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PowerPivotPro & a2Insight Enter into Training Partnership for Norway!

PowerPivotPro and a2Insight are happy to announce that we’ve entered a partnership agreement for a2Insight to deliver training in Norway, based on PowerPivotPro’s successful curriculum! The training will cover foundations and advanced features of Power BI, PowerPivot and Power Query, all adapted to the Norwegian market.

PowerPivotPro’s Rob Collie in Dallas with Frode Wathne and Lars A Landsnes from a2Insight

We’re thrilled to be partnering with this organization and offering our services in new markets. However we want this to be the first (of many) partnerships with other companies across the globe, to help spread our knowledge and love of business intelligence. If you have an interest in partnering with us, please contact us at empower@powerpivotpro.com. Now, onto the introduction!

a2Insight is built on the desire to utilize available data through inexpensive tools and solutions, for managers to make better and informed decisions. We, a2Insight, are really excited and honored to get the opportunity to deliver PowerPivotPro’s renowned training on the world’s best self-service Business Intelligence tool to Norwegian analysts. The training will supplement our delivery of self-service Business Intelligence solutions to the Norwegian market. We deliver and build – together with our customers in the private and public and area – financial and non-financial reports and analytics – which truly will change their performance.

For further information please contact:

Lars A Landsnes
+47 95140370

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Integrating Data Quality into your Data Governance Strategy

How do you enforce data quality best practices? A good place to start is your data governance policy, which should be designed with data quality goals front-and-center.

blog data governance unlock Integrating Data Quality into your Data Governance Strategy

To understand how data quality and data governance fit together, let’s start with some basic definitions.

Data quality is the ability of a given set of data to serve its intended purpose. If you lack data quality, it means you have data, but can’t use it to achieve your goals because the data is inconsistent, contains errors, cannot be translated into the format you need or suffers another major problem.

Data governance refers to the set of rules and procedures that you put in place to control how data in your organization is collected, stored, processed and managed.

Bringing Data Quality Best Practices in Data Governance Policy

This blog has already covered how good data quality practices can reinforce adherence to data governance policies. The relationship between data quality and data governance goes further than that, however.

blog london Integrating Data Quality into your Data Governance Strategy

Your data governance policy itself should be designed with the goals of data quality in mind. In practice, that means building policies like the following into your data governance framework:

Avoidance of manual data entry

Manual data entry is much more likely to introduce errors into a dataset that is machine-based data collection. For this reason, your data governance policy should prohibit manual data entry whenever an automated solution can be used instead.

Preference for open standards

Data that is stored in formats based on open standards, as opposed to proprietary databases, is generally easier to translate into other formats or move. Your data governance rules should require the use of open standards wherever possible to minimize the likelihood of ending up with a data set that you cannot use because of formatting or translation issues.

blog banner Data Quality Magic Quadrant Integrating Data Quality into your Data Governance Strategy

Strict data access control

The more people you have modifying a data set, the harder it is to keep data formats consistent. Inconsistent data is low-quality data. This is one reason (security is another) why you should allow only those people who need to have write access to data to have it.


Poor documentation, or failure to adhere to documented policies, clouds visibility into data, which in turn undercuts data quality. For this reason, your data governance should require anyone who works with data to adhere to documented procedures when possible. In situations where that is not possible, the procedure used to collect or analyze data should be documented clearly so that anyone else will be able to understand it if necessary. Relatedly, code that is used in data management should be written with comments explaining what it does.


Most of your organization’s employees don’t work with data. But they should still be educated about basic data management best practices. Your governance policy should require this education with the goal of turning everyone in your organization into a citizen data scientist. This will, in turn, help to ensure that data quality best practices are followed even in situations where the people working with data are not themselves data management experts.

In all of these ways, your data governance policies can reinforce data quality best practices, thereby helping to maximize your ability to derive value from the data you collect.

Syncsort’s data quality software can help you trust your data as part of your organization’s data governance best practices. Learn about why Syncsort is a leader for the 12th consecutive year in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Tools report.

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PowerApps, Flow, and Power BI: Turning Insight Into Action

Real-World Dashboard for Disaster Monitoring / Planning / Acting

Informing people is worthless.

When working with clients or students, I like to challenge them with this seemingly-controversial statement: Informing people is worthless.

