Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Most Popular Articles (2015)

Last year I reviewed the most popular articles I had written on my blog. It has been seven years since I started this random walk in the land of Dynamics CRM so I thought I would make this an annual event to see what articles have held up to the test of time.

Last year, I focussed on the Popular Posts section on my blog site.


This year I will also look at the most popular blog posts in the last 12 months, using my clicks as an indicator.

Popular Posts Rankings

Last year, the popular posts were:

  • Import Tricks for Dynamics CRM 2011
  • Auto-Numbering Using Workflow
  • Five-Minute Integration Between Dynamics CRM and LinkedIn
  • Three Limitations of Using Advanced Find
  • The Only Surface Pro Review You Need if You Run Outlook
  • Running the Dynamics CRM VPC on Windows 7
  • Making Records Invisible in Dynamics CRM
  • Forrester and Gartner Trajectories for CRM
  • Moving to the Cloud Part Two: Migrating Email to Office 365
  • Review: Surface 2 32G (Why I Am Shocked How Good It Is)

This year, things are, not too surprisingly, quite similar with a little shifting.

  • Import Tricks for Dynamics CRM 2011
  • Auto-Numbering Using Workflow
  • Three Limitations of Using Advanced Find
  • Five-Minute Integration Between Dynamics CRM and LinkedIn
  • The Only Surface Pro Review You Need if You Run Outlook
  • Running the Dynamics CRM VPC on Windows 7
  • Making Records Invisible in Dynamics CRM
  • Moving to the Cloud Part Two: Migrating Email to Office 365
  • Forrester and Gartner Trajectories for CRM
  • Review: Surface 2 32G (Why I Am Shocked How Good It Is)

Two articles have dropped a place in the rankings, “Five-Minute Integration Between Dynamics CRM and LinkedIn” and “Forrester and Gartner Trajectories for CRM”. This is not too surprising. The quick integration between Dynamics CRM and LinkedIn no longer works as LinkedIn updated the API. There are other options of course, such as the Insideview add-on. I have a memory of LinkedIn providing a connector, in the past, but this seems to have disappeared.

The Forrester/Gartner dropping rank is also to be expected given it was written three years ago and I have written a few updates for both the Gartner and Forrester reports since then. The most recent being penned just this month.

Of the others, most are still relevant to some extent. Arguably the Surface Pro and Surface 2 reviews are becoming less relevant with the Surface Pro now being two versions out of date and soon to be three. This being said, I still use my Surface Pro as my personal machine (KPMG issue me with a work laptop which is compulsory to use, otherwise it would be my work machine as well). The Surface 2 is also used by my wife and kids at home but, as it runs Windows RT, its time is limited.

I expect the article on spinning up a CRM VPC will drop over time because no one I know bothers these days. It is, frankly, much simpler to spin up a 30 day trial with CRM Online.

My experiences with Office 365 still hold true. Being charged in US dollars is not as compelling as it once was with the weaker exchange rate but, in terms of the product, I could not be happier. I am training the new feature, Clutter, at the moment to make my inbox more manageable. As of writing, I have used 24.5Gb of my 49.5Gb Exchange limit.


Last year it was at 19.3Gb, meaning I consume about 5Gb per year. This gives me about five years of email storage before I have to start deleting.

This Year’s Posts

Using my click counts, the ten most popular articles in the last 12 months were:

Strictly speaking, this is probably more of a measure of ‘click bait’ as will not get triggered if people find the article through a search engine. The link only fires if people click on one of my promotions in places like LinkedIn. However, it is the best I have because Blogspot and Google Analytics do not provide flexible filtering with their free tools.

All these articles are still relevant, although the book reviews may show their age over time.


