Blue Microphones Takes the Static Out of Growth

img1 Blue Microphones Takes the Static Out of Growth

Blue Microphones Takes the Static Out of Growth

Posted by Hayley Null, Manufacturing Industry Marketing Lead

Blue Microphones, a leading designer and producer of premium microphones and sound recording equipment for audio professionals, musicians and consumers, is no stranger to growth. Launched in 2004, Blue Mics started with the Snowball USB mic, which was built for use with Apple’s GarageBand recording software. Capitalizing on the boom of user generated music content, Blue Mics has since launched a complete line of studio microphones and headphones.

A recipient of the “Inc. 5000 Fastest – Growing Companies Award” for eight years in a row, managing fast growth has been a challenge that CFO and COO Bart Thielen has tackled head on. Watch Thielen on CXOTalk discuss the company’s evolution, how research and development (R&D) is key to innovation, and how technology has played a critical role in the company’s success.

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Journey to PowerPivotPro: Narayana Windenberger

Journey To PowerPivotPro Banner Journey to PowerPivotPro: Narayana Windenberger

When was the last time you had an interview with the president of the company and he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt while you were decked out in a suit?

Swing back to June 2017, and that was me with Rob Collie. I was on vacation in New York City, in a friend’s apartment wearing a suit I had just purchased the day before, having a Skype interview for Principal Consultant. They say “dress to impress” but when you hear “did you wear that suit just for this?” boy do you know you’re off.

I’ve been working with the talented group of consultants at P3 since August 2017. I feel fortunate to have experienced everything that this job entails whether it is working with the wide range of organizations, constantly learning and staying up to date on the newest technologies and trends, or just the satisfaction of solving a problem for a client.

So how did I get here?

I like to compare my journey to P3 with the process of baking a cake.

Collecting the ingredients and setting the “mise en place”

I think the three ingredients for being a BI consultant are:

  1. IT/programming skills
  2. A love of numbers
  3. An understanding of business principles

When I was growing up, I was naturally attracted to computers and technology. My first computer book as a kid was the manual to my mom’s Apple PowerBook 190c laptop, which had a scorching 66mhz processor, 8MB RAM, and a 500MB hard drive. I read it cover to cover many times and quickly learned every feature of the computer. My next computer books were on HTML and Javascript, and after that, I was hooked on programming my computer to do things for me.

By the time I entered high school, a local youth center had received a grant to offer free tech classes to students, and I enrolled in a Cisco networking class. Now I can remember two things clearly from that period:

  1. Waking up at 6 am to do two hours of lab work by telnet-ing into a Cisco router from my home (after having done my school homework the night before)
  2. Learning to drive (since I was so short for my age at the time, I had to use a booster pillow to see above the steering wheel comfortably)

I studied and practiced diligently for several months, and at the end of the course, all the students took the official CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) exam, which I passed! So here I was at age 14 with a Cisco certification under my belt. Being at the beginning of my high school career I didn’t have a chance to put my skills into practice and my knowledge quickly deteriorated, but I was happy with my achievement nonetheless.

Parallel to my love of technology was my interest in math and numbers. I enjoyed all my math classes in high school, partook in mathlete competitions (I know, I was a nerd), and scored quite well on standardized tests. I loved the precision of mathematics and how you could use numbers to reconcile any discrepancy.

Finally, there was my budding interest in business. During high school, I started repairing computers to earn some extra cash. After one particular job, as a tip for my services, the client gave me an old Mac laptop that needed a new motherboard. Not knowing where to get a replacement part, I went online and looked up where to buy the component and how to replace it. After a few google searches, I realized that people sold computer parts on eBay, and instead of trying to fix the laptop, I decided to tear it down and sell the working parts individually. I was happily surprised when I realized I had converted a “worthless” laptop into $ 223, and I became hooked on business and economics.

