How to Switch a Failover Cluster to a New Domain

In this blog I will describe some new capabilities in Windows Server, version 1709 that enables changing a deployed Failover Cluster from one domain to another.

For the last two decades, changing the domain membership of a Failover Cluster has always required that the cluster be destroyed and re-created. This is a time-consuming process, and we have worked to improve this.

This is going to enable scenarios such as building a Failover Cluster in one location and then ship it to its final location or in the event that companies have merged and need to move them to their domain structure.

Moving a Cluster from one domain is a straight-forward process. To accomplish this, we introduced two new PowerShell commandlets.

  • New-ClusterNameAccount – creates a Cluster Name Account in Active Directory
  • Remove-ClusterNameAccount– removes the Cluster Name Accounts from Active Directory

In the following example, this is my setup and goal:

  • 2-node Windows Server, version 1709 Failover Cluster
  • In the Cluster, the Cluster Name is CLUSCLUS and I have a File Server called FS-CLUSCLUS
  • Both nodes are member of the same domain
  • Both nodes and Cluster need to move to a new domain

The process to accomplish to accomplish this is to change the cluster from one domain to a workgroup and back to the new domain. For example:

Create a local Administrator account with the same name and password on all nodes.

Log on to the first node with a domain user account that has Active Directory permissions to the Cluster Name Object (CNO) and Virtual Computer Objects (VCO) and open PowerShell.

Ensure all cluster Network Name resources are in an Offline state and run the below command to change the type of the Cluster to a workgroup.

Remove-ClusterNameAccount -Cluster CLUSCLUS -DeleteComputerAccounts

Use Active Directory Users and Computers to ensure the CNO and VCO computer objects associated with all cluster names have been removed.

If so, it is a good idea to go ahead and stop the Cluster Service on both nodes and set the service to MANUAL so that it does not start during this process.

Stop-Service -Name ClusSvc

Set-Service -Name ClusSvc -StartupType Manual

Change the nodes domain membership to a workgroup, reboot, then join to the new domain, and reboot again.

Once the nodes are in the new domain, log on to a node with local Administrator account, start the Cluster Service, and set it back to Automatic.

Start-Service -Name ClusSvc

Set-Service -Name ClusSvc -StartupType Automatic

Bring the Cluster Name and all other cluster Network Name resources to an Online state.

Start-ClusterGroup -Name "Cluster Group"

Start-ClusterResource -Name FS-CLUSCLUS

We now need to change Cluster to be a part of the new domain with associated active directory objects. To do this, the command is below. The network name resources must be in an online state.

New-ClusterNameAccount -Name CLUSTERNAME -Domain -UpgradeVCOs

Please note that if you do not have any additional groups with names (i.e. a Hyper-V Cluster with only virtual machines), the -UpgradeVCOs parameter switch is not needed.

Use Active Directory Users and Computers to check the new domain and ensure the associated computer objects were created. If they have, then bring the remaining resources in the file server group online.

Start-ClusterGroup -Name FS-CLUSCLUS

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Clustering and High-Availability

Power BI Developer community January update

Hi everyone, after a short break for the holidays we are back with the latest updates for Power BI Developer community. Don’t forget to check out the November blog post, if you haven’t done so already.

b93673cf 2d6b 4204 8b53 42192182190a Power BI Developer community January update

Here is the list of January updates for Power BI Embedded

Embed capabilities

- Single visual embedding

- Custom layout

- Tile embedding enhancements

- Phased loading of embedded content

Automation & life-cycle management

- Update report

- Tile & Dashboard RLS support

New capacities in Azure

- ARM PowerShell

Single visual embedding

This month we are very excited to release this highly requested feature that supports visual embedding. From now on, you can give your users more than a general ‘Analytics’ page. By embedding visuals into your application, you can get in-page analytics where only the most relevant and insightful data resides next to your user’s day-to-day actions, making data-driven decisions easier than ever.

The fully flexible API gives you the capability to choose which visual to show for each user, or switch visuals in the same iframe during the user’s session. You can optimize the size and layout of each visual at any time using the new ‘custom layout’ feature, which will be further discussed in this post.

Unlike tile embedding, in order to embed a visual you specify the report and report page for the visual. From the list of visuals in a page, you define which visuals will be hidden and which will be visible. This methodology has few advantages:

  1. Switching visuals- by switching visuals on the same report, you do not need to generate a new embed token. Just switch the visibility definition of the visuals and you will immediately show different visuals that was already rendered.
  2. Displaying multiple visuals- Why settle for a single visual, if you need more than one to gain insights? As you define the visibility of each visual, you can choose to show multiple visuals on the same iframe and define in real time the size and position of each one. By showing multiple visuals, you also enjoy interactivity and cross- filtering between visuals, just like a regular report.

You can explore the new API through our Live demo tool, by choosing ‘Sample Report Visual’. You can read more on Single visual embedding in our documentation.

