Monthly Archives: March 2018

How to Map Relational Data to a Graph Database

iStock 817442226 e1522345309668 How to Map Relational Data to a Graph Database

Organizations, especially a new class of employees like business analysts, data scientists, and marketing strategists, are actually trying to get better insight using the relations in all the data records of their enterprise.  In order to better serve these new ways of searching for information, it is becoming critical to find a way to expose existing enterprise data in a graph database format. Unfortunately, most of today’s data is stored in relational database management systems (RDBMS).

In the relational data storage model, there is no physical link to indicate the relation among different data records. They are only linked logically by a special attribute called a foreign key, rendering the search of related records not as effective. In order to find relationships in a relational data storage model, you have to build complex queries that perform actions over and over again. It’s not very efficient. While relational databases are widely used, they are not ideal for storing and querying data that have a high degree of relationships.

On the other hand, the graph data storage model keeps data attributes together naturally (in nodes). By creating physical links called edges, all related nodes are kept together, highlighting the relationships between data sets. This focus on relationships in graph database makes it a far better home for today’s interconnected data than traditional relational databases.

But, since most of today’s data is still in relational database format, how do you convert your current data to a graph database format? Mapping data from a relational database to graph database is fundamentally a task of converting the relational representation from one database to the other. More specifically, we can use the foreign keys of relational data model to build edges, thus transforming loosely coupled data records into a highly bounded group of nodes. Nodes form the basis of graph database architecture.

For a detailed walk-through of how to do this, download the brief: “How to Map Relational Data to a Graph Database”. In it, we go step by step and use a well-known example to demonstrate an approach to map information from a relational database to a graph database.

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On-premises data gateway March update is now available

We are excited to announce that we have just released the March update for the On-premises data gateway. Here are some of the things that we would like to highlight with this month’s release:

  • The release month is now displayed next to the version number to make it easy to determine which release you are currently on.
  • The on-premises data gateway now includes the March version of the mashup engine.

You can download this new version from the link below and continue reading for more details about each enhancement.

4f909ab3 8572 4cef beca 408154d983e5 On premises data gateway March update is now available


Showing the month of the release next to the version number

Based on your feedback, we are now making it easier for you to determine which version of the gateway you currently have installed. Since we release the gateway on monthly basis, you will see moving forward the month and the year of the release in the status tab of the on-premises data gateway client.

For this month, the version number of the gateway clients is 14.16.6550.1 and the release is the March 2018 release.

dc2beec8 caac 4c76 ac35 9806a757df8d On premises data gateway March update is now available

Updated version of the mashup engine

This gateway update includes the same version of the Mashup engine as the Power BI Desktop update released earlier this month. This will ensure that the reports that you publish to the Power BI Service and refresh via the gateway will go through the same query execution logic/runtime as in the latest Power BI Desktop version. Note that there are some Beta connectors that are still not supported outside of Power BI Desktop. Please refer to specific connector documentation for more details or contact us if you have any questions.

That’s all for this month’s gateway update. We hope that you find these enhancements useful and continue sending us feedback for what new capabilities you’d like to see in the future.

ab5a94b7 064c 4710 b489 208e184fdffb On premises data gateway March update is now available

Additional resources:

· Try Power BI

· Follow @MSPowerBI on Twitter

· Join the conversation at the Power BI Community

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If you needed any more reasons to smash capitalism… shrimp fried rice

 If you needed any more reasons to smash capitalism... shrimp fried rice

After reading about Ted Malloch, InfoWars’s anti-Satanist business professor being snatched by the Feebs, it seems that we are reaching peak absurdity this week.

The following twitter thread looks like it could unfold in FB rather than Twitter, but is symptomatic of toxic work environments, as if it would be odd to question whether the office fridge really needed a surveillance camera (h/t kos).

There’s at least one red herring, although maybe that’s a side-order. There are some gaps in the narrative, or at least facts not in evidence. But Newsweek now thinks it’s a thing.

Co-worker got his lunch stolen and they’ve agreed to let him watch the security camera tape. This is the most excited I’ve ever been at any job ever. Ever.