Then I finish the thought: better analytics, reporting, etc. is only valuable when it translates into better actions, better decisions. And while better information is a pre-requisite for better action, it is hardly sufficient. “Better informed” very often does NOT translate into better action, for a variety of reasons. One reason is that you can give someone something that’s thought-provoking but fundamentally isn’t actionable. In my experience, at LEAST 50% of all reporting today has that problem, but there isn’t room to go into it here – check out our thoughts on Verblike Reports for more.

The other way that “information” fails to translate into action? When you lack a clear or convenient action PATH. If I see something that’s screaming for correction, for instance, if it’s not clear to me HOW I correct it (ex: who do I talk to? Which system do I need to adjust? Do I even have the right permissions to do so?), well, I’m dead in the water.

Taken that one step further, even if it IS clear to me where/how to take action, but it isn’t convenient – if it takes too much effort, or isn’t part of some overall systemic workflow, well, I can still be as “stuck” as above.

That’s why I’m so excited for Brad to share his recent project experience with us. Two new amazing tools from Microsoft – Flow and PowerApps – make it MUCH more achievable to quickly build relevant action paths and integrated workflows. They do for the “take action” part of the loop what Power BI does for the “inform and advise” portion.

[Flow and PowerApps] do for the “take action” part of the loop what Power BI does for the “inform and advise” portion.

image thumb PowerApps, Flow, and Power BI: Turning Insight Into Action

This is One Sample Workflow of Integration Power BI with Flow and PowerApps to Produce an Action Loop


(The workflow for the disaster center solution described in this article is different, and diagrammed later)

Over to Brad…

PowerApps, generally available since November 1, 2016, is a platform to rapidly build web and mobile business applications without coding. Currently, PowerApps can only be shared inside an organization. I hear that sharing with users outside an organization is on the road map. Touted as “No-Code”, PowerApps enables building data driven apps that are device agnostic and can access a multitude of data sources, both cloud and on premise. What took months a couple of years ago, can now be accomplished in weeks. If your organization has Office 365 then you have PowerApps.

Microsoft Flow, released the same time as PowerApps, is a platform that enables automation of business processes through simple configurations. Things such as notifications, data collection, execution of stored procedures from apps, Twitter posts and Active Directory functions can be accomplished without writing code.There are dozens of pre-built templates to choose from that make adding Flows to your Power App solutions a breeze. Again, if you have Office 365 then you have Microsoft Flow.

flo web PowerApps, Flow, and Power BI: Turning Insight Into Action

Not “Flo.” It’s “Flow.”

And Power BI Needs No Introduction

But if you want one, this one is a great place to start. Short story, it is fast becoming the best and most popular BI tool on the planet and getting better every month. You *should* know that all these tools fit together. Here’s the Microsoft-required infographic which I kind of love – Measure, Act, Automate – pretty cool.

Measure, Act, Automate

And since we know you love stick figure diagrams, here’s another example of integrating the Power Trio (Power BI, Flow, and PowerApps) into a cohesive action loop:

image thumb 1 PowerApps, Flow, and Power BI: Turning Insight Into Action

Here’s Another Sample Workflow Using the “Power Trio.”


(Imagine this kind of workflow for YOUR business – this kind of need is EVERYWHERE)

One of our clients had a need to improve their disaster response process that was very manual and included phone calls, Excel lists and PowerPoint. This client has facilities spread across the eastern half of the U.S. When a flood, hurricane or other natural disaster happens, they go into “war room” mode for days to triage any damage to their facilities. Prioritizing issues so that these locations will be back up and open for business as soon as possible is key. Power outages, roof damage and flooding are tracked so that generators can be deployed or emergency work orders can be created to get things back up and running as quickly as possible.

It is often helpful to start at the end, so let’s do just that. Before we’re through, you’ll see how we created these Power BI Dashboards to provide the disaster response team immediate and up-to-date information on the status of properties affected by a major storm:

Power BI Dashboard to monitor storm damage and the status of their properties

As potentially dangerous weather events are forecast, the disaster response team keeps a close watch on the situation. When it seems imminent that a major storm is going to threaten areas where they have properties, the disaster response team begins preparation. They setup mission control and raise the alert status to Orange. This means the event is likely to impact their business.

There’s a storm a-comin’!

The first of three PowerApps is now put to use. This app allows the disaster response team to setup the event and select what areas will likely be affected. When the team selects the states and counties in potential danger, this app uses Microsoft Flow to kick off background SQL processes that gather data from their enterprise systems and moves the key information into an Azure SQL database.

