A Message from our CEO

I returned from Microsoft’s annual World Partner Conference in Washington D.C. earlier in the summer and was delighted to announce Pythagoras has once again been awarded Presidents Club status for Microsoft Dynamics. This group represents the top 5% of Global Partners that show exceptional commitment to their clients throughout the last 12 months.

Our commitment to excellence extends through our clients. We pride ourselves on delivering solutions across the Microsoft productivity stack (Dynamics CRM, Office 365, SharePoint, Yammer) that empower workforces, driving collaboration and opportunity.

Throughout the next 12 months you will see Pythagoras continue to grow and invest in our expertise, delivering amazing customer experiences through cloud and mobile first technologies.

Julian Stone, CEO, Pythagoras.  

Recap: Power BI with Excel for Higher Education Executive Briefing

Tuesday 14th October saw 11 key individuals from Universities’ across the UK join Pythagoras at Microsoft’s UK Headquarters to discuss the benefits of Power BI with Excel for Higher Education.

We’d like to thank all the attendees and our colleagues at Microsoft. Listed below are a 3 common questions asked during the briefing:

Q: Can I pull and report on data from my student record system?

A: Absolutely, as long as information can be exported into Excel anything can be pulled and reported on.

Q: Can I pull outside data sources to compliment and further interrogate trends we may be seeing?

A: Yes, for example you may see open day attendance is down across certain faculties. Adding weather reports will allow you to see if there are any further associated trends.

Q: We use QlikView, why is this better for us?

A: Apart from Power BI being a natural extension to Excel and your existing investment with Office 365 and the Microsoft Cloud, Power BI provides the self-service element for users, removing the continuous need for IT. Further benefits include the ability to create Power BI sites to share reports and find answers using the natural language Q&A tool.

For more information:

View our Higher Education and Power BI pages, email info@pythagoras.co.uk or call 01628 519 000.

Pythagoras Employee Named Microsoft Apprentice of the Year

We would like to extend our congratulations to Kimberley Bolton who has been awarded Microsoft Apprentice of the Year.

Kimberley received her award from Home Secretary, Theresa May and Microsoft UK Managing Director, Michel Van der Bel at a ceremony at the House of Commons on June 23 2014.

Theresa May said: “Apprenticeships are incredibly important in helping young adults to develop skills in the workplace. Apprenticeships are hands-on and so much more about understanding what the working environment is all about.”

On receiving her award Kimberley outlined how she came to the decision to sign up to the apprenticeship scheme, she said: “becoming an IT apprentice is the best thing i have ever done. I have gone from having no confidence and no iT knowledge to winning Microsoft Apprentice of the year. I have  really had to push myself, and now it has all paid off.”

Introducing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

Organisations across the Globe are looking to bridge the gap between sales and marketing and deliver consistent experiences that drive revenue and customer satisfaction.

What’s new in Dynamics CRM 2015?

Streamlined, multi-channel marketing

Marketing teams are more than ever before being held responsible for campaign ROI yet most are unable to track campaign metrics and returns from beginning to end. More than 50% of CMO’s feel unprepared for the new marketing landscape.

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing 

  • New email editor featuring an entry level drag and drop editor to a advanced editor for CSS and HTML experts.
  • Webinar integration.
  • Improved inbound lead scoring allowing marketing teams to effectively measure campaign returns.
  • Manage marketing resource management and campaigns with a new marketing calendar.

CRM 2015 within Microsoft Dynamics Marketing email editor

Updated guided sales process 

The functionality available in CRM 2015 builds on the business process flows introduced in the CRM 2013 release. Within CRM 2015 organisations can implement complex business processes (e.g. one specific to products and one for services)

Maximise cross-sell and up-sell opportunities with the ability to bundle products and recommended products for cross-sell / up-sell.

Sales hierarchies 

Visually understand how information across accounts, products or users relate in hierarchical charts.

  • View contacts relationships across an account, allowing you to leverage connections for future opportunity.
  • View organisations sub accounts, drilling in to see where opportunities lie.

CRM 2015 Hierarchy

Improved CRM for tablets

Using Dynamics CRM on tablets has now become even easier with enhanced personalisation via dash boards and views available. Furthermore records and changes can now be created offline and synchronised when reconnected.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 tablet application update

Capture key metrics with rollup fields 

The ability to view the total number (in revenue) of open opportunities against an account, the total lifetime value (in closed opportunity revenue) against an account and the total number of high value service cases related to a record is now available out of the box with Dynamics CRM 2015.

Contact our experts for more information (including upgrading) on Dynamics CRM 2015.

Click Dimensions Tips – One way to maximise hidden fields within your web forms

Understanding the source of your leads and the ability to easily delegate and kick-off nurture campaigns is critical for marketing professionals across all industries. Organisations utilising Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ClickDimensions should already be aware of the ability to automatically capture information from completed web content directly into Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a new lead, this blog looks at how the simple use of hidden fields within your web forms can empower effective reporting.