When I entered college, I was torn between choosing computer science and business. In the end, I went down the business track because I had recently learned about trading stocks and enjoyed following financial markets. I completed an undergrad business degree and then aimed for an MBA which culminated in a six-month internship, where I worked for the CEO of a 100,000-acre large-scale organic farm based in Ukraine. My boss, a former McKinsey consultant, told me that I couldn’t graduate from an MBA program without being an expert in all that is Excel. Given that my job was to help her prepare financial models, reconcile budgets, and create investor presentations, she gave me a deep dive into Pivot Tables, VLOOKUPs and all the other wonderful features of traditional Excel.

And with those three ingredients (an interest in tech, love of numbers, and a formal training in business management), I was a newly minted, wet-behind-the-ears MBA grad.

Mixing the ingredients

As everyone knows, there’s a big difference between theoretical knowledge and real work experience. The next phase of my journey was mixing all the ingredients in the sauce of experience, letting them meld and combine in preparation for baking.

I started off as a financial/operational analyst working for a non-profit and quickly honed my Excel skills. After that, I began working at a food certification company called FoodChain ID, the largest provider of Non-GMO certification in the US. Here I jumped into various analyst roles including software business analysis (developing application specs with the IT team) and QA testing. Thanks to my Excel skills, I was often called upon to generate reports for the company. I enjoyed creating reports but continually ran into communication delays with the IT department. At one point during one of my frequent sit-down sessions with a programmer to clarify the errors in the raw data he had provided, I watched him update the SQL query and thought “that doesn’t look so hard.” He gave me a few pointers and then I spent the next couple months learning the language myself.

Cutting out the IT middleman proved to accelerate the rate of report creation substantially. I quickly became responsible for all analytics for the management team, including operational performance reporting metrics, quality control reports highlighting bad data, or invoicing roll-up reports for accounting. I loved the work because it required me to understand the business logic, write SQL scripts, VBA macros, and other code, and to enjoy the numbers. I eventually became the Business Intelligence manager at the company and created several automated, interactive, Excel-based dashboards that we published for staff via our SharePoint intranet.

While the reports I created in Excel delivered great insights that helped reduce our company’s operational backlog, I was running into the limits of traditional Excel: I couldn’t write Pivot Table calculations that were more complex than Sums or Averages (good luck trying to navigate the “Calculated Field” option!). I was running into size limits as my datasets grew larger than one million rows. I had to use COUNTIF hacks that slowed my reports to a crawl if I wanted something simple like a DistinctCount. In fact, Googling “Distinct count in Excel” was how I first learned about PowerPivot and P3 (Rob loves to joke that most people learn about PowerPivot when searching for DistinctCount). I was one of the millions of people who were running into the limits of self-service BI in traditional Excel.

With several years of real-world business experience under my belt, however, I was starting to see how all my interests and skills could come together in a way that was not only fun for me but provided huge value to companies. The ingredients were mixed, and unbeknownst to me, I would now have to let them bake before my next step would become clear.

Baking the cake

In 2015 I was nearing a point in my career where I had been fortunate enough to be exposed to a wide variety of business processes (IT software development, business operations, finance) and I loved it all. I wanted to specialize, but I couldn’t decide on what.

It was around this time that I decided to take a sabbatical. I moved to Europe and lived in the Netherlands for several months. I took time off from work to try new things, learn new skills and reflect on the way I could make the most impact in the world.

In addition to learning new languages (Dutch and PHP), I started investigating Power BI. After dabbling in it shortly, I was blown away by the interactive experience it offered and realized the ways in which I could totally revamp the reports I’d created in my previous position at FoodChain ID. What started as tinkering in Power BI led to diving head first into all things DAX. I reached out to my former company with a proposal to improve their reporting and re-engaged on a consultant basis. I also created a number of portfolio projects (for example, thanks to my interest in economics I was curious to understand the current US debt burden and learned that the US owes $ 3.70 in debt for every dollar of GDP, or $ 200,000+ per person) that were not only fun to work on but also proved to me that investing my full attention in Microsoft’s BI stack was the way to go.

