Takeaways from CRM UG Summit 2014

The 10th Annual Microsoft Dynamics CRM User Group Summit was held from October 14-17th 2014 in downtown St Louis, MO – Datix’s back yard.

Since Datix is a Dynamics CRM partner and user, and since it literally took me longer to walk from my truck to the registration desk than it did for me to drive to the convention hall from home, I jumped at the opportunity to attend the sessions.

Over the course of the week (there was a Partner Connections event on October 12 and 13), I had the opportunity to meet a variety of other Partners, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and Users that all operate in the Microsoft universe.

Through those meetings, a number of things stood out. Here are three that really made an impression.

Dynamics CRM is useful in a variety of business applications

There is no doubt that Dynamics CRM is a powerful platform. However, I had no idea the multitude of different businesses that could find a use for it. I met people from not only manufacturers and distributors, but also from law offices, a company that is laying a crude oil pipeline from South Dakota to Oklahoma, and a company that paints and services water towers.

Some of the companies were just getting used to the “basics” of using their CRM. Others were using it to not only track sales pipelines and forecasts, but also using available BI tools to consolidate a massive amount of information from their system and then manipulating it to drive today’s and tomorrow’s business decisions. Some companies had 5 users on their system, and others had 9000, truly speaking to the power and scalability of the technology.

Many companies don’t use their system to its fullest capacity

In one of the sessions led by Rick McCutcheon, author of the blog Full Contact CRM, he noted a Nucleus Research finding that 80% of the benefits of CRM have yet to be achieved. I saw this over and over, as people that I sat next to would say things like “Wow, I didn’t know it could do that!”

It seems that a lot of the companies that I talked to are using their systems for the basics- tracking accounts, contacts, and maybe some emails. However, many of the functions that come out of the box in Dynamics CRM simply aren’t being used. Some of this was due to the individual or company’s lack of looking into what the system can do, some of it was caused by the lack of training from the implementation partner as the systems went in, and some of it was due to the companies that are using the systems being comfortable with their old processes, and not caring what the systems can do.

I heard the term “expensive digital Rolodex” several times a day, when the companies had no idea the level of marketing, reporting, social listening, and customer service functions that the systems they had can already perform.

Executive sponsorship is key

One topic that was talked about in nearly every session is the need for involvement from the C-suite in system implementation, with many saying that it is the single most important factor in project success.

This goes beyond the person writing the check giving the thumbs up. The company leadership needs to be actively involved in the implementation decisions, training, and roll-out. The reasons for this are multi-fold but it really boils down to the fact that, if the heads of the company aren’t using the system, then the troops won’t use it either.

It is such an important point that many of the partners that I spoke with said that, if they can’t get involvement from the key executives, they will walk away from the chance to do business with the company.

Your thoughts?

Is your company using its CRM system to even 50% of its potential, or is it a digital Rolodex? Are you having trouble getting your front-line users to adopt? Is leadership in your company fully committed to maximizing usage of CRM?

I’d love to hear from you. Comment below or email me at kyle@datixinc.com.


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