Five Ways CRM Can Help You Get to Know Your Customers Better

For a while now, we’ve all heard that technology is driving people apart. Rather than shopping at the local store, we order online. Instead of playing sports, we play video games. Many of us don’t even go out to movies anymore, opting to wait until we can stream them at home. In fact, our lack of human connection has become so prevalent that online dating is now a two-billion-dollar industry.

There is, however, a silver lining to this cloud. As technology pushes us apart, so too can it draw us together. People are now used to others knowing their personal data and accessing their public profiles. This single change in our way of thinking makes it possible for you to know your customers better than ever before. Here are five ways today’s technology is making these surprisingly close relationships a reality.

1. Customer profiles. Just like the profiles customers create for themselves on social media, we can now generate individual profiles for both potential and existing customers. These profiles start with each client’s social network data, their web searches related to your products, and their visits to your website. Every time a customer comments on your social profiles, views your products online, or engages with customer service, your knowledge of who they are grows.

2. New opportunities. Another benefit of customer profiles is their ability to generate new leads for your sales and marketing teams. Profiles that are less fleshed out than those of your return clients are really potential customers waiting to be won over. If you notice an individual who’s viewed your website a number of times and hovered over an item or two, it might be the right time to drop them a line or offer a discount on an item they’re interested in. Personalize their journey a bit and they just might become your newest return customer.

3. Social engagement. Individual customer profiles are fantastic when approaching people one on one, but when you want to speak to your entire audience you need a broader perspective. Social listening and engagement allows you to monitor sentiment at a glance across multiple channels and languages. This way, you’ll know how people feel about, say, pumpkins, right when you need to. Share that knowledge with your development and advertising teams and you could clean up come next fall.

4. Cloud-based knowledge. Speaking of sharing data, by housing your customer profiles and sentiment metrics in the cloud, you empower your entire team. Customer service can detect wavering sentiment on individual networks like Twitter or Pinterest and reach out. Sales can gauge an individual customer’s interest level and contact them when they’re ready to buy. Even your retail locations benefit, allowing your staff to greet customers by name and show them items their purchase history indicates they may be interested in.

5. Social selling. When you’re meeting with a new customer, it’s great to be introduced by a mutual friend. Identify potential customers that you share a contact with, and you’ll be starting your new relationship on that same strong foundation. Just like the clients you have profiles on already, you’ll want to learn everything you can about these new prospects. If you gather the proper insights into your new customers, their needs, and their routines, you’ll be perfectly set up to become that new friend they feel like they’ve known for years.

Strong connections don’t form themselves these days, but with the right technology at your back you just might find that you can create closer customer relationships than you have before. You can even start today.


Microsoft’s New Dynamics 365 Combines CRM, ERP In The Cloud, Enticing Channel Partners To Expand Practices

Microsoft’s introduction Wednesday of Dynamics 365, a cloud offering that combines the company’s Dynamics CRM and ERP products while incorporating deep integration with Office 365 productivity apps, could prove to be a catalyst for encouraging channel partners to expand their Microsoft practices. 

Salesforce Made An Offer For LinkedIn, But Got Outbid By Microsoft, Bloomberg Reports

Salesforce not only was trying to secure a deal to acquire LinkedIn, but drove up the price in a bidding war that forced Microsoft to pay an almost 50 percent premium on the social network’s market capitalization, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

The San Francisco-based customer relationship management vendor saw the potential benefits of adding the professional networking site to its portfolio of cloud-based sales, marketing and service management products, but ultimately couldn’t top the $26.2 billion offered by the world’s largest software company.

Earlier this week, partners implementing Microsoft’s Dynamics customer relationship management told CRN that LinkedIn’s products and unrivaled store of business professional data would give them a potent weapon in battling Salesforce, the CRM leader.

Goldman Sachs advised Salesforce in negotiations, the business news site reported, and LinkedIn Executive Chairman Reid Hoffman and CEO Jeff Weiner reached out to Microsoft to get the talks rolling, telling CEO Satya Nadella they had engaged financial advisers to shepherd a sale.

