December, 2008

Posts
  • Girish Raja's Blog

    CRM Incubation Week – Roundup

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    CRMIncubationWeekIt is not usual to see pouring rain in Virginia and heavy snow fall in Seattle at the same time. The CRM incubation week happened during this same time and like the weather, the event was definitely extraordinary.

    As I blogged earlier, the CRM Incubation Week was conducted on a very simple idea. The idea of startups using Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a Rapid Application Development Platform for building business applications.

    DSCF0104Five startups were chosen from over 50 applicants. There were given a short training on the CRM platform and from there on, the teams worked feverishly for the next four days and nights putting their solution together. The focus was not just the technology but we had lunch presentations on business aspects like how startups can pitch their ideas and how they can validate their business model, etc. This is very critical for startups as it is not just good enough to have a great idea but you need to be able to convince others and gain the backing to make your ideas successful.

    DSCF0138Each startup team was assigned an advisor and I was honored to be advising DubMeNow who had an  innovate mobile based solution for business cards.

    The advisors were not all from Microsoft. Jim Steger from Sonoma Partners and Dan Blake from CourseMax sacrificed their revenue generating hours and volunteered to be advisors to help the community. Their presence clearly thrilled the startups. We gave 3 CRM development books to every team and Jim co-authored 2 of the 3 books. When you have a question while reading a book, walking next door and clarifying it directly with the author is not something you get everyday and when you can do that at 1AM in the morning, that is when startups realized that Incubation week is special. Dan Blake was in the same situation as every other team couple of years ago when he started CourseMax. Dan’s insights and experience as a startup was sought by every team.

    You can see me twittering different activities of the week here http://tinyurl.com/9q7g8u but with the amount of white boarding and development we were doing, you can imagine why we hardly had time to even go out for dinner. Nevertheless, with Xbox 360 console and the nice food arranged by MTC, we had plenty of fun.

    Day 5 was  the climax with all teams presenting their solution to a panel of Venture Capitalists (VCs), Angel Investors and CRM experts such as Paul Greenberg who also happens to the CRM blogger for ZDNET.

    I can keep going for another 3 pages of content but I’d rather point you to Sanjay’s excellent blog coverage of the event. On closing, I’d like to quote Paul Greenberg on his thoughts about the CRM Incubation Week.

    “I have to hand it to Microsoft here. This kind of program not only encourages and supports emerging businesses - small and new or even established and moving in other directions - but also showcases their platform in a good way. As a far better development tool than I thought it was.”

  • Girish Raja's Blog

    CRM Accelerators: Analytics

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    Reuben decided to take control of things on this channel9 video as we discuss about the Analytics accelerator. <Alert> We recorded this video really early in the development cycle for this accelerator. There are far more cool capabilities and reports in the final version of this accelerator than what we see in this video. </Alert>

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    CRM Accelerators: Analytics

    The analytics accelerator provides a set of Performance Dashboards and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for analyzing the data residing within the CRM platform. It utilizes SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) for creating OLAP cubes. SSAS is also used here for creating predictive analysis with some fully functional samples. The analytics accelerator will work with SQL Server 2005 with some components enhanced to take advantage of SQL Server 2008.

    Check out more Channel9 videos on CRM Accelerators here and please visit http://www.codeplex.com/crmaccelerators to download the accelerators.

    Happy coding!

  • Girish Raja's Blog

    CRM Accelerators: eService (ASP.NET Portal)

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    Hands down, this is the accelerator that developers (at least I personally) would crave for.

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    CRM Accelerators: eService (ASP.NET Portal)

    eService accelerator allows developers to easily create self-service customer portals built on top of ASP.NET. This accelerator utilizes an ASP.NET starter kit and several components of the ASP.NET framework including the membership provider for authentication. The out of the box functionality of eService includes the ability for customers to create cases, schedule and manage service appointments, search through KB articles, etc all from within the website.

    Don’t be fooled by the name “eService”, as underneath the covers, there is an ASP.NET control suite for CRM. Each of the ASP.NET form you saw in this video is a customizable ASP.NET user control and all of its properties and settings are derived from the CRM metadata. You can hook up these controls to any entity within the CRM system and configure them fairly easily.

    I’m sure this accelerator will jump start CRM development for a lot of ASP.NET developers and vice versa.

  • Girish Raja's Blog

    CRM Accelerators: Event Management

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    We continue our channel9 CRM accelerator video series with this post is on Event Management accelerator.

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    CRM Accelerators: Event Management

    The event management accelerator allows you to plan and manage events and logistics through Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This front end portal of this accelerator is actually built using an ASP.NET starter kit. Behind the scenes, CRM plug-ins and workflows drives the business logic like registration, waitlists, notifications etc.

    The data model and business logic that Reuben has designed for this is very comprehensive and is a result of working with several event organizers. If you’re looking at building an event management solution, this accelerator will reduce a lot of brainstorming & revisions that you have to do otherwise.

    Given the design of this, I’m beginning to wonder if this accelerator could very well become a Content Management System (CMS) for event planning. What do you think?

  • Girish Raja's Blog

    CRM Accelerators: Notifications (RSS)

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    In this video, Reuben and I chat about the Notifications Accelerator.

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    CRM Accelerators: Notifications (RSS)

    CRM notifications accelerator allows you to expose CRM business data by creating Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds.

    Users can subscribe to any saved views within CRM as a feed. This allows you to have a channel where you pull information instead of being pushed to you from the server. These RSS feeds accessible via a variety of RSS readers including Outlook, Mobile phone, 3rd Party Readers, etc. It is also worth noting that this capability can be used to easily create Vista Gadget for CRM by using the generic RSS gadget that Windows Vista ships with.

    This is just a tip of iceberg on how RSS can be used with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Since the accelerator ships with the source code as well, developers can further extend this or create new and interesting applications based on RSS & CRM.

  • Girish Raja's Blog

    PDC2008 sets benchmark for Wireless Connectivity

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    Many of you who were there at the PDC keynote room might have missed the UFO style devices (in the picture below) from Xirrus. But several of these devices were silently (perhaps a little flashy) and dutifully doing their job in the keynote room.

    image

    Pardon my lazy blogging for not saying enough about it at the event as I promised earlier. But this press release from Xirrus will fascinate you.

    An industry record was made at PDC as we connected 2,890 concurrent users in a 100,000 square foot keynote hall through Wi-Fi. You can read more on this and the other records that were set by Xirrus here:

    http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Ultra-High-Density-Wi-Fi/story.aspx?guid=%7B74E21C5A-BA6C-4AD1-BABD-376A3C9AE814%7D

    We had over 2,000 connections pretty much during every keynote. With such large number of connections, attendees might have noticed how much bandwidth was eaten up. We didn’t use up the entire bandwidth but were over 90% of the capacity most of the times throughout the week. Hopefully that explains why you were getting a slower connection at times, as it was not just you, but thousands of other people on the same network around you.

    Our priority was to make sure nothing catastrophic happens as we also had a backup wireless solution if the high-density solution didn’t work out. Thankfully we didn’t ever have to go to our backup Wi-Fi.

    Next stop, we’ll think about scaling out High Density devices throughout the conference center and more bandwidth (of course) to make your conference experience better. Now you have one more reason to attend PDC 2009 and other future Microsoft events. So what are you waiting for?

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