Monthly Archives: November 2015

Top Ten Digitalist Magazine Posts Of The Week [November 30, 2015]

the future of supplier collaboration 9 things cpos want managers to know now blog 300x200 Top Ten Digitalist Magazine Posts Of The Week [November 30, 2015]As a sourcing or procurement manager, you may think there’s nothing new about supplier collaboration. Your chief procurement officer (CPO) most likely disagrees.
Forward-thinking CPOs acknowledge the benefit of supplier partnerships. They not only value collaboration, but require a revolution in how their buying organization conducts its business and operations. “Procurement must start looking to suppliers for inspiration and new capability, stop prescribing specifications and start tapping into the expertise of suppliers,” writes David Rae in Procurement Leaders. The CEO expects it of your CPO, and your CPO expects it of you. For sourcing managers, this can be a lot of pressure.

Here are nine things your CPO wants you to know about how supplier collaboration is changing – and why it matters to your company’s future and your own future.

1. The need for supplier collaboration in procurement is greater than ever

Over half (65%) of procurement practitioners say procurement at their company is becoming more collaborative with suppliers, according to The Future of Procurement, Making Collaboration Pay Off, by Oxford Economics. Why? Because the pace of business has increased exponentially, and businesses must be able to respond to new market demands with agility and innovation. In this climate, buyers are relying on suppliers more than ever before. And buyers aren’t collaborating with suppliers merely as providers of materials and goods, but as strategic partners that can help create products that are competitive differentiators.

Supplier collaboration itself isn’t new. What’s new is that it’s taken on a much greater urgency and importance.

2. You’re probably not realizing the full collective power of your supplier relationships

Supplier collaboration has always been a function of maintaining a delicate balance between demand and supply. For the most part, the primary focus of the supplier relationship is ensuring the right materials are available at the right time and location. However, sourcing managers with a narrow focus on delivery are missing out on one of the greatest advantages of forging collaborative supplier partnerships: an opportunity to drive synergies that are otherwise perceived as impossible within the confines of the business. The game-changer is when you drive those synergies with thousands, not hundreds of suppliers. Look at the Apple Store as a prime example of collaboration en masse. Without the apps, the iPhone is just another ordinary phone!

3. Collaboration comes in more than one flavor

Suppliers don’t just collaborate with you to provide a critical component or service. They also work with your engineers to help ensure costs are optimized from the buyer’s perspective as well as the supplier’s side. They may even take over the provisioning of an entire end-to-end solution. Or co-design with your R&D team through joint research and development. These forms of collaboration aren’t new, but they are becoming more common and more critical. And they are becoming more impactful, because once you start extending any of these collaboration models to more and more suppliers, your capabilities as a business increase by orders of magnitude. If one good supplier can enable your company to build its brand, expand its reach, and establish its position as a market leader – imagine what’s possible when you work collaboratively with hundreds or thousands of suppliers.

4. Keeping product sustainability top of mind pays off

Facing increasing demand for sustainable products and production, companies are relying on suppliers to answer this new market requirement.

As a sourcing manager, you may need to go outside your comfort zone to think about new, innovative ways to collaborate for achieving sustainability. Recently, I heard from an acquaintance who is a CPO of a leading services company. His organization is currently collaborating with one of the largest suppliers in the world to adhere to regulatory mandates and consumer demand for “lean and green” lightbulbs. Although this approach was interesting to me, what really struck me was his observation on how this co-innovation with the supplier is spawning cost and resource optimization and the delivery of competitive products. As reported by Andrew Winston in The Harvard Business Review, Target and Walmart partnered to launch the Personal Care Sustainability Summit last year. So even competitors are collaborating with each other and with their suppliers in the name of sustainability.

5. Co-marketing is a win-win

Look at your list of suppliers. Does anyone have a brand that is bigger than your company’s? Believe it or not, almost all of us do. So why not seize the opportunity to raise your and your supplier’s brand profile in the marketplace?

Take Intel, for example. The laptop you’re working on right now may very well have an “Intel inside” sticker on it. That’s co-marketing at work. Consistently ranked as one of the world’s top 100 most valuable brands by Millward Brown Optimor, this largest supplier of microprocessors is world-renowned for its technology and innovation. For many companies that buy supplies from Intel, the decision to co-market is a strategic approach to convey that the product is reliable and provides real value for their computing needs.

