Wearables for CRM : Smartwatch Apps – CRMUG Mobile SIG Meeting Recap 11/17/2015

I wanted to take the time to recap a great meeting I had a pleasure of hosting in November 2015. This meeting is part of CRMUG Community ‘s virtual Mobile SIG. I help run this group and have spearheaded a number of web meetings to date, this this is one of them:

“Wearables for Dynamics CRM – Building a Smartwatch App”

Gartner Research reports that smartwatch shipments will quadruple in 2015. Check out how users could work with Dynamics CRM right from their wrists. In this session we will explore real world use cases for this technology, check out what smartwatch apps are, and discover what they can do. Understand the architecture necessary for getting CRM data to and from these tiny experiences. The best part? You’ll get a live demo of a smartwatch app for Dynamics CRM. You will see code and cool gadgets—don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Speaker: Jason Lattimer – Active Microsoft MVP in CRM; Sr. Tech Architect, PowerObjects

Host/Intro: Nikita Polyakov – Past 5 Year Microsoft MVP in Mobility; Mobile Director, PowerObjects

Audience: Technical, Developer

Level: Intermediate

Watch the Recording Here [Registration Required]

Summary of Smartwatch App Use Cases

Having an opportunity to kick it off the meeting – I spent the time I was given by sharing my Point of View on Wearables for CRM. Laying the foundation with some real world Use Cases for Smartwatch Apps before the audience got a chance to go deeper with the main presenter.

It’s no surprise that smartwatches are overtaking simple fitness trackers in popularity. But what is more interesting are industry analysts views like this: “Enterprises need to start putting together a road map for thinking about how wearables can improve their businesses over the next few years.” according to Forrester Research.

Here are a few Categories for Use Cases for Smartwatch Wearables:

Alert Users

Alert CRM Users that their attention is needed in the CRM system. This can be done with even the simplest wearable using an SMS alert.

A hot lead or an urgent case need specific Users’ attention back in the CRM system. Timeliness of attention to those events separates good from great outcomes. As getting in front of an interested prospect has higher chance of closing business; and customer experience, major link to profitability, is directly linked to time to communication on new support case.

A natural reaction from an Alert on a smartwatch is to then check a mobile app, so be sure that is enabled. Otherwise users have to find a larger device, which might be ok, depending on the nature of the task matter beckoning the users’ intervention or action.

Engage

Show progress towards Goal or Pipeline to gamify or engage CRM users. More rich apps can show small visual graphs, while simpler wearable can use text.

Customer version of this can be tracking My Reward Points balance or progress towards the next Coupon awarded, including the coupon code itself.

Offering this information is tactical to the mobile moments our users and customers have while swiping and flicking their devices.

Notify

Notify of Status Change or Action Needed events in the system succinctly. Example: Quote Discount Approved or Your Approval Pending.

Customer version of this is notification can be their Claim was Approved, More Information is needed or an Order has a status update.

Interact

Rich smartwatch applications can collect interactive feedback. For example choices like Confirm, Approve/Decline can be sent data back to CRM. This helps move business along, while traditionally an important action would be waiting in an Inbox on a larger device lost in a clutter of other business.

Confirming assignment in round-robin or team delegation scenarios is another great example where quick accept or pass keeps the business humming along.

To hear a more in depth examples and discussion around these wearable use cases, including a technical presentation – tune into the webcast recording itself.

Technical Details

Building Smartwatch application requires a unique approach and Dynamics CRM itself is also unique – I won’t steal Jason Lattimer‘s thunder and his know-how in this post. Please take your time to check out the entire Webcast video here + read about Dynamics CRM Development topics, including Microsoft Band, over on Jason’s blog here.

Jason has also graciously shared his source code from this presentation on GitHub:

In Closing

Smartwatches are exciting addition to today’s business tool set. As you can see there are a number of real world business scenarios for almost every CRM user. These use cases help organizations move processes along increasing the speed of business and increase quality of customer experience. That’s worth a look!

See you soon!

How to get Dynamics CRM on your Microsoft Band

Want to get truly personal touch with your Dynamics CRM? If smartphone app is not personal enough, how about a personal touch on the wrist?

To get a better overview of why would someone want to use Microsoft Band on their wrist for Dynamics, read this post: Get more Personal by using Wearable Tech for your CRM

Microsoft Band

I got the Microsoft Band the morning it came out. I think I heard I am still one of the lucky few to have it as it is US-only limited release for now. I immediately attempted to get my own Windows Phone apps to start using Cortana voice commands to my Band, to which she replied on my Band “This feature is not yet ready.” I contently knew something better was coming.

