Pythagoras announces partnership with The University of Exeter to deliver Evolve for Higher Education

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 – A look at the new customer driven update process

Microsoft has confirmed its next update for Dynamics CRM will be released in Quarter 2, 2015.

This continues Microsoft’s unrivalled investment in research and development and that reflects the breadth of enhancements in this latest update.

Let’s take a look at one new feature; the new customer driven update process for those organisations utilising Dynamics CRM Online under an Office 365 tenant:

Updates can now be managed in one central portal called “CRM Online Administration Center”.

Dynamics CRM Online Administration Portal

You can reach this center in multiple ways:

• From within Office 365:  Office 365 > Admin > CRM
• From Microsoft communications: Clicking on the links within the update emails you receive from Microsoft
• From within the Dynamics CRM Web Client: Via a notification bar which appears within the Dynamics CRM Online web client (only seen by admiration if they have logged in)

Once you are in the CRM Online Administration Center click on updates tab to manage your updates, see any scheduled updates and also any awaiting your approval. Furthermore, you can change the scheduled update date assigned to your organisation, however these slots are limited and allocated on a first come first service basis.

Dynamics CRM Online Administration Portal Approve Update

For more information see our dedicated page more information on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015.

Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week

We are proud to support apprenticeships and be a part of the Microsoft Apprenticeship Scheme. 2015 marks the schemes 5 year anniversary with over 7000 Apprentices coming through so far, all making a positive impact on their chosen career.

At Pythagoras we take pride in developing a mix of graduates and apprentices as part of our continued business growth, investing in their skills and building a dynamic workforce by leveraging the expertise of our senior staff.

Pythagoras are featured in both the Apprentices and Employer videos below and we are delighted to share these below, in time for National Apprenticeship Week.

Every Career Counts: Meet the Apprentices

Every Career Counts: Meet the Employers

#everycareercounts

Skype for Business – Taking Communication to the Heart of Productivity

Microsoft announced towards the back end of 2014 that in the first half of 2015, the next version of Lync will become Skype for Business with a new client experience, new server release, and updates to the service in Office 365. Skype for Business will take advantage of the strengths of Skype and Lync, combining the superb end user experience with security you trust.

I wanted to add some further detail around how Skype for Business is built firmly with the end user at its core and furthermore, how it gives organisations the ability to reach hundreds of millions of Skype users around the world.

1. It’s Familiar and easy
Because you know Skype, using Skype for Business with your colleagues, partners and customers is effortless — requiring less training and support.

2. Available Anywhere, on any device
Conversations travel seamlessly with you from the meeting room to any mobile device, including OS X, Windows and Android.

3. Maximise Office
Turn an email into a meeting and escalate into a group call, thanks to improved integration with Office, Active Directory, Exchange and SharePoint.

4. Have face-to-face conversations from anywhere
Video and voice calling are more natural than ever — like you’re in the same room. Skype for Business is designed to deliver a high-quality experience for every conversation.

5. Even more control at your fingertips
You can now confidently manage policies, grant feature rights and govern external communications, even from the cloud.

Current Lync Server customers will be able to take advantage of these capabilities simply by updating from Lync Server 2013 to the new Skype for Business Server in their datacenters. No new hardware is required.  For Office 365 customers, it’s even simpler.  Microsoft will do the required updates.

For more information on Skype for Business why not join our one hour webinar on Wednesday March 25th?

A review from Seattle and Microsoft’s Global Education Partner Summit

Microsoft welcomed invited Education Partners from around the Globe to Redmond (WA) on February 2nd – 5th 2015 for the annual Global Education Partner Summit.

The conference facility at the Microsoft Campus was full of the leading partners and leading staff from Microsoft global and education team, all accessible and ready to engage in superb discussions around product releases, success stories and the changing landscape within he Education sector.

The following piece is a tiny reflection of my thoughts from a stunning, if not wet Seattle. – (I won’t mention the Super Bowl, I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it!).

#1 Expect More. Achieve More. Do More.

This was the message outlined in Anthony Salcito’s superb opening presentation. Anthony started at Microsoft helping build presentations for Bill Gates and his knowledge and passion for the education space is second to none.

His reflection of the current education landscape served as evidence to me that the connected experiences through (Azure), Office 365, Power BI, Social Listening, Dynamics CRM, devices and apps will soon become the industry recognised suite of solutions that can lead Universities to be empowered to do more, and their students to achieve more.

