Monthly Archives: August 2015

“This Is A Missed Opportunity”

bridgecollapse2 “This Is A Missed Opportunity”

Some people don’t know how to accept a gift. America has many such people among its government, as apparently do numerous other developed nations. 

One of the few upsides to the colossal downside of the 2008 economic collapse is the rock-bottom interest rates that offer countries the opportunity to rebuild their infrastructure at virtually no added cost. It’s a tremendous immediate stimulus that also pays long-term dividends. But deficit hawks have made it impossible for President Obama to take advantage of this rare and relatively short-term opportunity. While some of it is certainly partisanship, it does seem like a large number of elected officials have pretty much no idea of basic economics.

From the Economist:

IT IS hard to exaggerate the decrepitude of infrastructure in much of the rich world. One in three railway bridges in Germany is over 100 years old, as are half of London’s water mains. In America the average bridge is 42 years old and the average dam 52. The American Society of Civil Engineers rates around 14,000 of the country’s dams as “high hazard” and 151,238 of its bridges as “deficient”. This crumbling infrastructure is both dangerous and expensive: traffic jams on urban highways cost America over $ 100 billion in wasted time and fuel each year; congestion at airports costs $ 22 billion and another $ 150 billion is lost to power outages.

The B20, the business arm of the G20, a club of big economies, estimates that the global backlog of spending needed to bring infrastructure up to scratch will reach $ 15 trillion-20 trillion by 2030. McKinsey, a consultancy, reckons that in 2007-12 investment in infrastructure in rich countries was about 2.5% of GDP a year when it should have been 3.5%. If anything, the problem is becoming more acute as some governments whose finances have been racked by the crisis cut back. In 2013 in the euro zone, general government investment—of which infrastructure constitutes a large part—was around 15% below its pre-crisis peak of €3 trillion ($ 4 trillion), according to the European Commission, with drops as high as 25% in Italy, 39% in Ireland and 64% in Greece. In the same year government spending on infrastructure in America, at 1.7% of GDP, was at a 20-year low.

This is a missed opportunity. Over the past six years, the cost of repairing old infrastructure or building new projects has been much cheaper than normal, thanks both to rock-bottom interest rates and ample spare capacity in the construction industry.•

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CRM Watchlist 2015 Winners: InsideView and Xactly – sales to the max – and then some

The note repeats, and repeats, and…: CRM Watchlist 2016 registration is still open and you have time to get the registration form required to get the questionnaire. Please email me at for the registration form. The clock is ticking….

Data preparation process comes under new scrutiny

The data preparation process was something of a sleepy back water in recent years — its component tools were often overlooked as attention was poured on new methods of data storage and data analytics. But, as new software storage frameworks and analytical engines appear, so, too, do new breeds of data preparation. This makes for an exciting amalgam.

In our most recent edition of the Talking Data, we take a look at aspects of data preparation today, for which there really may be something novel in store. Coming in for scrutiny are SQL-on-Hadoop offerings that prepare Hadoop data for use by business analysts skilled in SQL; data curation software meant to bring greater rigor to the integration of structured and semi-structured data; and a newly developed breed of tools that apply machine learning algorithms to data integration in order to put data manipulation in the hands of business users.

SQL-on-Hadoop, particularly, highlights the renewed importance that the data preparation process enjoys. Filling up bins of Hadoop with data, it turns out, is just step one for modern big data processing. People actually want to do something with the data. That means cleaning and formatting the data for general consumption within an organization, which may require SQL tools familiar to wide ranks within companies.

Also discussed in the podcast  is a presentation by MIT Associate Professor — and recent ACM/Turing Award Winner — Michael Stonebraker, who spoke at the 2015 MIT Chief Data Officer & Information Quality Symposium. While soundly criticizing traditional methods of data preparation, Stonebraker promoted new data preparation techniques formed to cope with the growing variety and velocity of data.

