Thursday, April 26, 2012

What have you done for the First Time

When was the last time you did something for the very first time? Was it exciting? How good did it feel when you achieved it. When we were all significantly younger than we are now - almost everything we did - we did for the very first time. As kids it was always the first time to visit the zoo, the first time skiing, the first long division or the first goal you scored in soccer! So when you think back on an amazing childhood and youth - much of it came down to the fact that you were always doing new things for the very first time
So now that we have been inflicted with the aging disease of TMB (Too Many Birthdays) do you ever take time to do something for the very first time? You Should. A few weeks ago I wake boarded behind a boat for the very first time. I failed 15 tries in a row to get out of the water. I went back the next morning and got up of the water first time - it was exhilarating. (less so when 200 metres later I face planted most aggressively).

The following day my 74 year old father in law went water skiing for the very first time - and nailed it. Halfway around the bay he jumped off the skis. When we pulled up beside him, he said bring the boat really close - which I did only to be handed his top and bottom teeth!! He said “that was awesome lets go again - but I was just scared I might loose them in the lake”. I have never laughed so hard - but how cool to learn something new at 74.

There are so many things to do in this world - there is no excuse for not 'doing something new'. If you cannot think of what to do - then simply set out to do something better than you have ever done it. Setting a personal best is almost as exciting as doing something you have never done.

About a year ago I decided to start playing golf with some friends. I was reluctant at first and signed up with 2 good friends who were already good golfers. A year of struggles later I am finally getting better and last week played my best round ever - I set a personal best. What a buzz. Interestingly the two friends I signed up with are no longer golfing at all - but I was determined not to be beaten by a game as simple as golf.

So whether it is work or play - go out and find something you have never done before - and do it. There is no greater buzz. Challenge yourself. Find something you already do - and do it better than ever before. Challenge yourself. If you want life to feel just a little bit like you a kid again, then start doing things you have never done before.

Many of us are so busy with work that there is little time for play. That’s fine - just apply this concept to work. Use a tool you have never used! Question a business process you have never questioned.  If you usually consult - then tomorrow sell something! If you sell - set out to do your own demo! Find something that you have been told ' can't be done' and do it. Give it a shot and let me know what you have done – that you have never done before. .

Thursday, April 19, 2012

CRM and Excel in action together

This is a pretty cool example of why you need SmartConnect to make working with CRM a whole lot better.

Watch this video.  CRM Opportunities

This example was built with SmartConnect together with some excel data connections to pull data into Excel. Take this example and slot in your own real world scenarios to see how SmartConnect can help you deliver some really creative solutions.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The difference between SmartList and SmartView

Perhaps one of the most common questions I get asked is "what is the difference between SmartView and SmartList which we already love?".  The answer is that you will love SmartView even more!!

Watch this quick video that highlights a few of the differences between SmartList and SmartView.  Thanks to Jamie Otte for putting this together.

SmartView and SmartList

Does SmartConnect work with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online?

Q1: Can SmartConnect work with CRM Online?

I get asked this question regularly as to whether SmartConect can work with CRM Online.  The easy answer is YES - SmartConnect works with all deployment types of CRM.

SmartConnect uses the CRM web services for connecting to, reading from and creating data inside of CRM. This means that there is  no difference for the end user or the user creating maps inside of SmartConnect if they are connecting to CRM Online.  This is exactly the same for a non Microsoft hosted CRM instance.  Simply in SmartConnect setup you define the location of the CRM URL to which you need to connect and you are golden.

This means that it does not matter whether your CRM is on premise, hosted by Microsoft or hosted by another provider - SmartConnect can read it and write to it like it was in the next room.

Q2: Where can we pull data from to push to CRM online?

This is nearly always the next question I am asked - and the answer is anywhere! CRM Online is not treated differently to any other CRM instance and you can use any data source to push data into CRM.

This means that you can pull data form any of the following locations and write records into CRM:
  1. Microsoft Dynamics GP
  2. Excel
  3. Text
  4. XML
  5. Network Folders
  6. Any ODBC connection
  7. Any OLEDB connection
  8. Microsoft CRM
  9. InfoPath
  10. SmartList
  11. Extender
And in return you can read any data out of CRM and write to to any of these as destinations.

Q3: So if my customer does not use Dynamics GP can I still use SmartConnect?

That's correct. While SC started out as a Microsoft Dynamics GP based product, for over a year now it has operated as a stand alone application. This means that the entire Microsoft CRM community has access to use SmartConnect for all their integration needs.  It is not just GP customers that get all the power of SmartConnect but now all CRM customers can integrate and automate until they grow weary.

So whether your need is to . . .
  1. Master File integration to CRM
  2. Regular updates to CRM data from any source
  3. Synchronising CRM with Dynamics GP or with one or many other back end solutions
  4. Automation of business critical processes inside CRM
. . . then SmartConnect is your easy answer.

So if you are new to SmartConnect and would like to see a demonstration of it in action together with CRM or CRM online send me a message and we can line up a time to show you why SmartConnect is the default integration tool for GP and is fast becming the default tool for use with CRM.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

SmartConnect V Scribe

I am continually bombarded with questions regarding SC v Scribe and what are the differences.  Having never seen Scribe it is tricky to answer.

Here is the opinion of one of our customers on the difference SmartConnect has made. Tippman Sports

Monday, April 09, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Command Line SmartConnect

One little-known feature in SmartConnect is that that it has an executable that can be called from either a batch process, SQL job, or any other program that can access the directory that the executable is located in.

The executable that can be called is: eOne.SmartConnect.RunMapConsole.exe
It is located in the C:\Program Files\eOne Solutions\SmartConnect directory on any machine that SmartConnect has been installed on.