Power App to select areas likely affected

In situations like this, commercial power may be unavailable, leaving their properties in a closed condition. Generators need to be moved close enough to the disaster area where they can be deployed quickly. The second Power App allows the generator team to stage and track the fleet of generators and, when these generators are deployed, it helps them keep up with what properties they are supplying power to.

Power App to help manage fleet of generators

As soon as the storm passes, field agents begin the process of assessing damage to their properties. Some of the key questions are:

  • Is the location open or closed?
  • Is commercial power available?
  • Any flooding or roof damage?

They use the third Power App to do these assessments via their phone or tablet. As they update information about each property, the results are reflected real time back at mission control via the Power BI Dashboard. This enables the team to make quick, informed decisions.

Power App used by field agents to update status of properties

Step Five: Monitor and Make Informed Decisions

The disaster assessment team can now make timely and informed business decisions using the Power BI dashboards and reports that are updated real time. This team now spends their time intelligently working to bring locations back online instead of spending their time assimilating information that is old by the time they report it.

image thumb 2 PowerApps, Flow, and Power BI: Turning Insight Into Action

Finally, THIS Diagram Illustrates the Real-World Disaster Response Solution Described in this Article

Utilizing the “Power Trio”, this organization now has near-real time information at their fingertips from locations hundreds of miles apart, and they spend their valuable time in a much better way: getting their business back up and running as fast as possible! Power BI, coupled with Flow and PowerApps are poised to do some great things.

Power BI Embedded Dashboard

You can close the loop and get action-oriented analytics developed a LOT faster than you’d expect. We’ll take you from zero to sixty and then some. Let’s get started.

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Creating an HR System Weaved into the User Experience

websitelogo Creating an HR System Weaved into the User Experience

Posted by Trevor Vollet, Product Marketing, New Products Introduction

Disconnected, departmental applications have always created barriers for front line employees, but there is perhaps none more frustrating than the HR system.

While a sales rep may occasionally need to get into the transactional system to check on a customer’s outstanding balance or a senior executive may be drilling into sales figures, that’s not where they spend most of their time. And, with few exceptions, no one spends most of their time in the HR system. The end result has been HR systems that are rarely accessed and when they are its wholly disconnected from the user’s workflow. Need to get approval for a purchase order but the approver is on PTO and you need to know their manager? Better log out, move over to the Employee Org. Chart, find the person’s name, title and email, then back into the PO system. Need to request time off? Better check the deliverables schedule in the project system. What’s needed is a system that lets people perform their employee-related tasks without going out of context or disrupting their train of thought.

With SuitePeople, NetSuite has built a system on the NetSuite platform from the ground up, that works the way work is actually done and creates HR functions and processes that are “weaved into their everyday user experiences.”

Available now with the 17.2 release, SuitePeople includes a number of features designed for people, not the HR department. It features:

Employee Center that minimizes the steps it takes for an employee to conduct an action, with an intuitive and user friendly interface and behaves the way other applications in the suite operate, making work quicker and easier.

Employee Directory that minimizes the time and effort it takes to find key information about employees. Often, employees need to contact co-workers outside of their usual context, or other employees with whom they would not normally interact. Connecting with the right person can be very difficult, especially in large or extremely geographically-distributed organizations. The Employee Directory provides a quick and easy way for employees to find the needed information to contact the right person at the right time.

Org Browser, an interactive way for employees and human resources to browse the organization. More than an org chart, which are traditionally updated manually and can very quickly become out of date, the Org Browser updates automatically whenever related information is changed. Employees, jobs, and positions are connected graphically through formal reporting relationships. Users can easily navigate the organization to understand how individuals or teams fit within its structure. This helps users to find the right person to reach out to, especially in mid to large organizations where people don’t all know each other, and it is hard to find the right person to help solve a problem.

Payroll, a complete, full-service solution for managing U.S. payroll. It is tightly integrated with NetSuite accounting features so employees’ time entry, attendance, and commission data translates directly to their payroll with no manual data re-entry. It handles compliance issues, with all federal, state, and local jurisdictions supported and includes a “No Penalties Guarantee” that promises that deposits and filings will be accurate and on time.