Finally, a dialog ensues that centers on startups looking to improve data preparation process results in the face of the challenges Stonebraker outlined. Alation, Paxata, Tamr, Trifecta and others are among software vendors bringing artificial-intelligence-style machine learning to the problem of data preparation.

Next Steps

Listen to a report on conference news of Microsoft Azure

Hear about NoSQL database trends uncovered at this year’s MongoDB World

Catch the Talking Data podcast take on Spark at the Spark Summit

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SearchBusinessAnalytics: BI, CPM and analytics news, tips and resources

Windshield Wiper In The Car Wash

Automatic squeegee over the security camera windshield enables surveillance in the carwash rain or shine.

OconFNf Windshield Wiper In The Car Wash

“The camera in the car wash has a tiny windshield wiper.”
Image courtesy of

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A Day in the Life of a CRM Admin

Ever wonder what a CRM admin does and what makes them tick? We’ve got the answers! We took a little time out of the day to speak with Cecilie and Liz, two CRM admins dedicated to making PowerObjects’ Dynamics CRM system hum. So let’s get to it!

082715 1308 ADayintheLi1 A Day in the Life of a CRM Admin

1. How would you describe your job in a nutshell?

Cecilie: A daily juggling act. You never know what you’re going to find when you walk in the door. There are always going to be those little pieces that need doing, and then the bigger projects that also need doing.

Liz: Sometimes I feel like I’m a character in the Matrix. We’re working in this dynamic environment, where we use technology to do things that we never imagined possible.

2. Why is your job important?

Liz: The CRM admin is the keystone to the company’s business process. If you don’t have someone customizing the software, you’re going to miss opportunities to make your business more efficient. A CRM admin translates the needs of the entire organization into CRM. It’s a great tool that eliminates roadblocks and increases overall productivity. This sounds cliché, but CRM allows people to “work smarter, not harder.”

Cecilie: We help to make the gears turn and fit together.

Liz: Yep, we’re the mechanics of a finely tuned engine.

3. How did you first get started working with CRM?

Liz: I didn’t know what CRM was until I came to PowerObjects, but everything I had done in my career prior to this always involved various components that do what CRM does. So it was cool to come in to a company that uses CRM to put all those components together, instead of using spreadsheets for days to track information. It’s really cool to see how CRM can impact a business.

Cecilie: In college, I wanted to work with rescue animals, but that job unfortunately didn’t pay enough to make a decent living, so I started looking for jobs in technology, which I’ve always been interested in. I was given my first job out of college a “CRM Admin” position. They basically threw a book at me and said “Here’s your job, go learn it.” Other than that I just saw the potential in the software and how it could help businesses and I was excited. And I happened to find PowerObjects out of that interest. But if you told me in college that I would be working as a CRM Admin at a CRM company, I would have laughed at you.

4. When you started working with CRM, did you ever see yourself becoming a CRM admin?

Cecilie: Yeah. My first job was to manage a CRM system, but I never saw myself becoming an admin per se. CRM is exciting to work with because there’s always new things to learn and it can do so many things.

Liz: I never saw myself as a CRM admin. I guess my organizational skills just fit well with that role. When I came to PowerObjects, I went with whatever they threw at me. And then my supervisor just said, “I think you’d be a great fit for this,” and I said “Okay! Let’s do this.”

5. What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office in the morning?

Cecilie: Coffee.

Liz: Coffee.

6. How do you manage incoming requests?

Cecilie: Oh, let’s see. I have a OneNote that has info about the bigger projects and notes from the meetings around those. We have the internal IT requests in CRM which is little stuff, like moving a field on a form or modifying a security role. Then we have “Prod CRM” projects, where people put in their bigger CRM requests. That’s still being built out. And then people will randomly ping or email me. If I can just do in in a second, I’ll just do it, otherwise it gets added to one of those other systems.

Liz: Having multiple monitors and browser viewing options is pretty nice too. It helps me stay organized.