Throughout the process of learning Power BI, I invariably came across the same website over and over again: PowerPivotPro.com. The first video I saw was Rob’s explanation of the CALCULATE function. I loved how he broke down extremely complex topics such as the inner workings of the PowerPivot engine by using lots of analogies and metaphors, including references to the board game Othello and factory assembly lines. A thought started growing in the back of my mind – I would love to do data analytics every day, and P3 seems like the group of people that I’d love to work with! So in March 2017, when I saw an ad on P3’s site about growing its team, I finally took the plunge and applied.

I took the test that all consultants must pass to prove their prowess in DAX and the Microsoft BI stack. I can certainly second Reid’s experience. It was HARD, and it made my brain hurt and tempted me to throw in the towel, but in the end, I was able to solve the challenge.

Passing the test gave me the green light for a couple of rounds of interviews, bringing me full circle to where I started today’s story: on a Skype webcam, wearing a newly purchased suit and introducing myself to Rob Collie who was clad in a Pulp Fiction cat t-shirt.

Taking the cake out of the oven

Now was the time to take the cake out of the oven and see if my recipe for “Business Intelligence Consultant” had worked. Would I get the position? Well, as is evident from the fact that I’m writing on this blog and I’m featured on the About Us page, I did! Now, all that that was left was to taste the cake.

My first few weeks as a consultant were a whirlwind. Moving out of the comfort of my previous company that I knew so well into space where I would have to learn a new business every week took some getting used to. Being a consultant was hard but also rewarding! Clients come to us when they have problems that they’re unable to solve, so we’re getting the hardest work out there. But there was an upside to this: I quickly learned the patterns that exist between industries and companies, and realizing that I could successfully re-apply the solutions to these challenges made my confidence start to skyrocket.

Looking back, it has become clear to me that each ingredient in my journey, no matter how insignificant it appeared to be at the time, has mixed perfectly:

  • My tinkering as an adolescent drove my initial interest in technology and numbers
  • My formal education gave me a foundation in business concepts
  • My early career combined everything in the form of real-world experience

Today I’ve had a chance to put it all to the test as a consultant where I have to consider both the big picture and tactical details, practice strong communication skills, manage projects, employ my technical skills, and draw upon my business acumen.

I am extremely thankful for what my time at PowerPivotPro has offered me. I’ve had the honor to help a wide variety of companies gain insights into their businesses in ways they never previously imagined. I’ve had the chance to impart my knowledge by training classes ranging from total beginners in DAX up through advanced users. And all along the way, I’ve worked with amazing people who all share a love of data, analytics, and finding the truth in numbers. While I hope this is only the beginning of my journey to becoming a BI Expert, I can only feel grateful that so far I’ve been lucky enough to bake my cake and eat it too.

It takes a special kind of mindset to “bend” data (and software!) to the human will.  As this article demonstrates, we at PowerPivotPro can twist Power BI into a pretzel if that’s what an organization needs. (A robust, trustworthy, industrial-strength pretzel of course).

The data-oriented challenges facing your business require BOTH a nimble toolset like Power BI AND a nimble mindset to go with it. And as Val Kilmer / Doc Holladay once said, we’re your huckleberry.

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Salesforce Connects With Marketing

A good way to understand what Salesforce articulated at Connections 2018 is to recall the direction it set a few years ago, when CEO Marc Benioff said the company would develop most apps for the small screen first. Translated, that was a concession that handheld devices — phones and tablets — would become the primary devices we’d all use in business. Lots of software vendors took the same position, though arguably few did it as fast.

So far that’s been a good bet, because while this piece is being written on a conventional laptop, it’s highly likely that people will read it on a variety of devices and in a plethora of locations tethered to the Internet through WiFi.

Fast-forward and the device is the primary computing platform, and the next big hurdle to overcome — in the front office at least — is delivering a consistent customer experience across the platforms, including relevant and timely offers and experiences.

Some might have thought the job was done when apps crossed hardware boundaries, but when that happened a new set of expectations from customers — that they could cross boundaries and that their vendors would keep up with them — came into focus. Supply creates its own demand, they say.

