Tag Archives: Create

1/18 Webinar: Using PowerApps and Flow to create Line of Business “portals” by Vishwas Lele

This webinar is designed to show you how to more easily create PowerApps applications and take advantage of the recently introduced PowerApps custom visual for Power BI

Using PowerApps and Flow to create Line of Business Enterprise “portals” by Vishwas Lele


Vishwas will showcase a PowerApp application that is essentially a “portal” for existing Line of Business Enterprise Applications (inventory, contracts etc.) and Services ( Dynamics, O365, DropBox etc. )Through the use of PowerApps features like the out of the box connectors, integration with Flow and mobile enablement, learn how easy it is to build an app for the information workers that allows them to  have all the information in one location and on a device of their choice. 

When 1/18/2018 10AM

Where: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSMAAFHK44c

About Vishwas Lele

vishwas lele v1 1/18 Webinar: Using PowerApps and Flow to create Line of Business “portals” by Vishwas Lele

Vishwas Lele serves as Chief Technology Officer at Applied Information Sciences, Inc. Mr. Lele is responsible for assisting organizations in envisioning, designing, and implementing enterprise solutions. Mr. Lele brings close to 24 years of experience and thought leadership to his position, and has been at AIS for 18 years. A noted industry speaker and author, Mr. Lele serves as Microsoft Regional Director for the Washington, D.C. area and is a member of Windows Azure Insiders group. Additionally, Mr. Lele received an MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for Solution Architecture.

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Word Templates – Create, Generate, and PDF

CRM Word Templates are documents created once, with attributes / fields from CRM entities and related entities, to generate Word documents and reports using the CRM function “Word Template” in the user interface of a record.

If you have never created Dynamics CRM Word templates before, you can download these free word templates for Invoice, Quote, Order, Opportunity, and Case. You can modify the images and content of the template, and add or remove fields not required in your document.


To import Word Templates to Dynamics CRM, go to Settings > Templates > Document Templates > Upload Template.

How to PDF Word Templates?

Once a document is generated from a template, it can be PDF like any other Word document. This is multi-steps process if you wish to PDF the document, attach to the record’s Notes, attach to customer’s Email, and upload to SharePoint. Some documents need to be generated, PDF, attached and uploaded to SharePoint automatically, with CRM workflow, a feature that does not come with Dynamics CRM out-of-box.

With Dynamics PDF-Docs, one click generates the document, PDF it, attach to Notes, attach to Email, and uploaded to SharePoint.

All these functions can be scheduled with Workflow. With workflow you can also attach more than one document to the Email, you can attach documents from SharePoint, and you can schedule when to trigger the process.

Think of it. With one click a Quote document is generated, the Quote is attached to the record’s note as PDF file, a new Email is generated with the quote as attachment, related brochures are also attached to the Email, and copy of the Quote, as PDF or Word Document, is uploaded to SharePoint, all with one click of a button.

Download Dynamics PDF-Docs:


If you need more features that are not available with CRM Word Template, consider Dynamics Docs.

Dynamics Docs has extra features like:

Run template on list of records

Perform maths calculations

Use logical expressions, such as hide or display text based on condition.


And more

Download Dynamics Docs trial version:


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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

Liberty Mutual crunches hidden data to create your Total Home Score

If you’re checking out a home to buy, you could easily miss key information, like how close it is to major arterial traffic or whether a street is really as quiet as the realtor claims. That’s why Liberty Mutual Insurance is unveiling two data-driven tools that help consumers find the right home and then protect it.

The Boston-based company, which was founded in 1912, is today unveiling Total Home Score and Dwellbeing, which can help homebuyers and homeowners make more informed decisions and live with greater peace of mind. These new tools are being launched by Solaria Labs, the innovation center the legacy insurance provider launched in September 2015 to foster new thinking.

The Total Home Score will aggregate data about homes and neighborhoods on a map, so you can easily see a visualization of features such as noise or traffic. The map reminds me of the video game SimCity, where various factors contribute to the happiness of residents, known as Sims.

“We want to bring analytics to help consumers understand hidden factors before they move into a new home,” said Adam L’Italien, vice president of global consumer markets innovation at Liberty Mutual, in an interview with VentureBeat. “These tools can aid you in a search you might discover on your own.”