Microsoft Band is a cross-platform wearable that combines fitness tracking we all come to expect from heart rate to sleep monitoring, GPS tracking for runs and bike rides, all the trimmings. Combine that with personal assistant capabilities and rich notification screen that last all day? Good stuff. For new Microsoft this is beginning to be par for the course to ship cross platform products. Which is great because I want all iOS and Android users to be on board with me here for what I knew I wanted to do as soon as the SKD came out…

*drum roll*

I want to put Dynamics CRM on your wrist!

Why? Are you crazy? No. I kept quiet about this on purpose until I saw what the Microsoft Band SDK has to offer.

How is this a better Platform?

Sure I’ve seen what other CRM systems were doing with their wearables. I think those are less cross-platform, meaning those devices are tied to a specific Smartphone Manufacturer or a specific mobile operating systems. The only aspect that Band shares with them is that of course none of the wearables with exception of some Android Wear share same platform between each other. But we can’t have it all easy all the time. A Microsoft Band works with iOS, Android and Windows Phone. We will get into other wearable devices including Microsoft HoloLens another time.

Some scenarios where this makes sense:

  • Urgent Activity in CRM needs your attention
  • New Lead with High rating just got added and assigned to you
  • An important Support Case is about to hit it’s SLA window
  • You have a change in route and location of your next Appointment
  • KPI Micro-Dashboards and KPI change Alerting
  • Executive Assistant Messaging

The point is to serve discreet and personal notifications from your system to the users wrist. The phone away or on mute, in the bag or purse. The Band is always on the wrist.

How does this work?

What Microsoft Band will do is surface a custom notification area for you to show to the user. Today in the Preview of the SDK the Band will allow a native phone app via SDK add a Custom Tile to the paired Microsoft Band.

There is very light feedback from the Notification back to the Phone app today.

How would an architecture look like?

System Architecture at the high level that you will need for this behavior can be seen here:
“Microsoft Band to Dynamics CRM Architecture Overview”

Microsoft Band to Dynamics CRM Architecture Overview by Nikita Polyakov

A number of things have to be in place architecturally for you to embark on this journey:

  • In Future Post I will describe the MBaaS – Mobile Back-end as a Service and why it is important
  • In Future Post I will describe the Push Notification from MBaaS to your Custom Native CRM App
  • In Future Post I will describe sending Band Notifications from your App’s Background Processes

Future for the Band and this concept

I am certain that Microsoft will slowly evolve, as it always has, the SDK to allow more and more interactivity within these 3rd party apps. As this SDK Preview shipped same time that the Band got Reply commands and Keyboard support more and more interaction will be possible in future.

Continue the conversation!

Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are!

 

 

 

Get more Personal by using Wearable Tech for your CRM

How busy is your smartphone? How busy is the notification center on your device? While you take the time to look at your phone, chances are it’s also growing in physical size. With new focus on health – how many of you keep your phone a (speculated) healthy distance away from your persona?

Now let’s imagine even if you have a rich application for your CRM running on your mobile device already; how do you know something urgent needs your attention? If you are in a meeting or want to show the out most personal face-to-face customer experience you cannot afford to be fumbling around with your smartphone. Let’s not even talk about how big your phone is getting each year. Clearly there might be a problem, without even resorting to the times where taking your expensive smartphone out of your pocket is a dangerous, impractical or even illegal experience. This is exactly where wearables shine!

Why Wearables

The unobtrusive and much more discreet than a smartphone. These gems of innovation can help surface the most useful and contextual data in a timely manner to the users. They play very well in the eco system of your mobile CRM application arena and are a natural peer-partners to those Apps.

I am not alone in thinking so even Tim Cook has been quoted addressing that the home of these devices belongs on the wrist away from obstructing experiences in our daily lives. What Microsoft is going to allow us to do with HoloLens is very specific applications who’s usage needs demand it’s own article left for another time.

User Adoption

What would make your employees, you or even your customer want to wear something like this? As many of us know the Adoption not only of CRM, but mobile CRM app is essential to their value in your organization; wearables are even more in cross hairs for value and ROI, especially if they end up not being used. Focusing on job role specific, task based, value-add is where you need to be focused with your wearables Apps for CRM.

But another key aspect to Adoption is what made the smart phone a great platform to extend CRM it’s necessity in our consumer and personal lives made that device sticky. What is the magic App for wearables? Queue the health minded aspects!