There is also one parameter that needs to be passed in when calling it, which is the ID of the map that you want to run. Once the executable is called with a valid Map ID it will run that map with whatever data source it was set up on.

Two of the most common ways to call the executable are outlined below, calling it from a batch file and calling it from a SQL job.

The batch file would need just this line to have it call the map, plus any other commands that needed to execute:

"c:\Program Files\eOne Solutions\SmartConnect\eOne.SmartConnect.RunMapConsole.exe" CUSTOMERS

That line would execute a map named CUSTOMERS when the batch file ran, as long as the account the file was running under had access to that directory.

To create a SQL job to run a map, create the job under the SQL Server Agent in the management studio. Under the Steps tab on hte job properties, add a new step and set its type to "Operating System (CmdExec)". Then for the command you can use the same line as we used in the batch file to run the map. After that is done you can add addition steps in the job and schedule it as well.

One thing to take note of is that there aren't any errors returned back through this executable. The jobs/batch files will only return an error if the executable doesn't actually run. To track errors on the maps you would need some combination of map failure tasks/email, error logging, or some other script to alert users when something goes wrong.

Friday, April 06, 2012

I am going to become social. For a long time I have blogged, but am going to add a few more avenues to the way we communicate.

1. Tweet: Follow me at @martin_eone: I will tweet on may random topics so watch here for sales gems, creative ideas for for using all eOne solutions and services.
2. Tweet: Follow eOne at @eonesolutions: This is where the action will be. Updates on coming builds, service pack releases, new features etc.
3. LinkedIn: I am really starting to like the linked in groups.  Join the SmartConnect group for regular updates, discussions on hot topics, Knowledge Bases articles etc.  If you want to know about Sc then you can find it from the members of this group.
4. FaceBook: I will not have a corporate FaceBook Account.  Unless someone puts forward a good argument as to why I should.

Looking forward to virtually connecting with everyone.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Fascinating job advertisement

Fascinated by a Job add today that I saw on linked in.

Dynamics GP and CRM end user in Georgia is looking for an immediate Dynamics GP contractor with Scribe experience.
With a complex systems environment, this contractor will work alongside internal resources on ongoing projects and maintain the integrity of their Scribe integrations between GP, CRM, several proprietary products, and 3rd party add-ons. Immediate phone interview to be arranged this week.
The contract will require you to be on-site 40 hrs/week for the 6 month duration.
Pay rate in the range of $60/hr.-$75/hr.

There is something wrong when you need a product specialist and 6 months to complete an integration project.  $75*40*26= $ 78,000 in consulting fees for an integration project?  Really. I would challenge them to contact eOne and I am sure we can assist for much less.

Take a look at a recent case study by a customer that was facing a similar experience. Tippman Sports

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Dynamics is Alive Kicking and Growing

There is nothing like 7 days in Houston Texas with 10,000 like minded people, to remind you how Vibrant the Dynamics Community and more specifically Dynamics GP and CRM community is. For those that have never been to Convergence, you simply must make time to go.  New Orleans in 2013 will be a cracker.

eOne was fortunate enough to be invited to present sessions covering SmartList Builder, Excel Report Builder, Extender and Advanced Extender. With up to 400 people in each session, and each session being repeated - I got to speak to and converse with many of our customers.  I simply love talking to the real end users of our software.

I spend most of the year closeted away in Australia working on sales plans, development plans, support issues, bugs, budgets and all sorts of management associated with running a software company. Spending time with people who use our software every day is absolutely inspiring.

I am continually amazed at the clever things people do with our solutions. I love stories from all those customers that 'could not survive with out SmartList Builder', those that 'cannot believe they had never been told about Excel Report Builder' and those who have 'masisvley improved efficiency' by implementing SmartConnect. There are so many people doing fantastic things and using both Microsoft and eOne tools to 'improve their day to day business' it knocks my socks off.

The most important thing is to remember that there are thousands and thousands of businesses that benefit massively from running Microsoft Dynamics products. There are thousands of end users that love using the software they use. There are thousands of customers with good ideas on how to make things just that little bit better.

It is also great to hear that Microsoft takes Dynamics seriously. That Microsoft are investing heavily in the Dynamics Space. That all of the Microsoft solutions are getting better and better.  It is also very real to know Microsoft face the same business challenges that we all face.  The one challenge that I sense Microsoft are struggling with is the ability to coordinate development across the myriad of teams they have.  When you write everything from Windows,  3 ERP solutions, a world class CRM, Reporting Solutions, the SQL database, Office, Office 365, Sharepoint and hundreds of other products - it is nigh impossible to keep everything 100% coordinated. But it is great to hear that they are trying.

I also love talking to other ISV developers. The ISV's contain some of the best people in the Dynamics Community. Clever people doing really clever things. The ISV community sets Dynamics apart from the competition.

The other great thing about convergence is Apre Convergence! That is the entertainment, the parties and the beverages.  It is the one week a year that I can survive on 3 hours sleep a night all week, then work 16 hr days and do it all again. the number of times I see people at 3am downtown and then see then again in a 9am technical discussion group says a great deal for stamina (you know who you are)! The problem is it takes a full week of R&R to recover.

I left convergence with the knowledge that the large majority of businesses take there business software seriously. I left thinking that most end users are way smarter than we give them credit for. I left knowing that clever customers that invest in their systems put together brilliant business solutions. I left comfortable in the knowledge that Microsoft Dynamics is the very best Business solution on the market. I left thankful that I work in this robust industry and am very confident that there are some very successful years ahead.