7. How do you prioritize those requests?

Cecilie: A lot of it depends on how many people it will impact and how urgent it is. If it’s something somebody needs to do their daily job, it goes first on the list. If it’s something that impacts the entire delivery team, or if it’s related to a leadership team rock, that would also be higher priority.

8. What’s the most fun thing about your job?

Liz: I like the creative aspect of it. I also really like how this job helps you really understand the business and how you can use this technology to help the organization grow.

Cecilie: I enjoy working with the different teams and bring everybody together in one common goal. CRM helps do that. Also, seeing people’s excitement when you do something with CRM that’s going to make their jobs easier—I get a lot of joy from that.

Liz: Agreed! Also, using cloud technology. Microsoft has a fantastic cloud ecosystem. I really like how you can access anything from anywhere using products like CRM or Office 365.

9. What’s the most challenging thing about your job?

Liz: Staying organized, especially when a lot of stuff comes in. You have to jot it down somewhere and then make sure it doesn’t get lost.

Cecilie: Making everyone happy. Everyone wants their stuff yesterday, so you need to figure out what really needs to be done today, and what can wait. You’re only one person who can do one thing at a time (with the help of a team, of course). For me part of what I am challenged with is when I have a lot of alone time, just sitting and customizing CRM. Sometimes it’s whole days just sitting with your headphones on. I’m a people person, so sitting like that days on end can be challenging. A subscription to Pandora saved my life.

10. What’s your favorite thing about CRM?

Cecilie: I love how you can really almost do anything with it. People ask, “Can we make CRM do this?” The answer is almost 100% of the time is “Yeah! We can do that.” Whether it’s custom code or built into the system, you really can do whatever people want. It’s very adaptable.

Liz: I like how it brings people from different areas together to communicate, no matter the industry. It’s not just a sales system. It’s so adaptable. The “lead” and “opportunity” entities are just placeholders and can change according to the organization. As long as you have certain components, you can always adapt CRM to fit those certain components. You aren’t locked into using it a certain way.

11. What do you think are the qualities of a good CRM admin?

Liz: Organizational skills, communication skills, people skills, and broad understanding of all aspects that touch the system. You have to be okay with change. You’re constantly driving it.

Cecilie: People skills for sure, with both technical and non-technical people, and being able to speak to those different types of users. You also obviously need to be able to customize the system. You need to know what’s possible with CRM and what isn’t. Being a creative thinker is also good. You can say, “I know it’s not possible to do it this way, but maybe I can help them get to their end goal this other way.”

Liz: Another good trait is being adaptable. Being able to understand people’s needs.

Cecilie: Yeah, being that liaison between technical and non-technical people. You have to be able to translate the technical stuff to non-technical people and vice versa.

Liz: You also have to translate business needs into a technological process.

Cecilie: We do a lot of translating, ha ha. You need to able to handle stress, too. Because you do get a lot of things thrown at you randomly on a daily basis. It can contribute to stress.

Liz: Triaging plays into that as well. You need to be able to prioritize one that needs to be fixed now. If you can’t do that, you’re going to get stressed out.

Cecilie: Also, being able to communicate with different types of people and levels in the company, from the CEO down to the person who was just hired. And being realistic to everyone—being able to say to the CEO, “That’s great, but that’s not how it works.”

Liz: Yeah, it’s your domain. Since you’re controlling the system, you can say “This is possible, this is not.” You need to know your own company’s particular processes in order to see how CRM can help. Being a CRM admin is great because it gives you such a deep understanding of the business itself.

12. Are there any inside jokes that only other CRM admins would get?

Cecilie: What’s that meme someone sent out? “I don’t always test, but when I do I test in production.” That one made me laugh.

082715 1308 ADayintheLi2 A Day in the Life of a CRM Admin

There’s another one I found lately too: It’s this guy saying “My code doesn’t work. Why doesn’t it work?” The next image says “My code works. Why does it work?”

082715 1308 ADayintheLi3 A Day in the Life of a CRM Admin

Liz: And then there’s the “99 little bugs in the code” meme.