Custom layout

Custom layout allows you to set and change the size of a report page layout, or control the size, position and visibility of a report visual.

1. Page layout- When building a report page through Power BI Desktop, you configure the layout using two fields: page size type and page layout.

db86076d 239d 4c9c 853c 93a3a3925791 Power BI Developer community January update                                 1b21eb5a 5983 4a3b a247 a65c6c86ea3a Power BI Developer community January update

By default, each time you embed a report, it uses the configuration made in Power BI Desktop. With Custom Layout, you can dynamically set the definitions to optimize the report layout inside your application page. You can change the layout during the session, based on specific events such as content change in the application page or browser resizing.

2. Visual layout- This feature also supports single visual embedding. Through custom layout, you define which of the visuals you wish to display and specify their size and position on the canvas. Using this capability, you have full configuration control on the appearance of the visuals on the canvas dynamically during the user’s session.

For example, assume that your application’s customer has different departments. Instead of creating copies of the same report or report pages for each department and make the modifications, you can show the same report page and expose only the relevant visuals to that user. Custom layout allows you to optimize the position of each visual so that the experience will be seamless.

Another example allows users to choose which visuals they want to follow and create their own customized view of the report. Learn more on Custom layout.

An example and code snippet can be found in the Live demo tool. To use the live demo tool for custom layout, follow these steps:

  • Choose ‘Sample Report’
  • Click ‘Run’
  • Go to ‘Interact’ tab
  • Scroll and choose ‘Apply custom layout’
  • Click ‘Run’ again

Phased loading of embedded content

The loading of an embedded artifact is done using ‘embed’ call, containing an embed configuration object and the

element that contains the iframe. Once called, the embedded object is loaded in front of the end-user, and any interaction with the object is done while shown to the end-user.

To improve the end-user experience and provide more tools for developers, we have extended this flow with more JavaScript calls that add phases to the embedding process:

  1. Preload- the ‘powerbi.preload()’ call uses the browser’s cache and download scripts prior to showing the embedded object itself. This can be proven useful for applications hosting several embedded reports. A ‘ready’ event will be fired once the preload is completed. You can read more details on our previous blog post.
  2. Load metadata- the ‘powerbi.load()’ call helps retrieve info on the embedded object, and dynamically changes the settings or the

    element in the background, before the object is displayed to the end- user. For example, you can use this function to get pages and then decide which page to show the end-user. Or, you can use ‘get visuals’ and then decide which visuals you wish to show or hide to the users. If you used this function, you need to call the ‘render()’ function to show the embedded object. Once the load is completed, a ‘loaded’ event will be fired.

  3. Render object- The final call, in case you implemented the ‘powerbi.load()’ function, is ‘render()’. The render completes the last actions needed to render and show the embedded object to the end- user. A ‘rendered’ event will be fired once the render is completed.

While the ‘load’ and ‘render’ functions must be used together, ‘preload’ is independent of the prior two. You can use ‘embed’ function to show the embedded object after ‘preload’, as it was done until now. One can also utilize the full phased procedure by calling ‘preload’, ‘load’ & ‘render’ in this respective order.

Tile embedding enhancements

We added support for more tile types that can be embedded. Here are the additional tile types:

  • live page tiles
  • Custom visual tiles
  • R visual tiles
  • live stream tiles
  • image tiles
  • video tiles
  • web content tiles
  • Q&A tiles
  • Visio tiles

Read more on tile embedding.

Update report

After releasing the ‘Clone report’ and ‘Clone Tile & Dashboard’ APIs, which allowed to copy content so that multiple customers can get analytics on their data with minimal API calls, we now release an API to support updating reports.

As an independent software vendor (ISV) with multiple customers, or an organization with different departments, you can hold a copy of the report connected to different data for each of them. We highly recommend saving analytical content for different customers or departments in separate workspaces.

Now let’s assume you have 20 customers (or 20 departments), you clone and rebind the source report 20 times to give each customer his own view of the data in his dedicated workspace. Now you wish to change the source report, fix some small bugs and add some customer requirements. Using the new API, you can automatically update all reports that were created from the same source report, while keeping the original report ID used for embedding and sharing. This means no effect on your code when you wish to improve your reports.

The benefits of this operation go beyond cloned/imported reports. You can update a target report by providing any source report as long as the dataset schema complies with the update. The dataset itself in the target report will not change, and the updated report will continue to be linked to the previous dataset.

Note that an update operation changes the entire content of the report. Any visual/ page that is not on the source report will be deleted once the operation takes place. We highly recommend as a best practice to keep the source and target IDs of all objects you are cloning, so that the ‘Update’ operation can be done easily and with minimal errors.

Tile & Dashboard RLS support

We now support row-level security (RLS) for Tiles and Dashboards embedding. The implementation is similar to Report RLS and is done through the embedToken. The API accepts both multiple datasets and multiple identities to support dashboards containing multiple tiles that are connected to different reports.