Time-Off Management that automates tracking employee time off with easy-to-customize time-off plans, removing what has traditionally been a manual burden for the HR department. The user-friendly, self-service process gives employees, managers and HR the power and flexibility to easily request, approve, track, and report on time off activities through a centralized system, without the need for manual entry. The Time-Off Management integration with NetSuite Payroll and Services Resource Planning (SRP) also accurately tracks and reports employee time-off activities for the organization. It automatically accrues time off based on rules for eligibility, entitlement, accrual frequency and carryover. Rules can also be configured to update with an employee’s tenure.

Job Management to help organize and streamline Jobs within the organization. It includes functionality to manage jobs within the org with tie-ins with Job Requisitions, Job Classifications and Levels, competencies and job requirements etc.

Job Requisition to help organize and streamline jobs within the organization. It manages jobs within the org with tie-ins with Job Requisitions, Job Classifications and Levels, competencies and job requirements.

Workforce Analysis which lets HR personnel easily visualize the headcount, growth and turnover trends of the organization, segmented by departments, locations, employee class, and subsidiaries. HR can also apply filters to view specific groups of employees. When business leaders ask for headcount trends, the tool can automatically aggregate the information most relevant to headcount changes (hires, turnovers, trends). HR can now spend more time in understanding the headcount trends, and performing analysis by drilling down to specific employee segments.

Compensation Tracking that allows organizations to track compensation details from the Employee Offer Letter such as earnings (wage/salary), pay frequency, overtime rate, start and hire date. Variable compensation such as bonuses, Restricted Stock Units awarded, Stock options, are also tracked.

Learn more about the other new features in 17.2.

Posted on Mon, November 20, 2017
by NetSuite filed under

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How to Insert Dynamic Tables into Workflow Created Emails in Dynamics 365

Recently for a project I was a part of, one of the requirements given was to insert a table with dynamic values into an email in Dynamics 365. The email this table was being inserted into was being created within an existing workflow using the “Create Record” step for the ‘Email’ entity. The screenshot below shows an example workflow I created with the same email creation step inserted in a workflow created for Accounts and an extra step for adding the table.

image thumb How to Insert Dynamic Tables into Workflow Created Emails in Dynamics 365

To meet this requirement, I decided to use a Custom Workflow Activity (CWA) just after the email was created and just before sending it. In this example, I will use the same methods but I will not be sending out the final email from Dynamics 365.

This CWA would take both the newly created email and the record the workflow is running on, in this case account as inputs. The CWA would first retrieve the data to be shown in a table, which in this example was a list of Contacts related to the Account. Note that the “sdk” variable is of type IOrganizationService.

image thumb 1 How to Insert Dynamic Tables into Workflow Created Emails in Dynamics 365

The  next step would be to format the retrieved values and place them nicely in a table. The code in the screenshot below shows how I created and populated the table but this step could be done in a number of different ways.

image thumb 2 How to Insert Dynamic Tables into Workflow Created Emails in Dynamics 365

Then finally the CWA would find the placeholder within the emails description, which in this case was “

”, replace it with the created table and update the email.

image thumb 3 How to Insert Dynamic Tables into Workflow Created Emails in Dynamics 365

The screenshot below shows the finished email sent out with the dynamically populated table values in Dynamics 365.

image thumb 4 How to Insert Dynamic Tables into Workflow Created Emails in Dynamics 365

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Magnetism Solutions Dynamics CRM Blog

SystemsAccountants supports expansion into new markets with NetSuite

og image SystemsAccountants supports expansion into new markets with NetSuite

Recruitment and Consulting Leader Also Becomes NetSuite Alliance Partner

NEXT READY BUSINESS TOUR 2017, London—16 October 2017—Oracle NetSuite, one of the world’s leading providers of cloud-based financials / ERPHRProfessional Services Automation (PSA) and omnichannel commerce, today announced that SystemsAccountants, a leading specialist recruitment and resourcing solutions company, has chosen NetSuite OneWorld to underpin its global expansion. With new offices opening in Paris and New York, SystemsAccountants has moved to NetSuite’s cloud business platform to help it scale into new markets with ease.

SystemsAccountants’ previous systems were almost a decade old and based on manual input, making them unfit for its increasingly complex global business. By replacing its mid-office systems with NetSuite OneWorld, the company has gained a single platform which sits across its entire global business and allows it to quickly and easily manage the specific needs in each market. For instance, SystemsAccountants now has better capability to adapt to fast-changing US regulations in Chicago and New York, while also respecting local regulations in the Netherlands, France and the UK all on the same platform.

