Tag Archives: 2017

Top Ten CRM Posts for 2017

Another year has wrapped up, and 2017 was a busy one here at the CRM Software Blog. There were so many changes with the introduction of Microsoft Dynamics 365 (formerly Dynamics CRM) that undoubtedly clients and prospects had questions. Our expert partners have been successfully answering, explaining and assisting. Here are the top ten Dynamics CRM/Dynamics 365 related posts for 2017. Check them out if you missed any and thanks to our partners for keeping us all up to date.

  1. Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM July 2017 Update

June 22, 2017 by StravaTechGroup

  1. Dynamic Values for Email Templates – Part 2

January 25, 2017 by Mark Rockwell, Rockton Software

  1. Dynamics 365 Version 9.0 is here!

October 3, 2017 by ACE Microtechnology

  1. Top 10 Fabulous New Features of Microsoft Dynamics 365: Deep Dive Series, Part 2

January 26, 2017 by AKA Enterprise Solutions

  1. Dynamics 365 Business Edition Canceled Before it Ever Saw the Light of Day

September 20, 2017 by StravaTechGroup

  1. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portal – Strengths and Weaknesses Review

July 11, 2017 by Ryan Plourde, Crowe Horwath

  1. Dynamics 365 Business Edition Canceled Before it Ever Saw the Light of Day

September 20, 2017 by StravaTechGroup

  1. Digital Transformation with Microsoft Dynamics 365

March 6, 2017 by AKA Enterprise Solutions

  1. 10 Things To Like About The Dynamics 365 App for Outlook

February 15, 2017 by Preact CRM – Microsoft Dynamics UK Gold Partner

  1. Upgrade to Dynamics 365 – Part 1

January 9, 2017 by Beringer Technology Group

 Bookmark www.crmsoftwareblog.com to read the best articles in 2018 about Microsoft Dynamics 365 (formerly Microsoft Dynamics CRM)

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By CRM Software Blog, www.crmsoftwareblog.com


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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

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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Insights from the Hackathon at TIBCO Energy Forum 2017

Today’s booming competitive landscape demands that to create a value analytics added solution, a company must invest on multiple levels:

  • Find a BI tool that is fit for the problem and tech ecosystem
  • Train a team to work within the paradigm of the tool
  • Define their domain specific problems as analytic questions
  • Apply the team’s skills and tool capabilities to answer the analytic question

Often, companies will achieve 2-3 out of the above 4 and fail to reap the full benefit of their investments. At the TIBCO Energy Forum 2017 Hackathon we set about to address this by allowing the format to be flexible.

The 2-hour guided hackathon was designed to address common analytic use cases in the energy sector and how TIBCO Spotfire could be leveraged to gain insight. We saw registrations from more than 130 Spotfire enthusiasts of all skill levels. They could choose to compete in the guided hackathon or follow along and explore the energy sector problems they found most relevant in the areas of machine learning, geoanalytics, data exploration, production data analysis, and integrating social media insights into their applications.

solution screen Insights from the Hackathon at TIBCO Energy Forum 2017

Participant entry and comments for “Points in Polygons” problem, which asked analysts to programmatically match the Wells to their regional properties.

The TIBCO tech team was excited to evaluate the participant entries and discover how they had transformed data and leveraged data functions to customize dashboards, identify unique patterns through visualizations, and bridge the gap between knowing the product and using it effectively to solve the business problem.

We at TIBCO recognize that building an ecosystem where consumers are able to develop on and contribute to the platform benefits the entire community. To this effect, we encourage you to try the Spotfire hackathon exercises and send in your entries, questions, and feedback to drspotfire@tibco.com.

Resource Links

  • TIBCO Energy Solutions contains datasheets, case studies, solutions and other resources specific to the Energy Sector.
  • TIBCO Community Exchange contains under category “Analytics” reusable components and data functions that can be downloaded and then added to your dxp file.
  • TIBCO Answers page is a question and answer forum for TIBCO Products. Spotfire questions can be asked under Analytics or Spotfire tags.
  • Dr Spotfire will feature online training and Q&A sessions biweekly for both new Spotfire users and existing Spotfire users.

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Cumulative Update #3 for SQL Server 2017 RTM

The 3rd cumulative update release for SQL Server 2017 RTM is now available for download at the Microsoft Downloads site. Please note that registration is no longer required to download Cumulative updates.
To learn more about the release, please visit:

Starting with SQL Server 2017, we are adopting a new modern servicing model. Please refer to our blog for more details on Modern Servicing Model for SQL Server

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Family-owned Businesses, Divestitures and Innovators: NetSuite Customers Shine in 2017

Posted by Barney Beal, Content Director

As we start the new year and begin to line up new projects and initiatives, I think this is the GettyImages 140193196 Family owned Businesses, Divestitures and Innovators: NetSuite Customers Shine in 2017best time to do some reflecting on the past. And the more we think on it, 2017 was ruled by our customers. NetSuite’s vision has always been to transform how businesses operate so they can achieve their business vision, and those transformations have been ubiquitous on our blog. From family-owned businesses expanding beyond expectations to software companies divested from their parent company and thriving, these customer stories speak to our vision.