082715 1308 ADayintheLi4 A Day in the Life of a CRM Admin

13. Any advice for CRM admins just starting out?

Liz: Take notes whenever you can on anything and everything. Somewhere down the line it’ll be useful.

Cecilie: Just make sure you have a good system for taking requests and organizing everything coming at you every day. Find a way to organize yourself so you know what’s on your plate every day, know what’s at the top of the list, and know what can be pushed off until tomorrow.

Liz: We are building out our CRM to fit exactly what we need to do this triage internally. We’ve customized our CRM to manage our own CRM customization requests.

Are you a CRM admin? What are the most important things in your world? Share in the comments!

Happy CRM’ing!

 A Day in the Life of a CRM Admin

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PowerObjects- Bringing Focus to Dynamics CRM

Killer Visualizations in Power BI

It’s easier to comprehend data through pictures than by reading numbers in rows and columns. When you visualize data, ideas and questions more readily jump out at you—questions such as: “Where are sales growing the fastest,” “What drives growth” and “What are the characteristics of customers who use our services?”
But a bar chart doesn’t work for all data. Data visualization tools must be flexible so you can tell different stories. And finding the optimal visual representation of your data requires experimentation. Sometimes by exploring different perspectives, you can uncover trends and outliers that were previously hidden.
To explore visualizations effectively, interactivity is essential. Interactive graphics enable you to grasp and analyze complex data intuitively. Visual analysis involves getting data, representing it in one way, observing results, and asking follow-up questions. Those additional questions prompt you to drill down, filter, bring in new data, or create another view. Without interactivity, your questions go unanswered. With the right interactivity, data visualization can not only answer questions but act as an extension of your thought processes.
Power BI has outstanding visualization capabilities that support just this kind of interactive visual thinking and analysis. Let’s look at just a few of them.
Let’s use the Power BI Retail Analysis sample to create and modify a visualization.
  1. To open the report in Presentation View, under Reports, click Retail Analysis Sample.

    6710.1 5F00 OpenPresentView Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  2. To open the report in Editing View, click Edit Report. Power BI opens the report in editable form.

    5554.2 5F00 OpenEditView Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  3. To add a new page to the existing report, at the bottom of the canvas, click the plus icon.

    3782.3 5F00 AddNew Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  4. You want to add a visualization that compares last year’s sales to this year’s. From the Sales table, select This Year Sales and Last Year Sales. Power BI creates a column chart.

    6888.4 5F00 ThisYrLastYr Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  5. You wonder what sales look like by month instead of by year. From the Time table, drag Fiscal Month to the Axis area. Power BI displays a bar chart of sales by month.

    5545.5 5F00 ByMonth Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  6. You want to see the same sales information represented as a line chart rather than a bar chart. On the Visualizations pane, select the line chart icon.

    7522.6 5F00 LineChart Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  7. Power BI changes the visualization to a line chart.

    5123.7 5F00 PBIchange Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  8. Want to see the contribution of any single store to overall sales? Simple. Click on the data of an individual store. Watch how Power BI automatically adjusts the display to reveal the impact of your selections.

    4503.8 5F00 SingleOverall Killer Visualizations in Power BI

Suppose you want to look at sales amount by store location. Creating a map visualization is simple in Power BI.
  1. From the Store table, select Territory. Power BI recognizes that Territory is a location and creates a map visualization.

    2425.9 5F00 Territory Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  2. From the Store table, drag Total Stores into the Values area.

    1145.10 5F00 TotalStores Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  3. Instead of total stores, you want to see sales performance by chain name. To see the data by store name, from the Store table, drag Chain into the Legend area. Power BI displays the map showing Total Stores by Territory and Chain name.

    7701.11 5F00 Chain Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  4. You want to see data for an individual territory displayed on the map. Easy. Hover your mouse pointer over any territory circle. Power BI displays the store details.

    5611.12 5F00 IndivTerritory Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  5. Suppose you want to see the contribution of one territory in the context of other data. On the Report page, click any territory circle. Power BI adjusts the display to highlight that territory’s data in the other visuals.