Here are some examples of how to change the ‘identities’ Json when calling a REST API with multiple roles or datasets:

1. Using ‘effectiveIdentities’ to generate a token which specifies using ‘userA’ with role ‘Role1’ to access a dataset, and ‘userB’ with role ‘Role2’ to access a different dataset:

var effectiveIdentities = new []


  new EffectiveIdentity


    Username = "",

    Roles = new[]


​       "Role1"

​     },

     Datasets = new[]





  new EffectiveIdentity


     Username = "",

     Roles = new []




     Datasets = new []






2. Using ‘effectiveIdentities’ to generate a token which specifies using ‘userA’ with role ‘Role1’ with 2 different datasets:

var effectiveIdentities = new []


   new EffectiveIdentity


     Username = "",

     Roles = new []




     Datasets = new []







Generating token for embedding a dashboard with ‘effectiveIdentities’ as specified in option #1 or #2:

var powerBIclient = new PowerBIClient(credentials);

var requestParameters = new GenerateTokenRequest(accessLevel: "View", identities: effectiveIdentities);

var token = await powerBIclient.Dashboards.GenerateTokenInGroupAsync(groupId, dashboardKey, requestParameters);

Azure Resource Manager (ARM) API using PowerShell

In November we released the ARM API to automatically manage Power BI Embedded capacities (A SKUs). This now can be done through PowerShell commands. You can find more information on ARM API in our previous blog, or through documentation. The following commands have support in PowerShell:

Power BI Embedded PowerShell cmdlets are in release 5.1.1 of Azure PowerShell.

If you are puzzled or run into few issues, be sure to check our resources that can help you get through:

  • ‘Troubleshooting’ doc to help you get by all the obstacles on your way for building a great app.
  • FAQ doc to answer all your question regarding the Product, licensing and Azure offering.
  • Community forum for developers, to seek answers or ask any other questions you have.


API 1.10

API 1.10 is available on GitHub and adds the following capabilities:

Authentication with Azure Active Directory (AAD)

Custom visuals can call this API to get an AAD token that authenticates them, to be used with other AAD based services for Single Sign-On (SSO). This enables developers to build visuals that can be authenticated through SSO with other services. For this to work it is required that:

  • The service is registered with AAD, to approve the token generation
  • The service is registered in Power BI, to approve the visual to go out to request the token

If you want to use this API, contact the custom visuals support team at for details

Localize anything with LocalizationManager

API 1.6.2 introduces the localization of the formatting pane through the capabilities.json file. Now, developers can use the localized strings inside their TypeScript code, and practically localize any string that is being used inside the code, like tooltips, chart item names (e.g. ‘axis’, ‘legend’ , etc.). See the documentation for more details.

As always, feel free to use all the communication channels at your disposal to connect with our team, share your thoughts and ask questions:

That’s all for this post. We hope you found it useful. Please continue sending us your feedback, it’s very important for us. Have an amazing feature in mind? please share it and vote in our Power BI Embedded Ideas forum, or our Custom Visuals Ideas forum.

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Smoke And Fire In The Shack

 Smoke And Fire In The Shack

Fireball shot.

“Smoke is fuel.”
Image courtesy of


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What Is a CRM Quick Quote and How Can I Get One?

CRM Blog What Is a CRM Quick Quote and How Can I Get One?

In order to remain competitive, modern businesses need more than ever to keep track of their assets, from customers and their preferences to leads, inventory, employee information: really anything that goes on in your organization. If you don’t keep track of your data, you can’t use it to your advantage. That’s why most businesses today see the benefit of having a robust CRM solution.  Microsoft Dynamics 365 (formerly Dynamics CRM) is one of the best solutions available.

But, how much does Microsoft Dynamics 365 cost? To budget the total price of a Dynamics 365 project you need to know the license cost and maintenance fees plus the estimated implementation and services costs. Go to any page on and click on the orange bar on the right that says, “Request Instant Quote Dynamics 365/CRM.” Fill in some brief information on the form that appears, and you will receive an instant, automated Dynamics 365 Quick Quote outlining software, maintenance, and estimated services costs for an entire project. For either Microsoft Dynamics 365 or Microsoft Dynamics 365 Online.

In addition to the Quick Quote estimate sent to your email, your contact information will be given to just one of our expert CRM partners in your area who will gladly answer any questions you have and will work with you on the implementation if that’s what you choose.  Both the estimate and the referral are non-binding and are provided as a service to our readers.

The Quick Quote tool is free and easy. Why not try it today and see if Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a good match for your business.

By CRM Software Blog,

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Understanding Dynamics 365 Hubs

aaronback Understanding Dynamics 365 Hubs

Dynamics 365 offers multiple ways to access the data for specific teams, departments, or groups within your company. However, Microsoft introduced additional options through what they call Hubs. There are multiple Hubs that are available, but it depends on the subscription you purchased for your company. The available Hubs are the Customer Service Hub, previously known as the Interactive Service Hub, the Sales Hub, the Project Resource Hub, and the Field Service Hub.