— Zak Toscani (@zaktoscani) March 29, 2018

  • The lunch in question was shrimp fried rice which means this escalates from a misdemeanor to felony no doubt
  • Case facts:
  • Lunch was in fridge for less than an hour before it vanished. No shrimp smell remnants in the microwave or kitchen area. This was a professional hit no doubt
  • HOLY SHIT. He’s back. He watched the tape. He knows who did it.
  • So the man who’s lunch was stolen sits across from me. The person who stole his lunch sits RIGHT NEXT TO ME! She left for the day before the investigation started
  • According to the video, this psychopath DIDNT EVEN EAT THE FOOD. She took it out of the fridge and threw and buried it in the trash
  • Her motives remain completely unknown. In lieu of what he saw on the tape he has decided to not to press the matter anymore. I can’t say I blame him. We don’t know what this women’s fully capable of
  • Points to clarify: he bought the shrimp fried rice around 11:30am (carry out) and put it in the fridge to chill until he takes lunch at noon. So she had exactly a 30min window of time to do what she did. There was no intention of microwaving the food
  • Update: Ok so when dude watched the video with HR they asked “what do you want to do about it?” he told them he was solely interested in who did it and that he didn’t want to be responsible for someone getting fired
  • After charges were dropped, HR sent a company wide email about not stealing people’s lunches. She is scheduled to arrive at work in 20min. My blood is on cocaine
  • She has walked into the room. And the room is dead silent. Dead fucking silent yet there is a palpable explosive energy pulsing through everyone but her
  • From the moment she walked in, I’ve just been staring at her. Watched her open her email and now she clicked on the goddamn HR email! Holy fuck strap in – here we go!
  • I can’t move. I simply cannot move, anything could happen right now
  • !!!! After seeing the HR email she says out loud “woah. Someone stole a lunch? Who would do something like that?” !!! I may have to run out of this room
  • After she said that, shrimp guy responds “well yea it’s not ok to throw someone’s food away” we’re all about to start screaming
  • This shits about to get crazier. After he says that she goes “oh it was your lunch?” BEAT she continues “well why would you go to HR about that?!”
  • She has simultaneously denied her involvement AND called the guy who saved her job a snitch!!!!!!!!!
  • Dude just sighed and went back to work after she said what she said. She looks frightwningly calm
  • I’ll keep updating if anything else occurs but all I can say is that EVERYONE in the office from the janitor to the founder knows what she did. She now carries an invisible scarlet letter
  • This is real. This is happening. We know who did it but we don’t know why. It’s a post production company so we’re in fact open today. She’s been sitting 3ft from me this whole time

Post production indeed. Dunning-Kruger meets Dunder-Mifflin.

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Emotion AI: Why your refrigerator could soon understand your moods

March 31, 2018   Big Data
 Emotion AI: Why your refrigerator could soon understand your moods

Artificial intelligence is already making our devices more personal — from simplifying daily tasks to increasing productivity. Emotion AI (also called affective computing) will take this to new heights by helping our devices understand our moods. That means we can expect smart refrigerators that interpret how we feel (based on what we say, how we slam the door) and then suggest foods to match those feelings. Our cars could even know when we’re angry, based on our driving habits.

Humans use non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice, to communicate a range of feelings. Emotion AI goes beyond natural language processing by using computer vision and voice analysis to detect those moods and emotions. Voice of the customer (VoC) programs will leverage emotion AI technology to perform granular and individual sentiment analysis at scale. The result: Our devices will be in tune with us.

Conversational services

Digital giants — including Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Baidu, and Tencent — have been investing in AI techniques that enhance their platforms and ecosystems. We are still at “Level 1” when it comes to conversational services such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Assistant. However, the market is set to reach new levels in the next one to two years.

Nearly 40 percent of smartphone users employ conversational systems on a daily basis, according to a 2017 Gartner survey of online adults in the United States. These services will not only become more intelligent and sophisticated in terms of processing verbal commands and questions, they will also grow to understand emotional states and contexts.

Today, there are a handful of available smartphone apps and connected home devices that can capture a user’s emotions. Additional prototypes and commercial products exist — for example, Emoshape’s connected home hub, Beyond Verbal‘s voice recognition app, and the connected home VPA Hubble. Large technology vendors such as IBM, Google, and Microsoft are investing in this emerging area, as are ambitious startups.

At this stage, one of the most significant shortcomings of such systems is a lack of contextual information. Adding emotional context by analyzing data points from facial expressions, voice intonation, and behavioral patterns will significantly enhance the user experience.

Wearables and connected cars

In the second wave of development for emotion AI, we will see value brought to many more areas, including educational software, video games, diagnostic software, athletic and health performance, and autonomous cars. Developments are underway in all of these fields, but 2018 will see many products realized and an increased number of new projects.

