To celebrate the second anniversary of the release of Outlook Mobile for iOS Microsoft updated the app with and added a slew of new features including the ability to activate integrations with several other services, including Evernote, GIPHY, Trello, and Smartsheet. However for CRM users, the most interesting is a full featured integration with Dynamics 365.
From Outlook for iOS CRM users can quickly access real time information about contacts, accounts and leads and attach emails and calendar appointments to related CRM records including Opportunities, Cases, and Leads. It is even possible to create new CRM records directly within Outlook for iOS.
This is not a replacement for the Dynamics CRM app for Phones, as it does not include dashboards, and the ability to enter data in CRM records. But it does satisfy a much needed feature request. No more will you need to wait to get back to your PC to track emails against CRM records, or clumsily copy/paste between CRM mobile apps.
In order to work properly the user must choose to use Server Side Synchronization of emails. The organization should also deploy the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook.
As a Dynamics 365 Partner, it is great to see Microsoft continue to integrate with other Microsoft applications. If you are not yet using Microsoft Outlook on your iPhone or iPad, go download it today from the AppStore. It is the best app for email calendar and contacts on the go.
There is a very good chance you have had at least some interaction with an Amway Business Owner (ABO) or know someone who has. Amway does business in over 100 countries and employs over 19,000 professionals. With Microsoft Dynamics 365, ABOs are able to glean real-time business intelligence wherever they go and do so with ease.
Dynamics 365 allows Amway to capture all interaction between ABOs and customers, examine the data and take beneficial action when needed. All of the information for account managers is right on the screen so that they can set goals, modify them and give relevant feedback. It simplifies end-user training in a system that is easy to navigate and comprehensive.
Amway used to launch on-premise deployments in a country over the course of 5 to 7 years. With cloud-based Dynamics 365, the company can launch in multiple markets and actually save money. The scalability and speed to market combine with analytics and insights means Amway can have intelligent conversations with its ABOs and be much more effective overall.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a cloud-based solution that combines technology previously found in Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ERP and also includes additional sales, marketing, project service automation, operations, customer service and financials. Its business intelligence system, powered by the same technology found in Office 365, provides real-time analytics and insights. Dynamics 365 also provides a seamless business management experience that integrates with Office 365 and other Microsoft products.
Find out how Microsoft Dynamics 365 could work for your business.
This is a guest post from Thomas H. Davenport and FICO’s Zahir Balaporia. A version of this post was also published on Data Informed.
Businesses across many industries spend millions of dollars employing advanced analytics to manage and improve their supply chains. Businesses look to analytics to help with sourcing raw materials more efficiently, improving manufacturing productivity, optimizing inventory, minimizing distribution cost, and other related objectives.
But the results can be less than satisfactory. It often takes too long to source the data, build the models and deliver the analytics based solutions to the multitude of decision makers in an organization. Sometimes key steps in the process are omitted completely. In other words, the solution for improving the supply chain – advanced analytics – suffers from the same problems that it aims to solve.
Therefore, reducing inefficiencies in the analytics supply chain should be a critical component of any analytics initiative in order to generate better outcomes. Because one of us (Zahir) spent 20years optimizing supply chains with analytics at transportation companies, the concept was naturally appealing.
More broadly speaking, the concept of the analytics supply chain is certainly applicable outside of its namesake business domain. It is agnostic to business and analytic domains. Advanced analytics for marketing offers, credit decisions, pricing decisions, or a multitude of other areas, could benefit from thinking about deploying advanced analytics using the supply chain metaphor.
Steps in the Analytics Supply Chain Analytics can easily be viewed in supply chain terms. In the analytics supply chain, the customers are decision makers and the products being consumed are analytical models. The analytics engines that serve up recommendations or solutions are akin to manufacturing, turning data into consumable decisions. Data are the raw materials that enable us to generate the analytical models. The outputs of this supply chain are better decisions—ideally embedded into business processes and systems so that they can be performed repeatedly.
Let’s take this one step further, starting with data. We all know what happens to physical supply chains when we don’t have the right raw materials, especially of the right quality. When your data has low quality, so does your analytics – and, ultimately, the decisions you make. Beyond intrinsic quality, reliable access to raw materials is equally important. As product supply chains stretch across the oceans, data supply chains stretch across multiple systems and firewalls. Integration of such data can be time-consuming and expensive, and interruptions in the data supply chain can be very disruptive to decision making. And if decisions are sensitive to more real-time updates, then having data delivered with low latency is just as important as a key component arriving on time at the loading dock.
As we’ve mentioned, analytical models have much in common with manufacturing processes. These models are the machines that transform data into consumable predictions, recommendations and insights. The quality of those predictions, recommendations and insights relies on the same attributes as the quality of finished manufactured products. They must be fit for use, offered at a cost that attracts consumers, and made available when the consumer wants or needs them.