    0815.13 5F00 TerritoryData Killer Visualizations in Power BI

Treemaps are a cool way to display hierarchical data as a set of nested rectangles.  Each level of the hierarchy is represented by a colored rectangle that contains other rectangles.  The space inside each rectangle relates to the quantity being measured.
  1. From the Visualizations panel, select the Treemap icon.

    0552.14 5F00 Treemap Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  2. From the Store table, select Average Selling Area Size.

    6433.15 5F00 AvgSellSize Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  3. From the Store table, select Chain. The treemap shows average selling area size of the chain stores.
  4. You now want to further divide the treemap to see how the average selling area is allocated to different merchandise categories. In the Item table, click Category.

    5224.17 5F00 TreemapDivide Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  5. To view data for individual merchandise categories, hover the mouse pointer over any rectangle.

    8054.18 5F00 IndivMerchCat Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  6. Want to find out the sales figures of any single category displayed in the treemap? In the Treemap, click the rectangle for the category. Observe how Power BI changes the sales visual to reflect the data for the selected category.

    5224.19 5F00 SalesByCat Killer Visualizations in Power BI

  7. Want to pin your visualization to your dashboard? Simply click the Pin icon.

    4760.20 5F00 PinToDash Killer Visualizations in Power BI

Because Power BI enables anyone to answer their own questions without programming knowledge or specialized skills, analyzing data becomes faster, easier, and more insightful.

Images can’t be seen

Thanks for the feedback @hhggrr. It looks like we were able to solve this issue.

Is there a forum to query how to build specific visualizations.  wanting to move from tableau, and I have a lot of pretty complex viz.  is there a way to ask those kind of questions?

Hi Jeff,

please visit


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IoT for food and water: Here’s what the future looks like

In the near future, IoT will drive tremendous innovation in the way our food is grown, processed, distributed, stored, and consumed. Plants and animals will literally have a “voice.” Not a human voice, per se, but a voice based on data that can tell people, computers, and machines when, for example, they are thirsty, need more sun, require medicine, or need individual attention.

Vertical Farms

Take vertical farms, for example. These operations bring farming indoors where all of the elements required for rapid and healthy growth can be monitored and controlled. These facilities are built vertically, so growing areas can be stacked. This greatly decreases the amount of acreage needed for farming, which allows vertical farms to be located in or near cities, shortening the time needed to transport and distribute food.

From an IoT perspective, vertical farms are connected both internally and externally. Internally, small sensors in the soil or connected to individual plants tell a control system exactly how much light, water, and, nutrients are required to grow the healthiest, most productive crops. Sensors will also tell vertical farmers when crops are nearing their peak for harvesting at just the right time to ensure it’s still fresh when it reaches its final destination.

Externally, vertical farms will be connected to other networks and information systems, including databases that track local demand. For example, local restaurants could input when they need to replenish their fresh food supplies. And vertical farmers could access that information so they know which crops to grow in what quantities. Vertical farms can also connect to the power grid, using their windows as solar panels to supply the system, creating a tight feedback loop between the food supply, the power grid, and consumers. This type of IoT system would have been unimaginable a generation ago.

logo placeholder 160x160 IoT for food and water: Here’s what the future looks like

Today, vertical farms are in a state of rational experimentation. And while not yet profitable, the numbers point to a bright future for the industry, especially as the world’s population continues to grow and farmland becomes more and more scarce. For example, Green Sense Farms in Chicago is able to harvest crops 26 times a year using 85 percent less energy, one-tenth the water, and no pesticides or herbicides. A side benefit of lower energy use is lower CO2 output of two tons per month, with the added benefit of creating 46 pounds of oxygen every day.

Vertical farms are also sprouting up in other countries. A vertical farm in Miyagi, Japan, built by Mirai Inc. in partnership with GE relies solely on LED lighting, requiring 40 percent less electricity compared with regular fluorescent lighting. This farm is capable of producing 10,000 heads of lettuce a day and annual sales of $ 2,939,736 (approximately 300 million Japanese yen).

