10 for 10: What We Learned at the Hitachi Solutions 10th Annual Customer Conference

This year we celebrated our 10th annual Hitachi Solutions Customer Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada! As in years past, we were amazed and humbled to hear the success stories of so many of our customers and closest partners, such as Microsoft. A truly unique event, the Customer Conference is a chance to learn from each other, to see WHAT WORKS and discover new solutions and ideas that can be tailored to each of our unique businesses.

Looking back on this momentous event, we wanted to recap the 10 most inspirational learnings we came away with.

1. The Cloud Still Rules

There was a big buzz all week about the evolving state of cloud-based ERP solutions (SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS). The focus was on the many deployment options now available including:

    • MS Azure (full cloud)
    • MS Azure with a hybrid deployment — where business processes are managed by the Microsoft (cloud) and the customer or partner is the local Data Trustee (Edge) with periodic data synch to the cloud node.

2. Forecasting Works Better When Customer Engagement Talks to Operations

Using the common data  model (CDM) to create a common data structure we can integrate Dynamics 365 Sales and Dynamics 365 for Operations to improve account planning and forecasting. This allows the sales users to create iterative product/service forecasting at the account level and then reflect these forecasts in operations. As a result the data generated by the sales team can be passed along seamlessly to operations where they can use it to facilitate accurate demand planning, supply chain management , and to create contracts to manage production units.  From our historical demand and forecasting reports, we learned how we could use machine learning techniques to created automated forecasts to make life easier.

3. Better Mobile Equals Better Adoption

In the Pushing Mobile to the Max session (part of the Customer Engagement track), we learned that a strong mobile strategy that can personalize the experience for end users is important. Also, we thought the new controls (slider bars, knobs, etc) and offline capability were super cool and will help with adoption.

4. Templates Don’t Get the Love They Deserve

We learned that Microsoft templates are highly underutilized in most CRM implementations. The reasons are not totally clear, but one may be that with so many features in the last few releases, people have had a hard time keeping up. But templates are not a feature to ignore. Excel templates are an easy way to empower users to create “reports” and “printable dashboards”. Users can slice and dice data to their heart’s content to discover and present meaningful trends and business findings. Similarly, Word templates are an easy way to increase efficiency in your organization.  You can create templates for any customer communication needing to be sent by your users. This is especially effective in the service and support areas.

5. ROI Tools Can Help You Build a Case for Digital Transformation

The benefits of moving to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations are numerous.

    • The new workspaces offer robust functionality in a streamlined user interface.
    • The enhancement to the task recorder allows it to play as a task guide.
    • The task guide offers reduced training time and ability to cross train employees with simple to follow screen prompts.

6. Cortana Can Predict the Likelihood of You Perishing in the Icy North Atlantic

In a Titanic-themed Dynamics 365 CRM instance, we learned that Power BI is an amazing tool to “surface” the information from within “the depths” of Dynamics 365. We also learned that it’s great to “sync” Dynamics 365 with Azure Machine Learning as a surprisingly effective way to score leads and avoid being left “underwater” in unprocessed data. Finally we learned how rather than merely “re-arranging the deckchairs,” Cortana Intelligence can help drive your existing data into positive and profitable action within Dynamics 365, leading to great success.

7. You Don’t Have to be a Data Scientist to Make Data Sense

Do you know what the term “Citizen Data Scientist” means? We didn’t either. At the Customer Conference we learned that a “Citizen Data Scientist”is  simply a normal person with a passion for data.  This is someone who is focused on business problems and is looking for immediate answers.  This community of users is growing 5x faster than trained data scientists.  A big reason for the change is that machine learning and artificial intelligence processes are becoming “drag-and-drop,” making it much easier for anyone interested in gleaning insight from data to dig in.

8. “Make a Great System and it Will Get Adoption!” is an #alternativefact!

User adoption is always a hot topic at our customer conference, and this year was no exception.  Adoption does not just require a good system, user adoption requires:

    • Repetitive communication
    • A long-term adoption approach
    • Management sponsorship
    • The guts to ‘pull the rug’ when the time comes

9. ERP Reporting is Easier Than It Used to Be

Thanks to the upgrades in Dynamics 365 for Operations, you do not need to have someone with MDX experience to create dashboards in the Enterprise Portal.  Today, end users have the capability to edit Power BI reports or create new ones to pin in Dynamics 365​ for Operations.  And data is in near real time!

10. Hitachi Solutions Has Some Pretty Fantastic Customers!

We were able to recognize 11 of our top customers with customer excellence awards this year in Las Vegas. We celebrated them and ALL of our great customers at our annual customer appreciation party at the Neon Museum. It is always with great pride that we recognize our customers’ success. As technology continues to evolve we look forward to continuing these great partnerships and helping clients move along their digital transformation journeys.

If you were able to attend this year’s conference, we hope you were inspired as we were! And if you weren’t able to make it, we hope that you will join us next year in 2018, as we  celebrate even more customer success at the 11th Annual Customer Conference.

To learn more about all the innovative products that were featured at this year’s conference visit the Hitachi Solutions Product Page.