Here we take the time to showcase some of the best customer stories featured on the NetSuite blog in 2017, as an ode, a tribute, adoration for our customers who help us achieve our vision every day.

MotoAlliance Turns Family Business into Global Manufacturer, Outgrows QuickBooks

MotoAlliance, a manufacturer and distributor of power sports accessories, started as a family-owned business and has grown to manufacture with partners in the U.S., China, Australia and France and sells its products through 400 dealerships across the country including large retailers like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. Read their growth story and hear directly from their president, Maury Kapsner.

Tech Sparks Transformation of Action Health

Action Health, a healthcare packaging distributor, is another family-owned business that has transformed its business to drive rapid growth. Taking on a new mission to deliver savings to the supply chain, the management team knew that technology would play a critical role. Read their growth story and learn how they decided that selling part of the business was the best strategy.

OpenSymmetry Replaces Salesforce, FinancialForce with NetSuite for ERP, PSA and CRM

For OpenSymmetry, a management consulting and system integrator focused on sales performance management, the vision was clear. In order to grow, it needed a single platform that provided ERP, CRM and PSA software that can scale. Read their story and find out why NetSuite OneWorld was the right choice all along.

Quicken Hastens Toward New Future with NetSuite

In March of 2016, Intuit announced it would divest Quicken Inc., the 30-year-old flagship personal finance software, to sharpen its focus on small business. Quicken viewed it as an opportunity filled with potential and a big part of solidifying their future was building the new company on a foundation that was agile and scalable enough to move at the pace the industry demanded. Read their story and see how they prepared their business for growth.

Home Audio Retailer Fluance Makes Beautiful Music with NetSuite

Fluance, a leading manufacturer and B2C ecommerce retailer of speakers, turntables and home theater systems that focus on high performance, is a small family-backed company that pivoted from brick-and-mortar sales of third-party equipment in favor of a budding Fluance brand, opening a first-generation webstore on Yahoo. Read their growth story and learn how Fluance is taking sound to the next level.

These five customer stories embody the different experiences, circumstances and dynamics that running a business entails and their path to growth. Come back to read part 2 of “Customers Shine in 2017” and to see what else we have in store to get you ready to grow in 2018!

Posted on Tue, January 9, 2018
by NetSuite filed under

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Top 5 Moments from Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport’s 2017 Season

The 2017 Formula One season has come to a close. This season has been quite exciting Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport fans, with each race bringing its own set of ups and down for the team and drivers. Here are just a few highlights from the 2017 season:

Lewis Hamilton won the Drivers’ ChampionshipM141777 2 Top 5 Moments from Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport’s 2017 SeasonWith two races remaining in the season, Lewis Hamilton took home his fourth Drivers’ Championship title on October 29, 2017 at the Mexico Grand Prix. Hamilton clinched the title despite placing ninth in the race, after suffering damage to his diffuser and underfloor sustained in a first-lap collision. Hamilton finished the 2017 F1 season with a total of 363 points and nine wins. This is his fourth championship, taking home the title in 2008, 2014, and 2015.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport won the Constructors’ ChampionshipM139613 Top 5 Moments from Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport’s 2017 SeasonOn October 22, 2017, Mercedes won its fourth consecutive Constructors’ Championship at the United States Grand Prix. The standings for the Constructors’ Championship are calculated by adding the points of the team’s drivers together. The Silver Arrows finished the 2017 season with a total of 668 points, a 146-point lead over Ferrari. This is the team’s fourth consecutive championship, taking home the title in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Hamilton set a new record every time he got on the trackM135378 Top 5 Moments from Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport’s 2017 SeasonSome of this year’s highlights include that in the second race of the season in China, Hamilton equalled Jim Clark’s career record of 11 “hat-tricks”—races won from pole while setting the fastest lap—placing him equal second on the all-time list. At the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton secured his 69th pole position, surpassing Michael Schumacher for the all-time most pole positions. Despite the first-ever rain affecting the night Grand Prix in Singapore, Hamilton came out on top to secure an unlikely win after starting the race in 5th place. During qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton broke the track record held by Michael Schumacher by over 1.6 seconds. Later in the season at the Austin Grand Prix, Hamilton took his 117th front row start, breaking Schumacher’s previous record of 116.

Valtteri Bottas joined theMercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport teamM66663 1 Top 5 Moments from Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport’s 2017 SeasonPrior to the start of the 2017 season, Mercedes added Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas to the team. Bottas replaced Nico Rosberg, who retired at the end of the 2016 season. During the 2017 season, Bottas won three races and took four pole positions. He had his first Grand Prix win at the Russian Grand Prix, finishing ahead of the Ferraris, making him the fifth Finn to win a Grand Prix. Bottas finished the season third in the Drivers’ Championship with 305 points.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and TIBCO formed a global partnershiprsz 1screen shot 2017 09 05 at 43447 pm Top 5 Moments from Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport’s 2017 Season
On April 13, 2017, TIBCO announced a global partnership with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. As an Official Team Partner, we are providing the team with expertise in the area of advanced analytics through TIBCO’s System of Insights, while our logo is prominently displayed on the helmets of both Hamilton and Bottas.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport finished the season with impressive stats: won 12 of the 20 races; 15 pole positions;  four 1-2 finishes; 26 podiums; nine fastest laps; and an average winning margin of the nearest non-Mercedes driver of 13.1 seconds.