6. Suppliers get to choose their customers, too

Increased competition for high-performing suppliers is changing the way procurement operates, say 58% of procurement executives in the Oxford Economics study. Buyers have a responsibility to the supplier – and to their CEO – to be a customer of choice. When the economy is going well, you might be able to dictate the supplier’s goods and services – and sometimes even the service delivery model. When times get tough (and they can very quickly), suppliers will typically reevaluate your organization’s needs to see whether they can continue service in a fiscally responsible manner. To secure suppliers’ attention in favorable and challenging economic conditions, your organization should establish collaborative and mutually productive partnerships with them.

7. Suppliers can help simplify operations

Cost optimization will always be one of your performance metrics; however, that is only one small part of the entire puzzle. What will help your organization get noticed is leveraging the supplier relationship to innovate new and better ways of managing the product line and operating the business while balancing risk and cost optimization. Ask yourself: Which functions are no longer needed? Can they be outsourced to a supplier that can perform them better? What can be automated?

8. Suppliers have a better grasp of your sourcing categories than you do

Understand your category like never before so that your organization can realize the full potential of its supplier investments while delivering products that are consistent and of high quality. How? By leveraging the wisdom of your suppliers. To be blunt: they know more than you do. Tap into that knowledge to gain a solid understanding of the product, market category, suppliers’ capabilities, and shifting dynamics in the industry, If a buyer does not understand these areas deeply, no amount of collaboration will empower a supplier to help your company innovate as well as optimize costs and resources.

9. Remember that there’s something in it for you as well

All of us want to do strategic, impactful work. Sourcing managers with aspirations of becoming CPOs should move beyond writing contracts and pushing PO requests by building strategic procurement skill sets. For example, a working knowledge in analytics allows you to choose suppliers that can shape the market and help a product succeed – and can catch the eye of the senior leadership team.

Sundar Kamak is global vice president of solutions marketing at Ariba, an SAP company.

For more on supplier collaboration, read Making Collaboration Pay Off, part of a series on the Future of Procurement, by Oxford Economics.

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Digitalist Magazine

Battle of Lexington by Amos Doolittle

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Battle of Lexington by Amos Doolittle

A Historian Walks into a Bar . . .

What’s new for SQL Server 2016 Analysis Services in CTP3.1

After last month’s SQL Server Analysis Services 2016 CTP3 we are shipping yet again this month, with even more updates to Analysis Services. You can now upgrade your model to the SQL Server 2016 compatibility level, use the Visual Studio JSON editor to edit the Tabular BIM file and manage roles directly in SSDT. 

Upgrade a Tabular model to a SQL Server 2016 compatible model

Now with CTP 3.1 you will now be able to upgrade your existing models to the new 1200 compatibility level. This will allow you to leverage new functionality like bi-directional cross filtering and the new scripting language with your existing models.

To upgrade simply open your model into SSDT and change the compatibility lever to “SQL Server 2016 RTM (1200)”:
7178.11 5F00 1 What’s new for SQL Server 2016 Analysis Services in CTP3.1 

Your model is now upgraded to the latest compatibility level. The only caveat here is that your model cannot contain “pasted tables”, this restriction will be lifted in a subsequent release.

Use the Visual Studio JSON editor for the BIM file

Last month we released a new modelling language for tabular models represented using JSON as part of SSDT for Visual Studio 2015. In CTP3 we opened the JSON inside an XML window, giving you a less optimal experience. With this CTP you will be able to work with the JSON document using the Visual Studio JSON editor:

2553.11 5F00 2 What’s new for SQL Server 2016 Analysis Services in CTP3.1

You will now get JSON syntax coloring and syntax validation working inside the editor. 

In this CTP the Visual Studio JSON editor is only available when you have the free Visual Studio 2015 Community or a higher edition installed on your machine. If you don’t have any of these version of Visual Studio installed the JSON will be shown as text. AS soon as you install one of these Visual Studio version above the JSON editor will start to work, installation order doesn’t matter.

Create roles in SSDT

In CTP3 creating roles in SSDT was not disabled for tabular models in compatibility level 1200, in CTP 3.1 you can now create and manage roles directly in SSDT.

Download now!

To get started download SQL Server 2016 CTP3.1 here. The corresponding tools, SSDT November 2015 for Visual Studio 2015 can be downloaded here in the next couple of days.

Stay tuned for more updates and awesome features in the coming months. 

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Analysis Services Team Blog

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A Historian Walks into a Bar . . .

Cloud first, mobile first are key themes for new Dynamics AX

Microsoft has announced the next iteration of its ERP suite, Dynamics AX. Now in beta with users and codenamed “AX7,” the upgrade will be available early in 2016, according to Microsoft.

Dynamics AX, the high end of the seven-product Dynamics line, has been designed with a cloud-first, mobile-first mentality, said Microsoft technical fellow Mike Ehrenberg. It has been built in a cloud-based version initially but will also be available on-premises in 2016.