The Total Home Score includes livability factors such as the Road Score, which measures daily traffic patterns and the prevalence of aggressive and potentially dangerous driving around a neighborhood, and the Quiet Score, which factors in estimated noise levels surrounding a home. It also measures how close a home is to a major road, train, or subway network.

Solaria Labs is making technology available through an applications programming interface, and third-party developers can create additional applications that tap the public and private data that goes into the Total Home Score calculations.

Above: Yep, it’s noisy by Boston Common.

Image Credit: Liberty Mutual

So far, the Quiet Score data is being fine-tuned with hundreds of field measurements around Greater Boston. Total Home Score has rolled out in Boston and Chicago. L’Italien said that research shows as many as 40 percent of people would have reconsidered if they had understood noise levels before purchasing a home.

“This helps because you can’t sample a week’s worth of noise or traffic before you make a decision,” L’Italien said.

Total Home Score livability factors range from 0-100, with 100 being the highest score. All livability factors start at 100 and decrease based on local geospatial data around the home.

“There are many hidden factors that aren’t easily uncovered at an open house or home inspection. When looking for a home that’s right for your family, information is everything, and with Total Home Score, that information is right at your fingertips,” said DIY expert and television personality Chip Wade, in a statement.

Wade and his wife Pauli Wade, who is a real estate agent, have teamed up with Liberty Mutual to show consumers the importance of full transparency during a house hunt. In the future, Liberty Mutual could add data to judge how safe a neighborhood or street is and whether a home is a good place for a vacation rental.

Dwellbeing, meanwhile, helps assess the health of a home or apartment and encourages residents to proactively maintain their dwellings through task-oriented notifications.

The company will send customized alerts when common household appliances or systems need maintainance and provide details for how to go about servicing them. Dwellbeing is in testing with a limited number of users and is expected to be available to the broader public later this year.

L’Italien said Solaria Labs is looking at emerging trends inside and outside the industry, and it is experimenting with risk mitigation and protection for consumers. L’Italien said the lab’s new office in Singapore will enable access to more data as that city becomes smarter.

“As cities get smarter, this data will become more and more available,” he said.

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Big Data – VentureBeat

Retail’s Untamed Power: Avoid The Death Star That Holiday Promotions Create

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 Retail’s Untamed Power: Avoid The Death Star That Holiday Promotions CreateAfter 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 Retail’s Untamed Power: Avoid The Death Star That Holiday Promotions CreateThe 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 Retail’s Untamed Power: Avoid The Death Star That Holiday Promotions CreateOnce 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 Retail’s Untamed Power: Avoid The Death Star That Holiday Promotions CreateToday, 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 Retail’s Untamed Power: Avoid The Death Star That Holiday Promotions CreateThe 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 Retail’s Untamed Power: Avoid The Death Star That Holiday Promotions Create

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 Retail’s Untamed Power: Avoid The Death Star That Holiday Promotions CreateThe 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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Digitalist Magazine

How to Create a Relationship with Long Schema Names in Dynamics 365

When dealing with a system that involves many complex entities, we’re bound to have long entity names in Microsoft Dynamics 365. Longer entity names could be to further modularise separate functionality in the system without compromising the descriptiveness of the entity name. For example, you can have two entities in CRM managing an Analytical Dashboard website called “Analytical Dashboard User Settings” and “Analytical Dashboard Entity Settings”. This could be a problem when we want to create relationships between these two entities that have long schema names. This blog will demonstrate on how you can work around an existing out-of-the-box limitation given the assumption that you do not want to alter with Dynamics 365’s schema name generation conventions (will expand below).

To demonstrate this, I’ve created two custom entities with the given names above. Dynamics 365 will autogenerate the following schema names appropriately.

image thumb How to Create a Relationship with Long Schema Names in Dynamics 365

The out-of-the-box behaviour of creating relationships via create new 1:N Relationship record in Dynamics 365 is when you create a relationship from the Primary Entity e.g. Contact, and you need to set the Related Entity. Once we set the Related Entity e.g. Account, CRM would automatically generate the schema name of the relationship. The autogenerated schema name is a concatenation of the Primary Entity schema name and the Related Entity schema name.

image thumb 1 How to Create a Relationship with Long Schema Names in Dynamics 365

I will create a new 1:N Relationship from Primary Entity “Analytical Dashboard Entity Setting” to Related Entity “Analytical Dashboard User Setting”. When we create the 1:N Relationship record from “Analytical Dashboard Entity Setting” and set “Analytical Dashboard User Setting” as the Related Entity, the relationship schema name is autogenerated but appears to be incomplete.

image thumb 3 How to Create a Relationship with Long Schema Names in Dynamics 365

It’s evident that there is a 41 character limit for the relationship schema name field. This can be a nuisance, especially for someone like me who sticks to schema naming conventions based on how the system autogenerates and concatenates schema names.