We wish the best of luck to Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport in 2018 and looking forward to kicking off the 2018 season with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne in March.

See how TIBCO is giving Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport a competitive advantage with our system of insights.

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2017 Mainframe Trends that are Here to Stay for 2018: Docker, Blockchain, z14 and Beyond

Mainframes are still going strong as 2018 begins. Need proof? Keep reading for a look at the biggest innovations and developments to hit the mainframe world in the past year.  These five mainframe trends are expected to continue to impact the mainframe community in 2018.

Ask an everyman to tell you about mainframes, and you’ll likely hear that they went out of fashion decades ago.

blog banner SotMF 2018 2017 Mainframe Trends that are Here to Stay for 2018: Docker, Blockchain, z14 and Beyond

In fact, however, as these mainframe trends show, the ecosystem remains alive and well, and continues to see new ideas and trends on par with innovations that stretch across the IT world as a whole.

Docker Containers Come to Mainframes

Technically, it has been possible to run Docker on mainframes using a DIY approach since Docker debuted in 2013. Docker works on any Linux-based operating system, and Linux can run on mainframes.

In August 2017, however, Docker support for mainframes became official. Mainframes are now a bona fide part of the Docker ecosystem, benefitting from the agility and efficiency advantages that containers offer.

IBM z14 Announced

Mainframe hardware continues to evolve, as IBM showed when it announced the z14 system in July 2017.

Z14 is the latest, greatest version in IBM’s z family of mainframes. It expands upon the features of z13, which debuted in 2015.

Z14 offers a number of innovations in the security realm in particular.

blog IBM mainframe room 2017 Mainframe Trends that are Here to Stay for 2018: Docker, Blockchain, z14 and Beyond

Z Systems Sales Decline

Notwithstanding the z14 announcement, sales of z Systems overall declined in 2017.

Is this a sign of the impending collapse of the mainframe industry and the irrelevance of mainframe skillsets? Hardly.

The z Systems sales decline was due in part to the fact that previous quarters saw high z Systems sales rates. Maintaining that pace indefinitely was not feasible.

Plus, even if mainframe sales were to decline, people with the skills to migrate mainframe workloads to other types of servers will be in high demand. Any company that chooses to divest itself from mainframes will need to embark on a complicated journey, which will only succeed with the help of seasoned mainframe admins.

Blockchain Comes to Mainframes

The world of blockchain technology evolved significantly in 2017, and mainframes have been a part of the picture. Over the course of the year, vendors like IBM have been increasingly active in promoting mainframes for hosting blockchain workloads.

Expect this trend to continue as blockchain technology — which includes but is certainly not limited to the Bitcoin cryptocurrency platform — continues to expand.

More Interest in Software-Defined Mainframe Environments

One of the biggest trends in the IT world over the past several years has been the shift toward software-defined everything.

Rather than running applications and storing data directly on hardware, organizations are increasingly using virtual environments that abstract the underlying hardware away. This provides more flexibility.

The software-defined everything trend is impacting mainframes, too, by enabling companies to move workloads from physical mainframes to software-defined mainframe environments — as Swisscom started doing in 2017, to cite one prominent example.

Such moves don’t mean the mainframes are going away. You still need to understand mainframe applications and architectures in order to administer these workloads. But the way that mainframe hardware and software interact is becoming more flexible.

Want to learn more about current mainframe trends? Check out our 2018 State of the Mainframe report to see key trends to watch for in 2018 as well as IT professionals’ top objectives for improving performance and saving money over the next 12 months.

Try Ironstream fbanner 2017 Mainframe Trends that are Here to Stay for 2018: Docker, Blockchain, z14 and Beyond

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Top Ten Digitalist Magazine Posts Of The Week [December 25, 2017]

Businesses share something important with lions. When a lion captures and consumes its prey, only about 10% to 20% of the prey’s energy is directly transferred into the lion’s metabolism. The rest evaporates away, mostly as heat loss, according to research done in the 1940s by ecologist Raymond Lindeman.

Today, businesses do only about as well as the big cats. When you consider the energy required to manage, power, and move products and services, less than 20% goes directly into the typical product or service—what economists call aggregate efficiency (the ratio of potential work to the actual useful work that gets embedded into a product or service at the expense of the energy lost in moving products and services through all of the steps of their value chains). Aggregate efficiency is a key factor in determining productivity.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image2 Top Ten Digitalist Magazine Posts Of The Week [December 25, 2017]After making steady gains during much of the 20th century, businesses’ aggregate energy efficiency peaked in the 1980s and then stalled. Japan, home of the world’s most energy-efficient economy, has been skating along at or near 20% ever since. The U.S. economy, meanwhile, topped out at about 13% aggregate efficiency in the 1990s, according to research.

Why does this matter? Jeremy Rifkin says he knows why. Rifkin is an economic and social theorist, author, consultant, and lecturer at the Wharton School’s Executive Education program who believes that economies experience major increases in growth and productivity only when big shifts occur in three integrated infrastructure segments around the same time: communications, energy, and transportation.