For this example we will focus on the use of web content for website lead capturing. The majority of websites will have multiple web forms for capturing information, from the simple contact us to downloads, registrations and booking requests.

For your sales and marketing teams it’s critical the leads automatically created in Dynamics CRM from your website can be easily differentiated by generic topic from one another and reported on without having to dive into each completed form to review.

Utilising the hidden field feature when building your web forms to easily see which forms your new leads have completed for this couldn’t be simpler.

1. When completing the design of your web form select the “Hidden Field” component from the Fields and Components area and add this to the bottom of your form design builder.

ClickDimensions Web Form Hidden Field

2. Double clicking on the Hidden field element will enable you to add a default value (the text always pulled through with this form when a record in CRM is created). Mapping this to the Topic field within leads will ensure that when the web form completed the topic field in the newly created lead will reflect the default value and thus the lead source will be easily identifiable against the completed web form topic.

Click Dimensions Web forms Help

3. A visitor to the website completes the contact us form and clicks submit. This triggers workflow and a lead to be created in Dynamics CRM.

Website Form completion

4. The new lead is instantly created within Dynamics CRM. The hidden field and default value we defined earlier is pulled through as the topic, informing us this enquiry has come via the contact us form. Without this the Topic field would typically be blank. 

Click Dimensons Web Form within Leads

I hope this has showcased one of the simple benefits available from the hidden field feature in ClickDimensions.

For further questions or help around your ClickDimensions or Dynamics CRM contact our experts.

Answering your questions: Higher Education CRM Briefing

​Our Higher Education Briefing on Thursday 15th May 2014 showcased our Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Power BI solutions for Higher Education.

Below is our selection of the top 5 questions posed on the day.

1. “Our University employs outbound telemarketing staff, are their actions captured in CRM against each record?”

Yes, following the start of a call the contacts screen will prompt you to add a completed activities, notes and set future tasks for yourself, other individuals or teams.

2. Can I build a target or marketing list based on certain criteria?

Absolutely, within Dynamics CRM you can build static or dynamic lists utilising the power of query and advanced find. For example you can build a dynamic marketing list that contains prospective students who have attended the Business School open day. One the prospective student becomes enrolled they or changes their prospective course choice they will be removed from that marketing list and added dynamically added to a new list.
3. “My institution has unique admissions processes, often utilising auditions and interviews. Is the admissions profile customisable?”

We recognise each institution has unique ways of working. Our Higher Education solution built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM is fully customisable to each institutions unique requirements.

4. When enquiries and queries come in via our website, these are allocated manually. How does this change with Dynamics CRM from Pythagoras?

Workflow will automatically allocate queries and enquiries from the website to the relevant teams or individual schools within the University etc.

5. Our current system creates multiple enquiry records for prospective students?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM from Pythagoras will automatically capture “lead” records for prospective students coming via inbound marketing. Once a full contact record is created all lead records will be rolled up, carrying forward previous information, requests etc.

The continued growth Microsoft Dynamics CRM within Higher Education

The 2013 UCISA survey results showed Microsoft Dynamics CRM as the leading CRM solution for Higher Education with a 19% share of the market. A rise we predicted since the first stream of Universities came to us as they began to understand the strategic benefits Microsoft Dynamics CRM could bring at a time of fierce competition for students.

This blog will take a look at 4 of the reasons why Microsoft Dynamics CRM should be the solution of choice for Universities not already experiencing the benefits;

1. Integration

The seamless integration to solutions within the Microsoft productivity suite (SharePoint, Yammer, Microsoft Social Listening, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, BI, Office etc.) ensures you gain the maximum value by leveraging the power across solutions.

2. Functionality and Higher Education Pedigree

Microsoft Dynamics CRM combines industry leading functionality and ease of adoption to provide users with a single student view across key teams. Furthermore, Dynamics CRM is used successfully by a number of Higher Education Institutions across marketing and admissions, alumni management, research and enterprise and business engagement.
3. Reduced Risk

Microsoft has a long term product roadmap for Microsoft Dynamics CRM; the research and development budget globally is $10bn; 40,000 customers and 3.8m users globally. Additions such as Microsoft Social Listening and Microsoft Dynamics Marketing to Dynamics CRM further increase the value for existing users.
4. Campus Agreement Pricing

Universities with Microsoft Campus agreement in place benefit from preferential pricing on licensing.
Pythagoras is a leading Microsoft Gold Partner with expertise in delivering solutions to Higher Education across Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SharePoint, Office 365 and Yammer.

Contact our experts today or visit our Higher Education page for more information.

Tips from our experts: 5 considerations for Financial Services organisations rolling out CRM

​On my travels around the City over the last couple of months I keep hearing a familiar story, clients are very early in their adoption or have experienced difficulties with implementations of CRM technologies and need support in changing user psychology in order to maximise their return on investments.

