Dynamics 365 – Is it Smarter than a 5th Grader?

You could not look in the door of a session at the Summit conference without seeing something about the new Artificial Intelligence capabilities of Dynamics 365. Fresh off of Salesforce’s Einstein announcements, Microsoft was eager to show what A.I. in Business applications is supposed to be.

Data, Data everywhere and not a drop to Drink

There is no doubt that larger enterprises have a ton of data about their customers and their own organization’s history. That alone is a potential treasure trove. Combine that with external data warehouses that have been overflowing for the last several years, and the potential for sales intelligence is almost scary. Harnessing that data in such a way as to provide “actionable” insights is what Microsoft is crowing about. Is it a “game changer”? For some… absolutely; for most… probably not.

When your Firehose goes: drip, drip

Can you determine the average height of a fifth grader… with two fifth graders? In fact, you would need a thousand fifth graders to determine that with any validity. In order for any data analytics to provide you with actionable insight, you need a large number of relevant, and accessible, data points. I wrote recently about the Versium product that Microsoft has partnered with. In the Versium session they said that you would ideally need about a thousand leads that you lost, and about a thousand leads that you won, in order to create an accurate predictive data model. Who has that many leads? Large enterprises. What about the company that has 100 of each? Interestingly, the Versium people said that over 5,000 leads does not effect the model… well thank goodness for that!

The risk of too few data points

The SMB market should not get too excited about A.I. revolutionizing their business. I am not sure if any of these A.I. applications will pop up a warning saying “You do not have enough data to act on”. In a worst case scenario, there is no such warning, and you act on the average height of two fifth graders, only to miss the mark by a mile. In one of the A.I. sessions, I asked the Microsoft presenter, “At what size company does this start to provide value?” His answer, “What do you mean?”

What is Actionable?

Having a “card”, slide in on a customer record, letting me know that I emailed them last week, tells me what? To be fair, seeing whether they opened that email is indeed pretty cool, and could provide cause for an action. But what will an SMB customer make of this:

Dynamics 365 Insights

SMB and Intelligence

The SMB customer is an interesting animal. Typically budget strapped, they are looking for instant ROI. They are extremely quick to pull the rip-cord and bail out on solutions that they cannot easily grasp, and quickly get into use. This was a challenge even with the prior Dynamics CRM Online product and actually led to the development of our RapidStart CRM solution. Our solution is an effort to combat the absurd churn rate of SMB with CRM. One of the reasons that I have not discussed A.I. before now, is that I have been trying to imagine how I would explain it to SMB. Explain in in such a way that they would not see it as yet another hill to climb to get to a ROI.

Before you go commenting about how I missed it completely and how cool all of this A.I. stuff is, let me say I totally agree. Now put yourself in the mind of your SMB customer, and tell me what you see.


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