Dynamics Profile: Evangelizing CRM across industries, countries creates even greater understanding, says one Microsoft MVP

April 20 2015

Two-time Microsoft Dynamics CRM MVP Steven Foster has done something that most likely no other Dynamics CRM MVP ever has: licked the back end of a green ant to get a vitamin C rush.

Seriously, that's a real thing in Australia.

"The ants were on a fence in a park reserve in the Daintree Rainforest," says Foster, who lives in New Zealand. "I was on my honeymoon in Australia and we were on a half-day explore of the forest with a guide. The ant was a bit bigger than normal. It had a green back end and if you licked it, you got a vitamin C rush. I did it because no one else in the group wanted to do it. I thought ‘you only live once - so why not?' It was an experience."

Steven Foster, Microsoft Dynamics CRM MVP

Insects aside, over the past 15 years working CRM solutions, Foster has held a number of different positions - CRM consultant, solution architect, CRM practice manager, CRM solution specialist, as well as his current role of CRM product and marketing manager for Intergen in New Zealand. In the past he has also worked with Siebel, Salesforce, and E.piphany  and has worked all over the world and across many industries.

In his current role, Foster focuses on Intergen's CRM business within the New Zealand marketplace and manages the company's business partners for CRM. He focuses on delivering business outcomes from presales to delivery, playing an active QA role across a number of implementations.

Originally from England, Foster was initially an RPG 4 programmer (AS400) on a product called ICMS, then becoming a business analyst and process analyst before embarking on his CRM journey with Siebel in the 1990s. He moved to New Zealand in 2005.

"I slowly started moving to Dynamics CRM. I started looking at version 1.0, and I supported a project where we rolled out CRM 1.2 out to a customer in New Zealand," he says. "Then I left it for a little bit until the end of version 3 coming into version 4. That's where I took the opportunity to move into a solution architect type-role with HP around Dynamics CRM delivery."

That was in 2008, and since that time Foster has been focused on Dynamics CRM as a technology. As the CRM product and marketing manager at Intergen, Foster supports business development managers through the sales process, manages the partner community to identify solutions from ISVs that extend the CRM ecosystem, and works with the marketing team to deliver CRM campaigns.

"I really evaluate those products and identify which ones are best suited to our market and which ones most benefit our customers," he says. "And I manage the engagement with those partners. On the really large projects I might play a QA role to ensure sure they are maximizing the use of Dynamics CRM and making the right decisions during delivery. So I really play the role of the customer on our delivery staff to make sure they are delivering on the vision that I sold."

A role Foster particularly enjoys is that of the Dynamics CRM evangelist within his organization, supporting the internal use of CRM - from marketing activities to working with sales and delivery on defining the team's next target markets and industries.

"I'm also very heavily involved in a big conference we hold every year called Dynamics Day, which is the largest independent Dynamics conference in Australasia where we get around 250 attendees attending for the day," Foster says. "I'm involved with the management  of the conference as well as delivering key topics on Dynamics CRM."

As for his participation in the Dynamics community, Foster says a few years back he and Dynamics CRM MVP Mark Smith set up the Auckland User Group, which is the first Dynamics CRM user group in New Zealand.

"We set that up to focus on the growing CRM community as a monthly meeting," he says. "I also started my own blog, nakedcrm.com to focus on building my network and starting my journey to become an MVP. I'm not a technical person, I focus more on business outcomes and problems, i.e., what are the pain points and how can I utilize Dynamics CRM and other Microsoft products to deliver a great business outcome?"

Foster also began participating more in social media, including Twitter and LinkedIn. Sharing his experiences from the CRM field has been an effective way to help others understand that education and a broad understanding are key when it comes to planning any one CRM project.

"I've worked in a lot of different industries in different countries, so I see myself as having a good tool kit of CRM experience, with the ability to bring best practices and knowledge into different industries," he says. "My colleagues and peers see me as a CRM evangelist, spreading the word about the value that CRM can bring organizations if delivered well."

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About Linda Rosencrance

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer/editor in the Boston area. Rosencrance has over 25 years experience as an reporter/investigative reporter, writing for many newspapers in the metropolitan Boston area. Rosencrance has been writing about information technology for the past 16 years.

She has covered a variety of IT subjects, including Microsoft Dynamics, mobile security issues such as data loss prevention, network management, secure mobile app development, privacy, cloud computing, BI, big data, analytics, HR, CRM, ERP, and enterprise IT.

Rosencrance is the author of six true crime books for Kensington Publishing Corp.

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