Billions of Transactions

It turns out that’s not easy, because along with multiple devices to account for, there’s also the issue of many apps contributing to sussing out just what the customer wants and how to deliver it. The problem is like figuring out the next-best offer, plus understanding who the customer is, and what the customer has done previously with a vendor, and then some.

It’s “real-time personalization at scale for every customer at every vendor site,” Salesforce President Bret Taylor explained in a keynote. In other words, don’t forget this is cloud computing, so the system is using the cloud platform to do all this not just for a single vendor but for all vendors and their customers.

Today, that literally means billions of transactions. In a day, the system processes 2 billion Einstein predictions, sends 15 billion emails, logs 2 million leads, and much more, according to one Connections presentation.

You also could look at it as solving Rubik’s Cube or, more likely, solving simultaneous equations. Essentially this means solving everything at once rather than holding everything constant and solving for one variable at a time the way we do in a classical science experiment.

If you think I am perseverating, think again. This is a measure of where the technology world is today. We’ve done the easy stuff to capture and retrieve data. We’ve figured out how to extract significant information from all of it, too. Now we are trying to attack a pool of data that makes and informs other data in real time.

News From the Stage

That’s why I think Connections 2018 was important. Here are some of the announcements that support my thinking:

  • Commerce Cloud enhancements give B2B customers consumer-like shopping experiences. This is in line with the idea of giving people the same kinds of experiences at work that they have in their personal lives.
  • Marketing Cloud Interaction Studio might be the trickiest thing to get right, and in some ways may be the key to the whole show. Marketing Cloud helps employees to analyze and manage customer experiences with context (who is the customer, what’s unique about the customer, what can we recommend?) across a brand’s owned online and offline channels.
  • Service for Commerce, or adding a service element to a commerce interaction when needed. The demo showed a customer buying shoes and then going back into the event to change the delivery address. It was all mediated by a bot too.
  • Salesforce next month will deliver to beta an integration with Google Analytics 360 that will enable marketers to create audiences in Analytics 360 and then activate those audiences for engagement within Marketing Cloud.
  • Finally, Commerce Journeys will empower marketers and merchandisers to trigger transactional and behavioral journeys based on customer actions, like abandoning a shopping cart, confirming an account or making a purchase.

My Two Bits

Marketing is arguably the last frontier in CRM, because sales and service apps have been well articulated by now. Nonetheless, we should add that the marketing announcements coming out of Chicago this week blur the lines between the stovepipes very nicely. Those lines — and other lines, like those between front and back office and B2B and B2C processes — are evaporating.

Supporting the move is a Swiss Army knife technology stack that delivers analytics and machine learning to business processes that take us well beyond simple next-best offer approaches. Bots have not replaced people yet, but they are being creatively inserted into niches that are too low-volume or too expensive to insert people. The result is a far better customer experience.

A few years ago I wrote a book, Solve for the Customer,” after examining early online apps for self-service and commerce, and finding their processes woefully inadequate, precisely because there was little or no intelligence built into them. Customers were assumed to be able to use those systems because they were “intuitive,” which only meant that they were available on handheld devices, unfortunately.

Customers were so enraged by those systems that some of them took to the Internet to build blogs and sites castigating vendors. Those sites are still out there, and you can find them by searching a vendor’s name and adding the word “sucks.”

Many of those sites haven’t been maintained in years, though, and there’s no better proof for the efficacy of the revolution in commerce and marketing that is effectively and efficiently leveraging data than that.
end enn Salesforce Connects With Marketing

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.


Denis%20Pombriant Salesforce Connects With Marketing
Denis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry analyst, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there.
Email Denis.

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Why Pour Your Tax Savings Into Digital Transformation?

 Why Pour Your Tax Savings Into Digital Transformation?

Part 2 of a 2-part series. Read Part 1.

In my last blog, I discussed the ways in which corporations are responding to the increased after-tax cash flow resulting from the new tax law here in the United States. These responses run the gamut from dividend increases and share buybacks to one-time employee bonuses and debt paydown.

But have you considered long-term benefits? Digital transformation can be the right move, at least if your goal is to generate long-term value for your business.