Beyond smartphones and connected-home devices, wearables and the connected car will collect, analyze, and process users’ emotional data via computer vision, audio, or sensors. The captured behavioral data will allow these devices to adapt or respond to a user’s needs.

Technology vendors, including Affectiva, Eyeris, and Audeering, are working with the automotive OEMs to develop new experiences inside the car that monitor users’ behavior in order to offer assistance, monitor safe-driving behavior, and enhance their ride.

There is also an opportunity for more specialized devices, such as medical wristbands that can anticipate a seizure a few minutes before the actual event, facilitating early response. Special apps developed for diagnostics and therapy may be able to recognize conditions such as depression or help children with autism.

Another important area is the development of anthropomorphic qualities in AI systems — such as personal assistant robots (PARs) that can adapt to different emotional contexts or individuals. A PAR will develop a “personality” as it has more interactions with a specific person, allowing it to better meet the user’s needs. Vendors such as IBM, as well as startups like Emoshape, are developing techniques to lend such anthropomorphic qualities to robotic systems.

VoC will help brands understand their consumers

Beyond enhancing robotics and personal devices, emotion AI can be applied in customer experience initiatives, such as VoC programs. A fleet of vendors already offer sentiment analysis by mining billions of data points on social media platforms and user forums. Some of these programs are limited to distinguishing between positive and negative sentiments while others are more advanced, capable of attributing nuanced emotional states — but so far, only in the aggregate.

We are still at an early stages when it comes to enhancing VoC programs with emotion AI. Technology providers will have to take a consultative approach with their clients — most of whom will be new to the concept of emotion AI. While there are only a few isolated use cases for emotion AI at the moment, we can expect it to eventually offer tools that transform virtually every aspect of our daily lives.

Annette Zimmermann is the research vice president at Gartner, a research and advisory company.

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Using variables to split up your calculations

March 31, 2018   Self-Service BI

Got a DAX question recently that I solved using variables. When I walked them through the solution someone exclaimed “I didn’t know you can do this with variables!”. Variables are a great way to divide tough problems into small logical increments. Today’s blog post is not about the actual DAX being used but more to show how useful variables can be.

Now the scenario we have is one around event analytics. We have a table of ID’s representing a product, a sequence (can also be a date) and the event type:

 Using variables to split up your calculations

Now we want to add a slicer to the report that allows us to slice information by every event group. A event group contains all events in sequence started off by Type 1. So it the event group resets every Type = 1, each individual events is ordered by sequence. So I decided to add a calculated column to do this. There are probably also good ways of doing this in M or different DAX techniques but this one worked for me.

EventGroup =
//Get the current sequence, we are in row context so we can get the value for the current row
VAR curSequence = Temp[Sequence] //Get the current ID, we are in row context so we can get the value for the current row 
VAR curID = Temp[ID] //Get a table of all the events for the current Id
VAR tblCurEvents =
    FILTER ( ‘Temp’, Temp[ID] = curID ) //Now look for all the events before the current sequence
//Instead of using the variable I could also have used EARLIER(Temp[ID])
VAR tblCurPrevEvents =
    FILTER ( tblCurEvents, [Sequence] <= curSequence ) //Finally get a list of all the Type 1 events 
VAR TblEventStart =
    FILTER ( tblCurPrevEvents, [Type] = 1 ) //Finally count the amount of events left
    COUNTROWS ( TblEventStart )

Again you can see how easily I was able to split up the problem into subsequent steps and potentially debug each step by returning intermediate results. Now I could have also written it like this:

EventGroup =
VAR curSequence = Temp[Sequence]
VAR curID = Temp[ID]
VAR curEvents1 =
    FILTER ( ‘Temp’, Temp[ID] = curID && [Sequence] <= curSequence && [Type] = 1 )
    COUNTROWS ( curEvents1 )

but that is not as easy to read and debug, performance wise there is no difference in this case.

I could have even written it without using any variables, it is nice and compact even less readable:

EventGroup 3 =
    FILTER (
Temp[ID] = EARLIER ( Temp[ID] )
&& [Sequence] <= EARLIER ( Temp[Sequence] )
&& [Type] = 1

The result is a new column that groups the events together:

That’s it, hope you find this tip useful. You can download the workbook here.

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Writing A New Story: CRM And Customer Service

March 30, 2018   SAP

For nerds, the weeks right before finals are a Cinderella moment. Suddenly they’re stars. Pocket protectors are fashionable; people find their jokes a whole lot funnier; Dungeons & Dragons sounds cool.