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When we think “vertical,” most people envision something from the ground up. But vertical farms can also be underground. In the United Kingdom, a company called Growing Underground has built a subterranean urban farm 115 feet below a busy south London street uses hydroponics to grow crops free of pesticides. The farm is 1,805 square feet in size and has a carbon-neutral footprint.

Smart Produce — Informed Consumers

A recent National Geographic article, titled, “One-Third of Food Is Lost or Wasted” stated that a collective 3.5 billion acres of land, an area significantly larger than Canada, is plowed to grow food or support livestock and dairy production that no one will eat. To compound the environmental insult, food buried in the airless confines of dumps generates methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest generator of greenhouse gases in the world behind China and the United States.

One way IoT can help decrease this waste is at the point of consumption. U.S. supermarkets lose roughly 10 percent of their fruits and vegetables to spoilage every year, according to the Department of Agriculture.

In 2012, MIT researchers unveiled a new sensor made from sheets of rolled carbon nanotubes with added copper atoms to detect tiny amounts of ethylene, a gas that promotes ripening in plants. The cost at the time of the announcement was about 25 cents per sensor. Applying Moore’s Law, those sensors will soon be cheap enough to economically place them on individual fruits and vegetables.

By detecting the gasses coming off the produce, analyzing the data, and setting alert thresholds, the sensors could keep department managers in the loop about the real-time shelf life of the store’s inventory. Managers can then decide to lower prices on produce so that it sells faster. Consumers would also know how long the fruit and vegetables they just bought will last. If we know when something will spoil, we’re more likely to use it rather than toss it into the garbage. With IoT, everyone wins, including our planet.

Even though sensor prices have not yet reached the point where it is feasible to place one on every fruit and vegetable, similar technology has been used on a larger scale to detect ethylene gas in greenhouses so that special scrubbers eliminate the gas. This lengthens the life of produce, which helps to eliminate waste. Given these advances and the cost- and size-reducing power of Moore’s Law, it’s only a matter of time before your next apple comes with a freshness sensor.

Water, Water, Everywhere …

While water rights are an extremely complicated issue, IoT can also be part of the solution for water shortages being felt in various parts of the world by providing more visibility into water usage, where globally about 70 percent of water is consumed by agriculture, more than twice that of industry at 23 percent, and dwarfing municipal use at 8 percent. As a homeowner, I receive a monthly bill that lists the number of gallons of water I used during the month. While this gives me some helpful data, it doesn’t give me enough information or insights to make intelligent decisions about my water use. I simply don’t have the adequate tools to finely control water usage on a real-time or automated basis.

Using sensors similar to the ones for vertical farming, my yard could tell me when it’s had enough water or which parts need more hydration. In combination with a remotely controllable sprinkler system, this data could be further analyzed and presented graphically on a mobile app to show the impact of my actions. For example, “By reducing water usage for your garden, you saved 8 percent of your target water usage for the month. If you keep it up, you will save $ 100 compared to the amount you paid last month.”

Now this is information I could use to both make better decisions and to motivate me to achieve certain goals. But, does a drop or two of water really make a difference? Consider this. If just 1 percent of the homes in the U.S. saved 1 drop of water per minute, it would equal 34,715,984 gallons per year. That is enough to water 100 acres of corn. Just imagine what we could accomplish if everyone, including farms and companies, did their part. Collectively, we would have a tremendous impact on the amount of water used while still enjoying the lifestyle we’re accustomed to.

logo placeholder 160x160 IoT for food and water: Here’s what the future looks like

 IoT for food and water: Here’s what the future looks like

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required Los Angeles to cover its water reservoir to keep the water from evaporating. One solution was to build a giant pool cover, however, the city estimated the cost to be approximately $ 300 million. Then, someone came up with an ingenious idea. Why not float plastic balls on the surface to protect the water underneath? After experimenting on a smaller scale, the city worked with local companies to produce millions of “shade balls” at a cost of $ 35 million (almost 90 percent cheaper than the alternative method). These chemically-treated black plastic balls now cover Los Angeles’ water supply, saving nearly 300 million gallons of drinkable water from evaporating each year.