But what, exactly, is digital transformation?

Think of digital transformation as business reinvention. The goal is to improve business performance and transform the way you serve your customers using emerging digital technologies – such as Big Data, analytics, cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, blockchain, and more.

The crux of any digital transformation is data. But data has been around forever. What’s new in the digital economy is the ability to use data to connect everything – people, devices, and business networks – in real time. With powerful technologies and platforms to manage these connections, we can now develop new services, new products, and new business models that deliver better outcomes for customers.

A nondisruptive framework for disruption

But, as I asked in my last blog, how do you move forward? The problem that most companies face when it comes to change is how to keep the lights on while transforming. If your goal is to disrupt an industry or two with leading-edge innovation, how do you do it without disrupting your own company?

The first step, frankly, is to accept the fact that change is always a constant – as clichéd as it may sound. Make your peace with change. Expect it. Encourage it. No digital transformation effort is a one-and-done scenario. Rather, it’s an ongoing effort. In fact, the platforms we build as part of our transformation efforts are themselves designed to facilitate change. Change is built into the design. The best response is to embrace it.

The second step is to start thinking in terms of two-lane IT (also called “bimodal IT”), a nondisruptive framework for disruption. In one lane, you have core IT systems to support core operations. Sometimes this is referred to as your system of record, which is critical to maintain. Part of a digital transformation journey should focus on optimizing processes and operations regarding the system of record.

In the other lane, you establish a system of innovation, which gives you the flexibility to develop new digital applications – and new business models – quickly. They range from IoT-enabled devices that track customer usage and charge per usage (rather than selling the machines as products) to machine learning algorithms that tell you more about your customers. Because most new applications in this lane will need to plug into data maintained in the other lane, the two are integrated. This system of innovation uses critical core data from operations to deliver new value for your business and your customers.

Think big but start small

As we dive into digital transformation, we should all think big. But when the rubber hits the road, most of us will start small with easy wins in the slower lane and move up the value chain. One model goes like this:

  • Better IT: Focus on cloud capabilities, getting right with your data, and optimizing systems.
  • Better decisions: Increase transparency, improve decision support, and automate decision-making where possible.
  • Better processes: Collapse cycle times, increase process flexibility, increase collaboration, build predictive capabilities.
  • Better products and services: Digitalize and optimize your offerings – and create new offerings that were previously untenable.
  • Better business models: Innovate with flexibility and devise outcome-based business models that help you enter new markets, attract new customers, and deliver the value that helps retain customers.

One study by the authors of “Leading Digital” (George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee) finds that companies with stronger digital capabilities are better at driving revenue with their physical assets. Strong digital companies are 26% more profitable than their industry peers and generate nine percent more revenue from their assets. Beginners in the realm of digital transformation trail their competitors by four percent in revenue-generation efficiency and 24% in profitability.

While it might make sense for companies to use their increased after-tax cash flow for a wide range of laudable purposes, here at SAP, we’re dedicated to helping those that want to achieve long-term benefits through digital transformation. There’s a lot of opportunity out there – and companies with the capacity to change can seize it.

Gather more insight on Why Strategic Plans Need Multiple Futures.

Follow SAP Finance online: @SAPFinance (Twitter) | LinkedIn | Facebook | YouTube

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Duplicated Entity Names when Creating Business Process Flows in Dynamics 365

CRM Blog Duplicated Entity Names when Creating Business Process Flows in Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics introduced Business Process Flows (BPFs) in their 2013 version and they have been improving them ever since. They are an easily configurable feature that can seamlessly guide your users through YOUR business processes. Our own CRM Nerd wrote a great blog recently that outlines how awesome BPFs are, especially for end user adoption.

The out-of-box solution is delivered with several BPF that meet a lot of customers’ needs with little or no additional configuration. However, one of the best features of Dynamics is that you can easily add new entities to meet your business needs and create BPFs that use these new entities.

Congrats!  Twins!

