tweets of things I found interesting. See here: @rappen.
The most popular of these was the hint from Bob Stutz that inline editing in grids might actually see the day of light in a not too far future:

Another quote that was delivered in the closing key note was this message:
And this was truly something to tweet to the world! Did we actually hear you say that?!


I started my expectations in a slightly negative way, stating what I did not expect from the conference.

I didn't expect to learn a lot of technology, to find awesome new features. And I guess I didn't.

I got to meet some Microsoft Hot Shots, and hearing Mr. Bob Stutz speak at events like this is always a great pleasure. You really get convinced that he loves the product, the development, the partners, the users, and possibly me as well.

And speaking to the MVPs from around the world was as usual really nice. To get their input on what is happening, share their frustrations with our frustrations of things not working the way we would like them to… To get a face with the name that you read about. And equally important - to hopefully give them a face to remember when we cross paths out there, in the social interactions, a retweet or a blog share. Or next year at eXtremeCRM.

Q&A Takeaways

There were a few Q&A sessions. This gives a very nice alternative to the more specific and tutoring sessions. Generally I think the questions were less aggressive than previous years, perhaps the teams at Microsoft have been doing a better job lately?

But from the questions we got hints of things that are in the pipeline, or at least in some sort of pipeline or waiting to be in one. A few takeaways, with little description just to get you curious:

  • Editable grids (as mentioned above)
  • Turbo Forms… you won't believe the performance
  • Full control of what entities, attributes, properties that are included in a solution file
  • Encrypted managed solution files
  • Reports of Onprem death have been greatly exaggerated
  • Support for private cloud onprem installations May 2015
  • Custom lookups to many entities (like Customer field)
  • Minimum 5 user licensing will stay, and is actually too few (according to Bob)
  • "Looking into" possibility of third party reporting tools
  • Unbound forms, support the process not the data, display info from two or more entities
  • Parature will be rebuild as a pure XRM product
  • PowerBI dashboards within CRM
  • Offline mobile
  • Carina is the largest release we have ever done
And then something from Matt, in response to the fact that Update Rollups shall not contain any new features, just fixes. And that major upgrades shall not be forced on the users:

 

Innovation Challenge

This year I participated in the Innovation Challenge. We met up Monday morning, 10 MVPs and almost 20 participants with very different background, profile and nationality. Basket ball hoop was mounted, soft drinks brought in. Let creativity begin!

We started with just brainstorming ideas together. What would be a super improvement to the platform?

I really liked the idea of customizing the epiphany-like experience of Scott Durows network to make it configurable and usable for any relationship in an xRM solution.

But you don't always get your highest wishes, instead my group with Rosie (Scotland), Hassan (England), Mariƫtte (Netherlands) and myself (Sweden) started digging into the Service Calendar.
- The what?
- The Service Calendar.
- And what is that, is it in Dynamics CRM?
- Yep.

And there is actually a reason hardly anyone knows about it. It sort of sucks.

So that was our challenge. There is a Service Calendar, it gives you the possibility to define Resources (things or people, unfortunately the people have to be users in the system) and Services that utilize these resources, and in the calendar you are supposed to be able to create Service Activities. But the parameters of a resource is narrowed down to name and description, and if you click quite a few times you can also get to a place where you can specify a Capacity for the resource. And that's it.

We wanted to make resources more configurable, have a completely dynamic set of properties and really simplify the process of finding the right resource at the right time.

So we did! :)

resourcepropertiesAdd an entity to specify resource attributes, another to associate and value these for specific resources, then an entity to specify on a service which properties are required for the different resources to be able to deliver a service with quality during a service activity.

Use some innovative FetchXML (ok, I won't mention it, but by now you can all figure out what the tool I used to compose the query was) and suddenly we have a very granular and precise way of defining and finding the right resource for the right service.

The presentation during the partner celebration however – an entirely different story. Seven extremely short minutes, a scary microphone, a really really big screen, and an intimidating stage. But we did it! Had to skip the 25 second demo though, which would of course had given us the victory in the end.

So – did the conference meet my expectations?

Well, I sure think it did.
Met the people, took on the challenge, got some "we're sorry" from Microsoft, and enjoyed some good shows.

Will I be back next year?
Who knows….!

The Killer Feature

Now on my Norwegian flight back home, I actually found a the new killer feature. The Flight Tracker. Just waiting for me, right there in my browser. Truly awesome for someone who loves stats and can drift away in Google Maps (Bing, of course. Bing Maps) for hours…
FlightInfo1

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