Accessing the Hubs

There are a few ways to access the Dynamics 365 Hubs. First, you can access the Hubs from the Dynamics 365 Home Screen (
Hub Access Home Page 625x496 Understanding Dynamics 365 Hubs

Second, you can access the Hubs from the Dynamics 365 Menu.
Hub Access Dynamics 365 Menu Understanding Dynamics 365 Hubs

Third, you can access the Hubs from the Dynamics 365 Mobile App.
Hub Access Dynamics 365 Mobile App 332x625 Understanding Dynamics 365 Hubs

Unified Interface

Dynamics 365 Version 9.0 introduce the new Unified Interface. This Unified Interface provides a more focused interface and layout to specific areas of the system. For example, the Customer Service Hub is focused on just the Customer Service areas of the system. This provides customer service teams with access areas they need, but without “clutter” of areas they don’t need.

The Dashboards shown below area provides a cleaner look and feel.
Customer Service Hub Home Screen 625x318 Understanding Dynamics 365 Hubs

The side menu shown below is easier to navigate and access the areas needed.
Customer Service Hub Side Menu Understanding Dynamics 365 Hubs

The Views shown below are cleaner and look more simplistic.
Customer Service Hub Accounts View 625x306 Understanding Dynamics 365 Hubs

The form shown below provides a streamlined look. Additionally, it contains a new Timeline feature in regards to the Activities.
Customer Service Hub Account Record 625x310 Understanding Dynamics 365 Hubs

Hub Security

In order for your users to access the various Hubs within Dynamics 365, you need to make sure they have the correct security access. First, you will need to navigate to the Security area of Dynamics 365. Next, you will need to select a user, Finally, you will need to select “Manage Roles”. Once the “Manage User Roles” window appears, scroll down and put a check-mark next to the Hub you want to provide access to.

In the below example, the “Customer Service App Access” option needs to be selected.
Hub Access Security Understanding Dynamics 365 Hubs

Create a Custom Hub

You may find the the out-of-the-box Hubs do not offer the options you are looking for. Well, you are in luck. Dynamics 365 provides a way to create your own Custom Hub to meet your specific needs. You can follow the steps I provided in my previous article “Designing a Custom App for Dynamics 365“. The only difference would be to select “Unified Interface” on the first screen in the App Designer.

Custom Hub App Designer Unified Interface 625x492 Understanding Dynamics 365 Hubs

Final Thoughts

Hubs can provide an alternative option to access information within Dynamics 365. However, be sure to have an action plan in place to introduce the Hubs to your users. Introducing something new like this can either push people away, create confusion, or spark interest in trying something new. But, people can surprise you and the person you thought would be most resistant could turn into your greatest ally.

Aaron Back is Microsoft Certified Professional with many years experience with Microsoft Dynamics 365 (CRM). He is actively involved with the Microsoft Dynamics CRMUG (User Group) Community. His involvement includes: Serving as Chapter Leader for his local CRMUG Chapter, serving on the CRMUG Board of Advisors, and speaking at the annual CRMUG Summit conference.

For more information or assistance with Dynamics 365 (CRM) contact ACE!

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Capacity Management 101: Best Practices to Align IT Resources with Business Goals

Syncsort’s recent acquisition of Metron has put a spotlight on Capacity Management and the capabilities provided by the athene® software solution. But what, exactly, is Capacity Management, and why is it important?

What is Capacity Management?

The primary goal of Capacity Management is to ensure that IT resources are rightsized to meet current and future business requirements in a cost-effective manner. One of the more common definitions of Capacity Management is provided for in the ITIL framework and further divides the process into three sub-processes: Business Capacity Management, Service Capacity Management, and Component Capacity Management.

Top-Down, Bottom-Up Approach

When teaching people in a practitioner-level course, we typically teach the three sub-processes in a “top-down, bottom-up” approach. What does that mean?

  • Top-Down: Business needs drive the creation of services, which leads to the purchase of components that have the computing power and other resources that make Information Technology solutions a reality at their company.
  • Bottom-Up: When monitoring and analyzing the infrastructure, start with the components. Ensure each of these are right-sized and appropriate for the job. They underpin services – are those meeting SLAs? The services keep the business running – are the forecasts accurate and do the services and components have to be upgraded or further rightsized to optimize IT spend?

Conceptually, it sounds pretty straight-forward, but exactly how are these concepts put into practice in a modern data center?

blog banner webcast CM for the mainframe Capacity Management 101: Best Practices to Align IT Resources with Business Goals

5 Components of Capacity Management

The activities that support the Capacity Management process are crucial to the success and maturity of the process. Some of these are done on an ongoing basis, some daily, some weekly, and some at a longer, regular interval. Some are ad-hoc, based on current (or future) needs or requirements. Let’s look at those:

1. Monitoring

Keeping an eye on the performance and throughput or load on a server, cluster, or data center is extremely important. Not having enough headroom can cause performance issues. Having too much headroom can create larger-than-necessary bills for hardware, software, power, etc.