Many CIOs are enjoying this kind of moment now, as companies everywhere face the business equivalent of a final exam for a vital class they have managed to mostly avoid so far: digital transformation.

But as always, there is a limit to nerdy magic. No matter how helpful CIOs try to be, their classmates still won’t pass if they don’t learn the material. With IT increasingly central to every business—from the customer experience to the offering to the business model itself—we all need to start thinking like CIOs.

Pass the digital transformation exam, and you probably have a bright future ahead. A recent SAP-Oxford Economics study of 3,100 organizations in a variety of industries across 17 countries found that the companies that have taken the lead in digital transformation earn higher profits and revenues and have more competitive differentiation than their peers. They also expect 23% more revenue growth from their digital initiatives over the next two years—an estimate 2.5 to 4 times larger than the average company’s.

But the market is grading on a steep curve: this same SAP-Oxford study found that only 3% have completed some degree of digital transformation across their organization. Other surveys also suggest that most companies won’t be graduating anytime soon: in one recent survey of 450 heads of digital transformation for enterprises in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany by technology company Couchbase, 90% agreed that most digital projects fail to meet expectations and deliver only incremental improvements. Worse: over half (54%) believe that organizations that don’t succeed with their transformation project will fail or be absorbed by a savvier competitor within four years.

Companies that are making the grade understand that unlike earlier technical advances, digital transformation doesn’t just support the business, it’s the future of the business. That’s why 60% of digital leading companies have entrusted the leadership of their transformation to their CIO, and that’s why experts say businesspeople must do more than have a vague understanding of the technology. They must also master a way of thinking and looking at business challenges that is unfamiliar to most people outside the IT department.

In other words, if you don’t think like a CIO yet, now is a very good time to learn.

However, given that you probably don’t have a spare 15 years to learn what your CIO knows, we asked the experts what makes CIO thinking distinctive. Here are the top eight mind hacks.

1. Think in Systems

Q118 Feature3 img1 Jump Writing A New Story: CRM And Customer ServiceA lot of businesspeople are used to seeing their organization as a series of loosely joined silos. But in the world of digital business, everything is part of a larger system.

CIOs have known for a long time that smart processes win. Whether they were installing enterprise resource planning systems or working with the business to imagine the customer’s journey, they always had to think in holistic ways that crossed traditional departmental, functional, and operational boundaries.

Unlike other business leaders, CIOs spend their careers looking across systems. Why did our supply chain go down? How can we support this new business initiative beyond a single department or function? Now supported by end-to-end process methodologies such as design thinking, good CIOs have developed a way of looking at the company that can lead to radical simplifications that can reduce cost and improve performance at the same time.

They are also used to thinking beyond temporal boundaries. “This idea that the power of technology doubles every two years means that as you’re planning ahead you can’t think in terms of a linear process, you have to think in terms of huge jumps,” says Jay Ferro, CIO of TransPerfect, a New York–based global translation firm.

No wonder the SAP-Oxford transformation study found that one of the values transformational leaders shared was a tendency to look beyond silos and view the digital transformation as a company-wide initiative.

This will come in handy because in digital transformation, not only do business processes evolve but the company’s entire value proposition changes, says Jeanne Ross, principal research scientist at the Center for Information Systems Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “It either already has or it’s going to, because digital technologies make things possible that weren’t possible before,” she explains.

2. Work in Diverse Teams

When it comes to large projects, CIOs have always needed input from a diverse collection of businesspeople to be successful. The best have developed ways to convince and cajole reluctant participants to come to the table. They seek out technology enthusiasts in the business and those who are respected by their peers to help build passion and commitment among the halfhearted.

Digital transformation amps up the urgency for building diverse teams even further. “A small, focused group simply won’t have the same breadth of perspective as a team that includes a salesperson and a service person and a development person, as well as an IT person,” says Ross.

At Lenovo, the global technology giant, many of these cross-functional teams become so used to working together that it’s hard to tell where each member originally belonged: “You can’t tell who is business or IT; you can’t tell who is product, IT, or design,” says the company’s CIO, Arthur Hu.

One interesting corollary of this trend toward broader teamwork is that talent is a priority among digital leaders: they spend more on training their employees and partners than ordinary companies, as well as on hiring the people they need, according to the SAP-Oxford Economics survey. They’re also already being rewarded for their faith in their teams: 71% of leaders say that their successful digital transformation has made it easier for them to attract and retain talent, and 64% say that their employees are now more engaged than they were before the transformation.