In terms of themes in both sets of posts, my codeless workarounds feature prominently, as do my Surface and book reviews. Conspicuously absent, even though it is often the thing people talk to me about, are my Salesforce articles. If the financial analysis is an annoyance, let me know, although I do enjoy crunching the numbers. Similarly, if there are topics you would like me to write about, call them out. I have a Word document I keep full of potential blog topics but I am always looking for inspiration.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Getting Cortana to Work on Australian Windows Phones

Relative to our American cousins, us Aussies speak a little queer. We have odd words for things (dunny, prawns, budgie smugglers) and we say things a little strangely (aluminium, caramel, herbs) so it was not too surprising when the USA got Cortana but Australia did not. However, it has been nine months now and there is still no sign of it coming. So I thought I would show you how to get Cortana on your Windows phone even if you think thongs go on your feet and not in your pants.

My Phone

In my case, I have a Lumia 925, the small brother to the one with the crazy powerful camera. It is running Windows Phone 8.1 and I am on the Optus network. According to the update service I am up to date.

Tricking the Settings

It used to be the case that you had to install developer software to get Cortana, but this is no longer the case and after adjusting a few settings you will be ready to go. The thing is, Cortana is waiting in the wings on your Windows Phone so it is not hard to get it working. Firstly, go to Settings – Language. You will need to set this to English (United States). Press and hold for more options. For the region options, the Country/Region needs to be the United States and the Regional Format needs to be English (Australia). For the speech options. Set the speech language to English (United States).

The regional format being set to English (Australia) is a cosmetic change which means phone numbers do not appear in the US format (###) ###-####, which just looks weird for our numbers.

Once you set these settings and reboot, when it tells you to, Cortana will be ready to go. To launch her, press the search button and you will see Cortana peering back (she is the blue circle).


You can type questions or hit the microphone icon and ask your questions.

How does Cortana handle Strine?

For the most part, Cortana deals with the nasal twang that is ‘Austrayan English’ quite well. Asking fun questions like “what does the <x> say?” worked fine for all except ‘horse’. For some reason, unless I affected a more American accent, it got it wrong every time.

Using Cortana

For myself, the speech aspects of Cortana are of limited use and the novelty of asking about the noises of various animals soon wears off (it will tell you jokes and knock knock jokes which will make you smile though) but where I really get value is in it bringing the information in my phone together.

When you fire up the Cortana app, it will display a consolidated list of stuff you want to see. It is like your own personal newspaper including the weather, your appointments and the latest news (configured to your preferences). Some of the measures are in imperial units e.g. miles but, for the most part, it is fine. Also, it will begin to notice the locations you often go to and ask for names e.g. home, work, bar etc.

After a while, it will begin to learn your movements and give you warning if there is traffic on the way home from work as well as looking in your calendar and telling you when you need to leave to make your meetings.

While this may sound creepy, it is not, it is really useful. If you think about it, this is a really sophisticated bit of software. It is looking at where you are, looking at where you are going (either by habit and GPS or by calendar appointment and Bing maps) and then sourcing information on traffic to predict how long the journey will take. When the time is right, up pops Cortana to let you know it is time to move.

The only downside I have found so far is I cannot figure out how to get Cortana to read QR codes. If anyone knows how, please leave a comment.


These days, getting Cortana on your Windows Phone is really easy and the value it adds, while not necessarily life-changing, is still very useful. What is more, if you do not like what it does, it is very easy to put the language and region settings back and return to how things were. My thinking is give it a bash and see how it goes.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Gartner Trajectories for Sales Force Automation 2013-2015

When Forrester or Gartner release their ‘quadrants’, rather than looking at the ‘winners’, I like to see how the products have fared over time. I have done this over the years and if you search for Gartner or Forrester in my blogs you will see them. Here is my most recent Forrester one and my most recent Gartner one. Thankfully my GIMP skills have improved over the years so the graphs are more readable these days.

With the relatively recent release of the Gartner Sales Force Automation Magic Quadrant, I thought I would construct another for the last three years of Gartner reports.

Gartner 2013-2015

The big blue dots are where the products are in the more recent Gartner report. The tail shows the movement over the previous two reports. While Gartner has many more products in their reports, I have focussed on the vendors which, in the three years, have made a presence in the top right quadrant.

