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Popping the Bubble – Collaborative CRM December 4, 2015

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, IOT, Microsoft CRM 2016.
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In 2000 I attended a presentation by Wolfgang Grulke who at that time was billing himself as a “futurist”. He had just published a book called 10 Lessons from the Future. He commanded a presence on the stage, was an inspirational speaker and it was riveting stuff, however when he said “In the very near future you will be able to do banking and buy things using your phone” there were audible sighs from some of my banking colleagues who all thought he was barking mad.

I recently re-read the book and indeed he was extremely forward thinking. Sometimes we forget that some of the technology that we just use and take for granted just was not there a few years ago.

With the release of Microsoft CRM this week, brimming with lots of new functionality I thought it might be fun to put on a set of futurist glasses and like Wolfgang pop the bubble of convention and take a view of just one little aspect of where CRM may take us in the future.

I call it Collaborative CRM.

Imagine companies working together and using a common CRM system to serve the customer better. A paint company and a paintbrush manufacturer have the same customer base. This would require collaborative data, synergistic processes however it is infinitely doable.

Couple this to visual monitoring of shoppers, cameras at various levels in the store monitoring your every move all aimed at effectively predicting shopping patterns, and GPS data understanding your location. This is where big data, meets visual cue inputs, predictive analysis, sophisticated integration, the fabled IOT and a high degree of data science.

I suspect that the ability to remain anonymous as a shopper will slowly disappear as has cash in many societies where all transactions are mostly electronic. Therefore if I go back to my initial point about the sharing of data consider this scenario:

If the Bank, the mall owners, the stores within the mall, your mobile provider, the service company who services your tools and the GPS in your car are all sharing data on a common CRM platform, they will know where you are, how much money you have to spend, what you normally like buying, when you last bought specific products and they can effectively market to you using customised content.

Customised Content; It could work like this, you make use of voice recognition (Cortana) at store level as you enter the store ask your phone or a digital sales assistant robot where the product is and a small hovering drone quadcopter displaying your name on a led display leads you to the shelf where the products can be found and to a personalised display based on detailed analysis of your previous purchases and what you have asked for on this occasion.

Therefore for example if last time you had bought an electric drill and are now looking for a concrete drill bit, a personalised video shows up on a small screen on the shelf giving the benefits between different types of masonry bits.

This video is optimised for your vision as the system knows that you are short sighted and recently purchased bi-focal glasses from an optician in the mall.

The system has also seen that you spent a few minutes looking at a chainsaw on the way out, the data knows that you have a hedge as you previously bought a hedge trimmer, and recently had it serviced where it showed a high degree of wear and tear in a short space of time. Effectively the system could determine that this hedge really needs cutting with a chainsaw, a local store demonstrator turns up at your house to do a demo.

The product he brings with him is the one that you picked up in the store.

The system is also aware that you are not shopping with your partner, and that your buying patterns are completely different when you are out as a couple, and therefore the marketing approach is altered to cater for these circumstances.

All of this technology is here and available right now. Bolting it together into a comprehensive system is what is a little futuristic. I can hear a few dissenters among my readers, all probably thinking that I too am barking mad.



The Industrial Revolution and the Internet of Things IOT November 3, 2015

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in IOT, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Network Security.
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At the advent of the industrial revolution some very clever people started harnessing steam and electricity in the design of machines and industrial equipment that was to revolutionise the way that the world worked. We have not looked back and I would say that progress has continued unabated since these early days of steam.

When looked at today, some of these machines are truly amazing and of real inspirational design. As the industrial revolution picked up pace, innovations flowed across almost every facet of business life from looms for cloth making to printing presses and everything in between. Automation was delivered at a staggering pace.

There was one little problem however, the whole concept as we know it today of “health and safety” was not on the table, and many of these machines were capable of ripping your arm off if you got too close or made a simple mistake.

There is no doubt that very few of the machines from this era would be allowed to function today without some serious modifications.

I see a little parallel with the innovative developments in the area that is now termed “The Internet of things”, the “IOT”. The inspirational designers of today are creating the capability to connect and link things and systems together with spectacular results. My simple question for all of those connecting the accounting system to the toaster, have you taken into consideration security? Especially network security? I somehow suspect that the “No” answer will be forthcoming more often than not.

I work with and network together with a whole range of incredibly smart people, who I am sure if they had lived 175 years ago, would have spent their time inventing and designing sophisticated machines and automating the world. Their skill set is innovation and they are very very good at it, and for some of these folk security is a boring inconvenience as would have health and safety concerns in the 1800’s been to the innovators of the day.

The multiplier effect you need for security when you link two networks together is one thing, linking a whole menagerie of devices, networks, and systems together can become highly complex and requires the attention of network, device and system security specialists.

Think for just a moment about your new Smart TV, it is Internet ready and browser friendly, but has no real security, I appreciate that there is no hard drive (yet) on most, however once someone is on your network, or once you access a web page that has malicious intent, you are slightly exposed. This website spells it out in great detail. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/smart-tvs-are-a-growing-security-risk-how-do-you-deal-with-this/ and remember this is just your TV.

I embrace the IOT fully, I think we are on a similar innovative path that our forefathers took and we are all going to be very surprised where this ends up in a few years. I do however think that I would check with my systems security specialists before I connect the CRM system to my electric blanket.

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