Now, imagine if each ball were connected.

Solar or motion powered sensors on each ball connected via a mesh network could gather data about water quality and alert officials when algae, contaminants, acidity, and salinity for example, reach certain levels. The balls could also monitor water levels to determine more accurately how fast the finite resource is being used and replenished. Having this information in real time could help water utility operators make more informed decisions to eliminate waste. From a safety and security perspective, motion sensors could detect when someone has entered the water, either by accident or for a more nefarious reason such as contaminating the water supply, so that quick action could be taken.

Back to the Present

Because food and water are such large and important industries, it’s not surprising that several firms, from the largest technology companies to startups, are working on IoT solutions in these areas. Intel, for example, is looking to be a leader in the food and agriculture industry with projects that address water and food security, safety, and sustainability. The company is working with the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) to build tiny sensors that are placed on the backs of bees to help understand why they are dying in massive numbers around the world. Bees, of course, are of paramount importance because they pollinate approximately 33 percent of all human food sources.

Startups are also getting in on the action. Rachio adds intelligence to water usage for people’s yards. The company’s solution calibrates soil, vegetation, slope, sun exposure, and nozzle types to give customers visibility and complete control over their landscaping through a mobile app. Future products will help people manage water usage throughout their homes. Lumense is a chemical and biological sensor platform that monitors liquids and gases to provide real-time analytics and automated maintenance. The company’s focus is to make our food, water, and air supplies safer and better.

And as IoT technologies and solutions proliferate, consortia and standards bodies abound. The rapidly-growing list includes the Internet of Things Consortium, AllJoyn, Open Interconnect, Thread Group, Open Mobile Alliance, and Eclipse IoT to name a few.

IoT Demands a New Way of Thinking

We are on the planet at an incredible period of time in human history. Never before have our challenges been so great. Yet, never before has technology been so powerful. With IoT, we can literally connect anything to anything. This connectedness will require us to think in new ways if we want to use IoT to solve the challenges we face today and tomorrow. Rather than looking at a plastic ball as a singular round object, we can look at it from an IoT perspective by asking, “What could this thing do if it were connected to millions of other balls?” By training ourselves to think in this way, we’ll be to use IoT to better manage our planet including the precious resources such as food and water that we all need to survive.

David Evans is cofounder and CTO of Stringify, a startup focused on IoT. He was previously Chief Futurist of Cisco.

VB’s research team is studying web-personalization… Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.

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How to Grow a Team [VIDEO]

Now that your business has grown enough that you’re hiring – or about to hire – people, how do you make sure you’re growing your team the right way?

AJ Forsythe, CEO of iCracked, has been there, and he shared his hiring tips. He emphasized that the first three to five people you hire will define your culture so hire carefully. And remember that hiring the wrong people is more expensive than hiring in general.

Check out all his tips in the full episode:

Not in the video mood? Read the transcript below.

This week’s question was from Tony:

I recently hired my first employees, three of them. Two of them are handling sales, which I used to do myself. How do I successfully shift from being the “doer” into the manager? And how do I make sure that our processes scale correctly? And what processes should I even have in place, now that there are all these people?

AJ Forsythe, CEO of iCracked, has plenty of experience with creating and growing teams. When he and his cofounder though of making iCracked more than just the two of them, they started by hiring their friends and paid them in beer and two dollar bills (hey, it was college). 

But now, AJ can say that the first three people you hire define your culture, and define what your company’s going to be for the rest of the time it’s around. The key is to find people that are better at their jobs than you are. So one of the first people he hired was a graphic designer, because AJ says he’s terrible at graphic design and he could either get better at it, or hire somebody who’s better at it than he is. 