3. Become a Consultant

Good CIOs have long needed to be internal consultants to the business. Ever since technology moved out of the glasshouse and onto employees’ desks, CIOs have not only needed a deep understanding of the goals of a given project but also to make sure that the project didn’t stray from those goals, even after the businesspeople who had ordered the project went back to their day jobs. “Businesspeople didn’t really need to get into the details of what IT was really doing,” recalls Ferro. “They just had a set of demands and said, ‘Hey, IT, go do that.’”

But that was then. Now software has become so integral to the business that nobody can afford to walk away. Businesspeople must join the ranks of the IT consultants. “If you’re building a house, you don’t just disappear for six months and come back and go, ‘Oh, it looks pretty good,’” says Ferro. “You’re on that work site constantly and all of a sudden you’re looking at something, going, ‘Well, that looked really good on the blueprint, not sure it makes sense in reality. Let’s move that over six feet.’ Or, ‘I don’t know if I like that anymore.’ It’s really not much different in application development or for IT or technical projects, where on paper it looked really good and three weeks in, in that second sprint, you’re going, ‘Oh, now that I look at it, that’s really stupid.’”

4. Learn Horizontal Leadership

CIOs have always needed the ability to educate and influence other leaders that they don’t directly control. For major IT projects to be successful, they need other leaders to contribute budget, time, and resources from multiple areas of the business.

It’s a kind of horizontal leadership that will become critical for businesspeople to acquire in digital transformation. “The leadership role becomes one much more of coaching others across the organization—encouraging people to be creative, making sure everybody knows how to use data well,” Ross says.

In this team-based environment, having all the answers becomes less important. “It used to be that the best business executives and leaders had the best answers. Today that is no longer the case,” observes Gary Cokins, a technology consultant who focuses on analytics-based performance management. “Increasingly, it’s the executives and leaders who ask the best questions. There is too much volatility and uncertainty for them to rely on their intuition or past experiences.”

Many experts expect this trend to continue as the confluence of automation and data keeps chipping away at the organizational pyramid. “Hierarchical, command-and-control leadership will become obsolete,” says Edward Hess, professor of business administration and Batten executive-in-residence at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. “Flatter, distributive leadership via teams will become the dominant structure.”

Q118 Feature3 img3 rock Writing A New Story: CRM And Customer Service5. Understand Process Design

When business processes were simpler, IT could analyze the process and improve it without input from the business. But today many processes are triggered on the fly by the customer, making a seamless customer experience more difficult to build without the benefit of a larger, multifunctional team. In a highly digitalized organization like Amazon, which releases thousands of new software programs each year, IT can no longer do it all.

While businesspeople aren’t expected to start coding, their involvement in process design is crucial. One of the techniques that many organizations have adopted to help IT and businesspeople visualize business processes together is design thinking (for more on design thinking techniques, see “A Cult of Creation“).

Customers aren’t the only ones who benefit from better processes. Among the 100 companies the SAP-Oxford Economics researchers have identified as digital leaders, two-thirds say that they are making their employees’ lives easier by eliminating process roadblocks that interfere with their ability to do their jobs. Ninety percent of leaders surveyed expect to see value from these projects in the next two years alone.

6. Learn to Keep Learning

The ability to learn and keep learning has been a part of IT from the start. Since the first mainframes in the 1950s, technologists have understood that they need to keep reinventing themselves and their skills to adapt to the changes around them.

Now that’s starting to become part of other job descriptions too. Many companies are investing in teaching their employees new digital skills. One South American auto products company, for example, has created a custom-education institute that trained 20,000 employees and partner-employees in 2016. In addition to training current staff, many leading digital companies are also hiring new employees and creating new roles, such as a chief robotics officer, to support their digital transformation efforts.

Nicolas van Zeebroeck, professor of information systems and digital business innovation at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management at the Free University of Brussels, says that he expects the ability to learn quickly will remain crucial. “If I had to think of one critical skill,” he explains, “I would have to say it’s the ability to learn and keep learning—the ability to challenge the status quo and question what you take for granted.”

7. Fail Smarter

Traditionally, CIOs tended to be good at thinking through tests that would allow the company to experiment with new technology without risking the entire network.

This is another unfamiliar skill that smart managers are trying to pick up. “There’s a lot of trial and error in the best companies right now,” notes MIT’s Ross. But there’s a catch, she adds. “Most companies aren’t designed for trial and error—they’re trying to avoid an error,” she says.