If you find the need to do this for your organization, you will quickly realize that Dynamics creates an additional entity with the same Display Name as your custom entity. This is standard functionality and it’s what helps make BPFs so powerful and able to track the time in and between phases, among other things.

Entities with the same display name can cause your end users confusion, for example, when they use Advanced Find, they will see the same entity listed twice. Let’s say that you have a custom entity called “Projects”.  When you turn on and create a BPF for this entity, you will see it listed twice – once as Project and then as Projects.  Which one is your custom entity and which one is the BPF entity?

If you’re familiar with configuring Dynamics, you’ll quickly realize that you are not able to change the Display Name of the entity that was created. When you go into your Default Solution and find the entity in the list, you’ll see that the Display Name field is grayed out. I suspect that Microsoft may change this one day and allow you to edit the display name, but until then, there is an easy way to update this field.

Quick and Easy Fix

This is a supported change as it used Translations to update the Display Name. All you have to do is create a solution and add the entity that was created from the BPF. You don’t need to add any assets or add required components. Once you have the entity in your solution, use the option to Export Translations. This will export a zip file.

Upzip the exported file and open the file called CrmTranslation.xml. You can open and easily edit this file using Excel without having any xml knowledge. Once you open the file, you’ll see a tab called “Localized Labels”. In the Object Column Name column, towards the top of the list, you will see LocalizedCollectionName and LocalizedName. To the right of these fields, in the 1033 column, you will see the current Display Name. Change both of these to the Display Name that you would like. Just to note, 1033 represents the code used for the English language. If you’re default language is not English or if you use multiple languages you may have a different column heading or even multiple columns. You will have to update all of the columns accordingly.

Once you make the change, save the Excel xml file. Rezip the two files that were exported. Go back to your Solutions and use the option to Import Translations. It is recommended that you use Publish All Customizations after importing your translations. If you are not able to do this, you should be able to adopt the change by simply publishing just the entity.

Once the translations are imported and you’ve published, refresh your solution and view the entity to make sure that the Display Name changed. You may have to use Ctrl+F5 to refresh if you do not see the change. You can also open an Advanced Find window and look at the Entity drop-down list to confirm the entity name change.

Bonus Side Note

When you exported the Translations, you may have noticed that it included all of the entity components such as the views. If you’ve ever changed the name of a system entity, such as Cases, then you’ll appreciate the process to change the names of all of the system views. You can easily do that through Translations as well.

Beringer Technology Group, a leading Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and CRM for Distribution. We also provide expert Managed IT ServicesBackup and Disaster RecoveryCloud Based Computing and Unified Communication Solutions.

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3 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach from Becoming an Ordeal

It’s easy to think of a data breach as a one-time event, putting the affected company at risk for a workday and causing residual headaches for maybe a week. But when IT systems aren’t regularly audited for security and layered stopgaps aren’t put in place to mitigate the damage, even significant multinational agencies like Equifax can remain vulnerable for months. How can you make sure you’re not caught sleeping at the wheel when the time comes to put your data security to action?

3 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach from Becoming an Ordeal banner 2 3 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach from Becoming an Ordeal

1. Audit Early, Audit Often

According to a study by Syncsort, nearly two-thirds of companies in the study perform security audits on their systems. Yet digging deeper, they discovered that for those who perform audits, the most common schedule was annual (39%), and another 10% audit every 2 years or more. Considering how sophisticated cyber-criminals have become and how frequent security events like Equifax seem to happen, this is unacceptable. An outdated system or plan removes any challenge hackers may face. And when it can take up to a year for an organization to act on their outdated infrastructure, the consequences of that inaction could multiply exponentially.

2. Don’t Stop at One

The most secure physical structures don’t rely on one layer on integrity. Make sure the structural integrity of your less tangible data and technology stays strong with multiple layers of resilience. Your multi-faced approach should address the vulnerabilities and strengths of the following areas:

  • Port/IP Address
  • Exit Point
  • File Security
  • Field Security
  • Command Control
  • Object Authority

That’s right: the integrity of your data depends on all of these layers, with even one neglected layer potentially being the only open door malicious actors need to capture sensitive information.