2. Analysis

Taking that measurement and monitoring data and drilling down to see the potential impact of changes in demand. As more and more data become available, having the tools needed to find the right data and make sense of it is very important.

3. Tuning

Determining the most efficient use of existing infrastructure should not be taken lightly. A lot of organizations have over-configured significant parts of the environment while under-configuring others. Simply reallocating resources could improve performance while keeping spend at current levels.

4. Demand Management

Understanding the relationship of current and future demand and how the existing (or new) infrastructure can handle this is incredibly important. Predictive analytics can provide decision support to IT management. Also, moving non-critical workloads to quieter periods can delay purchase of additional hardware (and all the licenses and other costs that go with it).

5. Capacity Planning

Determining the requirements for resources required over some future time. This can be done by predictive analysis, modeling, benchmarking, or other techniques – all of which have varying costs and levels of effectiveness.

blog capacity management 101 Capacity Management 101: Best Practices to Align IT Resources with Business Goals

Capacity Management Information System

The centerpiece of a mature and effective Capacity Management process is the Capacity Management Information System, or CMIS.

The CMIS allows for easy access to Capacity and Performance data for reporting, analysis, predictive modeling and trending, troubleshooting (Incident and Problem Management).

For over 30 years, athene® has been a leading solution for implementing, automating, and managing a mature cross-platform Capacity Management process. Syncsort’s acquisition of Metron ensures that athene® will continue to provide for legacy platforms, such as System z and IBM i as well as provide valuable support for newer technologies and platforms, including Cloud environments.

One way for organizations to evaluate their Capacity Management process is to complete our Maturity Survey. Answer 20 quick questions about your organization and its processes, and you’ll immediately receive an initial maturity level as well as a comprehensive report with suggestions on how to improve your maturity.

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Syncsort + Trillium Software Blog

Balanced Scorecards in Power BI

By Greg Koehler, Program Manager at Microsoft

“IMAGINE ENTERING THE COCKPIT of a modern jet airplane and seeing only a single instrument there.”
Robert S. Kaplan, The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action

As a business intelligence (BI) professional at Microsoft, I’m often asked how to measure success for a given product, service, team, or organization.  My usual answer is there’s not just one gauge. True success is broader and more holistic than a single metric can adequately represent.  While I believe that everything can be measured, I advocate that only certain, key measurements be used to most effectively drive alignment across large organizations.  This helps guide thousands of employees to focus on centralized strategy and goals over both the short-term and long-term.

“The Balanced Scorecard,” by Robert Kaplan and David Norton, was published by Harvard Business School Press in 1996.   The book recommends a management approach based on key performance indicators (KPIs) tracking of strategic progress toward central goals across four perspectives, including financial measures, customer knowledge, internal processes, and learning/growth.   Not long after publication, the management practices advocated by Norton/Kaplan began to be adopted by large businesses, including many Fortune 500 firms.  According to past surveys from consultants including Gartner, Bain and a recent survey from 2GC, most large businesses today use a balanced scorecard approach.  Today, we still see business information firms, such as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and the Drucker Institute, apply similar methodology when evaluating the performance of top companies (see the WSJ’s latest “Management Top 250”). My team at Microsoft, called CDnA for Customer Data and Analytics, is no exception.  We measure a variety of key metrics, both financial and non-financial, including customer usage and satisfaction of Microsoft products and services.

While the Kaplan/Norton books (including sequels) may help enterprises and their MBA employees with the conceptual framework for translating strategy into a plan of action, the information technology is left up to each business to figure out.  If you’ve been working for a while in business intelligence and analytics, you probably already know about some of the many challenges of implementing a measurement system that supports entirely different types of KPIs.  Typically, financials are kept in completely different backend systems than customer usage data, which, if available, is still quite different from operational telemetry or sentiments expressed from internal employee surveys.   The backend challenges are often addressed with a combination of aggregation layers and/or a middle tier to normalize metadata (such as for compliance standard geography and time dimensions). 

After the backend data is aligned, an equally daunting challenge is the front end – the production and presentation of the scorecard.   For years, and of course being at Microsoft, many people throughout the company naturally turned to Microsoft Excel and elaborate data-driven spreadsheets to provide such views.  The flexibility and power of Excel was, and is still, difficult to beat.  Along with the convenience of Excel were some inconveniences: with offline, disconnected spreadsheets being e-mailed around, data was often stale and multiple files often caused confusion as to the true version.  Also, one could only drill so far into a single spreadsheet before running into the storage limits of Excel, especially when working outside the corporate network. 