But it’s only a matter of time before information technology blows all three wide open, says Rifkin. He envisions a new economic infrastructure based on digital integration of communications, energy, and transportation, riding atop an Internet of Things (IoT) platform that incorporates Big Data, analytics, and artificial intelligence. This platform will disrupt the world economy and bring dramatic levels of efficiency and productivity to businesses that take advantage of it,
he says.

Some economists consider Rifkin’s ideas controversial. And his vision of a new economic platform may be problematic—at least globally. It will require massive investments and unusually high levels of government, community, and private sector cooperation, all of which seem to be at depressingly low levels these days.

However, Rifkin has some influential adherents to his philosophy. He has advised three presidents of the European Commission—Romano Prodi, José Manuel Barroso, and the current president, Jean-Claude Juncker—as well as the European Parliament and numerous European Union (EU) heads of state, including Angela Merkel, on the ushering in of what he calls “a smart, green Third Industrial Revolution.” Rifkin is also advising the leadership of the People’s Republic of China on the build out and scale up of the “Internet Plus” Third Industrial Revolution infrastructure to usher in a sustainable low-carbon economy.

The internet has already shaken up one of the three major economic sectors: communications. Today it takes little more than a cell phone, an internet connection, and social media to publish a book or music video for free—what Rifkin calls zero marginal cost. The result has been a hollowing out of once-mighty media empires in just over 10 years. Much of what remains of their business models and revenues has been converted from physical (remember CDs and video stores?) to digital.

But we haven’t hit the trifecta yet. Transportation and energy have changed little since the middle of the last century, says Rifkin. That’s when superhighways reached their saturation point across the developed world and the internal-combustion engine came close to the limits of its potential on the roads, in the air, and at sea. “We have all these killer new technology products, but they’re being plugged into the same old infrastructure, and it’s not creating enough new business opportunities,” he says.

All that may be about to undergo a big shake-up, however. The digitalization of information on the IoT at near-zero marginal cost generates Big Data that can be mined with analytics to create algorithms and apps enabling ubiquitous networking. This digital transformation is beginning to have a big impact on the energy and transportation sectors. If that trend continues, we could see a metamorphosis in the economy and society not unlike previous industrial revolutions in history. And given the pace of technology change today, the shift could happen much faster than ever before.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image3 1024x572 Top Ten Digitalist Magazine Posts Of The Week [December 25, 2017]The speed of change is dictated by the increase in digitalization of these three main sectors; expensive physical assets and processes are partially replaced by low-cost virtual ones. The cost efficiencies brought on by digitalization drive disruption in existing business models toward zero marginal cost, as we’ve already seen in entertainment and publishing. According to research company Gartner, when an industry gets to the point where digital drives at least 20% of revenues, you reach the tipping point.

“A clear pattern has emerged,” says Peter Sondergaard, executive vice president and head of research and advisory for Gartner. “Once digital revenues for a sector hit 20% of total revenue, the digital bloodbath begins,” he told the audience at Gartner’s annual 2017 IT Symposium/ITxpo, according to The Wall Street Journal. “No matter what industry you are in, 20% will be the point of no return.”

Communications is already there, and energy and transportation are heading down that path. If they hit the magic 20% mark, the impact will be felt not just within those industries but across all industries. After all, who doesn’t rely on energy and transportation to power their value chains?

That’s why businesses need to factor potentially massive business model disruptions into their plans for digital transformation today if they want to remain competitive with organizations in early adopter countries like China and Germany. China, for example, is already halfway through an US$ 88 billion upgrade to its state electricity grid that will enable renewable energy transmission around the country—all managed and moved digitally, according to an article in The Economist magazine. And it is competing with the United States for leadership in self-driving vehicles, which will shift the transportation process and revenue streams heavily to digital, according to an article in Wired magazine.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image4 Top Ten Digitalist Magazine Posts Of The Week [December 25, 2017]Once China’s and Germany’s renewables and driverless infrastructures are in place, the only additional costs are management and maintenance. That could bring businesses in these countries dramatic cost savings over those that still rely on fossil fuels and nuclear energy to power their supply chains and logistics. “Once you pay the fixed costs of renewables, the marginal costs are near zero,” says Rifkin. “The sun and wind haven’t sent us invoices yet.”

In other words, zero marginal cost has become a zero-sum game.

To understand why that is, consider the major industrial revolutions in history, writes Rifkin in his books, The Zero Marginal Cost Society and The Third Industrial Revolution. The first major shift occurred in the 19th century when cheap, abundant coal provided an efficient new source of power (steam) for manufacturing and enabled the creation of a vast railway transportation network. Meanwhile, the telegraph gave the world near-instant communication over a globally connected network.

The second big change occurred at the beginning of the 20th century, when inexpensive oil began to displace coal and gave rise to a much more flexible new transportation network of cars and trucks. Telephones, radios, and televisions had a similar impact on communications.

Breaking Down the Walls Between Sectors

Now, according to Rifkin, we’re poised for the third big shift. The eye of the technology disruption hurricane has moved beyond communications and is heading toward—or as publishing and entertainment executives might warn, coming for—the rest of the economy. With its assemblage of global internet and cellular network connectivity and ever-smaller and more powerful sensors, the IoT, along with Big Data analytics and artificial intelligence, is breaking down the economic walls that have protected the energy and transportation sectors for the past 50 years.

