CRM MVP Question and Answer – Matt Wittemann

Today’s CRM MVP is the Reverend Matt Wittemann, he is a deeply religious man and his religion is Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  Matt is based in the USA, I like to keep people informed of the location of the CRM MVP’s, just in case there is a CRM emergency and you need to contact your nearest CRM MVP.

The reason for my waffling on about religion is because Matt is the author of the book Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Administration Bible and here is a good review from fellow CRM MVP Leon Tribe

Matt has been using Microsoft CRM since version 1.2!


Matt Wittemann is a 9 times CRM MVP, here is his MVP Biography

Mr. Wittemann is an nine-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for Dynamics CRM and the author of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Administration Bible (Wiley, 2011). As a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of North Carolina (Charlotte), Mr. Wittemann began his career as a web technologist with a focus on digital marketing and corporate communications. He has been working with Microsoft CRM since 2003 as a solution architect, developer, consultant and practice leader. In 2005 Microsoft recognized one of his first CRM projects with a national award for solution excellence, and in 2006 he received his first MVP award, primarily for his widely-read blog and contributions to the nascent Microsoft CRM community. Since that time his writings on CRM have been published in numerous periodicals and websites, and he has spoken internationally about using Dynamics CRM to support effective marketing processes. As the Chief Customer Officer at ClickDimensions, Mr. Wittemann oversees the customer and operations teams with responsibility for ensuring customer success from onboarding through training, certification, product planning, community development, and technical support.

Also looking at his CRM MVP page you can see he has some talks coming up this year

Recent activities


Thanks for Matt for answering my questions

If you want to read previous CRM MVP Q&A by clicking the link on the header – HOSK’S CRM MVP Q&A



Name, current job title and social media links please

Matt Wittemann, Chief Customer Officer, ClickDimensions




What does an average day at work look like

At ClickDimensions, I get to do all the things I have always loved about working with Microsoft CRM. I oversee customer onboarding, training, technical support, our certification program and a number of other projects and responsibilities. So a typical day is spent talking to customers and partners helping them understand how to use CRM and ClickDimensions to achieve their marketing automation goals, troubleshooting technical issues, helping to design and test new features, writing blog articles and product documentation, answering community posts on our forums, delivering administrator training, and more. It really varies from day to day, but is always challenging and interested. The best part of my job is that I learn new things every day, even after working with Microsoft CRM for 11 years.


What different roles/Job titles have you had whilst using CRM

I have been a CRM and web technologies consultant, a Solution Architect, then a Director of a CRM Practice, a short stint as a Chief Operating Officer, and now the best title yet: Chief Customer Officer. My roles have included everything from CRM implementation, solution architecture, pre-sales engineering, technical support, developer, trainer, business analyst, project manager and team leader, integration specialist, author, speaker… Sheesh, there’ve been a lot!


What job did you did before you starting using CRM

I started off as a web developer and designer. When Microsoft introduced CRM back in 2003, it was their first web-based, fully .NET business application. My existing customers had a need for something like that, and since it was a web-based technology, it was a natural progression to working with CRM full-time.


What was the first version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM you worked with and how long have you been using Microsoft Dynamics CRM

My first paid implementation of CRM was with version 1.2, eleven years ago.


How do you stay up to date with the CRM

I read constantly and always play around with different scenarios in test environments and usually have 4 or 5 trials of CRM Online going at any one time. I like to learn hands on, and when I hear someone in the CRM community has a specific challenge, it’s always fun to see if I can figure out a way to solve it. I also follow a lot of great people on Twitter, which is a great way to get links to the most relevant new articles and stay on top of developments in the CRM world.