Q118 Feature3 img4 fail Writing A New Story: CRM And Customer ServiceTo learn how to do it better, take your lead from IT, where many people have already learned to work in small, innovative teams that use agile development principles, advises Ross.

For example, business managers must learn how to think in terms of a minimum viable product: build a simple version of what you have in mind, test it, and if it works start building. You don’t build the whole thing at once anymore.… It’s really important to build things incrementally,” Ross says.

Flexibility and the ability to capitalize on accidental discoveries during experimentation are more important than having a concrete project plan, says Ross. At Spotify, the music service, and CarMax, the used-car retailer, change is driven not from the center but from small teams that have developed something new. “The thing you have to get comfortable with is not having the formalized plan that we would have traditionally relied on, because as soon as you insist on that, you limit your ability to keep learning,” Ross warns.

8. Understand the True Cost—and Speed—of Data

Gut instincts have never had much to do with being a CIO; now they should have less to do with being an ordinary manager as well, as data becomes more important.

As part of that calculation, businesspeople must have the ability to analyze the value of the data that they seek. “You’ll need to apply a pinch of knowledge salt to your data,” advises Solvay’s van Zeebroeck. “What really matters is the ability not just to tap into data but to see what is behind the data. Is it a fair representation? Is it impartial?”

Increasingly, businesspeople will need to do their analysis in real time, just as CIOs have always had to manage live systems and processes. Moving toward real-time reports and away from paper-based decisions increases accuracy and effectiveness—and leaves less time for long meetings and PowerPoint presentations (let us all rejoice).

Not Every CIO Is Ready

Of course, not all CIOs are ready for these changes. Just as high school has a lot of false positives—genius nerds who turn out to be merely nearsighted—so there are many CIOs who aren’t good role models for transformation.

Success as a CIO these days requires more than delivering near-perfect uptime, says Lenovo’s Hu. You need to be able to understand the business as well. Some CIOs simply don’t have all the business skills that are needed to succeed in the transformation. Others lack the internal clout: a 2016 KPMG study found that only 34% of CIOs report directly to the CEO.

This lack of a strategic perspective is holding back digital transformation at many organizations. They approach digital transformation as a cool, one-off project: we’re going to put this new mobile app in place and we’re done. But that’s not a systematic approach; it’s an island of innovation that doesn’t join up with the other islands of innovation. In the longer term, this kind of development creates more problems than it fixes.

Such organizations are not building in the capacity for change; they’re trying to get away with just doing it once rather than thinking about how they’re going to use digitalization as a means to constantly experiment and become a better company over the long term.

Q118 Feature3 img6 CIOready Writing A New Story: CRM And Customer ServiceAs a result, in some companies, the most interesting tech developments are happening despite IT, not because of it. “There’s an alarming digital divide within many companies. Marketers are developing nimble software to give customers an engaging, personalized experience, while IT departments remain focused on the legacy infrastructure. The front and back ends aren’t working together, resulting in appealing web sites and apps that don’t quite deliver,” writes George Colony, founder, chairman, and CEO of Forrester Research, in the MIT Sloan Management Review.

Thanks to cloud computing and easier development tools, many departments are developing on their own, without IT’s support. These days, anybody with a credit card can do it.

Traditionally, IT departments looked askance at these kinds of do-it-yourself shadow IT programs, but that’s changing. Ferro, for one, says that it’s better to look at those teams not as rogue groups but as people who are trying to help. “It’s less about ‘Hey, something’s escaped,’ and more about ‘No, we just actually grew our capacity and grew our ability to innovate,’” he explains.

“I don’t like the term ‘shadow IT,’” agrees Lenovo’s Hu. “I think it’s an artifact of a very traditional CIO team. If you think of it as shadow IT, you’re out of step with reality,” he says.

The reality today is that a company needs both a strong IT department and strong digital capacities outside its IT department. If the relationship is good, the CIO and IT become valuable allies in helping businesspeople add digital capabilities without disrupting or duplicating existing IT infrastructure.

If a company already has strong digital capacities, it should be able to move forward quickly, according to Ross. But many companies are still playing catch-up and aren’t even ready to begin transforming, as the SAP-Oxford Economics survey shows.

For enterprises where business and IT are unable to get their collective act together, Ross predicts that the next few years will be rough. “I think these companies ought to panic,” she says. D!

About the Authors

Thomas Saueressig is Chief Information Officer at SAP.

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist at SAP.