Daimler is now among the first movers in transitioning into a digitalized mobility internet. The company has equipped nearly 400,000 of its trucks with external sensors, transforming the vehicles into mobile Big Data centers. The sensors are picking up real-time Big Data on weather conditions, traffic flows, and warehouse availability. Daimler plans to establish collaborations with thousands of companies, providing them with Big Data and analytics that can help dramatically increase their aggregate efficiency and productivity in shipping goods across their value chains. The Daimler trucks are autonomous and capable of establishing platoons of multiple trucks driving across highways.

It won’t be long before vehicles that navigate the more complex transportation infrastructures around the world begin to think for themselves. Autonomous vehicles will bring massive economic disruption to transportation and logistics thanks to new aggregate efficiencies. Without the cost of having a human at the wheel, autonomous cars could achieve a shared cost per mile below that of owned vehicles by as early as 2030, according to research from financial services company Morgan Stanley.

The transition is getting a push from governments pledging to give up their addiction to cars powered by combustion engines. Great Britain, France, India, and Norway are seeking to go all electric as early as 2025 and by 2040 at the latest.

The Final Piece of the Transition

Considering that automobiles account for 47% of petroleum consumption in the United States alone—more than twice the amount used for generators and heating for homes and businesses, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration—Rifkin argues that the shift to autonomous electric vehicles could provide the momentum needed to upend the final pillar of the economic platform: energy. Though energy has gone through three major disruptions over the past 150 years, from coal to oil to natural gas—each causing massive teardowns and rebuilds of infrastructure—the underlying economic model has remained constant: highly concentrated and easily accessible fossil fuels and highly centralized, vertically integrated, and enormous (and enormously powerful) energy and utility companies.

Now, according to Rifkin, the “Third Industrial Revolution Internet of Things infrastructure” is on course to disrupt all of it. It’s neither centralized nor vertically integrated; instead, it’s distributed and networked. And that fits perfectly with the commercial evolution of two energy sources that, until the efficiencies of the IoT came along, made no sense for large-scale energy production: the sun and the wind.

But the IoT gives power utilities the means to harness these batches together and to account for variable energy flows. Sensors on solar panels and wind turbines, along with intelligent meters and a smart grid based on the internet, manage a new, two-way flow of energy to and from the grid.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image5 Top Ten Digitalist Magazine Posts Of The Week [December 25, 2017]Today, fossil fuel–based power plants need to kick in extra energy if insufficient energy is collected from the sun and wind. But industrial-strength batteries and hydrogen fuel cells are beginning to take their place by storing large reservoirs of reserve power for rainy or windless days. In addition, electric vehicles will be able to send some of their stored energy to the digitalized energy internet during peak use. Demand for ever-more efficient cell phone and vehicle batteries is helping push the evolution of batteries along, but batteries will need to get a lot better if renewables are to completely replace fossil fuel energy generation.

Meanwhile, silicon-based solar cells have not yet approached their limits of efficiency. They have their own version of computing’s Moore’s Law called Swanson’s Law. According to data from research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), Swanson’s Law means that for each doubling of global solar panel manufacturing capacity, the price falls by 28%, from $ 76 per watt in 1977 to $ 0.41 in 2016. (Wind power is on a similar plunging exponential cost curve, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy.)

Thanks to the plummeting solar price, by 2028, the cost of building and operating new sun-based generation capacity will drop below the cost of running existing fossil power plants, according to BNEF. “One of the surprising things in this year’s forecast,” says Seb Henbest, lead author of BNEF’s annual long-term forecast, the New Energy Outlook, “is that the crossover points in the economics of new and old technologies are happening much sooner than we thought last year … and those were all happening a bit sooner than we thought the year before. There’s this sense that it’s not some distant risk or distant opportunity. A lot of these realities are rushing toward us.”

The conclusion, he says, is irrefutable. “We can see the data and when we map that forward with conservative assumptions, these technologies just get cheaper than everything else.”

The smart money, then—72% of total new power generation capacity investment worldwide by 2040—will go to renewable energy, according to BNEF. The firm’s research also suggests that there’s more room in Swanson’s Law along the way, with solar prices expected to drop another 66% by 2040.

Another factor could push the economic shift to renewables even faster. Just as computers transitioned from being strictly corporate infrastructure to becoming consumer products with the invention of the PC in the 1980s, ultimately causing a dramatic increase in corporate IT investments, energy generation has also made the transition to the consumer side.

Thanks to future tech media star Elon Musk, consumers can go to his Tesla Energy company website and order tempered glass solar panels that look like chic, designer versions of old-fashioned roof shingles. Models that look like slate or a curved, terracotta-colored, ceramic-style glass that will make roofs look like those of Tuscan country villas, are promised soon. Consumers can also buy a sleek-looking battery called a Powerwall to store energy from the roof.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image6 Top Ten Digitalist Magazine Posts Of The Week [December 25, 2017]The combination of solar panels, batteries, and smart meters transforms homeowners from passive consumers of energy into active producers and traders who can choose to take energy from the grid during off-peak hours, when some utilities offer discounts, and sell energy back to the grid during periods when prices are higher. And new blockchain applications promise to accelerate the shift to an energy market that is laterally integrated rather than vertically integrated as it is now. Consumers like their newfound sense of control, according to Henbest. “Energy’s never been an interesting consumer decision before and suddenly it is,” he says.