The workaround to this underlying out-of-the-box behaviour is through creating a relationship via creating a lookup field. Creating a lookup field from the Related Entity (since lookup fields refer to the Primary/ Parent Entity) allows us to work around the character limit issue for the relationship schema name field. Creating a lookup field automatically creates a Relationship record between the Primary and Related Entity.

If we want to create a relationship via lookup field between Primary Entity = Contact and Related Entity = Account, we need to make a lookup field from Account, and set the Target Record Type (which is the Primary Entity) to Contact. Default CRM behaviour does the same automatic generation of naming fields with the addition of also concatenating the schema name of the lookup field (in the screenshot, this is the field schema name “Primary Contact”).

image thumb 4 How to Create a Relationship with Long Schema Names in Dynamics 365

Now we can create our relationship for our entities with long schema names accordingly through this method. I’ve created the lookup field for the Related Entity “Analytical Dashboard User Setting”, set the Target Record Type to the Primary Entity “Analytical Dashboard Entity Setting”.

image thumb 5 How to Create a Relationship with Long Schema Names in Dynamics 365

This time, the autogenerated relationship name returns what we would expect – no incomplete names when both schema names are concatenated. The generated relationship schema name “mig_analyticaldashboardentitysetting_mig_analyticaldashboardusersetting_MainEntitySetting” also includes the lookup field schema name “MainEntitySetting” which we can remove.
We can assess the relationship schema name further by checking the 1:N Relationship record that automatically gets created by the system. The character limit of entering the relationship schema name manually gets ignored as the field gets populated based on our created lookup field. Thus, we are able to have our intended relationship schema name between our two entities without compromising naming conventions. 

image thumb 6 How to Create a Relationship with Long Schema Names in Dynamics 365

Do note that the when creating the lookup field, a prefix will be added to the schema name by default. It is recommended to delete the leading prefix on the Relationship Name field when creating your lookup field e.g. ‘mig_’ in the autogenerated relationship name. This is to avoid having a double prefix name on the final product as shown in the screenshot above e.g. ‘mig_mig_ …’

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How to Create Test Data with Known GUIDs in Microsoft Dynamics 365

When developing for Dynamics 365, there are times when it can be very handy to have test data with specified GUIDs, particularly when troubleshooting code that finds and returns or otherwise manipulates the GUIDs of entities, or entity references.

In such situations, it may make sense to create a range of test data with known GUIDs in Dynamics 365. This can be accomplished quite easily, using either a console application, or JavaScript.

Entities can be created with a specified GUID by specifying the GUID as part of the attribute set in creation, so it’s simply a matter of selecting an easily identifiable GUID for use. In the following examples, I’ll give a snippet of sample code demonstrating how to create an Account record with the Web API and using the IOrganizationService sdk, which is possible to obtain via a console app.

Creating via WebAPI

This can either be run from the console or as part of a web app. If you’re creating records, I’d suggest running it from the console.

image thumb How to Create Test Data with Known GUIDs in Microsoft Dynamics 365

For the purposes of this example, I’ve hardcoded all values except for the id, but it would definitely be possible to pass in additional parameters for variables such as api version, account name, or any additional attributes you may wish to set.

Creating via Console App (C#)

For information on how to connect to Dynamics 365 via a console app, sample console apps can be found as part of the Dynamics 365 SDK.

image thumb 1 How to Create Test Data with Known GUIDs in Microsoft Dynamics 365

The record is created as usual, using the IOrganizationService obtained from the Dynamics 365 instance.