3. Communication is Key

In the unfortunate event that your organization suffers a security breach, there’s no need to exacerbate the issue by hesitating to inform the public. Any security event will understandably test the public trust, but you could suffer even more PR damage by withholding significant news for any amount of time. Acting fast isn’t just for IT administrators. Executive staff, retained PR agencies and any other public-facing entities in your organizations must stay on the ball to deliver the “Who, What, Why, Where and When” people need to know.

Download our Whitepaper today and discover the causes and effects of data breaches.

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Conditional Formatting Using Text In Power BI Desktop

Using Text Conditional Formatting Video Image Conditional Formatting Using Text In Power BI Desktop

Hello P3 Nation! Today’s “post” is actually going to be a video link. Sometimes there are certain subjects, concepts, or post ideas that just don’t translate well to the written word, and especially to screenshots. So this post will be in moving picture form! We’ve posted it to our YouTube Channel which you can go to here. Bedside’s today’s video, we have TONS of content on that channel so please take a look at our other awesome videos as well.

Today’s topic covers how to apply Conditional Formatting using text in Power BI Desktop. Conditional Formatting recently got a feature update, that allows you to apply color formatting rules based on ANY DAX Measure. I recently encountered a business scenario that had me play around with this feature a bit, and I came up with a clever way to use this for a client. I’ve included below the video link, download link to the .pbix file, and links to other articles explaining the various features & design techniques I’ve applied in this report. Otherwise, enjoy the video!

My Top 5 Power BI Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT: Article talks about a lot of the Formatting and Design Practices you see above, plus the DAX Formulas table.

Power BI: Transforming Good to GREAT: Video that is an updated discussion & walkthrough of the article above. Discusses Formatting, Design Practices, What If Scenarios, and Forecasting.

You can download the .pbix file here

We like to think that is no accident.  We’re different.  First of a new breed – the kind who can speak tech, biz, and human all at the same time.

Want this kind of readily-absorbable, human-oriented Power BI instruction for your team? Hire us for a private training at your facility, OR attend one of our public workshops!

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Doc Ingo, what model should I use?

teach fish sq Doc Ingo, what model should I use?

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is: “Ingo, I am from Industry X and my data looks like Y and my colleague recommended to use model Z – what is your opinion on what model to use?”

In general, my philosophy for model selection is very simple: you should use whatever model type and parameterization works best for your data on a fitness function of your interest. As a consequence, I simply do not believe in recommendations like “this algorithm worked for me” or “this is a standard in our industry”. This does not mean that a particular model type is also the best solution for YOUR case. So, in this spirit, I refrain from giving specific model recommendations…

BUT, I would like to explain a well-proven framework for model selection:

1. Fitness Function

It all starts with defining the fitness function first. Is it a regression problem? What type of performance measurement can be used then to measure the success of a model? Relative error maybe? Or RMSE? Or correlation? Error costs? Or is it a classification problem? Is accuracy doing the trick for you or do you need a specific precision or recall for one of the classes? Whatever works, stick with it for now.

2. Try Models & Parameters

Then try out the different model types / function types / parameterizations and measure the performance according to the fitness function defined in point 1. Obviously, not every model can be used on every data set. You can get some guidance for what might work on your data from our Machine Learning Algorithm reference guide.

3. Correct Validation

You need to make sure that you validate the models correctly and in a comparable fashion. I wrote a complete white paper on correct model validation. I also wrote a bit about focusing too much on overfitting which is relevant for this as well. Bottom line: overfitting always happens but it doesn’t need to be a problem if you correctly validate the model.

4. Identify Potential Shortcuts

While you are going through your model candidates, notice what kind of models work better than others. This might be helpful to prune the search space somewhat. For example, if a k-NN works better with high numbers of k than with smaller ones, the problem is probably more linear in nature and you might want to focus more on those and less on the highly non-linear model types.

