Joe Johnson

social media

Yammer and Social Integration in CRM 2011

Joe Johnson - 12/03/2013

110212_1926_MicrosoftDy4As a part of the December 2012 update to CRM 2011, which also brought us the new and improved Polaris UI experience, Microsoft has gone all-in on the social integration with Dynamics CRM. Before we were given the ability to highlight new deals and signed business using the Post entity and the Activity Feeds views built right into CRM, but with Yammer integration we can now expand CRM news and details to the entire organization. With the added integration, users also gain input and commentary from the non-sales personnel inside of their company right as a part of their CRM experience.

Even prior to their acquisition by Microsoft, a lot of large companies have adopted the Yammer platform for their internal employees to have a safe, viable social media network for sharing information and ideas that would otherwise be relegated to mass emails, or just not discussed at all. Geared toward non-public information and discussions, Yammer is a Twitter-like social media network with a lot of the collaboration and search features of Facebook and the easy to use, short text-update interface of Twitter and Sina Weibo.

In a “former life” one of my employers had flirted with Yammer for close to a year, evolving from the free application to the paid subscription for internal collaboration and sharing. To me it was a success at sharing information and giving a good look into the operations and daily activities of a nationally dispersed workforce, but I think further personality and culture issues sabotaged the system from the outset. In the end, it was deemed too expensive for them to continue based on participation rates, but a strong and healthy company with a dynamic culture could benefit greatly from an app like Yammer. It bridges the gaps between multiple locations and multiple teams, giving that face-to-face interaction that just can’t be duplicated with a once a year Christmas party.

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 3.12.20 PMInside of CRM, the social media integration has been a large success in my implementations of CRM 2011 for several clients and my own company. Being able to get a live, streaming update of movement and progress in various sales activities and processes helps keep us all on top of status across the board. Views, searches, and reports offer one look at the sales organization as a whole, but nothing beats the ability to go into the system and see a listing of all of a single user or team’s activities and closed or new business opportunities in one timeline stream. Call me a Facebook-addict, but it’s how we’re getting used to seeing information.

So if your organization uses CRM 2011 and not Yammer, I highly recommend piloting the software with a group of your employees just to try out the collaboration and information sharing tools. If you do use Yammer, and you want to see your social media experience taken to the next level, then make sure you’re running the latest Roll-up in CRM and enable the Yammer integration today!

Outlook Social Connector for Outlook 2010

Joe Johnson - 22/07/2010

This week I upgraded my desktop to Windows 7 and Office 2010. My laptop has been running both for about 2 months, but I finally broke down and installed it on the desktop. Don’t think it was because I have a problem with 7 or 2010. On the contrary, I love them both…they’ve reignited a passion for PC computing that I was lacking in the post-Vista world. No, it was merely the huge pain it takes to rebuild your PC exactly the way you like it after wiping the OS. Four days later and I’m just getting settled in.

But one thing that I let fall to the side in my months of Office 2010 use was the Outlook Social Connector. It’s this handy little tool that will interface your Outlook connections with your Facebook and LinkedIn connections (and MySpace and others, depending on who makes a plugin and if you install it). When I redid my desktop I chose 32-bit Office to support the LinkedIn plugin and gave it a twirl. What I didn’t expect was how creepy it might become.

What the Social Connector does is aggregate all of the Social Media data about a person for you right inside of the Outlook interface. The new People Pane in Outlook is one place where it does this. The People Pane is a section at the bottom of the email preview screen that shows all of the relevant prior email, appointments, and chats with all of the recipients or senders of an email message. So when my business partner sends me an email, I can see his past emails and our past meetings all in one handy place; pretty cool! The Social Connector adds in LinkedIn and Facebook information streams to the People Pane, including…their picture.

Hello There!
When I was pricing out a POS hardware solution for a client this week, I spoke to Dell on their cool OptiPlex 160 line of mini PCs. The sales rep kindly sent me some links via email to go over the features, which was a huge help. But when I opened the People Pane, I saw it not only found his picture from Facebook, it also found his (unprotected) update stream, his LinkedIn profile, and placed all of it right into my Inbox.

Needless to say, it was a bit creepy to find this all here at my fingertips without the sender of the email knowing. After a little digging, I found at least three dozen others on various mailing lists and discussion groups where I’m a member who had wide open Facebook accounts identified by the Social Connector. Even when the account is protected, it shows me their profile picture. Sometimes even several profile pictures if they have a Facebook and a LinkedIn account with profile images designated.

While I don’t think I’ll uninstall this tool from Microsoft, I think maybe limiting the display to only my friends and connections on the various networks might be a good upgrade. Then again, maybe people should learn to secure their accounts so only friends see that information. Or we can follow the Zuckerberg model…I mean, you don’t have anything to hide, do you?