As the price of solar equipment continues to drop, homes, offices, and factories will become like nodes on a computer network. And if promising new solar cell technologies, such as organic polymers, small molecules, and inorganic compounds, supplant silicon, which is not nearly as efficient with sunlight as it is with ones and zeroes, solar receivers could become embedded into windows and building compounds. Solar production could move off the roof and become integrated into the external facades of homes and office buildings, making nearly every edifice in town a node.

The big question, of course, is how quickly those nodes will become linked together—if, say doubters, they become linked at all. As we learned from Metcalfe’s Law, the value of a network is proportional to its number of connected users.

The Will Determines the Way

Right now, the network is limited. Wind and solar account for just 5% of global energy production today, according to Bloomberg.

But, says Rifkin, technology exists that could enable the network to grow exponentially. We are seeing the beginnings of a digital energy network, which uses a combination of the IoT, Big Data, analytics, and artificial intelligence to manage distributed energy sources, such as solar and wind power from homes and businesses.

As nodes on this network, consumers and businesses could take a more active role in energy production, management, and efficiency, according to Rifkin. Utilities, in turn, could transition from simply transmitting power and maintaining power plants and lines to managing the flow to and from many different energy nodes; selling and maintaining smart home energy management products; and monitoring and maintaining solar panels and wind turbines. By analyzing energy use in the network, utilities could create algorithms that automatically smooth the flow of renewables. Consumers and businesses, meanwhile, would not have to worry about connecting their wind and solar assets to the grid and keeping them up and running; utilities could take on those tasks more efficiently.

Already in Germany, two utility companies, E.ON and RWE, have each split their businesses into legacy fossil and nuclear fuel companies and new services companies based on distributed generation from renewables, new technologies, and digitalization.

The reason is simple: it’s about survival. As fossil fuel generation winds down, the utilities need a new business model to make up for lost revenue. Due to Germany’s population density, “the utilities realize that they won’t ever have access to enough land to scale renewables themselves,” says Rifkin. “So they are starting service companies to link together all the different communities that are building solar and wind and are managing energy flows for them and for their customers, doing their analytics, and managing their Big Data. That’s how they will make more money while selling less energy in the future.”

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image7 1024x572 Top Ten Digitalist Magazine Posts Of The Week [December 25, 2017]

The digital energy internet is already starting out in pockets and at different levels of intensity around the world, depending on a combination of citizen support, utility company investments, governmental power, and economic incentives.

China and some countries within the EU, such as Germany and France, are the most likely leaders in the transition toward a renewable, energy-based infrastructure because they have been able to align the government and private sectors in long-term energy planning. In the EU for example, wind has already overtaken coal as the second largest form of power capacity behind natural gas, according to an article in TheGuardian newspaper. Indeed, Rifkin has been working with China, the EU, and governments, communities, and utilities in Northern France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg to begin building these new internets.

Hauts-de-France, a region that borders the English Channel and Belgium and has one of the highest poverty rates in France, enlisted Rifkin to develop a plan to lift it out of its downward spiral of shuttered factories and abandoned coal mines. In collaboration with a diverse group of CEOs, politicians, teachers, scientists, and others, it developed Rev3, a plan to put people to work building a renewable energy network, according to an article in Vice.

Today, more than 1,000 Rev3 projects are underway, encompassing everything from residential windmills made from local linen to a fully electric car–sharing system. Rev3 has received financial support from the European Investment Bank and a handful of private investment funds, and startups have benefited from crowdfunding mechanisms sponsored by Rev3. Today, 90% of new energy in the region is renewable and 1,500 new jobs have been created in the wind energy sector alone.

Meanwhile, thanks in part to generous government financial support, Germany is already producing 35% of its energy from renewables, according to an article in TheIndependent, and there is near unanimous citizen support (95%, according to a recent government poll) for its expansion.

If renewable energy is to move forward in other areas of the world that don’t enjoy such strong economic and political support, however, it must come from the ability to make green, not act green.

Not everyone agrees that renewables will produce cost savings sufficient to cause widespread cost disruption anytime soon. A recent forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that in 2040, oil, natural gas, and coal will still be the planet’s major electricity producers, powering 77% of worldwide production, while renewables such as wind, solar, and biofuels will account for just 15%.

Skeptics also say that renewables’ complex management needs, combined with the need to store reserve power, will make them less economical than fossil fuels through at least 2035. “All advanced economies demand full-time electricity,” Benjamin Sporton, chief executive officer of the World Coal Association told Bloomberg. “Wind and solar can only generate part-time, intermittent electricity. While some renewable technologies have achieved significant cost reductions in recent years, it’s important to look at total system costs.”