How do you find time to contribute to the CRM community whilst doing your job

That’s always a challenge, but in the years since I’ve started working with CRM, the community has grown up and there are lots of channels where I can participate. I really enjoy when I have a chance to participate in a CRMUG or eXtremeCRM conference and present or take part in a panel discussion. It’s just become part of my daily routine to write, tweet, blog, and more. Of course, there are some times when there are too many plates spinning, so it’s hard to stay involved at the same high level with the community, but when my schedule allows, I always jump at the opportunity.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a successful career in Microsoft Dynamics CRM?

My advice is to be committed to continuing to learn. The technology we work with is endless, and the ways that businesses use it is similarly infinite. Find the things that excite your interest and start there. The best CRM professionals are the ones who are passionate about what they do and always learning how to do it better, whether that is a technical role like a developer, or a business-focused role like an analyst or consultant.


What where your first impressions of CRM 2013 and what do you think now.

My first impression was that the single-page app design was very attractive but also a big change. I like the emphasis on process in the UI, but honestly I still prefer 2011’s navigation. I may be an exception in that my work is not restricted to one area of CRM or even a small group of processes, so I tend to be all over the application and like to have several windows open with different parts of CRM quickly available to me, so the single-page app design is not a great fit for how I work.


What one feature would you add to CRM 2013

Sticky navigation. If I navigate to an area deep in the Settings for example, it would be great to have a breadcrumb type navigation to show me where I am, and make it easier to get to adjacent parts of the application without having to go back to a higher-level of navigation. (There are some nice solutions on codeplex for this, by the way!)


Most annoying feature of CRM 2013

The back button in the browser, or the “save and close” doesn’t always take you back predictably to the last thing you were working on. But I’m sure the CRM team will continue to iron out the wrinkles – 2013 was a huge change, so it will get better over time.


You favourite 2 CRM blogs (I have filled the first one in for you)


Hosks Dynamic CRM blog – Of course this was going to be my first choice!

It’s hard to pick a favorite. Jukka Niraanen’s “Surviving CRM” of course has emerged over the last couple of years as a great source, but there is also the Tip of the Day, and the Microsoft Premier Field Engineering (PFE) team has a great blog called “CRM In the Field” with tons of informative technical content.


What year will Microsoft Dynamics CRM have more customers than Sales force

One year after Salesforce finally gets acquired by Oracle.


Are you doing more CRM projects with CRM online?  Do you think it will all be online in the future

We are seeing a greater percentage of our customers opting for CRM Online. Online has definitely continued to grow in proportion to on-premise. However, I think it will be ten years before the technology addresses all the needs that on-premise can address. They are not just technical needs – mostly they are business, regulatory and integration needs that keep customers in on-premise scenarios. But eventually the cloud will answer those concerns as well.


What is the best tool/solution you have used recently

I’m guessing I’m not supposed to tout ClickDimensions here, right? Of course I love our solution, and use it every day. My favorite part is our GoToWebinar integration which makes my life easier in tracking and following up with people who have gone through our training academy.


As far as another solution that is my favorite, I’d have to say that I really like what the guys at North52 are doing. I wish their solution had been available on CRM projects I was doing 5 or 6 or 10 years ago – would have made my life a lot easier!


What CRM certifications do you have, do you try and keep up to date with CRM certifications

I have had many of the CRM certifications at one time or another: Applications, Installation & Configuration, Managing Microsoft Dynamics Implementations, Customizations, etc. I try to keep at least one or two of them current – but I’m a little behind right now!


How important is it to have good business analytical skills working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

I think it is critical to have good BA skills. A good BA tries to understand what value a business hopes to achieve from implementing a technological solution. Whether you are an architect, developer, support engineer, or consultant, if you can’t connect what you are doing to the business’s idea of value, then it doesn’t matter how brilliant your work is. At the end of the day, it is all about driving value to the business.


How useful is it to have programming knowledge to become a good Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?

Developers are essential, and the more familiar they are with the CRM SDK and the application, the better. But for me, I’ve always been just a hacker when it comes to programming. It has been more important in my career to understand coding and how it works and plugs into the overall solution, than to actually be able to write all the code myself. Of course, it’s always fun when I have the chance to do that!