Analysts characterized it as a major step forward for the Microsoft ERP platform.

Andrew Snodgrass, research vice president at Directions on Microsoft, called the upcoming release “impressive” but said significant changes in the underlying platform will influence the on-premises migration path.

“An on-premises upgrade from previous AX versions will be a new install, and will likely require new hardware that takes advantage of the changes,” Snodgrass said. It will also require a hybrid cloud and on-premises environment that draws on cloud-based deployment and business intelligence services. “These are all good things, but customers who have concerns about the cloud need to consider the path forward carefully.”

Cloud first, but hybrid environments for on-premises users

Ehrenberg outlined key components of the Dynamics AX upgrade:

HTML-based UI. Dynamics AX has a new user interface (UI) that is built on HTML5, a Web language that is optimized for mobile devices and provides cleaner, simpler code. “For a business application to be successful, it has to be something that people enjoy using and that helps them get more done,” Ehrenberg said. “It’s all about delivering the right scenarios, with the right experiences, on the devices that users choose.” Dynamics AX is designed to work on a PC, tablet or mobile phone, and will be available on IoS and Android.

Task guides. This feature is an integrated training mode in Dynamics AX that allows users to record the steps in a business process, much like a macro in Microsoft Excel. They are then walked through that process with cues in the UI, according to Ehrenberg.

Embedded analytics. Dynamics AX now provides reports and dashboards natively rather than requiring users to pivot to a separate business intelligence (BI) application. “You don’t do your work in an application, then switch to a BI tool,” Ehrenberg noted. “It’s near-real-time analytics that’s embedded pervasively in the application.”

Dynamics AX also enlists Microsoft Azure, Power BI and SQL Server to enable more real-time data. With SQL Server capabilities, AX analytics can now refresh in “near-real-time, Ehrenberg said. “We’re driving that BI using the in-memory column store capabilities of SQL [Server]. So, all the latency that existed in the past with a cube that might not have been refreshed, the performance hit of refreshing that cube — it’s gone.” Down the road, AX analytics will be available natively in other business applications, including Dynamics CRM.

Business productivity and Office 365 interoperability. While Microsoft had already offered role-based views and user experiences in various applications, the AX Workspaces feature “takes it a step further and tailors information for, say, a finance worker to specific processes, such as the period-close process,” Ehrenberg said. Using Workspaces, a company can better manage the financial close process without having to enlist a third-party tool. Industry-specific Workspaces have been designated for manufacturing, cost administration, human capital management and others.

Cloud-first release. Ehrenberg explained why the release is cloud first, though an on-premises version will be available in 2016. “Next year, with Windows Server 2016, SQL 2016 and the Azure stack … we’ll get that cloud architecture right first, then deliver on-premises.” Users can also benefit from elasticity to accommodate their peak loads without having to pay a premium.

Snodgrass listed the UI’s reliance on the cloud-based Power BI as a reason on-premises versions will require hybrid environments. “The future for on-premises customers is hybrid,” he said.

Another important platform change is the separation of the application layer into two components, one that handles the underlying application platform and a second that contains application code, including customizations. “This separation is key for developers, as it allows the security and performance of the product to be updated with minimal impact to custom code,” Snodgrass said. “It simplifies a previously difficult and time-consuming task.”

Application lifecycle management for ERP deployments and upgrades. Ehrenberg noted that Microsoft is trying to facilitate the implementation and upgrade process through more seamless deployment, with upgrades guided by cloud-based Microsoft Lifecycle Services (LCS).

Other analysts also offered positive impressions of the new release.

Eric Kimberling, managing partner of Panorama Consulting Solutions, said it shows Microsoft is serious about investing heavily in its Dynamics roadmap. “Some of their enhancements around mobility and integration to Microsoft Office suggest that they are investing to make themselves more differentiated from their other tier-one competitors, as well as investing more heavily in cloud technologies,” Kimberling said.

Paul Hamerman, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, pointed to a recent analysis in which he highlighted the cloud BI and deployment features, HTML5 UI and Azure infrastructure. The release, “which is a major architectural overhaul of the solution that has been in the works for several years, is an important release for Microsoft,” Hamerman wrote.

Dynamics AX will be generally available in the first quarter of 2016. While Microsoft isn’t disclosing licensing and pricing details, Ehrenberg noted that the structure will be a per-user, per-month subscription model. Microsoft has also accounted for different levels of users, ranging from basic users to users that need “the full buffet,” he said. In some cases, licensing can be based on number of devices rather than user level.