Once Microsoft integrates LinkedIn’s network — embedding contextual professional data directly into its sales management platforms — users would be able to seamlessly access a resource in a way no other CRM vendor could hope to match, Microsoft partners said.

Todd Schwartz, co-CEO of SkyKick, a Microsoft technology partner that offers a popular tool for on-boarding business customers to Microsoft’s cloud-based office productivity suite, illustrated to CRN what a potential integration of LinkedIn with Dynamics and other products could look like, and why it would enhance the experience of sales agents and marketers using those products.

“You’ll have more information about the people you do business with, having that social context, directly on an email,” Schwartz explained. “We could have a much more productive conversation based on the things we know about each other.”

That accessibility to potential buyers’ professional information directly through the Dynamics CRM would set Microsoft’s product apart in the ultra-competitive market, he said.

“If that experience can be differentiated because of a network we have in common, you’re much more likely to make the sale,” Schwartz said. “We use Dynamics internally. Having that at your fingertips, pre-integrated, would be super, super helpful.”


Microsoft to acquire LinkedIn


REDMOND, Wash., and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — June 13, 2016 — Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and LinkedIn Corporation (NYSE: LNKD) on Monday announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire LinkedIn for $196 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $26.2 billion, inclusive of LinkedIn’s net cash. LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence. Jeff Weiner will remain CEO of LinkedIn, reporting to Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. Reid Hoffman, chairman of the board, co-founder and controlling shareholder of LinkedIn, and Weiner both fully support this transaction. The transaction is expected to close this calendar year.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest and most valuable professional network and continues to build a strong and growing business. Over the past year, the company has launched a new version of its mobile app that has led to increased member engagement; enhanced the LinkedIn newsfeed to deliver better business insights; acquired a leading online learning platform called to enter a new market; and rolled out a new version of its Recruiter product to its enterprise customers. These innovations have resulted in increased membership, engagement and financial results, specifically:

  • 19 percent growth year over year (YOY) to more than 433 million members worldwide
  • 9 percent growth YOY to more than 105 million unique visiting members per month
  • 49 percent growth YOY to 60 percent mobile usage
  • 34 percent growth YOY to more than 45 billion quarterly member page views
  • 101 percent growth YOY to more than 7 million active job listings

“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella said. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.”

“Just as we have changed the way the world connects to opportunity, this relationship with Microsoft, and the combination of their cloud and LinkedIn’s network, now gives us a chance to also change the way the world works,” Weiner said. “For the last 13 years, we’ve been uniquely positioned to connect professionals to make them more productive and successful, and I’m looking forward to leading our team through the next chapter of our story.”

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both LinkedIn and Microsoft. The deal is expected to close this calendar year and is subject to approval by LinkedIn’s shareholders, the satisfaction of certain regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

“Today is a re-founding moment for LinkedIn. I see incredible opportunity for our members and customers and look forward to supporting this new and combined business,” said Hoffman. “I fully support this transaction and the Board’s decision to pursue it, and will vote my shares in accordance with their recommendation on it.”

Microsoft will finance the transaction primarily through the issuance of new indebtedness. Upon closing, Microsoft expects LinkedIn’s financials to be reported as part of Microsoft’s Productivity and Business Processes segment. Microsoft expects the acquisition to have minimal dilution of ~1 percent to non-GAAP earnings per share for the remainder of fiscal year 2017 post-closing and for fiscal year 2018 based on the expected close date, and become accretive to Microsoft’s non-GAAP earnings per share in Microsoft’s fiscal year 2019 or less than two years post-closing. Non-GAAP includes stock-based compensation expense consistent with Microsoft’s reporting practice, and excludes expected impact of purchase accounting adjustments as well as integration and transaction-related expenses. In addition, Microsoft also reiterated its intention to complete its existing $40 billion share repurchase authorization by Dec. 31, 2016, the same time frame as previously committed.

mumbai-london-media-FINAL (1)

Microsoft and LinkedIn will host a joint conference call with investors on June 13, 2016, at 8:45 a.m. Pacific Time/11:45 a.m. Eastern Time to discuss this transaction. The call will be available via webcast at and will be hosted by Nadella and Weiner, as well as Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood and Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith. The presentation for the call is available on the Microsoft News Center.