Many organisations in the financial services sector have ageing IT infrastructures and legacy platforms. It is essential that organisations invest in CRM technologies in line with their business objects in order to improve their offering, enhance their heritage and stay ahead of the competition.

From our experience in financial services we understand that there is one key success criteria for implementing new technologies, keep it simple or it won’t be used. We have identified the following initiatives that help support organisations looking to embark on this change;

  • Develop a clear understanding of user requirements.
  • Scoping is an essential part of all CRM projects, irrespective of which vendor you select. Time and time again we are contacted by organisations who have not valued the scoping phase of projects which has resulted in low user adoption.
  • Start small, realise value quickly and add functionality as users ask for it.
  • A big bang approach rarely works, users expect to see a return on their time investment in scoping sessions quickly. Start with a few key requirements or departments and rollout in pre-planned phases
  • Map user journeys.
  • Once user requirements are defined, user journeys should be mapped out to show how they will interact with the solution throughout their working day. This is particularly relevant when looking to maximise the value of complimentary technologies, for example Dynamics CRM and SharePoint.
  • Develop a rollout strategy and roadmap for the solution
  • Some of our clients have designed truly unique rollout strategies to encourage user adoption, from video campaigns to prize drawers, it’s important to catch the imagination of the user and drive them to see the solution as being essential to their daily tasks. It’s important for any solution implemented to have constant evolution as your business changes, plan for the future after each release of new functionality.
  • Integration and Consolidation.
  • Many of the organisations that we engage with look to consolidate legacy applications onto Dynamics CRM in order to reduce their technology footprint and drive the use of one strategic platform. With this in mind it is essential that integration to key back office systems is implemented in order to reduce data silos.

Pythagoras is a leading Microsoft Gold Partner delivering tailored, integrated solutions across Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SharePoint, Office 365 and Yammer to organisations throughout Financial Services.

Microsoft Social Listening – Bridging the Gap Between Universities and their Students

It’s widely documented students are more careful when making their academic choices with the increased financial commitment and questioned long term value of a degree in some quarters. The Guardian (2013) reported 47% of University graduates in the last 5 years have taken non graduate qualification related roles.

In light of this Universities are more than ever looking towards Microsoft Dynamics CRM as part of a strategic technology solution across the University (in line with other solutions in the Microsoft Stack) to empower the relationship with their students’ from first interaction through enrolment, graduation and beyond.

What can Microsoft Social Listening within Dynamics CRM offer Universities?

Universities are now understanding the need to deliver proactive monitoring and communications across the breadth of social media technologies and aligning this to their business strategies. Furthermore, having this information fully integrated within their CRM system, enables reporting and proactive monitoring and engagement of conversations and trends, and the ability to open and manage cases from statuses / conversations, enhancing student satisfaction and loyalty, maximising retention.

Stuart Smith, Head of Marketing and Student Recruitment at The University of East London commented on the importance of social media as part of improving their student experience, “Social media monitoring is an essential part of the toolkit for universities who are committed to driving continuous improvement in their student experience and to capitalise on positive word of mouth for student recruitment. The integration of Microsoft Social Listening into Microsoft Dynamics CRM is an exciting development.”

Further evidence of the opportunity to drive student acquisition, immersion and experience through social media can be seen from The Student Room (2013), who reported 20% of students surveyed believe their University does not make the most of social media when recruiting new students. Moreover, The Guardian (2013) reporting 75% of students in Europe are on Twitter “all the time”.

Microsoft Social Listening delivers full social media monitoring and listening functionality right from within Microsoft Dynamics CRM, further bridging the gap between the University and their students and empowering:

  • Deep understanding of the touch points of your students in the social web with your brand and products.
  • Detailed sentiment analysis on social media posts across a number of sites.
  • Tracking of your brand influence in 28 languages across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, news channels, blogs, and forums.
  • Competitive intelligence; See how you measure up against the competition. Identify differentiators, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Enhanced measurement and social impact of marketing, sales, campaigns. Gain insight on what’s working (the noise and conversation topics generated) and what isn’t.

Find out more about our Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Higher Education offerings here

Tips from our experts: The Top 5 Dos and Don’ts of a CRM Deployment

With 58% of CEOs in 2012 stating CRM as their number 1 area of investment our consultants have got together to list their top 5 dos and don’ts for organisations looking to implement a CRM solution.

Top 5 Dos

1.Prepare a clear business case and a defined scope.
2.Document your “as-is” situation.
3.Agree on clear success KPIs for set periods beyond deployment.
4.Prioritise user buy-in from day one.
5.Insist on allocating dedicated time to the project.

Top 5 Don’ts

1.Over-stretch the scope.
2.Start without or lose Director level sponsorship.
3.See CRM as an IT project.
4.Re-design your existing system.
5.Abandon data quality focus.

For more expert advice on your CRM project contact our experts.