Analytics supply chains that take too long, or are too expensive to deliver the solutions that decision consumers need, get replaced with solutions that are more readily available. These solutions are often end-runs around the enterprise-level analytical infrastructure. These alternatives might range from “gut feel” to a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is low-cost, and the quality seems fit for use because the higher-quality solution isn’t available, will take too long, or is too expensive. What many users of spreadsheets don’t realize is that they are prone to errors—between 20 and 80% of spreadsheets have been found to have errors in several research studies. And they lead to proliferation of different versions of the truth around an organization.
Finally, an analytics-driven decision is the finished product in the analytics supply chain, so let’s think about deployment of analytical solutions like product distribution. Just as products sitting in warehouses don’t deliver bottom-line results, models sitting on an operations researcher or data scientist’s computer that can’t be deployed efficiently will not deliver value to your decision making.
For example, the Netflix Prize engendered a model that improved the ability to predict user ratings films by over 10%, but it was never implemented because it was too complex. And as the number of models grows due to technologies such as machine learning, the ability to manage the growing inventory and distribution of models to support decision making will become more important in managing your analytics supply chain. Hiring more advanced analytics professionals would help, but that labor supply chain has its own limitations and should be viewed as an important constraint in designing an analytics supply chain.
Benefits of the Supply Chain Perspective
The primary benefit of considering analytics as a supply chain is a change in an organization’s perspectives and processes for doing analytics. It means that an organization can take a broad, holistic perspective on the use of analytics, and won’t develop “local optimum” capabilities that don’t benefit the entire process. We’ve seen companies, for example, that hired super-smart data scientists who can “manufacture” many complex analytical models at a rapid rate. However, because of varied types of barriers (policy/technology/data/scalability/complexity), the company was unable to deploy those models.
Just as supply chain-focused companies measure the performance of their supply chains, those with an analytics supply chain perspective can measure the performance of their broad analytical processes. They can measure inputs (number of models created, number of analysts) as well as outputs (decisions affected by analytics, business value achieved from those decisions). They can rapidly identify bottlenecks and areas of under- and over-capacity. They can measure and improve the “time to insight, decision, and action” of the analytics supply chain for particular problems and decisions.
A large manufacturing company, for example, was in the process of deploying a distribution planning and optimization system. The prototype model was complete and the IT plan to deploy the system was estimated at 10 months and 4 FTEs. By leveraging a new analytics modeling and deployment platform, they were able to cut the deployment time and resource need by 50%, effectively a 75% savings from the original estimated cost. Using this deployment capability has given this company a competitive edge in its analytics supply chain by cutting “time to decision” significantly.
Just as companies apply information technology to optimize and automate their supply chains, technology can also benefit the analytics supply chain. Machine learning, for example, is primarily a means of automating the production of analytical models. It can be a substantial aid to an analytical supply chain if the organization employing it is able to deploy the resulting models and embed them into business and decision processes. Companies that employ “model management” technology have realized that keeping track of the assets in the analytical supply chain is just as important as tracking inventory in the physical supply chain.
Is Your Analytics Supply Chain Broken?
How do you know if you have an analytics supply chain problem? The following points should serve as a simple initial diagnostic checklist.
If your ability to deploy advanced analytics is stifled because you need IT, data, and/or other scarce technical resources to respond to changes in your business environment, then you probably have an analytics supply chain problem.
If the time it takes to modify, calibrate or maintain advanced analytics systems is cutting deeper and deeper into your time to develop and deploy the next set of models, then you have an issue with the back end of the analytics supply chain.
And if you work in advanced analytics and have been preaching about optimizing everyone’s processes but your own, then it is time to focus on your analytics supply chain.
Moving the word “analytics” forward in the phrase “supply chain analytics” may seem trivial. But a small shift in the location of a word can make a big difference on where you focus your attention.
Tom Davenport, the author of several best-selling management books on analytics and big data, is the President’s Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College, a Fellow of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics, and an independent senior adviser to Deloitte Analytics.
Zahir Balaporia is a Solutions Partner on the FICO Optimization team. Prior to joining FICO, he spent 20+ years designing and deploying analytics solutions in supply chain, transportation, and logistics with a focus on deployment and change management. He can be reached at ZahirBalaporia@fico.com.
Marketers looking to improve the efficiency of their programs by either upgrading their existing marketing automation platform or buying one for the first time face a major decision: Which system will provide the most efficiency, ease, compatibility, and return on investment?
Today, marketers must choose among a range of MA software options on the market. But we strongly believe that, although this decision is big, it need not be difficult. For a large segment of the market, Act-On is the clear choice to deliver key advantages to your marketing program for a cost-efficient price.