On the other hand, there are many areas of the world where distributed, decentralized, renewable power generation already makes more sense than a centralized fossil fuel–powered grid. More than 20% of Indians in far flung areas of the country have no access to power today, according to an article in TheGuardian. Locally owned and managed solar and wind farms are the most economical way forward. The same is true in other developing countries, such as Afghanistan, where rugged terrain, war, and tribal territorialism make a centralized grid an easy target, and mountainous Costa Rica, where strong winds and rivers have pushed the country to near 100% renewable energy, according to TheGuardian.

The Light and the Darknet

Even if all the different IoT-enabled economic platforms become financially advantageous, there is another concern that could disrupt progress and potentially cause widespread disaster once the new platforms are up and running: hacking. Poorly secured IoT sensors have allowed hackers to take over everything from Wi-Fi enabled Barbie dolls to Jeep Cherokees, according to an article in Wired magazine.

Humans may be lousy drivers, but at least we can’t be hacked (yet). And while the grid may be prone to outages, it is tightly controlled, has few access points for hackers, and is physically separated from the Wild West of the internet.

If our transportation and energy networks join the fray, however, every sensor, from those in the steering system on vehicles to grid-connected toasters, becomes as vulnerable as a credit card number. Fake news and election hacking are bad enough, but what about fake drivers or fake energy? Now we’re talking dangerous disruptions and putting millions of people in harm’s way.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image8 Top Ten Digitalist Magazine Posts Of The Week [December 25, 2017]The only answer, according to Rifkin, is for businesses and governments to start taking the hacking threat much more seriously than they do today and to begin pouring money into research and technologies for making the internet less vulnerable. That means establishing “a fully distributed, redundant, and resilient digital infrastructure less vulnerable to the kind of disruptions experienced by Second Industrial Revolution–centralized communication systems and power grids that are increasingly subject to climate change, disasters, cybercrime, and cyberterrorism,” he says. “The ability of neighborhoods and communities to go off centralized grids during crises and re-aggregate in locally decentralized networks is the key to advancing societal security in the digital era,” he adds.

Start Looking Ahead

Until today, digital transformation has come mainly through the networking and communications efficiencies made possible by the internet. Airbnb thrives because web communications make it possible to create virtual trust markets that allow people to feel safe about swapping their most private spaces with one another.

But now these same efficiencies are coming to two other areas that have never been considered core to business strategy. That’s why businesses need to begin managing energy and transportation as key elements of their digital transformation portfolios.

Microsoft, for example, formed a senior energy team to develop an energy strategy to mitigate risk from fluctuating energy prices and increasing demands from customers to reduce carbon emissions, according to an article in Harvard Business Review. “Energy has become a C-suite issue,” Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s top environmental and sustainability executive told the magazine. “The CFO and president are now actively involved in our energy road map.”

As Daimler’s experience shows, driverless vehicles will push autonomous transportation and automated logistics up the strategic agenda within the next few years. Boston Consulting Group predicts that the driverless vehicle market will hit $ 42 billion by 2025. If that happens, it could have a lateral impact across many industries, from insurance to healthcare to the military.

Businesses must start planning now. “There’s always a period when businesses have to live in the new and the old worlds at the same time,” says Rifkin. “So businesses need to be considering new business models and structures now while continuing to operate their existing models.”

He worries that many businesses will be left behind if their communications, energy, and transportation infrastructures don’t evolve. Companies that still rely on fossil fuels for powering traditional transportation and logistics could be at a major competitive disadvantage to those that have moved to the new, IoT-based energy and transportation infrastructures.

Germany, for example, has set a target of 80% renewables for gross power consumption by 2050, according to TheIndependent. If the cost advantages of renewables bear out, German businesses, which are already the world’s third-largest exporters behind China and the United States, could have a major competitive advantage.

“How would a second industrial revolution society or country compete with one that has energy at zero marginal cost and driverless vehicles?” asks Rifkin. “It can’t be done.” D!

About the Authors

Maurizio Cattaneo is Director, Delivery Execution, Energy and Natural Resources, at SAP.

Joerg Ferchow is Senior Utilities Expert and Design Thinking Coach, Digital Transformation, at SAP.

Daniel Wellers is Digital Futures Lead, Global Marketing, at SAP.

Christopher Koch is Editorial Director, SAP Center for Business Insight, at SAP.

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.


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2017: CRM in Full Stride

There was a lot in customer relationship management to like in 2017. The industry racked up north of US$ 35 billion and the cloud reigned supreme.

However, future growth presents a challenge. We’re going to need to look beyond selling generic seats to grow the CRM market from here.

Oracle’s Emergence

It’s a whole new ball game now that Oracle has credible cloud CRM. It’s been building up for a while, but this year saw the first important financial results.

Oracle is a serious contender, and with more than 425,000 customers needing to upgrade their aging systems of all kinds, other vendors will need to bring their A-games to compete for the business.

Oracle’s customers need the constellation of products — Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service — to get the job done, and vendors without that orientation might find the sledding tough.

The Ecosystem

Salesforce’s AppExchange recorded its five-millionth download this year — a clear testament that it’s working and delivering value for partners and customers.

A vibrant ecosystem is the greatest indicator of future CRM success. Partners are the laboratories of CRM, bringing novel solutions to the world. No CRM vendor can take them for granted.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is one of the few new technologies that can tell their own stories without needing a lot of sales help. VR in field service, for example, gives technicians the ability to share and receive visual context for what they do.