5. Pick a Model

At the end, go with the model which delivers the best correctly validated performance estimation. Not the one which was recommended by a colleague. You might even want to go with a sub-optimal model for other reasons like understandability or runtime for model computation. Finally, you might want to further optimize the model as well with more parameter optimization or (automatic) feature engineering.

Or you take the shortcut and let RapidMiner do all of this work with our new Auto Model feature 😊

I know, this is probably not the answer people are looking for when they ask, but I think it is better than just saying “Go with an RBF-kernel SVM”. It also follows the philosophy of teaching to fish vs. handing over a fish… 😉

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Companies Team to Give Hard-Pressed Sales Reps a Boost

Mobile sales and business-to-business e-commerce platform
Handshake has teamed up with
Square to provide easy B2B ordering and payments via an app that enables a seamless workflow between the two companies’ products.

The app, which is available now on the Square App Marketplace, offers the following capabilities:

  • B2B sellers can accept all major credit cards and see their money deposited in their bank accounts in one to two business days;
  • Businesses can capture sales rep and customer orders electronically; and
  • Manufacturers and distributors can customize each customer’s e-commerce checkout experience to require payments by credit cards only, to pre-authorize and capture funds later, or to capture funds from the customer immediately.

“The opportunity here for B2B manufacturers and distributors is delivering greater speed in the sales process,” said Cindy Zhou, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“Many manufacturers and distributors participate in trade events, and the ability to conduct sales immediately through Square increases their order-to-cash velocity,” she told CRM Buyer.

The app provides sales reps with access to real-time data about their customers; accurate product, pricing and inventory information; and order histories.

“It will be important for sales teams to make sure that they have relevant and effective content to share with customers and prospects so that buyers are confident in their purchases and so that sales reps can further prove their value,” Avionos President Scott Webb told CRM Buyer.

Areas of Focus

Handshake’s offerings include the following:

  • Handshake Rep, a mobile sales rep productivity and order writing app for manufacturers and distributors;
  • Handshake Direct, a family of B2B e-commerce offerings designed to enable easy ordering for buyers, which has both mobile and Web components; and
  • Handshake Hub, a customer service offering.

Handshake Rep works on iPads and the iPhone. Pricing is US$ 40-$ 80 per user per month, billed annually, for the core and professional versions. Pricing for the enterprise version is not publicly listed on the company’s website.

Square — a financial services and merchant services aggregator and mobile payment company — lets users accept offline debit and credit cards on their iOS or Android devices. It recently has been making aggressive moves, such as launching a restaurant app. It also has acquired a New York state cryptocurrency license, which sent its share prices surging on Monday.

Sales reps can use Handshake Rep with Square to accept credit cards at trade shows and customer appointments.

Smoother Sales Processes

“The integration of Handshake and Square should streamline the payment process and give companies using Handshake another way to accept payments,” noted Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

“As we continue to see automation cutting into B2B sales, this gives sales an advantage,” she told CRM Buyer, “as they can close credit cards deals in person rather than directing a customer to a site to pay — and potentially cutting themselves out altogether.”

The number of B2B customers purchasing online has grown over the past year, according to the 2018 Avionos Procurement Officer Report.

Being able to make purchases online and the consumerization of retail have changed buyer expectations, diminishing the role of sales reps.

“The consumerization of the buying process is blurring the lines between B2B and B2C,” Constellation’s Zhou observed. “The B2B buyer is the same person that shops online and uses their mobile device to research vendors and solutions.”

Serious Competition

Square faces strong competition in mobile credit card payment acceptance from both established and new companies, including PayPal Here, Intuit GoPayment and Wells Fargo’s PayAnywhere.

Meanwhile, Handshake faces competition in the B2B e-commerce platform field.

“We’re seeing more vendors cut into this space,” Wettemann said, citing Salesforce’s CloudCraze acquisition earlier this year as an example.

The Handshake-Square teamup also will be challenged, Wettemann suggested. “I expect we’ll see more integration partnerships and consolidation in this space.”
end enn Companies Team to Give Hard Pressed Sales Reps a Boost


Richard%20Adhikari Companies Team to Give Hard Pressed Sales Reps a Boost
Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

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