Additional reporting by news editor Jim O’Donnell.

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SearchCRM: News on CRM trends and technology

Microsoft researchers improve AI tech for answering questions about photos

Microsoft researchers are back at it, using a type of artificial intelligence called deep learning to build smarter software. Building on the company’s previous work, Microsoft Research employees have developed a new method of answering simple questions about the content of a photo more accurately than similar systems that have been demonstrated by other groups recently.

The approach involves two types of artificial neural networks — convolutional and a long short-term memory network — which generally train on large quantities of data, such as photos, and then make inferences about new photos that they are given. But the new method goes further by incorporating a “stacked attention network,” which effectively hones in on the key area in an image in order to answer a specific question. There are multiple layers in this network, and with each one there’s a greater level of zooming in, resulting in more accuracy.

“It’s taking on a human’s attention capability,” Li Deng, partner research manager at Microsoft Research’s Deep Learning Technology Center, said in an interview for a post today on the Next at Microsoft blog. “This is the technology that couldn’t have been imagined a few years ago — modeling human behavior to solve problems.”

The new method, which was documented this month in the paper “Stacked Attention Networks for Image Question Answering,” outperforms academic work that Microsoft researchers published earlier this year in a paper called “VQA: Visual Question Answering.”

Not that Microsoft is the only company investigating the possibilities of mixing natural language processing with image recognition.

The automatic creation of captions for photos has been explored extensively by the likes of Google as well as Microsoft. In the narrow realm of image question answering, Baidu, Huawei, and others have published papers on their progress, while Facebook recently demonstrated a mobile app that can allow blind people to ask spoken questions about what’s in a photo and receive spoken answers in response.

The big achievement here is accuracy. Especially when the system can answer questions with just one word, it performs better than what Baidu and Huawei have shown. Heck, a human being is not a whole lot better at this work. And if you look at the big picture, you know that’s a big deal.

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VentureBeat » Big Data News | VentureBeat

sosuperawesome: Converse socks by ScandinavianCrafts on Etsy •…

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sosuperawesome:

Converse socks by ScandinavianCrafts on Etsy

• So Super Awesome is also on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest

Blogtastic!

Excel Tip – Easy way to remove all value fields from your pivottable #excel

November 27, 2015 / Erik Svensen

Excel Tip – Easy way to remove all value fields from your pivottable #excel

If you want to remove all your value fields from your pivot table – you should not do this by removing the fields one by one.

Instead of removing each field from the Values area in the PivotTable Fields action pane one by one – simply remove the Values field in the column or rows area.

 Excel Tip – Easy way to remove all value fields from your pivottable #excel

Instead of removing each field from the Values area in the PivotTable Fields action pane one by one – simply remove the Values field in the column or rows area.

That will remove all your value fields from the pivottable.

 Excel Tip – Easy way to remove all value fields from your pivottable #excel

Hope this little trick can help you too.

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Erik Svensen

On This Day in Comedy… In 1994 ‘A Low Down Dirty Shame’ Was Released!

On this day in comedy A Low Down Dirty Shame was released by Buena Vista Pictures.

Written, directed and starring Keenan Ivory Wayans, this action/ comedy cast him as a disgraced private detective. His agency is about to go under when he gets a cold case involving a drug lord he thought he’d killed long ago. It turns out the dealer’s old girlfriend, who was also Wayans’s girlfriend stole $ 20 million of drug money and is now being sought by the still alive drug lord. Wayans assistant, Peaches, tries to help, but ends up a hostage. To add to his troubles, his old time partner has turned on him. By the time it’s all wrapped up people are dead, but Wayans and Peaches (Jada Pinkett) find love and keep $ 5 million of the recovered illegal money to take a long vacation.

A Low Down Dirty Shame co-stars Charles S. Dutton as Wayans traitor partner. Salli Richardson plays the thieving girlfriend on the run and Gregory Sierra is the police captain looking for an excuse to throw Wayans behind bars. The film also features Chris Spencer and Kim Wayans. With original music by Marcus Miller, A Low Down Dirty Shame was shot on a budget of $ 10 million and grossed $ 29,392,418 at the box office.

By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton

www.darryllittleton.lol

‘Barbershop The Next Cut’ Debut’s New Trailer!

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The Humor Mill

Enterprise search features offer unique challenges

Effective enterprise search tools are a vital component of any information governance strategy, but users are increasingly…

dissatisfied with technology that’s cumbersome, work-intensive and slow. 

