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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Analytics Express: Foundation

Businesses need information to make decisions and respond quickly to changes in its business operations, competition, and customer needs.  The format and delivery of that information in a consumable and actionable way is just as important as the information itself.  Executives want a high level summary that shows them the health of their business.  Managers want a detailed breakdown of functional performance so they can pinpoint problems and take action to resolve them.  Line of business workers need real-time customer information in the flow of their work so they can generate more sales or address customer problems more effectively.

Microsoft offers a suite of business intelligence products that work with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0.  Together, the tools help users at all levels of the organization gain customer insight and make better decisions, allowing the company as a whole to respond quickly to changing business dynamics in today’s competitive business environment.

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Analytics Express: Foundation is a set of sample code, documentation, and tools that enable partners and customers to build business analytics solutions on Dynamics CRM 3.0, leveraging the Microsoft Business Intelligence suite of products (SQL Server 2005, SharePoint, Business Scorecard Manager, Office Excel, etc).  Analytics Foundation will enable ad-hoc analysis and reporting for managers, business performance management for executives, and predictive analytics for line of business users.  The package provides UDM cube samples, sample reports, KPIs, dashboards, and predictive data mining delivered through Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  This will be an open source release via CodePlex and Sandbox which means customers and partners will be able to customize the solution to fit their needs.  In addition, we will provide a VPC image that will allow field and partners to demo this solution.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Analytics Express: Foundation is scheduled for release Q4 calendar 2006 and is focused on addressing the following business needs:

1. Business Performance Management

• Business Need: In order to respond quickly to business changes and make well-informed decisions, executives and managers need real-time access to the health of their business delivered in an easy to understand way.  Sales executives need to stay on top of the health of the pipeline to ensure that revenue targets are met.  Marketing executives want to measure and monitor the ROI of current and past marketing campaigns.  Service executives are committed to maintaining customer satisfaction while reducing service center costs.

• Technology Solution: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 captures rich operating business data.  Through SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services and SharePoint, this data can be summarize d and delivered to business decision makers in real-time.  SQL Server 2005 UDM cubes can be built on top of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 data and KPIs can then be constructed from the cubes via Business Scorecard Manager (BSM).  BSM scorecards can then be delivered through a SharePoint web portal.  Executives can now access a graphical view of the health of their business right from their desktops and drill down to progressively more detailed views of the data to answer questions about the performance of the business.

2. Business Reporting and Ad-hoc Analysis

• Business Need: Access to business information at the right level of detail is critical to organizations today.  The mechanism for obtaining that information, however, is often fragmented.  When a manager needs a report, he or she frequently contacts an IT or business analyst who constructs a query against the database of business information and then constructs a report that displays the information in an understandable form.  However, the manager’s ability to respond quickly to business needs is often hampered by the long roundtrip time and costs incurred in creating reports.  Sales managers may want to quickly pivot the sales pipeline information or historical revenue in a different way.  Service managers may want to create a report that rolls up the service activity completion times but exclude a few recent outlier customer cases.  Marketing managers might want to see the types of responses they’re getting from a newly launched campaign.

• Technology Solution: With Microsoft Excel and SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services Report Builder, power users can create reports and analyze business data captured in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 in the way they want, without the need to engage IT programmers.  With SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services cubes as the foundation, managers can analyze business data and pivot the data in new ways directly in Excel, the environment they’re already comfortable with.  More complex reports with multiple components such as drill-down linked reports can be quickly created in Reporting Services Report Builder and consumed by managers.

3. Predictive Analytics

• Business Need: Knowing what happened with the business is the first step to becoming successful.  Historical reporting gives managers and executives knowledge and insight about their business.  To stay ahead of the competition and to keep up with the rapid changes in the business environment, an organization must effectively anticipate what will happen and act proactively.  Sales managers want better forecasting of sales revenue and improve sales people efficiency by helping them prioritize what leads to focus on.  Service managers need to effectively load balance service resources and address customer satisfaction problems before they defect.  Marketing managers want to know how effective their campaigns will be before they launch them, to reduce the risk of low campaign ROIs.

• Technology Solution: Data mining predictive analytics technologies have been around for decades.  With Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 using SQL Server 2005 Data Mining, the power of predictive analytics can be delivered directly in a transparent and proactive way to the line of business user to make them more effective in their day-to-day tasks.  For example, Dynamics CRM can automatically prioritize leads based on a historical analysis of what types of leads are more likely to convert to opportunities.  The application can recommend cross-sell and up-sell opportunities to a sales rep engaged with a customer.  Target prospect lists can be automatically generated for marketing campaigns based on likelihood that each prospect will convert to a customer on the offer in the campaign.  Combined with Microsoft Dynamics CRM workflow, business decisions can be automated and allow organizations to respond in real-time to business changes.  For example, cases of important customers that are predicted to take a long time to close can be automatically escalated – this reduces the risk of important customer defects and save the organization from losing future revenue.

Wan Li Zhu