More recently, and especially with the rapid adoption of Power BI dashboards and reports by so many teams within Microsoft, my own team started to use Power BI visuals connected to on-premises SQL Analysis Services tabular models via the Power BI On-Premise Gateway to present balanced scorecard views for executive reporting and strategic management.  We started by working with the Power BI team to develop a custom visual, called Power KPI, which we decided to make available to the public for free in the AppSource store.   Power KPI presents detailed historical trend data and target comparisons for a single KPI. 

PowerKPI Balanced Scorecards in Power BI
(above, the Power KPI custom visual)

The visuals may also be sized in a compact style, which makes it great for showcasing multiple KPIs on the same dashboard or report.

PowerKPI Dash Sample Balanced Scorecards in Power BI
(above, multiple Power KPI custom visuals are pinned to a Power BI dashboard)

On the backend, we source multiple Analysis Services tabular models via the Power BI on-premises data gateway and link to a single dashboard by pinning visuals in the Power BI Service.  End users access the latest KPIs by using a web browser or the Power BI app on any device, from anywhere with an internet connection.

Power KPI Matrix

While the Power KPI visual has been a necessary building block for us in the presentation of KPIs, by itself it doesn’t provide a scorecard layout.  Some users, including executives, really wanted a tabular, scorecard style of KPIs.  For this, we developed a second custom visual called Power KPI Matrix.  Power KPI Matrix supports an unlimited number of KPIs in a single visual, along with optional categorizations, images, and sparklines.  With the latest version, 2.0, it also includes an interactive pop-out of the full Power KPI chart within the visual for a given selected cell.  While we developed it primarily for our own team and purpose, it has also been made available for free to the public.

PowerKPIMatrix Balanced Scorecards in Power BI
(above, the Power KPI Matrix custom visual)

Richa Yadav, a program manager with the CDnA team, has recently produced a Power BI dashboard to drive insights into Microsoft Office performance and customer usage. This dashboard includes 43 different metrics that all contribute to Microsoft’s business and decision making.  As Richa explains, “with the increase in number of metrics each year, it was extremely important to have a view that not only ranks the KPIs but also includes the historic trends (actuals versus targets) in a single glance. Power KPI Matrix comes in handy as it serves as a balanced scorecard which perfectly captures our entire list of metrics in one single visual and enables drilling further into trendlines without moving away from the visual — a very unique feature.”

Below is a screenshot of the drilldown feature mentioned by Richa:
PowerKPIMatrix PopOut Balanced Scorecards in Power BI

Beyond balanced scorecards, Kaplan and Norton have also focused on strategy map visuals, which are akin to flowcharts that tie together strategy with measurement.   For those interested, the Visio visual (preview) custom visual offers a great option for lighting up strategy maps based on data.

Visio Preview Balanced Scorecards in Power BI
(above, the Visio preview custom visual with shapes linked to live data measurements)

The custom visuals shown here also work well within the mobile Power BI applications.  Using Android or iOS mobile devices, end users are easily able to look up the latest information and interact with the data, at any time, from anywhere.

Power KPI Matrix in a Mobile Dashboard (Android): clear Balanced Scorecards in Power BI In-Focus Mode with Pop-Out Power KPI Visual (Android):
PowerKPIMatrix Mobile1 Balanced Scorecards in Power BI clear Balanced Scorecards in Power BI PowerKPIMatrix Mobile2 Balanced Scorecards in Power BI

With Power BI and just a few powerful custom visuals, both large enterprises and smaller companies are now poised to achieve strategic alignment at a broad, pervasive level throughout the organization that Norton and Kaplan might only have dreamed of when they published “The Balanced Scorecard.”  There is still some pesky backend data integration work, but that’s a story for another day. 


Kaplan, Robert and Norton, David.  The Balanced Scorecard, Harvard Business School Press, 1996.

Keeping Score, The Drucker Institute.

Management Top 250, WSJ.

Methodology for the Management Top 250 Company Rankings, WSJ.

Balanced Scorecard Basics, Balanced Scorecard Institute.


How Microsoft Executives are Using Power BI, Microsoft Power BI Blog.

Power KPI custom Visuals:

Power KPI, AppSource.

Power KPI Matrix, AppSource.

Visio visual (preview), AppSource.

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Optimize Conference Networking and Content-Creation Opportunities

2017 AO RethinkMktgPodcast Featured Orendorff Networking Optimize Conference Networking and Content Creation Opportunities

Nathan Isaacs: Welcome to the Rethink Marketing podcast. I’m here today with Aaron Orendorff. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and iconiContent?

Aaron Orendorff: Absolutely. I’m excited to be here, Nathan. Thanks for inviting me on. I am proud to say I’m an Oregonian, just like Nathan, down here in the middle of nowhere, Klamath Falls, Oregon, instead of the beautiful Portland. I’ve been in the content marketing game for about four years now, coming up on five pretty soon. Still feel like very much a newcomer. iconiContent is a company I started on my own four years ago. And since then I’ve had the distinct privilege and delight of writing for a whole host of online outlets and publishers, as well as some fantastic clients. Namely, I’ve gotta give props to Shopify Plus, which is my main gig these days.