Sam Yen is Chief Design Officer at SAP and Managing Director of SAP Labs.

Bennett Voyles is a Berlin-based business writer.


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Craig Robinson Joins Robert Downey Jr. For The Live Action-Animated Film ‘The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle’

March 30, 2018   Humor
CraigRobinson Craig Robinson Joins Robert Downey Jr. For The Live Action Animated Film ‘The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle’

On social today, Robert Downey Jr. announced the entire cast for Universal’s live action-animated hybrid The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle which is due out on April 12, 2019. Pic is currently shooting in London.

New to the cast are: Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Octavia Spencer, Oscar nominee Kumail Nanjiani, Emmy Award winner Rami Malek, Craig Robinson, John Cena, Carmen Ejogo and Frances De La Tour who will all provide voiceovers.

Playing live action roles are Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Harry Collett and Jim Broadbent.

Previously announced cast members include Downey, Jr., Ralph Fiennes, Emma Thompson, Tom Holland and Selena Gomez.

The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle is based on the character from the 1920s series of children’s books by Hugh Lofting.

Stephen Gaghan directs from his screenplay, with an earlier draft by Tom Shepherd. Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum produce for their Roth/Kirschenbaum Films alongside Susan Downey for Team Downey. Roth/Kirschenbaum Films has been behind such family blockbusters as Alice In Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Maleficent.  Susan Downey’s credits include the Sherlock Holmes franchise, The Judge and The Brave One. Executive Vice President Jon Mone and Creative Executive Lexi Barta will oversee production for Universal.

Cotillard is represented CAA and Adequat; Spencer is represented by WME and Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein; Malek is represented by WME, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern, LLP; Robinson is represented by UTA, 3 Arts Entertainment and Ziffren Brittenham LLP; Cena is represented by ICM Partners; Nanjiani is represented by UTA, Mosaic and Schreck Rose Dapello & Adams; Ejogo is represented by WME and Anonymous Content; de La Tour is represented by APA, Independent Talent Group in the U.K. and Simmons & Scott Entertainment.

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D365 In Focus: Maximize Your D365 Investment with a User Readiness Strategy [VIDEO]

March 30, 2018   Microsoft Dynamics CRM
D365 In Focus Change Mgmt Deb 800x600 300x225 D365 In Focus: Maximize Your D365 Investment with a User Readiness Strategy [VIDEO]

One of the common “lessons learned” we hear when talking with prospects regarding previous implementations, is that they focused on the system instead of getting users ready for the implementation. In this D365 In Focus video, our Change Management & Education Capability Director, Deb, explains how it’s critical to have a user readiness strategy in order to fully maximize your Dynamics 365 investment. Check it out!

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A New Brand: Reflecting the Present, Preparing for the Future

March 30, 2018   Big Data

Over the last couple years, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing first hand the remarkable transformation taking place at Syncsort. In that time, we have tripled our revenue, more than doubled the number of talented employees, and established a definitive leadership position in a segment of the data management software market that we call Big Iron to Big Data.

Today, we proudly talk about our more than 7,000 customers, our deep engineering & product relationships with leading next-generation analytics platform providers, and that we transact business in more than 100 countries. You can feel the palpable sense of excitement that has been building within our company.

blog banner landscape A New Brand: Reflecting the Present, Preparing for the Future

Embarking on a Journey to Energize the Brand

An important part of transforming any business is being honest about areas where more focus is needed. Our leadership team has known for some time that a brand refresh was in order. We recognized the need for a new brand identity that honors our heritage, reflects the company we are today, and accommodates our ambitions for the future.

With strong support from Centerbridge Partners, the private investment firm that acquired Syncsort in the summer of 2017, we embarked on our brand journey last fall. We were determined to infuse the Syncsort brand with meaning and make it stand for the very best in the market. As the May 2018 public unveiling of our new brand approaches, we are well on our way.

strong brand A New Brand: Reflecting the Present, Preparing for the Future

Building an Authentic Brand Starts with our Employees

We have learned a lot and come to fully appreciate that brand building is about so much more than marketing or hiring some fancy brand agency, although I cannot say enough about my amazing marketing team at Syncsort and the incredible work of our London-based agency team at Text100. Branding is about ensuring clarity, creating recognition and connecting emotionally. It is about our culture – being a purpose-driven company and employer of choice. It starts with our employees.

