Meet new CRM MVP Kuba Skalbania, our guest blogger today. Kuba walks us through the use of the newest CRM accelerator.
One of the newest accelerators for Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the CCA, Customer Care Accelerator. And I dare say – CCA is not just an accelerator! CCA is a powerful platform to build integrated solutions for call centers.
Care Accelerator in brief
The CCA is different from other accelerators, because it was not created from scratch as a “supplement” to Dynamics CRM. CCA is a new version of the platform to build solutions for customer service, which had hitherto been a separate product, Customer Care Framework. CCF has been successfully used in dozens of banks and telco companies from Australia, India up to the USA.
Now, Dynamics CRM customers get it for free as CCA. I could not stop wondering when I first heard that news during the training in MS CEE HQ in Munich. Definitely Microsoft is not joking that they want to rule the CRM market. They made a very big step :by offering CCA, in my honest opinion:
Customer Care Accelerator – Technology
It is impossible to explain what the CCA is, without a brief explanation of the underlying technologies and the following abbreviations: LOB, ICC, IAD, UII, AIF, HAT, DDA. In this post I will briefly describe what is hidden behind those 3-letters sets that compose the CCA:
LOB (Line-of-business application) – each application and system that supports business and may require integration.
ICC (Integrated Contact Centre) – a concept or a vision of a solution based on Microsoft technologies to fully support the powerful and advanced call center.
IAD (Integrated Agent Desktop) – a “one window” application that allows its users to utilize multiple systems used in the Call Centres. No matter whether these systems are web applications or thick clients; whether they were written in .NET or Java; whether they are accessible via Citrix or are located on a mainframe – they all can be somehow integrated into the mythical “one screen” desktop, the Integrated Agent Desktop.
UII (User Interface Integration) – a set of components and SDK for building controls, which allow to integrate the various Line-of-Business apps, Dynamics CRM and other applications in the Integrated Agent Desktops.
AIF (Application Integration Framework) – the part of the UII that enables applications to be integrated on interface level. What does that mean? In short it means that thanks to AIF the user can login to the Java Swing application, take data from it, and in the same “session” switch the window to the ERP system, retrieve data from there then can be redirected to the CRM form with prepopulated data about the contact taken from the Swing app, the credit data from ERP and new token from CRM.
HAT (Hosted Application Toolkit) – a set of tools and add-ons to Visual Studio to automate the integration of different applications. HAT utilizes so-called Data Driven Adapters and Windows Workflow Foundation.
DDA (Data Driven Adapter) – a component that facilitates access to various types of applications. It is a sort of API that knows what can be done with different types of applications. And so e.g. when we deal with the web application, it can be opened for example by the URL; when we deal with a Swing application, we have to follow certain steps to get the value of the textbox and so on… CCA contains several ready Data Driven Adapters, and we can write our own for our applications and special needs.
Customer Care Accelerator – Architecture
CCA, using the above mentioned abbreviations, allows us to use the UII, to use the DDA and WWF as well as the AIF to connect various LOB apps in one IAD, which in turn may become a powerful part of the ICC in the future. Creating such integration is easier with HAT, and all the applications are registered and managed in our CRM (I will skip the explanation of CRM :O).