Learnings of using Dynamics CRM 2013 and SharePoint 2013

Dynamics CRM 2013I maintain my personal blog “Dr. Petri I. Salonen views on software, apps and software business models”. One might ask why I would not post my blog entries into TELLUS blog space? I was struggling with that for years as not all my personal blogs have anything to do with my business, so I felt a need to keep them separate.

However, most of the blog entries are really about my personal experiences in running a software and management consulting business, so they could easily be also part of this blog. I just initiated a new series of blog entries about my personal experiences building a Dynamics CRM 2013 and SharePoint 2013 solution for our own TELLUS business as I feel it is important to bring across some of the challenges that organizations such as TELLUS has when running a business that consists of management consulting (running workshops with organizations), building channels for software vendors (ISVs) and doing market research for organizations that want to validate its business model that we might have even been defining together in our business modeling/transformation workshops.

My personal passion has been the CRM space for a very long time. When I was running a software company while back in Finland, we even built a CRM solution based on Lotus Notes that had an integration to our data warehouse/business intelligence solution. We were able to combine CRM data with numerical information from the data warehouse and calculate key rations based on the data. We have come a long way from that. I have worked with lots of CRM solutions and the past few years, but my focus has been Dynamics CRM since version 1.2 that was only for on-premise installations.

If CRM is one area of my passion, collaboration/enterprise content management (ECM) is definitely another one. I have had the pleasure working with many technologies also in this space and the past year and half my focus has been purely SharePoint and I have advised organizations of its role in the Microsoft ecosystem, have discussed about the new “app” concept in SharePoint 2013 and why organizations and especially software vendors (ISVs) should pay close attention to SharePoint 2013 and its possibilities. I also believe that there will be more system integrators (SI) realizing the role of the app model and you will see more intellectual property (IP) built by SIs.

There are already an army of software vendors building solutions for SharePoint and of some reason my organizations are still not working with the app model even if the “train has left the station”. The development model for SharePoint emphasizes that technologies such as Microsoft Azure can be used as part of the solution delivery. The role that SharePoint has in many cases is just to provide the user interface (UI) for the solution (SharePoint consumes services) while the logic resides in Microsoft Azure or any other web-service. Microsoft recommends the change in development model and this is something that not many organizations are paying attention to. If you still build in “fully trusted solution mode” or using “Sandbox mode”, you need to understand the ramifications of that. Andrew Connell has written a good article explaining what the new app model means and what the recommendations are.

A good example of the new “app model” solution is GScan Online from award-winning Microsoft software vendor Gradient. The solution is a native scanning solution for Office 365 and enables end users to scan in (with OCR) documents without having to install anything on their local desktops or having to buy a specific type of scanner. My belief is that these are the types of organizations that will get an advantage of having a solution running natively from the cloud and if I look back at the market here in the US, most of the discussion today has to do with the possibilities with Office 365. I am not saying that on-premises SharePoint is going away, but even Microsoft will not have all of the features coming to future on-premises SharePoint releases as they can’t even be implemented. Cloud and scalability of the cloud provides elements that on-premises environment does not enable.

I decided to blog about our own (TELLUS International) experiences in building our internal solutions using Dynamics CRM 2013 Online and SharePoint 2013 Online (as part of Office 365). I initiated the blog series by explaining in the first blog entry why these solutions are important for us. In the second blog entry I am focused on the “kernel” of our operations which is really the CRM. I will keep writing about these experiences as they are fresh in my mind.  I hope you go and check them out every now and then at www.drsalonen.com.

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