In the process, VR makes and saves money for users. A no-brainer for the right business, VR had a good year and will have a better one in ’18.

Blockchain Technologies

Too bad we can’t yet extract blockchain from cryptocurrencies. When these currencies crash, as all Ponzi schemes do, blockchain will be the residue worth hanging on to.

Blockchain already is having a test flight with numerous vendors saying they do something security- or supply chain-oriented with the stuff, but I suspect BC’s best years are ahead.

This one’s just getting started.

Going Vertical

Vertical market CRM is one of the new areas. Although it’s been around for a while, the idea of verticals got a boost from analytics and machine learning.

Since vertical markets often come with an amount of regulation, automation to speed compliance is one of the big advantages they supply. This means we can focus back on the work of the vertical application, which will save hours of person time and drive better revenues.

Internet of Things

At the moment, the Internet of Things is joined at the hip with CRM, but I see an opportunity to split off this baby. CRM deals with people and IoT deals with things. In many ways they have the same functions, but they’re processed differently.

Vendors should, in my humble opinion, consider developing separate divisions for each — thus focusing attention on relative strengths. There’s nothing complicated here, but by keeping the divisions under one roof they can ensure cross-functionality.

Artificial Intelligence

I suppose we need to deal with artificial intelligence and machine learning. Although they had good runs in ’17 there will be more to do in ’18.

AI brings up the unpleasant thought that Moore’s Law began going sideways in ’17, when Intel lengthened the two-year chip generation to about five years. Articles in MIT’s Technology Review suggest the phenomenon of exponential growth is nearing an end right at the time when we’ll need extra horses to drive analytics engines.

My spies who seem to know say that your graphics processing unit can handle the load if space gets tight on the central processing unit — and they’d be right, except the GPU already is pledged to other activities, I believe.

So we’re approaching a time when we might need to consider new architectures — but not yet.

Two Cents

CRM had a great year and is poised for another — but it’s becoming a closed club not very welcoming to newbies.

Entrepreneurs should give up the quest to be the next Salesforce (that happened nearly 20 years ago when Salesforce said it could be the next Siebel). Opportunities abound in verticals and ecosystems, and that’s where future CRM-er’s should invest time and treasure.

Whatever happens in 2018, I hope you’ll continue reading this space. Thanks for your time and attention, and happy holidays!
end enn 2017: CRM in Full Stride

Denis%20Pombriant 2017: CRM in Full StrideDenis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. He can be reached at

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Top 10 Mainframe Blogs of 2017 – The Kingdom Undergoes Transformation

We’ve saved the best for last! We’re rounding out our “Best of 2017” series with a look at our most popular mainframe blogs of the year. While the tried and true mainframe continues to play a critical role for the enterprise, it is also evolving to keep up with today’s technological such as Big Data analytics and the Cloud.

As Casey Kasem would say, “Let’s count ’em down!”

Since the introduction of the IBM System/360 in the mid-1960s, “Big Iron” (aka mainframes) has played an important role in information processing in many global organizations. Fast forward to 2017 where IBM z Systems are still playing a significant, albeit evolving, role within most large organizations. Read more >

The big question today is how the role of the mainframe is being impacted by evolving IT infrastructures and corporate demands on IT teams. Let’s look at what’s trending in Big Iron to Big Data right now.  Read more >

If you want to succeed in your IT career today, you need to know (or at least have an understanding of) DevOps. Where do mainframe skills fit into that picture? Find out in this post about mainframe careers in the age of DevOps. Read more >

What a great week and “journey” it was in Las Vegas during the Splunk Global Partner Summit at FY’18 SKO. The energy generated by the Splunk employees alone could have powered Vegas for the week. See our highlights from the event. Read more >

A look at three predicted mainframe trends that are tracking as IT strategies at many of the world’s leading companies around security and compliance, diminishing mainframe talent and new technologies. Read more >

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Mainframes have one of the longest histories of any kind of computing technology that is still used today. In fact, mainframe history is far too long to pack into a single blog post. But Christopher Tozzi gives it his best try. Keep reading for a (very) brief history of mainframe computing. Read more >

If you run an IBM mainframe today, you have to choose between two great operating systems options to power it: Linux vs. z/OS. How do you decide? Here’s a guide to choosing the right operating system for your IBM mainframe. Read more >

Mainframe is not on most people’s lists of the hottest words in tech. Additionally, mainframes may seem disconnected from modern IT trends, but the latest practices and innovations are being applied to mainframes. Here’s how. Read more >

Has cloud computing killed mainframes? You might think so. In fact, mainframes remain supremely important, even in the age of the cloud. Here’s why. Read more >

Ever wonder why companies like IBM are still selling mainframes? Hint: It’s not because they’re living in the past. It’s because the mainframe is still crucial in a number of industries. Read more >

We hope you’ve enjoyed our Mainframe blogs this year. For a look ahead, check out our 2018 State of the Mainframe report to see the 5 key trends to watch for in 2018 as well as IT professionals’ top objectives for improving performance and saving money over the next 12 months.

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