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ROLI Brings Together Music, Design and Engineering to Create a New Instrument

Posted by Barney Beal, Content Director

From home schooling in rural New Hampshire to a Zen monastery in Japan to London’s Royal College of Art, Roland Lamb’s circuitous journey may seem an unlikely one for someone who would reinvent a 17th century instrument. But that breadth of experience, innate curiosity and intelligence were the right recipe for bringing the worlds of music and engineering together to create the ROLI Seaboard.

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Modeled after the piano, the Seaboard has a spongy silicone surface that is sensitive to pressure, allowing musicians to modulate sounds through slides, glides, presses, and other natural movements — some of them borrowed from the world of string instruments. The son of a jazz musician, Lamb was inspired by tales of the famed jazz pianist Thelonious Monk who was said to be “searching for the space between the black and white keys” and frustrated by the limits of the traditional keyboard. Lamb began experimenting creating an instrument with more expression, adjusting pitch, volume and sound through movement. While earning a PhD in Design Products at London’s Royal College of Art, Lamb produced the first prototype of the Seaboard.

That prototype was enough to earn Lamb funding for a business. In East London he established ROLI, based on his nickname. He assembled a diverse team of engineers who helped turn the Seaboard into a market-ready instrument for music-makers around the world. They launched the first Seaboard GRAND in 2013. In the years since, ROLI has added additional products. They include BLOCKS, a modular music making system that lets customers mix and match musical “Blocks” together to create customized instruments that are all powered by an app. The Seaboard has since earned several design awards as well as praise from a wide range of musicians and music producers, including Pharrell Williams, Grimes, Hans Zimmer, Martyn Ware, producer and founding member of The Human League and Heaven 17.

blocks%20dashboard auto best ROLI Brings Together Music, Design and Engineering to Create a New Instrument

“I regard the Seaboard to be the most exciting physical keyboard I’ve ever used, both for the studio and live. It enables me to create sounds that are impossible to contemplate using any other instrument,” Ware claims on the ROLI website.

Part software company, part hardware company, part design firm, Roli embraces the diversity of its business. Some parts of the Seaboard GRAND are still hand-molded on site. Each day starts with a standing meeting and at lunch the whole company sits down together for a vegetarian meal. The result is a commitment to music. “We want music creation to be as seamless as other digitized areas of life,” says a ROLI representative. “By inventing new, connected tools we are extending the joy of music-making to everyone.”

But the business is not without its challenges. In creating such a radically new instrument, Roli has no competition, but it has had to create a new community of ROLI players. That is in part why it is modeled closely on the piano. Lamb wanted it to be familiar enough to draw on musician’s experiences. Community building has been a critical to the success of the Seaboard, lest it be doomed to the margins like the theramin, an early electronic instrument that relied on players moving their hands between two antennae. Despite getting a significant boost after interest from Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, the theramin has since all but disappeared except for the soundtracks of early science fiction and horror films.

q auto best ROLI Brings Together Music, Design and Engineering to Create a New Instrument

ROLI is similarly counting on enthusiasm from well known musicians to help spur its growth. It features musicians using its instruments on its website prominently and even sports a ROLI Spotify playlist.

For example, Shama Rahman, a London-based neuroscientist and musician, brought a Seaboard on the Antarctic Biennale expedition, a project that asks artists to create something from the world’s harshest and least populated continent. She set out to create a musical work that viscerally captures the Antarctic environment. Dropping hydrophones into the frozen sea and laying them on ice sheets, she recorded in situ sounds of whale song and cracking ice — and is now integrating those sounds in songs and a film.

The Seaboard also got a significant boost when Marius Devries, an early adopter of the instrument and the executive music producer of the Academy Award-winning movie “La La Land” featured it in a scene in the movie with actor Ryan Gosling.

It’s been a long journey for a man who was once more interested in philosophy than engineering leading him to a monastery at the age of 18 but the company now employs 90, and has opened offices in New York and Los Angeles. Lamb, now the CEO and focused more on operations, told London’s City AM:

“Managing the product development process is helped by the fact that I know a little bit about each of the areas that our 50 engineers work on and the problems they face because I have the experience of building it all myself first. But development is just one part of a much larger story, and for me, that’s the exciting part.”

ROLI continues its growth, announcing last month that Grammy award winner Pharrell Williams has invested in the company and become co-owner. Williams was also appointed as ROLI’s chief creative officer.

