I am always looking for trends in technology and trying to identify what the next "big thing" will be. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the Microsoft FY16 Sales Kickoff meeting in Nashville, TN. This event sets the tone for the fiscal year, priorities are revealed as are product announcements and key initiatives for the fiscal year.
When reviewing the direction for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the topic of Machine Learning was discussed. Machine learning is the construction of algorithms that can learn from and make predictions on data. If you have ever purchased from Amazon you have been the subject of machine learning; Amazon watches buying behavior of people and uses it to predict what you may be interested in. Another example of Machine Learning is spam filtering. If you use Bing or Google for searching the Internet you have used Machine Learning as they predict what you are looking for as you type your search term.
Machine learning is not new, in 1959 Arthur Samuel a pioneer in the computer field coined the term Machine Learning and developed the first self-learning computer program; a checkers game. What is new, similar to the progression of most technology, is that it will reach small businesses. Consider this... only 20% of the data that is input into systems like CRM is ever used. That statistic really made me think. What could we do with all the data being input into databases today? The answer is a lot!
Let's examine how Machine Learning could be employed in a CRM system. Last night marked the start of the NFL season as New England beat the Steelers. Machine Learning may suggest that a tele-sales rep should call on customers in New England this afternoon because they are likely to be in a good mood. Machine Learning running inside of CRM may automatically queue up calls to these accounts and tell you to mention the game.
Another example that we could all benefit from is sales opportunity predictive analysis. A Machine Learning algorithm watches sales opportunities and learns the characteristics of both the data about a sales opportunity and the prospect/customer and predicts the likelihood or probability of success. Imagine the benefit of this in lowering sales cycle costs.
One barrier of entry into Machine Learning for small businesses is the lack of data. Well don't worry there are resources that you can tap into such as Google's Prediction API. Microsoft has a substantial Machine Learning service available through the Azure platform. Azure Machine Learning allows you to tap into pre-build ML API's such as customer churn prediction, product recommendation and more.
I am very excited about the possibilities of Machine Learning when employed in CRM. Microsoft CRM's next release - Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 includes Machine Learning - mainly around Social Discovery however this will grow to other areas of the system.
To get ready to take advantage of the power of Machine Learning you should give some thought to the data profiles you currently have in your systems. Thorough data profiles give you the basis to take advantage of this technology. Of course if you dont have a CRM solution in place that is the best place to start!
Beringer Associates is always here to provide expert knowledge in topics like these. Beringer Associates a leading Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics CRM and CRM for Distribution. We also provide expert managed IT services, cloud based computing and unified communication systems. Please contact us to see how we can support your IT business needs.