Morgan Stanley is acting as exclusive financial advisor to Microsoft, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is acting as legal advisor to Microsoft. Qatalyst Partners and Allen & Company LLC are acting as financial advisors to LinkedIn, while Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Professional Corporation, is acting as legal advisor.

About LinkedIn

LinkedIn connects the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful and transforms the way companies hire, market, and sell. Our vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce through the ongoing development of the world’s first Economic Graph. LinkedIn has more than 400 million members and has offices around the globe.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.


World’s first 3D-printed office building completed in Dubai


3D printing technology promises to revolutionize architecture in the near-future, allowing designers to literally click-and-print complex buildings at a lower cost and faster speed than traditional construction methods allow. Another step forward in the field comes via Dubai, where what’s hailed as the world’s first 3D-printed office was recently completed.

We first reported on what’s now dubbed the Office of the Future back in 2015. Taking up a footprint of 250 sq m (2,690 sq ft), the building is located within Dubai’s Emirates Towers complex and will serve as a fully-functional office.

A very large 3D printer measuring 20 x 120 x 40 ft (6 x 36 x 12 m) did most of the work, printing the building by extruding a cement mixture layer by layer, in a similar method by which WinSun’s 3D-printed homes were made (WinSun is involved in this project too). There were also some additional smaller mobile 3D-printers used too, however.

It took 17 days to print the basic building, but it then required finishing both internally and externally. Though not detailed by the source, it seems that, like WinSun’s 3D-printed homes, the building was printed in sections elsewhere before being assembled over two days on-site. We’ve reached out to the Dubai government to try and glean more information on this aspect.

We don’t know the budget for the project, but the Dubai government says that the labor cost came in at half of what it would be for a building of similar size made using traditional methods.

The workforce included a single staff member monitoring the printer’s progress, seven people to install the building components, and 10 electricians and other specialists to handle more technical issues, such as installing the building’s electrical systems, for example.

The Office of the Future project is part of a wider push to make Dubai and the United Arab Emirates a world leader in 3D-printing. The scheme is focusing on construction, medical products, and consumer products.

Source : World’s first 3D-printed office building completed in Dubai

Avoid the Four Perils of CRM

Companies pour millions into customer relationship management, but most initiatives fail to deliver. Here’s why—and what you can do to raise the odds of success.

The promise of customer relationship management is captivating, but in practice it can be perilous. When it works, CRM allows companies to gather customer data swiftly, identify the most valuable customers over time, and increase customer loyalty by providing customized products and services. It also reduces the costs of serving these customers and makes it easier to acquire similar customers down the road.

Why do CRM initiatives fail so often? We have spent the last ten years trying to answer this, analyzing customer-loyalty initiatives, both successful and unsuccessful, at more than 200 companies in a wide range of industries. Our research suggests that one reason CRM backfires is that most executives simply don’t understand what they are implementing, let alone how much it costs or how long it will take. If you find that hard to believe, try asking five of your managers to define CRM. The right answer: CRM aligns business processes with customer strategies to build customer loyalty and increase profits over time. (Note that the words “technology” and “software” are conspicuously absent from the definition.) Then try quizzing these same managers about the cost of implementing a CRM solution. Answer: $60 million to $130 million, according to Forrester Research. And finally, ask them how long it generally takes to implement CRM. The best estimate: at least 24 months, even though one vendor we know offers CRM in 90 days and an aggressive competitor has responded by promising it in only nine. More specifically, our research shows that many executives stumble into one or more of four pitfalls while trying to implement CRM. Each of these pitfalls is a consequence of a single flawed assumption—that CRM is a software tool that will manage customer relationships for you. It isn’t. CRM is the bundling of customer strategy and processes, supported by the relevant software, for the purpose of improving customer loyalty and, eventually, corporate profitability.The four perils that need to be avoided are:

Peril 1: Implementing CRM Before Creating a Customer Strategy

Peril 2: Rolling Out CRM Before Changing Your Organization to Match

Peril 3: Assuming that More CRM Technology Is Better

Peril 4: Stalking, Not Wooing, Customers

Source:  Avoid the Four Perils of CRM

Middle East Real Estate Predictions: Dubai 2016

cq5dam.web.1400.350.desktopDeloitte’s second Middle East Real Estate Predictions Report 2016 focuses on key industry trends in 2015 and prospects for Dubai’s real estate sector in 2016.

The report addresses key topics such as:

  • Economic, finance and investment overview;
  • Review of 2015 real estate performance; and
  • Predictions for 2016 for Dubai’s residential, hospitality, office and retail sectors.


Dubai Plans Earth’s Tallest Skyscraper, Inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Aside from a few ancient texts, there’s no conclusive proof the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), actually existed. Still, Emaar Properties is building on this mythical “tall tale” as it transforms Dubai’s skyline with the world’s tallest skyscraper—again.

Emaar, the government-backed developer of the 2,717-foot-high Burj Khalifa (currently the world’s tallest building), unveiled plans to construct “The Tower,” an even taller Dubai skyscraper whose upper observation decks represent the ancient Hanging Gardens—rumored to have been among the supreme engineering marvels of its time (circa 600 BC). This 8th wonder of the world, scheduled for completion by 2018, will be a centerpiece of the vast Dubai Creek Harbour project and the city’s 2020 World Expo.

Designed by Spanish-Swiss neo-futurist architect Santiago Calatrava Valls, the $1 billion glimmering skyscraper will boast at least 20-mixed use floors, a boutique hotel, panoramic restaurants, a “Pinnacle Room” with 360-degree views, VIP observation garden decks that recreate the Hanging Gardens, and rotating balconies that literally extend outside the building. The super-scraper’s overall design is influenced by a lily flower and minarets, distinctive features of Islamic culture and architecture, particularly on mosques.

“This project envisages an artistic achievement in itself, inspired by the idea of welcoming people, not only from Dubai and the UAE, but from the entire world,” said Calatrava, who also designed the new World Trade Centre Transportation Hub in New York, Calgary Peace Bridge and the Olympic Sports Complex in Athens. “It is a symbol of an abiding belief in progress.”

The project has the seal of approval from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the United Arab Emirates’ vice president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai. The skyscraper features a super-slim profile with a floating oval-shaped bud ascending to the top observation areas which will be highlighted as a light beacon at night. Even the structural core and tension cables disguised as the delicate veins of lily leaves (which anchor the building to the ground) will showcase dynamic lighting—including kinetic lighting effects.

The Tower complex will integrate sustainability features, including green corridors and an environment-friendly tram service that connects pedestrians to various plaza access points and Dubai Creek Harbour, a 2.3-square mile waterfront development (located near the airport and a renowned wildlife sanctuary) that’s two times the size of downtown Dubai.

This planned redevelopment of “old Dubai” boasts Emaar-built high-end residences—Dubai Creek Residences, Creekside 18, and most recently, Harbour Views homes in The Island District, a vibrant young neighborhood. Dubai Creek Harbour also comprises a nearby marina, yacht club, event spaces, galleries, retail stores, the trendy Vida hotel, and a 2.8-mile Creek Boardwalk that envelopes The Island District. All areas will boast impressive views of future The Tower.

There’s no official word on The Tower’s final height but it will have stiff competition in the race to the clouds. The Tower’s stratospheric apex will compete with its sibling Burj Khalifa (829 meters tall); Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Tower (under construction at 1,008 meters); Iraq’s proposed tower “The Bride” (1,152 meters tall); “The Mile,” an unattached conceptual green observation deck park (1,609 meters); and Tokyo’s proposed Sky Mile Tower (1,699 meters) scheduled for completion in 2045.