‘Let’s Get Rejected’

Nathan: To the subject of our podcast today, you and your collaborator Nadya Khoja put together a mini-campaign around the topic of best advice for conference networking, which we’ll link to in the show notes. Can you tell me the background behind it?

Aaron: My catchphrase, and this is gonna be 100 percent right in line with this story, is ‘Let’s get rejected.’ And I’ve even hashtagged it. It’s because when I started out in content marketing and I started to go after the big publications, I didn’t have a name, I didn’t really have any connections, I had no track record. And so every time that I would submit something and try to punch above my weight, I would tell myself, ‘Let’s get rejected.’ I did the same thing when I would up my rates, when I would email new clients, or send off pitches.

And I say that because Nadya and I were both rejected from speaking at Content Marketing World two years ago. What we didn’t do was take our rejection lying down. We’re in a couple of Slack groups together. And so she floated the idea of: What if we tried to create some on the ground content for Content Marketing World that we could do beforehand, during, and after?

Connect and Create Content

Nathan: And the conference networking idea itself was what?

Aaron: The idea was: How can we connect with as many of the keynoters and conference attendees as possible, create as much content as possible in various forms, with the least amount of effort on our part? So it was one half ‘Let’s leverage the influencers we know,’ and one half ‘Let’s show a ton of love to the people that are actually there on the ground at the conference as well.’ So we started by launching a piece on Venngage, where Nadya is the chief marketing officer. They’re an infographic and poster-maker SaaS. We started by creating an infographic and reaching out to what ended up being 25 or 26 of the headliners at CM World that year. And we asked them one question: How do you approach a keynoter at an event without being weird or bothersome?

And we asked that question because we thought this is precisely what a lot of us do when we go to conferences. We have all these stars in our eyes over the people that we look up to, and we’re just not sure how to approach them. So it was a really practical question that gave the keynoters a chance to weigh in on what they liked and didn’t like, as well as practical advice for people who were showing up to the conference on exactly how to do this difficult awkward thing.

We asked that question of all these different presenters and keynoters. We put that together into an infographic. And then when the conference actually came, we launched it a couple of days beforehand and tagged all of the influencers that were out there on social media. I sent out custom-made gift thank yous via social media to every single one of them as well. And then we pushed it on a couple of hubs like and, to try to get as much critical mass as we could around this initial post.

Then on the ground in the conference, we took over a Snapchat, ‘cause neither one of us really have a big Snapchat following. Foundr Magazine, which is run by Nathan Chan ‒ just a brilliant guy, fantastic publication ‒ let us take over his Snapchat. And we asked one question of all the keynoters and attendees we could find there, which was simply: What’s your best networking tip at a conference? We had a ton of fun, and we got Joe Pulizzi to record his first Snap ever. We recorded all of these, compiled all those into another article, that then turned into an infographic, went up on Content Marketing Institute in the wake of the conference itself, celebrated both speakers as well as attendees. And then I got to put together another giant piece of content on my own site that basically walked everybody through this entire behind-the-scenes process of how these big pieces of content were put together.

So having an assignment ‒ going to the conference with a piece of content we were creating on the spot ‒ gave me a reason to walk up to people and start talking to them, speakers and attendees alike. And that’s the biggest lesson I learned from this for myself and that I’ve taken elsewhere. And it’s such a fantastic two-for-one because it opens the door, gives me a reason to actually talk to other humans, so I’m not as nervous. I’ve got a go-to question, I’ve got a reason [to approach people], that sort of thing. But then also it means I’m not wasting any of the time and money or time away from work that I spend at conferences. I’m actually building a piece of sharable, useful, practical content right there and then.

Keep the Conference Networking Momentum Going

Nathan: How do you convert that from being a one-off conference networking event where you just ask some question, to being able to reach out to somebody a year from now?

Aaron: Every piece of content I create, I have two basic rules that I follow. The first is: ‘never one and done.’ The second is: Content is not a single player sport.

I never want to hit ‘publish’ on something and then be done with it. Ever. I’m always coming back to it. And, at the very least, if all you do is make yourself a little note, just set yourself an appointment reminder for a month to go back and brainstorm about what to do with this next. Just do that with everything that you publish or post.

The other part is that content is not a single-player sport. So, two things. One, I start with the people that I already know. I get their buy-in to that one question. I set up a really simple, easy Google form in those cases if it’s not a live event. Name, preferred link, job title, one question. And then I can share that with a whole bunch of different people very easily and compile all of their answers for a post. On the back end, when someone says yes, I then follow up with another single question. You’ll notice a pattern here. One ask, for one question, for one Google form. And then once they’ve done that, there’s one follow up question which is: Hey, do you know so and so, and could you maybe connect them for this piece?

