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User Group Summit North America 2019 Preview: Optimizing CRM in the midst of a cloud transformation

by Eamon McCarthy Earls
Assistant Editor,

Editor's Note: MSDW is a media sponsor of the Summit North America 2019 event.

Members of the Microsoft Dynamics community are preparing to gather in Orlando, Florida, October 15-18 for the User Group Summit North America 2019 event. Dan Madden, CRM program manager at Ascensus and an event volunteer and speaker, spoke with MSDW about what those in attendance can expect at Summit.

[caption caption="Dan Madden" align="right"][/caption]

Ascensus is the largest college and retirement savings provider in the US, based just outside of Philadelphia. The firm helps millions of people save for some of life's biggest events, such as retirement, education and healthcare. Madden, who joined the organization with past experience using CRM in a financial services environment, says Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement (D365CE) is very much an enterprise tool for Ascensus. The company uses Dynamics 365 for Sales, Customer Service (including Unified Service Desk), and is beginning to leverage Marketing capabilities as well.

Ascensus is in the midst of a cloud transformation. Madden explained:

We started off using on-premises software but are already in the process of migrating our sales organizations to the cloud. That's our vision right now so we can quickly deploy Microsoft's ongoing cloud enhancements, and therefore, maximize our investments in technology. Our firm is continuing to experience rapid growth and success and migrating to the cloud will allow our CRM team to stay ahead of our business by enabling us to leverage out of the box features and functionality as compared to developing custom code.

Planning wide-ranging tracks

Madden volunteers regularly for CRMUG and hasn't missed a Summit since 2012. He recalls that the event marked a transition at a previous employer. The organization moved away from their existing CRM system due to lessons learned at the conference.

Our business was growing, and we needed more of a platform to grow with. I went to shop for tools and got great feedback from current Microsoft partners and CRMUG community members. I left the conference with a defined business partner, a large community of new contacts, and launched Dynamics a few months later. Summit hits a sweet spot for many CRM professionals because it’s a forum to help us all leverage CRM to its fullest potential. This is why our team attends every year.

Witnessing the growth of the conference since 2012 has been astounding. Since first attending, I've become a member of the planning committee and I actively volunteer in the CRMUG community, contributing to webinars, articles, and speaking at conferences to help give back. If you are looking to stay current with evolving business needs, industry hot topics, best practices, new solutions, and how firms are leveraging CRM to help drive their firm’s growth strategy, this is the conference to attend year-over-year.

Madden is on the event's planning committee for the leadership track and will be speaking in three sessions. Ascensus is sending ten team members this year, a good portion of their 14-person enterprise CRM team, and they will be participating with Madden in at least one session. CRM product owners Kylie Kiser and Monica Stehr will be leading a few sessions. He explained:

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About Eamon McCarthy Earls

As the assistant editor at, Eamon helps to oversee editorial content on the site and supports site management and strategy. He can be reached at

Before joining, Eamon was editor for at TechTarget, where he covered networking technology, IoT, and cybersecurity. He is also the author of multiple books and previously contributed to publications such as the Boston Globe, Milford Daily News, and DefenceWeb.