What knowledge/experience do you have with software/systems which integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM e.g. (sharepoint, SQL Server, Scribe, Etc)

I’ve worked with all of these technologies over my career. That’s one of the best things about CRM, and one of the most challenging. We need to understand and be able to work with a very deep stack of technology, from Windows Server, to IIS, the .NET framework, SQL Server, Active Directory, firewalls, even Excel and Outlook. I was fortunate to spend several years early in my career working for a company that did managed network services and I learned my way around all of those technologies pretty well. That proved to be invaluable in my CRM work, where I did early SharePoint integrations, used Scribe for integration and migration work, and am always in SQL Management Studio.


How often do you travel as a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?

I used to travel a lot more when I was a consultant and implementer. I’m fortunate to be able to work from home now in Charlotte, North Carolina, and visit our Atlanta headquarters a couple of times per month. Now I can enjoy traveling to Convergence, CRMUG Summit, eXtremeCRM, or the MVP Summit more since I’m not on the road for work all the time.


Can you see yourself not using CRM in your career in the future

It’s hard to imagine, but I recognize that the technology world does not stand still. The applications that businesses used in the ‘90s have largely vanished, and perhaps that will happen someday with CRM. But maybe I will be retired before then!


What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP

The best part is the camaraderie with the other MVPs. When I first became an MVP there were only a handful for CRM, and now there are dozens from all over the world whom I have the privilege of calling my friends. Since we all do similar work, we face the same challenges and experience similar triumphs, so there is an immediate rapport amongst the group that I haven’t experienced elsewhere.


What are your hobbies outside of CRM

I think I have heard this word “hobby” before. Is that something like golf or knitting? Maybe I will have to do some research J


What was the last book you read and what was the last film you watched

Reamde by Neal Stephenson. (Yes, that’s the right spelling. Neal Stephenson is incredible! You have to check out Cryptonomicon and Anathem, two of his best books).


I watch a lot of movies, but I’ve really been enjoying watching the History channel show “Vikings”. I think I have a lot in common with Ragnar.


Has CRM ever got you in trouble with your partner/family.

That’s a great question! Yes, I would definitely say that the long hours and travel have at times been, er, problematic. But I’m fortunate to have a very patient wife and kids.


Have you friends ever told you to stop talking/tweeting/blogging about CRM?
Well, the friends that have stuck with me over the last eleven years are probably used to it by now, or they have learned to tune me out.


What does your partner/family member(s) think of CRM
They think CRM is boring, but it has put food on the table for a decade, so I think they are grateful that I do this “boring” work! J


Tell me something interesting/unusual about yourself

My university degree is in Art History. This has obviously been very useful to me as a CRM professional!


Who is the first CRM MVP you remember reading/seeing

John O’Donnell (who’s now a technology evangelist at Microsoft) and Matt Parks were the two CRM MVPs I read and interacted with online before becoming an MVP myself. They’re kind of the grandfathers of the CRM MVP community, or maybe the uncles J


Tips for someone who wants to become a CRM MVP

Share what you learn and help people solve problems while being passionate about your work. That’s not only a great prescription for becoming an MVP, it’s a great way to have a happy and rewarding career.

Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)


Steve Jobs or Bill Gates

Gotta be Gates

Javascript or .NET


Internet Explorer/Chrome/Firefox/Safari


Wine/Beer/Soft Drink

Yes please

Certifications or Use CRM


twerking or tweeting

Tweeting. I’m not even sure what that other one is.

books or ebooks


save or autosave


OnLine or On Premise


Windows 7/Windows 8/Linux/Mac/Other


work from home or work from office


Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus

Absolutely neither



Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox


Early Bird/Night Owl

Night owl

Do Today/Do Tomorrow


CRM Developer/CRM Consultant


Hot Weather/Cold Weather


Half Full/Half Empty

Half Empty

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