And here’s why:
1. Enabling Long-Game Strategies
Act-On supports the marketer’s key goals across the entire customer lifecycle; brand, demand, and expand. Our platform goes beyond traditional marketing automation, beyond inbound marketing, and beyond demand generation to support you at every stage of the buyer’s journey, for true lifecycle marketing. From stoking brand awareness to attract the right prospects, to nurturing those leads into closed sales, to ensuring customer satisfaction and retention – Act-On is there making things better for you each step of the way.
In the end, success comes down to your ability to build a lasting relationship with your customers, and maximizing your customer lifetime value.
2. Intuitive, Straightforward Technology
You get an easy, next-generation platform that marketers love. Some of today’s marketing platforms have been built on legacy systems. Others are subsidiaries of bigger companies, and subservient to their goals. Act-On is different. Act-On was built with modern tools on a next-generation platform for today’s digital marketer. Our focus from the beginning has been to make it easy for you to execute on your marketing strategies faster and more efficiently, and lessen (or even eliminate) your dependence on the IT department.
We don’t believe in “vendor lock.” Our open ecosystem makes it easy for you to integrate (and keep using) the tools you already like to use – or will want to try in the future. Your technology stack, your way.
And talk about easy: Act-On lets you build fully responsive emails and landing pages that display just as you want them to on all devices, with a simple, intuitive, drag-and-drop interface. Drip and nurture campaigns come together with ease. Recognize, replicate, and scale the programs that work best for you.
Your team will enjoy using Act-On; it helps them achieve their goals ‒ and look good doing it.
3. Efficiency, Ease, and Excellence
Time to value: Faster return on investment. We believe that Act-On delivers the fastest time-to-value of any marketing automation platform. We built it that way. Some of the other systems on the market can take up to a year to implement ‒ and then still need ongoing dedicated resources to make the gears turn. That makes it a long wait for a return on your investment. Act-On is easy to get up and running quickly. And it gathers the right intelligence so you can get going with smart, data-driven, customer-centric marketing. Act-On gives you the right data so you can build better campaigns, shorten the sales cycle, and rescue at-risk accounts.
And talk about support: You won’t find better. When you partner with Act-On, you get an Onboarding Manager who will get you up and running, and then access to the Act-On University and online community to help you extend the platform on your own schedule, at your convenience. You’ll also be able to tailor your ongoing support to your specific requirements. You get help when you need it, for as long as you need it, from real people – Act-On experts – who get to know you and your company. Even if you’re a complete newbie, Act-On’s training and truly excellent customer support will have you and your team marketing like seasoned pros within 90 days. It’s not about our technology; it’s about your results. Act-On gives you balanced simplicity, flexibility, ease, and power, so you can do marketing your way.
At Act-On, we believe that every marketer has a great campaign inside of them. Let’s work together to launch it to the world.
To see the Act-On platform in action, take a quick video tour to see how marketers are using our platform at each stage of the lead-to-revenue process.
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a lot easier to set up an Office 365 subscription than it is to deploy and maintain your own in-house, multi-tier SharePoint farm.
Of course, Office 365 has been adopted by plenty of organizations that already have Active Directory environments. In those cases, Microsoft has provided two main options: Subscribers can either set up identity synchronization (which synchronizes on-premises Active Directory accounts to the Office 365 cloud), or they can set up Active Directory Federation Services, which allows for single sign-on (SSO), but is more complex to set up than identity synchronization.
Recently, Microsoft provided customers with a new choice for identity management solutions: Microsoft Azure AD. In fact, Microsoft is making Azure AD free to Office 365 subscribers, although the company still charges a fee to use Azure AD Premium. The only real caveat to the free Azure AD subscription is that it is available to only those who have a paid Office 365 subscription. Those who are working from a free trial subscription or a complementary subscription are not eligible.
It is worth noting that Azure AD differs in several ways from the Active Directory Domain Services that are run on-premises. For starters, Azure AD is used primarily for authentication purposes. In contrast, a traditional Active Directory environment provides authentication services, as well as a number of other features that do not exist in Azure AD. Group policy objects are an example of such features. Similarly, Active Directory Domain Services allows domains to be segmented into organizational units, whereas Azure AD does not.
Another key difference between Active Directory Domain Services and Microsoft Azure AD lies in the way that each environment is accessed. Active Directory Domain Services can be accessed through purpose-built consoles, such as the Active Directory Users and Computers console, or programmatically, through the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. Active Directory is also accessible through PowerShell, which can be used to access Azure AD. In comparison, Azure AD can be accessed through the REST API, or through a web-based console, which you can see in Figure A.
As you can see in the figure above, Azure AD is currently linked to Office 365. This link was established automatically, with no administrator intervention beyond that of simply claiming the free Azure AD account.