So I’m broadening with each step. But I’m only doing it a step at a time. And it’s this whole idea that I learned from writing landing pages, and really sales of any kind, which is all I can ask the audience to do is one next thing. Once they take that step, then what’s the next step? I’m constantly rolling it into one thing after another.

Nathan: So you’ve created the content and you’re wanting to promote it. What are your tips about that?

Aaron: I’ve collected the information ‒ it’s a really short composition ‒ and it’s that ‘one thing’ again. I’m not like: Here’s the article … OK, do something with it. No, no. Here’s a click to tweet link, here’s the social share that I’ve already put up, and here’s a customized image that we made for you. And the response is brilliant. It’s just gangbusters.

Conquering Nerves by Asking a Key Question

Nathan: What about for those folks who attend an event and may have had a conference networking plan, but then they’re in a crowd of 1,000 people and they chicken out. Any advice to those guys, when your nerves get the best of you, how to make the best of that?

Aaron: I could say some practical things like: I feel your pain, breathe deep, leave for an entire session or two if you need to, or if you don’t want to be around during meal times, which is one of the times I get most nervous. The times I get most nervous are the stupid after parties. Those freak me out. I hate that, but I force myself to do it most times.

The best piece of advice I ever got on this front was stop asking yourself: ‘What can I get?’I had a friend who said, ‘Man, you gotta get out of your head. What’s stressing you out is you’re like: Am I gonna sit next to the right person? Am I gonna make myself look silly? Am I gonna open with the right words? What are they gonna think of me?’ He’s like, ‘Forget all that. Instead, the next time you talk to somebody, just say to yourself: How can I help this person, how can I serve them?’

And maybe it sounds silly and cliché and trite, but it absolutely like revolutionized the rest of my experience at that conference and every conference I’ve been to since. And if it’s easier to have that opener with a question, that’s a real sneaky trick from myself. But everybody is just as freaked out as you, for the most part. They really are. They’re just as sweaty and uncomfortable and scared.

Nathan: It seems like with those sort of inspirational comments, I think that’s a good place to wrap up. How can folks learn more about you moving forward?

Aaron: I’m sure you’ll include some show notes to iconiContent, to the how-to-attend-a- conference-and-take-it-over article. I’d love to have you check out some of my stuff on Shopify Plus.

Nathan: Excellent. Hey, I appreciate your time today.

Aaron: I had a blast being here. I’m so glad you asked to talk about this particular subject. Thank you.

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Act-On Blog

“The Peacock Throne (Hindustani: मयूर सिंहासन تخت طاؤس: Mayūr…

“The Peacock Throne (Hindustani: मयूर सिंहासन تخت طاؤس: Mayūr Singhāsana, Persian: تخت طاووس‎, Takht-i Tāvūs) was a famous jeweled throne that was the seat of the Mughal emperors of India. It was commissioned in the early 17th century by emperor Shah Jahan and was located in the Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audiences) in the Red Fort of Delhi. The original throne was subsequently captured and taken as a war trophy in 1739 by the Persian king Nadir Shah,
and has been lost ever since. A replacement throne based on the
original was commissioned afterwards and existed until the Indian War of
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(Source: Wikipedia)

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A Historian Walks into a Bar . . .

It’s Time to Schedule Your Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update

It has been a long time coming for existing Dynamics 365 customers, but at long last, you can schedule your update to Dynamics 365 July 2017 update (Yes JULY 2017 Update!). Scheduling your update is quick and easy and will give you some much requested new features including

  • Multi-Select Option Sets
  • A clean fresh user interface
  • Updated Outlook Client
  • Virtual Entities for integration with other data sources
  • Improved Activity Timeline
  • Business Process Flow enhancements

Scheduling your update can be initiated by any user with a Dynamics Administrator Role or greater.

Here is a short video we created to outline the process of scheduling your update.

Scheduling Your Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update

Simply go to the Office 365 Administrator Portal, select Dynamics 365 from the left-hand navigation. You will see a list of all of your Dynamics 365 Instances.. Switch to the UPDATES tab and select the instance that you wish to update.

365 update 1 It’s Time to Schedule Your Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update

The next screen allows you to choose the update date as well as an alternative date, at least 14 days later. This update must be in high demand as – as of this writing, you can only schedule updates for the last week in February.

365 update 3 1024x823 It’s Time to Schedule Your Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update

The final screen allows you to approve the dates that you have selected.

365 update 4 1024x748 It’s Time to Schedule Your Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update

You are finished once you have approved the update . You should receive an email from Microsoft confirming the update. As the date of your update approaches, you will continue to receive reminders. Finally the day of your update, access to Dynamics 365 will be restricted for about 15 – 30 minutes while the update is applied.

If you have questions about scheduling your Dynamics 365 July 2017 update enCloud9 is available to help you out. Contact us at 1- 844- 264-0729 for a complimentary analysis of your Dynamics 365 system.

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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365