In part one of this series, Jonathan Bordoli explains how Web search engines, like Google, have established high expectations for enterprise search performance. His clients want a “Google- like search experience,” but there are major differences in the technologies which create challenges for bringing enterprise search features on par with top Web search engines.

For example, Google uses standardized search “facets” that classify and help provide context for content across the Web, but enterprise search facets should be much more specific, and pegged to a specifically calibrated taxonomy that’s based on the vocabulary for a given line of business.

Additionally, Web crawlers have the easier task of sorting structured websites, which are often classified with help from search engine optimization (SEO) specialists, whose job is to ensure that search engines can find a given piece of content. Conversely, enterprise content is often unstructured and stored by employees who may not grasp the business value of making content easy to find and access.

In the second and final part of this series, Bordoli outlines the unique needs for enterprise search features, and discusses some of the emerging technologies that could affect efforts to bring enterprise search on-par with top Web search engines.

A better alternative?

My clients often ask for a Google-like search experience. But perhaps they really should be asking for something better — something that will deliver improved performance, while also fittings the unique needs of the enterprise:

  • Findability of content against a foundation of a well-defined strategic taxonomy scheme that drives faceted search.
  • Findability of content that is locked up in documents (not Web pages).
  • Findability of content that transcends documents and is stored within line-of-business applications.
  • Findability of content holistically, whether it’s enterprise content or third -party content sources through effective federation.

Clearly, improving findablility is key. The good news is that enterprise search is arguably better now than ever before. But the playing field is also changing, as search vendors strive to keep up with these emerging trends:

Cloud and specifically PaaS (platform as a service). Increasingly organizations won’t install software either on-premises or even within cloud IaaS (infrastructure as a service). Rather, they will want to switch on a service for enterprise search, just as they can switch on SQL or Hadoop storage as a service. The challenge here is that few organizations will be totally in the cloud, with hybrid being the likely architecture of choice

Big data and IoT (Internet of Things). Increasingly organizations will want to see content (unstructured documents) and data (structured either in relational or Hadoop style stores) treated holistically, with findability of content across the spectrum, irrespective of where it is stored or content type. IoT projects are driving high volumes of data around telemetry data from machines (trains, planes, automobiles) and other connected devices now becoming pervasive, such as fitness trackers.

Rich media. Growing abundance of rich media, such as video and audio, will need to be enabled within the search function.

Knowledge graphs. Popularized by Google, but also an aspect of graph databases, a knowledge graph models relationships between entities (nodes) such as people, account and business. Nodes are linked (related) to other nodes with edges (in- and outgoing edges) and nodes also have properties (attributes), such as people might have properties of name, age, eye color; account might have properties such as account number and account sector. The point of the knowledge graph is to add meaning to content.

In the Google context, a search for Leonardo da Vinci [where a node=person] can show he was a renaissance painter [attribute] that produced paintings [node=painting]. Of course a search now on any of the paintings he produced, e.g. The Mona Lisa [node=painting] will relate to him as the artist. The knowledge graph starts to add meaning to the underlying content — an implemented vision of the concept of the semantic Web as first described by Tim Berners Lee in 2001.

Machine learning. Machine learning is becoming commoditized and core to making things smarter. In our case smarter search could mean the enterprise search tools predicting likely searches based on past activity, with machine learning and predictive analysis techniques facilitating that.

Conclusion

The goal of delivering a smart and centralized enterprise search experience is also complicated by the need to integrate multiple content repositories into query results.

The enterprise search engine historically sits outside the content and content containers, as an installable piece of technology that crawls and analyzes content from discrete repositories. Federation technology offers the veneer of a single search interface, but there’s potential for significant hidden pitfalls. The first is security context: lacking a uniform user-identity access, each of the repositories needs to understand what content the viewer is allowed to see– when searching across applications — or the results could be incomplete. Additionally, key context will not be available unless all content sources share the same taxonomy. When those issues are in play, the federated search is more like looking at a search page where several separate searches were done against different search sources, with the results shown in different areas of the screen. The outcome is search results that are not easily interwoven. 

Perhaps the core components for the next generation of enterprise search engines need to be baked into the underlying technology of existing and emerging technology stacks, such as relational database layer, media services layer, Hadoop storage layer and so on — providing a cooperating search federation across where content actually resides. If all content sources were managed by the same security model and all shared the same taxonomy, then federation should allow interleaving of results and correct security trimming. But the difficult part would be creating the holistic single search experience across these federated services layers.

In the meantime, users should focus on developing and refining a taxonomy — this is the content classification scheme that will make existing enterprise search technologies more productive and deliver greater ROI by producing more relevant search results.

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ECM, collaboration and search news and features