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Customer-Centric Approach Key to Our Continued Success: Convergence 2014 Opens with Customers Making an Impact

Well hello Atlanta! What an opening to today’s kick off to Convergence 2014! I’ve been to more Convergence events than I can count off hand, and this by far was one of the best opening keynotes I’ve attended. The energy from the audience, the set and the presenters got me jazzed for a great week, how about you?

The Spirit of Atlanta drum and bugle corps. opened up the morning with an upbeat, toe-tapping performance followed by Wayne Morris CVP, Microsoft Business Solutions Marketing. Before the Spirit of Atlanta left the stage, Wayne encouraged us all to submit our event evaluations, as for every evaluation received, Microsoft will donate $1 to the Spirit of Atlanta, a non-profit organization.

Wayne was excited to share the laundry list of bold moves and deliveries that have exemplified Microsoft’s innovation across the company. He confirmed it was a great year, but asked the real question, “what’s the impact on you?” To answer the question, he invited two of the customer excellence award winners onstage, Chobani and Weight Watchers, to talk about the difference a year can make.

So what can we expect in the year ahead? The Dynamics Innovation Roadmap includes the CRM spring update, GP 2013 R2 and AX 2013 R3 – keeping the innovation rolling along.

Kirill Tatarinov, EVP of MBS, joined the stage admitting that this is his 7th Convergence with MBS. He quickly turned to talking about the dynamics of human connection, connections that technology enriches, heightens and strengthens, giving the Olympic Games in Sochi as an example. Microsoft Dynamics served as the backbone of the Olympic games, and it was the only solution that could scale to handle the tens of thousands of people involved in the event. In fact , MSDYNAX was the only application to receive the Olympic #bestERP system award ever!

KirrillUp next, The Era of the Customer” and it’s all about engaging, nurturing and delighting. While technology matters, Kirill stated that it is being a customer-centric organization that brings you into the era of the customer. By living in the era of the customer, Kirill means engaging customers on their terms and humanizing the enterprise.

How does Kirill think we become customer centric companies? It all starts with the culture. It’s the people , not the technology that create the culture. Think of it as "P2P," people to people, rather than B2B. Start at the top and make sure everyone thinks of customer excellence as the most important objective.

On the Microsoft side, Kirill stated the strategy is to create high value opportunities for people at work, at home and on the go, setting Microsoft up as the company that helps people do more amazing things. One example given was the company’s investment in the Cloud, which directly targets peoples’ productivity.

We got a sneak peek at an ad airing in two weeks featuring the Lotus F1 Team, which was followed up by CEO of Lotus F1 Team, Matthew Carter, joining Kirill to talk about technology's role in connecting his team on track and team in the factory. Because of Dynamics AX, the Lotus F1 Team has advantages over other teams , all due to agility and speed. In context of Cloud, Lotus F1 Team is moving over its website and wants to move simulation and testing into the cloud – all with the goal of increasing the speed on the track.

Moving on to marketing, Kirill noted that marketing is an area that has transformed the most in the recent years and he invited Wayne Morris back to the stage to demo MS Dynamics Marketing (formerly Marketing Pilot). Noting that productivity goes down for marketers when they have a dozen tools to manage, Wayne showed Microsoft’s comprehensive solution to manage engagements and measure results – it was really cool.

So how can Microsoft enable us to sell more effectively? Kirill invited Judson Althoff
on stage to show how he uses Microsoft products to run his 25 million dollar business. Again, a singular dashboard that shows Microsoft’s entire Windows 8 dashboard that accesses all Dynamics Platforms with live tile information – this too was cool.

Sales, Marketing, now Customer Care. We learned that 67% of people want to take care of their own customer care issues, so how can we help that? According to Kirill, knowledge is the most important tool and he invited Fred Studer, GM Microsoft Dynamics Product Marketing, onstage to help demonstrate how this concept is executed. Fred demonstrated how CRM and Parature are working together to create a more knowledgeable customer care agent and customer experience. And by delivering self-service and customer care, Microsoft helps people be proactive and solve their own problems.

It was 10:00am at this time, and we started talking beer, as it related to the unification of back end operations with sales, another key component of continued success. Dynamics AX and CRM customer New Belgium Brewing Company joined Kirill to discuss how they use technology and mobility to enable their sales (beer rangers) to have real time communications with operations. Because of this unification, New Belgium has seen continued success, just in this past year becoming 100% employee owned. (And then of course, this discussion was followed by a toast.)

Continuing the recognition of customers, customer excellence award winner, Delta, joined the stage. Delta's SVP and CIO, Theresa Wise, attributed their success to their technology partnership and continuous focus on customer. When asked what drives the case for change in her industry, Wise said that historically technology was used solely for planning, but moving forward, Delta is using technology to further engage with customers and colleagues throughout the world – making the customer experience the case for change.

I found this fascinating: My replacing each pilot’s 38 lb flight bag with a Surface, Delta saves 1.2 millions of gallons of gas each year!

The Delta story is also changing the way flight attendants access, share and save information. A Delta representative gave a demo of how a mobile work force with a mobile device can serve customers better in real time.

Another example of technology improving the lives of others, City Harvest, an organization that redistributes food slated for waste to the hungry in New York City. City Harvest uses technology to manage communications across supply and donor chains, specifically using a suite of Microsoft Dynamics in hybrid cloud. And because of this technology investment, City Harvest has doubled the number of meals it serves and cut cost of delivery. They actually use technology to double the amount of food they serve each week. 42 million lbs of fresh food delivered all over NYC using Dynamics to coordinate the whole operation – awesomeness.

Thanks to Microsoft for a motivating opening to Convergence! It’s not only great to hear how customers are succeeding, but the real impressive part of that is how we all have a chance to leverage technology to make an impact.

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