ROLI’s success and acclaim has led it to adopt NetSuite’s cloud business platform to help it manage its rapid growth in staff numbers, international expansion and increasing product lines. It joins a host of highly exciting and entrepreneurial companies which are revolutionizing their markets and managing rapid growth with the help of the cloud and NetSuite.

Learn more about how innovative companies like ROLI are turning to NetSuite to manage their business.

Posted on Thu, November 16, 2017
by NetSuite filed under

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How to Create a Killer Marketing Plan and Spare Yourself a Scare

20171031 bnr how to create a killer MarketingPlan to spare you a scare How to Create a Killer Marketing Plan and Spare Yourself a Scare

I’ve loved Halloween since I was a kid. Back then, I loved dreaming up a costume, sometimes months in advance, and coming up with a plan for the night. And I still love the holiday. I love the fun. The frightful elements of surprise. And, of course, those sugary treats.

Planning for a successful All Hallow’s Eve has odd parallels to creating a successful marketing plan. You’ve got to do some preparation to make sure everything is just right – from the look and feel of campaigns to the route planning to the execution.

Let’s dissect the components of a killer marketing plan so you won’t be caught by surprise. Don’t be afraid – this process isn’t scary. The real horror show would be not having a plan.

Starting down the wrong path

Before we embark, a word of caution. It’s tempting to plan your “costume” first, and your logistics second. But don’t go too far down the path too quickly. You’ll want to have a general sense of your plan before you put the finishing touches on the costume, and, as we know, the devil is in the details. For example, do you know where you’re celebrating? An indoor party is different than traipsing outside through the streets. Who are you celebrating with, colleagues or kids? What’s your budget? All of these things may affect your costume choice.

If you put your marketing plan lens on, you’ll see the parallels. Your Halloween party location is akin to your marketing channels. Your cohorts are your audience. And your budget is, well, your budget. Before you polish up that perfect campaign copy, be sure you have the lay of the landscape.

Elements of a successful marketing plan

Marketing planning: tales, timing, and tactics

First, you need to think big picture. What do you want to do, and where? This includes initial ideation and tactical planning. What exactly is your ghoul … that is, your goal? Plot it out in concrete terms, for example, “launch a new product,” or “run a contest.” Put that stake in the ground.

Casting your vision

If you have initial ideas for your costume – your vision – it’s OK to sketch those out in loose terms. A skeleton outline, of sorts. Just don’t spend too much time here, because things may change as you work through the rest of your plan.

Next, consider your timing.

What is your launch date? Put together a rough workback schedule leading up to that date.

Another time-related decision is the duration of your campaign – when it will start and expire. These parameters are key, and timing really is everything. (Also, here’s a hint: marketing automation can help you launch your campaign at just the right moment on the customer journey.)

Who are you trying to reach?

Think through whether you want to address new or existing customers, or perhaps those former customers who have ghosted you who you want to re-engage. These are people you’d like to put under your spell.

Where will you go?

Consider the channels where you’ll promote. This is the logistical part of your campaign – your route planning. Consider tried and true routes that you know yield lots of proverbial candy, as well as some newbies to add to the mix.

What’s your budget – and resources?

How much mummy – er, money – do you have to spend? What’s your budget?

Also, how many hands are on your deck? How many newts are in your cauldron? Think about resourcing and capacity planning, both from your in-house staff and third parties.

Set yourself up for success

Before you track the results of your campaign, you’ll want to have an idea of your objectives. These should be noted in your marketing plan before you start it – so if you haven’t put some benchmarks and goals into your plans, go back and do that first. It’s important to make sure your goals are measurable and attainable so you’re not haunted by regret later. Remember the industry acronym “SMART” – set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.

Remove the cloak of darkness and get everything out into the daylight. How will you tactically measure the results? What tools will you use? Where and how will you share those results – to current colleagues as well as in an archive for future? It’s always good to keep a record of what you do – especially if it was a monster success. (Note: Act-On can help here.)

Don’t forget to hand out the tricks and treats. It’s important to surprise your audience – wow them, delight them, and offer goodies. This may be where you weave in loyalty programs, customer rewards, discounts, and offers, or contests.