Health benefits most everyone will love

The health tracking, already secure and private eco0system that exists on some of these wearables like Microsoft Band or Pebble – both cross-platform; Samsung, LG and Sony have devices for Android; and Apple Watch exclusive to iOS devices. All of those devices have a flavour of health tracking at very least a pedometer, to heart rate and sleep tracking that make that device sticky! And sticky is good for adoption. And adoption is good for you!

Some scenarios where this makes sense:

  • Urgent Activity in CRM needs your attention
  • New Lead with High rating just got added and assigned to you
  • An important Support Case is about to hit it’s SLA window
  • You have a change in route and location of your next Appointment
  • Drastic change in KPI that I am monitoring needs attention
  • Executive Assistant sending an important message

The point is to serve discreet, personal and meaningful notifications from your CRM system to the users’ wrist. The phone away or on mute, in the bag or purse. The wearable is always on the persona.

Synergistic with Mobile apps

Even more so than your CRM mobile applications are today, the wearables apps need to be laser focused on the experience. Almost at task level they help a user in a particular role and job function accomplish or get notified of certain information and quickly get out of the way.

The smart-watch style wearables, majority of them, will not be able to function without a peer Smartphone and corresponding App to feed them data. This is another opportunity to revisit your Mobile App investments for you CRM. The initial step is that what ever is surfaced on the wearable can be reviewed again on the smartphone within the App itself. That is cost effective and tells a more succinct experience away from the computer. There will soon likely be more opportunities for your computers, for example Microsoft Band mentioned Windows and Mac OS X in eventual platforms.

That can mean that even if I am distracted on a task away from CRM – I can still get the most relevant or urgent information to my wrist and know where my attention needs to be diverted. Never less the bragging rights of something as simple as KPI’s micro dashboard for a management or executive level. Executive level messaging and summoning experiences for assistants. So many new opportunities ahead of us!

Next Steps

Think about your organization – are there opportunities that you can remove the phone screen from the conversation or a task, but still could use relevant information or urgent and time sensitive notifications? Comment and let us know what your ideas are!

If you are interested in some more use cases, take a look at the evolving POV Quick Bytes section here.

If you are interested in how to accomplish something like this – I invite you to take a deeper look at the Technical Architecture Article regarding Microsoft Band – a cross platform (meaning it will work with all 3 major smartphone OS’s) wearable fitness tracker and smart-watch from the new Microsoft. Read: How to get Dynamics CRM on your Microsoft Band

If you want to discuss further – please get in touch!

Microsoft Band Developer SDK Preview launched

Microsoft keeps just keeping on keeping developers happy!

Microsoft Band has got an SDK! After a few months of what many in the industry suspected was a soft-launch of developer preview device, and all the 3rd party Apps speculation on what exactly will be in the SDK – it has finally shipped.

-=> http://developer.microsoftband.com

So what IS the actual Band SDK resultant App?

  • Today it is a native App on the corresponding Phone that surfaces Notification to the Band, can listen to the sensors on the Band and change Band-wide theme.

The application logic runs on the host OS (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone) and it remotely controls the UI of the Microsoft Band as well as receives contextual information and sensor data from the Band.

What is available today – Documentation, SDK and Sample Code for:

  • Windows Phone Apps
  • Android Apps
  • iOS Apps [Coming Soon]

Mentioned in the Documentation are also:

  • Windows
  • Mac OS X

I am personally delighted that there is a Visual Guidelines published so that the apps are most user appealing. I highly recommend anyone reading this before starting any apps, first:

-=> Experience design guidelines

SDK has the following capabilities:

  • Provides real-time access to sensor data from one or more Microsoft Bands
  • Allows creating Tiles on a Microsoft Band, and sending notifications to them
  • Allows changing the Theme for the Band
  • Allows changing the main Tile background image

Some of the early scenarios as pointed out in the Documentation are:

  • Access to Sensors
  • Live Tile on the Band to keep users aware
  • Personalization of the entire Band experience not just your app

As it literally states on the new Developer Portal for Microsoft Band:

The Microsoft Band SDK Preview gives developers access to the sensors available on the band, as well as the ability to create and send notifications to tiles. Enhance and extend the experience of your applications to your customers’ wrists.

Stay tuned as I will be getting more hands-on time with Band SDK over the next few days and let you know what else I will find!

Update #1: You must download the updated Microsoft Health App for your respective phone and Update the Band’s firmware, before any code will return you a paired Band device. Also if you are not getting a connection from SDK, be sure to Un-pair and Pair the Band if you are on Windows Phone 10 (as it was mentione in the release notes on Windows Phone 10 Preview :)

Update #2: Remember The Band does not support color icons, only white alpha blended icons.

Happy wearables coding!