On that note (and this is relevant to us as a Dynamics CRM Presidents Club Member) did you know according to information released between 2008 and 2013 from the USICA CIS Survey Dynamics CRM has seen a market share growth of over 500% across Universities? And we feel that figure is still an underestimation as the survey does not cover all schools / faculties within a University or all the Universities in the UK.

#2 BI – “Basic Intelligence, not Business Intelligence”

I need to tip my hat to Amir Netz (Technical Fellow at Microsoft) who delivered possibly the best demonstration and discussion I’ve ever seen, showcasing the true “power” of Power BI.

A few things really stood out:
•This was all done using a free version of the product, reinforcing the unrivalled total cost of ownership offered across the Microsoft Productivity and Business Solutions Suite.
•We are in the midst of the data revolution, and the great opportunity lies in the fact we are only at the start.
•This latest evolution of BI should really mean we come to see BI as “Basic Intelligence” not “Business Intelligence”.

Power BI is built to deliver BI for everyone, evolving from solutions that not so long ago required IT managers or data scientists to run individual queries for users which, by the time they arrived were out of date.

As a consequence BI is now powerful enough to enable users to act on the NOW! Not purely as a reflective, reporting tool.From a Universities’ point of view they can spot trends and alerts in real time, minimising student dissatisfaction, course failings and even improve retention levels.

#3 The continual investment and evolution of Dynamics CRM

If you are a University using Office 365 (beyond just Exchange Online), Microsoft Dynamics CRM should be at the top of your list as the solution for improving student recruitment, retention, and the overall experience. The integration between Dynamics CRM and the productivity suite within Office 365 is becoming tighter with every release and the addition of Social Listening, Dynamics Marketing and Parature means Universities’ have a globally supported, industry ready solution (with a multi-million dollar R&D program) that breaks silos and empowers them to achieve more right at their fingertips.

As one client of ours once said “Students see our University as ‘one’, in reality we were 7 or 8 silo departments unable to collaborate and therefore always reacting to student’s needs. With Dynamics CRM we can now finally act as one, empowering our students and the University to achieve great things.”

#4 Windows 10

Windows 10 combined with the plethora of devices showcased left a wow factor amongst those around me. The update provides one true experience across platform and store. The expansion of Cortana adds a whole new dimension for the end user.

#5 What great company!

I wanted to end on a huge thanks to all the people across the UK (especially Matt and Mark), the Global partners and the Microsoft Staff in Redmond I spoke with over the week. The conversations and knowledge share will be invaluable as I look to further cement our marketing led strategy and leading position within the Higher Education space across Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Office 365.

Insurance Survey Results Revealed

We are delighted to announce the results of our Insurance Executives Survey conducted at our exclusive Dinner in December. The Survey revealed that the enablement of mobile applications, improved broker management and the investment in Customer Relationship Management solutions are the key priorities for underwriters over the next 24 months.

A sign of the times in this sector, the results showed that 83% of those surveyed at Pythagoras’ executive dinner for senior insurance personnel in December, plan to enable mobile applications to improve business efficiency over the next 12 months. 50% will invest most heavily in improving their management of brokers this year, while 70% will focus their technological investment on CRM and collaboration tools over the next two years.  65% of those surveyed cited siloed information as their greatest inhibitor to growth.

“With margins in the sector at their lowest for some time, competition amongst insurers is intense,” says Andy Cowdrill, Head of Financial Services, Pythagoras. “To succeed in this marketplace you need a standardised approach to managing key customer and broker relationships and without this in place, Insurers will fall behind the competition that do.

“The figures resulting from our survey speak for themselves. Efficient mobile working is a necessity not a luxury these days and it’s imperative that organisations have the right systems and processes in place to service their customers and brokers. Our Insurance framework built on the Microsoft Cloud (Dynamics CRM, Office 365, SharePoint and Lync) address insurers’ pain points and change the way organisations work, bringing a cohesive, joined-up approach.

“The fact that 65% of survey respondents consider siloed information to be growth prohibitive is telling,” Andy adds. “The Microsoft Cloud improves access to data, eliminates individual silos of information and provides an all-encompassing view of key relationships and their performance in order to enhance opportunities for cross/up selling.

Pythagoras Insurance Survey Results 2014

Pythagoras Insurance Survey Results 2014