Finally, pull your thoughts together and let your team know what the plan is. You know the adage: Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them. Clarity is the charm. In a marketing plan, this takes shape via the Executive Summary – or abstract – at the beginning. As well, close with a conclusion summing up all the parts.

Then get buy-off, by circulating it to your boss, your colleagues, and whomever else is a key stakeholder. Bewitch them with your brilliant strategy and you’ll avoid the boos.

Creation and design

Next comes the fun part: creating the look – the “costume” – and trying it on for size.

As I mentioned, the creative phase is often where we want to jump first. Once you have a full picture of the overarching plan and parameters, it’s time! Look back to your skeleton notes from above. Now that you have more bones in the plan, are you starting to see a better picture of the finished product?

Now’s the time to cut loose and turn that pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern – to start to write, design, create. Try it on for size – i.e., test it with your colleagues. And remember to bury any elements that are dead on arrival.

Executing your plan

Contrary to its grim name, this is the go-do phase. Be sure you know who is on the hook to do what. Make sure your plan names names. Assign tasks and deadlines to teams or individuals. Be clear about the expectations of who’s responsible for what by when. Don’t let your team get caught in a spiderweb of confusion and mixed messages. (Read this for more reasons on why you need a clear workflow process.)

Measuring success: How much loot did you score?

Once you execute your plans, it’s time to start seeing how they performed. In Halloween terms, this is where you count your candy.

We all want to succeed, to score a lot of loot. But remember that you learn from failures, too, so don’t let them spook you. If you come across some dead ends with no candy, you know you shouldn’t try them again next year.

Not so scary after all

I hope these tips help you feel more confident in creating a marketing plan. I wish you success on the journey – and candy-haul – ahead.

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Create a Personalized Buyer Journey with Act-On: A bisco Industries Success Story

blog title bisco 351x200 Create a Personalized Buyer Journey with Act On: A bisco Industries Success Story

Personalizing the Buyer’s Journey with Act-On Delivers nearly 1,400% ROI

When bisco Industries used Act-On to create custom product recommendations, the company increased conversion rates by 1,285% and created $ 100,000 in new opportunities. Implementing Act-On has also saved bisco $ 72K across the entire marketing department, and set them on track to generate $ 120,000 in annual revenue.

In this video, Adam Wong, bisco’s Director of Marketing, explains how Act-On helped his team reduce costs, increase sales, and pay off their investment in just 1.2 months.

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How to Create App Modules Using App Designer in Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics 365 comes with a new feature called App Designer. It allows us build our own task based applications by defining a subset of overall solution components to create an App Module. This enables the users to focus only on the components necessary to perform their tasks.

An App Module is consisted of six components; Site Map, Charts, Dashboards, Business Process Flows, Views and Forms. In this blog, I will walk through the steps necessary to create a simple App Module.

To keep things simple, I will be adding just one of six components to my App Module in Dynamics 365. My App Module will include a custom sitemap. To create a new App Module, go to your solution, click on “Apps” and then “New”.

image thumb 7 How to Create App Modules Using App Designer in Dynamics 365
I wanted my App to be called “Sales App” and following were the details I entered. Notice how a URL is generated automatically as fields get filled in. This URL is unique, and using this we can access our App Module directly.

image thumb 1 How to Create App Modules Using App Designer in Dynamics 365

In the App Designer, a custom sitemap is automatically generated, and it is ready to be modified. To do so, all I need to do is click on the white arrow, and a site map editor window will open.

image thumb 2 How to Create App Modules Using App Designer in Dynamics 365In the site map editor, I added some components to create a basic site map. Once I finished making the changes, I saved and published it. I did the same in App Designer.

image thumb 4 How to Create App Modules Using App Designer in Dynamics 365

Let’s see newly created App Module in action. I went to Dynamics 365 home page, click on down arrow next to the logo and “Sales App” was available in the list of apps.

image thumb 5 How to Create App Modules Using App Designer in Dynamics 365

Selecting “Sales App” to my custom App and had the site map which I created recently.

image thumb 6 How to Create App Modules Using App Designer in Dynamics 365
In this blog, I touched only a few things that we could do with App designer in Dynamics 365. In addition to the adding components, we can also assign security roles to an App Module. However, this doesn’t not compromise the security model of what users can do.
Users are can also access the App Modules from “home.dynamics.com”, from Settings, and of course using the URL too.

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