And then the next person was someone to help with shipping and fulfillment, because their time was getting consumed by shipping packages out, so we found someone who’s actually built and scaled systems before. 

When you’re bringing on the first three to five people, money won’t be their primary motivation, because money is secondary to being proud of your work. Because you’re such a cohesive team that, if one person doesn’t come to work, that’s 20, 30, 40 percent of your workforce. Finding people that are passionate, that you enjoy being around, that reflect what you want your company to be. As you’re scaling up to tens of people or hundreds of people, finding that first core group that embodies what you want your culture to be and want your company to be is so wildly important.

One of AJ’s initial mistakes was micromanaging. And more than micromanaging, it was, “Oh, should I delegate to have this person do it, or should I just do it myself?” And he kept finding himself thinking, “I’ll just do it myself. I’ll just do it myself.” Or, if he did delegate it, he’d think, “Here’s exactly how I want you to do it.” 

It comes down to trust, and just letting go, and knowing people are going to make mistakes. So even if you could do it perfectly yourself, and you can delegate it with a 50 percent chance that it’s going to get done correctly, in order for people to learn, they have to make mistakes, and you have to let go.

When iCracked was at three or four people, AJ thought that hiring was really expensive. It was his father who said to him, “A.J., hiring is very expensive, but hiring the wrong people is more expensive.” 

That’s why now he’s incredibly diligent about the people he hires. His advice to business owners is to take your time and trust your gut. And make sure you know that one bad egg or one person that doesn’t quite fit exactly who you’re looking for can bring down morale for everything. When you hit a hundred people or a thousand people, one or two bad eggs, you can get away with it. But when you’re five people, and it’s one person that just doesn’t get along with everyone, that can be poisonous for your culture and your vibe.

Finally, AJ emphasized that you want to give people enough responsibility that they can execute on it themselves. You want to have them always keep learning. T. And then, back to purpose, why? The purpose is the why. Why are you servicing customers? Why are you coming to work? So, we really try to thrive on autonomy and mastering purpose.

ultimate guide maximize value of leads How to Grow a Team [VIDEO]

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Bruce Biron, Joins ACE Microtechnology, Inc. as Microsoft Dynamics CRM Practice Lead

brucebiron Bruce Biron, Joins ACE Microtechnology, Inc. as Microsoft Dynamics CRM Practice Lead

Bruce Biron, joins ACE Microtechnology, Inc. as Microsoft Dynamics CRM Practice Lead

ATLANTA, GA, August 2015 – ACE Microtechnology (ACE) a global business and technology services firm that provides Microsoft Dynamics Solutions – Microsoft CRM and Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains), has welcomed a new team member, Bruce Biron. Bruce brings over 15 years of direct CRM implementation experience to the practice. During this time he has acted in various implementation project team roles including Managing Consultant, Pre-Sales Specialist, Sr. Project Manager, Sr. Business Analyst, System Architect, System Configurator, Data Migration Specialist and Trainer. He has completed over 200 + projects of various sizes, budgets, implementation durations and complexities throughout many types of industries including manufacturing, homebuilding, land development, aviation, retail, software development and not-for-profit. His project sizes ranged from 20 to 3,000 user, with budgets of $ 50K – $ 1.5M lasting from 1 to 18 months in duration.

Bruce is an excellent communicator and facilitator able to lead Requirements and Design Workshops with clients to working with a coordinated project team to ensure specific tasks are being completed on-time and within budget according to defined Project and Work Plans.

Bruce is able to adapt quickly to unique client needs and changing project variables. This includes adapting to various implementation methodologies / strategies, client documentation expectations as well as changing project scopes. He is creative with his design architectures and able to keep the project team focused on successful implementations.

Bruce graduated the University of Texas at Arlington with a B.S in Accounting and has devoted his entire professional career to CRM.

For more information or assistance with Microsoft Dynamics CRM contact ACE!

by ACE Microtechnology

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