As part of an intensive research phase that kicked off our branding initiative, we had hundreds of employees across all levels and functions within the company complete detailed surveys sharing their views on our brand and business. My favorite question was the one about what fictional character or personality Syncsort would be and why. As you might imagine, we have some creative employees and answers ranged from Obi-Wan Kenobi to the Flash to Santa Claus (always delivers!).

brand drawing A New Brand: Reflecting the Present, Preparing for the Future

As part of the brand building workshops, groups of employees were asked to draw Syncsort as a person.

Dozens of employees around the world participated in brand building workshops in New York and London. We also completed stakeholder interviews with customers, partners, and key leaders from across the company. In taking a research-driven approach and putting in the work, we are not only creating a stronger brand, but also an authentic one. A new brand created by our employees with valuable input from customers and partners.

Looking Forward to Rollout in May

Bringing our employees along on our brand journey has been incredibly rewarding. Our employees work so hard to support each other and to deliver value to our customers every day. To see them respond with such excitement to our new brand visuals, themes and messaging has been beyond satisfying.

We truly can’t wait to share our new brand, visual identity and website with our customers, partners and the entire world. We are proud of the way we have grown and transformed Syncsort. Our brand journey has always been about making deeper connections with all of you.

Stay tuned!

Download our eBook – The New Rules for Your Data Landscape – to see how the rules for data have changed with the evolution of the relationship between business and IT.

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Adobe Hones Target's Personalization Tools

March 29, 2018   CRM News and Info

Adobe this week introduced three features to its Target application in an effort to improve customer experiences through increased personalization:

These new features give users enhanced transparency and customization of Adobe Sensei-powered artificial intelligence for personalization in Target.

“Although not all firms will have the data science expertise to manage their own algorithms, these additions by Adobe give customers more visibility and confidence into how AI-based results are delivered,” noted Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research.

“There’s been a big push for embedding AI in apps such as marketing, but also concerns about user confidence with black box recommendations,” she told CRM Buyer.

Personalization Insights will launch in beta this spring. The propensity score model comparison tool is scheduled for release in June. Real-time customization of customer-owned models in Adobe Recommendations is generally available as part of the Target Standard/Premium 18.3.1 product Adobe released last week.

“There are a lot of niche vendors providing best-in-class marketing personalization, but no one provides this across all elements of retail personalization — price, product, promotion, content and buyer journey,” observed Michael Phelan, principal at
Go-to-Market Pros.

Getting Close and Personal

Personalization is critical, suggests Segment’s 2017 State of Personalization Report. Among its findings:

Adobe’s new Personalization Insights reports show the basis for the models Adobe Target builds — that is, the visitor attributes considered most influential in the model built by Adobe Target; how it grouped customers together into the audience segments used; and how it decided what offers would resonate most with those customers.

The goal of this approach is to let marketers create experiences specifically for any group of visitors.

“Providing marketers with greater transparency empowers them to benchmark their results with others, and find patterns on how to improve engagement with customers in various segments,” noted Cindy Zhou, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“Marketers want transparency,” Go-to-Market Pros’ Phelan told CRM Buyer. “Smart companies like Adobe try to demystify AI and not hide it in a black box. I support that.”

Reading the Customer’s Mind

Propensity score model comparisons let marketers, developers, product owners and data scientists bring their own models with custom propensity scores into Adobe Target.

This feature lets Target compare multiple propensity scores for visitors on the fly; place those visitors into an audience based on the highest propensity score; and deliver the most relevant experience.

It would be a useful tool for companies of all sizes, because “advanced marketing personalization is really 1:1 marketing at scale,” Phelan pointed out. “Propensity scores are tangible ways to evaluate next steps to convert and what’s needed to convert.”

Organizations “have a treasure trove of first-party data on their customers, and the propensity score comparison solution lets them add their own data models to provide better next-best offers,” Constellation’s Zhou told CRM Buyer.

Customizing the Model

Real-time customization to customer-owned models can be accessed through the Custom criteria option in theRecommendations activities of Adobe Target Premium.

This feature lets brands pass the results of their own models to Adobe Target for use in the Recommendations algorithms. Users can execute real-time filtering rules, weightings and customizations on top of custom criteria. For example, if something changes at runtime — say, an item is out of stock — users can account for it in the recommendations Target delivers.

“Your actual real time on-site behavior is a much better predictor” of customer behavior,” Phelan pointed out. “A woman who was expecting a year ago and looking at buying an online baby item is looking for something different today.”
end enn Adobe Hones Target's Personalization Tools

Richard%20Adhikari Adobe Hones Target's Personalization ToolsRichard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

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