In Figure A, the console is arranged in a way that could be used to list applications other than Office 365. The reason for this is that Azure AD supports SSO for cloud applications. Administrators can either set up SSO for apps that exist within the application gallery or they can define custom apps.
The Microsoft Azure AD console can be used to create users and groups, synchronize directories and provide SSO capabilities for cloud apps. Even so, Microsoft recommends that its Office 365 subscribers continue to create accounts within the Office 365 admin center, rather than within the Azure AD console.
When administrators create accounts in Azure AD, they are doing just that — creating accounts. When administrators create accounts in Office 365, however, they are doing more than just creating accounts: The account creation process is also tied to Office 365 licensing, and to the creation of directory objects related to Office 365 (such as an Exchange mailbox).
This raises the question of how the Azure AD console should be used. From an administrative standpoint, the Azure AD console is useful for establishing authentication for software as a service (SaaS) applications, reporting and for creating groups. From a user prospective, the Azure AD console is useful as a portal for self-service password resets.
Although Microsoft does not necessarily require Office 365 subscribers to leverage Azure AD, it should be considered essential for organizations that have an on-premises Active Directory environment or that leverage SaaS applications other than Office 365. Azure AD can be used as a mechanism for handling identity management across all these environments.
Just a quick blog post today to highlight one of the Power BI integration points that we get “for free” being part of the overall Microsoft clouds infrastructure. One of the coolest things to come out of the Azure AD area is what they call Azure AD Conditional access. I know this is already talked about before but I think it is worth highlighting a bit more.
By configuring this you can control under which conditions users can connect to Power BI. Here is an overview picture on some of the conditions:
A few examples of the conditions you can configure:
Any user who wants to use Power BI has to adhere to 2 factor authentication
You can only connect to Power BI when you are on the corporate network
You can only connect from machines that are domain joined
You can only connect from a machine that is complaint with the network policy
You can only use Power BI when you are part of a special AD group
And then you can also mix and match the ones above so you might get the following: When connecting from outside of the corp network you need to use 2FA to connect to PowerBI from any mobile device but not from a domain joined laptop.
Trump is not living up to his promise to hire the best people and let them run the administration. In particular, his cabinet members are not allowed to pick their own staff. For example, the White House would not let Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (who has no political experience) hire Elliott Abrams (who had held extensive foreign policy positions in the Reagan and second Bush administration) because Abrams criticized Trump during the campaign.
Trump wants to hire people who have never criticized him, which leaves out pretty much all Democrats, many Republicans (including those with the most experience) and members of many minority groups that were insulted by Trump. In addition Trump has given preference to big donors to his campaign (people like new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos). No wonder he is having problems finding good people.
Even so, a few reasonable people have made it into his administration, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. These people have been nicknamed “the grownups”.
However, Trump seems to be ignoring the grownups in his administration. For example, this week Donald Trump dropped our longstanding support for a two-state solution to the Middle East — without even talking to the state department. As a result, Tillerson and Mattis have spent almost all their time in cleanup mode, trying to undo the messes that Trump keeps creating that are disrupting the rest of the world.
Similarly, Trump’s meddling in foreign affairs seems to reward countries whose leaders either kiss up to him (e.g., Russia, Israel), or which do things that reward him and his family financially. In particular, Trump dropped all of his criticisms of China right after China reversed itself and awarded Trump’s business valuable trademarks.
In summary, Trump has no idea what he is doing, yet he keep firing from the hip without warning. He is hiring sycophants and donors who tell him everything is going well, and his own decisions seem strongly influenced by potential personal gain. In addition, he is already starting his 2020 campaign.
Smartphone maker Meizu will move its Shenzhen branch back to Zhuhai and its smart home services department will begin a round of employee layoffs.
For those employees who do not want to move back to Zhuhai, they will reportedly be considered as part of the voluntary turnover. At the same time, an insider revealed that Meizu’s Zhuhai headquarters will also cut at least 10% of its employees.
Meizu’s Shenzhen branch was founded in August 2014 and it mainly focuses on the gaming center, smart home services, and network development. At present, this branch has 350 employees.
In June 2016, rumors swirled online that Meizu would leave Zhuhai and move to Shenzhen. At that time, the company denied the plan and said they would not relocate their Zhuhai headquarters; they said their main smartphone development and manufacturing businesses and new businesses such as LifeKit smart hardware platform would continue to operate and develop in Zhuhai. A representative from Meizu said Zhuhai and Shenzhen are close and it is normal to move parts of their businesses between the two cities.
After the rumors last year, Meizu did move their gaming center business to Shenzhen; however, their headquarters and smartphone development and manufacturing remain in Zhuhai.