Let us look in detail at the CRM products which made the cut.

The Leaders

From two years ago, there has been a reduction in the membership of the Leaders Club. Back in 2013, there were four products, vying for the top spot:

  • Salesforce
  • Dynamics CRM (Online and On-Premise)
  • SAP (CRM)
  • Oracle (Siebel CRM)

Today only the top two of these remain. This also makes Microsoft’s play for Salesforce a little clearer. If Microsoft had succeeded in acquiring Salesforce, they would have dominated the Leaders quadrant.


The product to chase, Salesforce has remained in the top spot for the last three years. While others are getting closer, there is no doubt that for sales force automation, Salesforce is the tool of choice. Despite being firmly in the Dynamics CRM camp, I can understand this position. Salesforce was built to manage sales pipelines and sales opportunities and there is no reason to believe it does not do the job. However, for xRM-like processes i.e. customer interactions outside of a traditional sale scenario, my belief is Dynamics CRM does a better job and Salesforce needs the cloud platform to get close. However, this is a Gartner report for sales force automation and Salesforce reigns supreme.

Dynamics CRM Online

The online version of Microsoft’s product has gone from strength to strength under the guidance of Jujhar Singh, General Manager for Dynamics CRM. Three years ago development of the product was not as tight; deadlines were missed and bugs sometimes slipped out, leading to release withdrawals and the like. There was also times when functionality was released to help Dynamics CRM demo well, rather than because it added sustainable value to the product. With Jujhar, this has gone away; development is a lot tighter with the consistent release of added functionality for long term user benefit.

The consistent improvement in the positioning of CRM Online in the Gartner Quadrant is a testament to the focussed efforts of the Dynamics CRM development team.

Dynamics CRM On-Premise

While still in the leaders quadrant, the On-premise version of Dynamics CRM has slipped back a bit. Given Gartner release their results in July, when CRM Online has the new features but CRM On-Premise does not (the two products realign with the November-December release, this explains some of the slippage, although not entirely. The Gartner report suggests slippage is also due to customer satisfaction and the annual update release cycle, compared to CRM Online’s cycle which is every six months.

The Challengers


This is SAP’s on-premise offering and it has moved out of the leaders quadrant and into the Challengers, with the completeness of their vision being left behind the others. Gartner cites the reason for this is that SAP is focussing on their cloud CRM product, SAP (Cloud for Sales). In other words, while SAP (CRM) will likely be retained in the foreseeable future, it is not necessarily a key component of their market strategy.

The Visionaries

In this case, a visionary is a vendor with a clear vision for the future but not necessarily a full set of features in the product.

SAP (Cloud for Sales)

The cloud CRM offering from SAP is going from strength to strength. Starting out in the bottom left (politely characterised as ‘niche players’), it is now a Visionary. It seems SAP’s shift in focus from their on-premise offering to their cloud offering is paying off. It will be interesting to see if SAP can make it back into the Leaders club next year.


In previous quadrants, Oracle had two products, Siebel CRM and Sales Cloud. Oracle have announced that the once 200-Pound gorilla of the CRM market, Siebel CRM, will no longer be sold to new customers. Therefore, the Sales Cloud is the only product now being considered by Gartner.

The tail coming from the south east of the Oracle dot is the Sales Cloud one. Therefore, we can see that the Sales Cloud, for the last three years has been residing in the Visionaries quadrant. Perhaps, like SAP, with increased focus on this offering, Oracle will again gain a foothold in the Leaders quadrant.


Since 2013, the Sales Force Automation landscape has changed from being dominated by four vendors to just two, Salesforce and Microsoft. SAP and Oracle are seeking to return with their cloud offerings and only time will tell if they have come to the party too late to make their mark. SAP are certainly making progress but Oracle are still struggling to make significant gains.

As for the leaders, Salesforce still holds the top position but Dynamics CRM Online is rising fast and, with CRM 2016 soon to be released, perhaps this will be enough to challenge the incumbent, just as the CRM systems of old have been challenged and left behind.