“After 20 years of serving everyone from FTSE 100 and Fortune500 companies to SMEs and NGOs, we are ready to take on new challenges in new markets” said Nicola Sutcliffe, Group Finance Director, SystemsAccountants. “With NetSuite OneWorld, we have gained a platform that can grow with us as we continue to expand and take on new customers.”

SystemsAccountants Becomes NetSuite Alliance Partner

SystemsAccountants increasingly serves businesses that are undergoing digital transformation and want to better integrate their IT and Finance departments as part of their transition. As a NetSuite Alliance Partner, SystemsAccountants can now deliver on this need with the same platform it is using to grow its business—NetSuite OneWorld.

Within two months of becoming a NetSuite Alliance Partner, SystemsAccountants had already secured its first customer, Cubico Sustainable Investments, a world leader in renewable energy infrastructure.

“SystemsAccountants is one of the leading companies going digital to transform its business and capitalise on new market opportunities. Who better then to help its own clients achieve their digital transformation goals with NetSuite OneWorld than an organisation that has seen the benefits first hand,” said Mark Woodhams, Managing Director EMEA at NetSuite.

SystemsAccountants Featured at the Next Ready Business Tour London

SystemsAccountants is the sole sponsor of NetSuite’s ‘Next Ready’ Business Tour’s London event, which will focus on how leading organisations are using the cloud to transform the way they work. The event is taking place today, October 16th, 2017, at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge in London. To learn more, visit www.netsuite.com/nrbtlondon.

Follow the discussions from the event on Twitter by tracking #NextStartsNow.

About Oracle NetSuite
Oracle NetSuite pioneered the Cloud Computing revolution in 1998, establishing the world’s first company dedicated to delivering business applications over the internet. Today, it provides a suite of cloud-based financials / Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), HR and omnichannel commerce software that runs the business of companies in more than 100 countries. For more information, please visit  http://www.netsuite.com.

Follow NetSuite’s Cloud blogFacebook page and @NetSuite Twitter handle for real-time updates.

About Oracle
The Oracle Cloud offers complete SaaS application suites for ERP, HCM and CX, plus best-in-class database Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) from data centers throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information about Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), please visit us at oracle.com.

Oracle and Java are registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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Nvidia’s plan to turn data from 500 million cameras into AI gold

 Nvidia’s plan to turn data from 500 million cameras into AI gold

Video is the world’s largest generator of data, created every day by over 500 million cameras worldwide. That number is slated to double by 2020. The potential there, if we could actually analyze the data, is off the charts. It’s data from government property and public transit, commercial buildings, roadways, traffic stops, retail locations, and more.

The result would be what NVIDIA calls AI Cities, a thinking robot, with billions of eyes trained on residents and programmed to help keep people safe.

“Historically, video data has always been used in a forensic, after-the-fact kind of use case,” says Naphade Milind Naphade, CTO of AI City at NVIDIA and one of the speakers at VB Summit: Riding the AI Wave on October 23 & 24 in Berkeley.” But these omnipresent sensors can impact everything from public safety, traffic, and parking management to law enforcement and city services.”

The challenge up to now is not just that it’s difficult to move this data, store it, and analyze with any kind of timeliness. Video is also its own special kind of creature, in the world of sensors, not like a temperature sensor or a pressure sensor that gives you just one particular indicator. Video requires interpretation via powerful deep-learned algorithms, and the kind of computational power that would allow this algorithm to operate in the kind of time that it needs for that insight to matter is massive.

“The quintessential breakthrough is that we finally have access from the edge to the cloud,” Naphade says.

Unveiled in May, Metropolis is an edge-to-cloud video platform that includes tools, technologies, and support to build smarter, faster AI-powered applications. It’s designed to put AI behind every camera, on-premises video recorder and server, and in the cloud. As neural networks are trained on increasingly complex recognition tasks, their accuracy and scalability grow to tremendous heights — and then they’re set loose to save both lives and billions of dollars.

On a large transportation authority network, sparsely populated subway or train stations can be monitored 24/7 to summon aid for riders who encounter trouble or danger at a station — the commuter who trips at the top of the escalator, the kid who gets too close to the edge of the platform. Train tracks are subject to wear and tear over millions of miles of back and forth travel; there are 650,000 bridges in the United States, and every damage inspection causes traffic to back up for miles. Inspections by video-enabled drones would eliminate the kind of disruption that closes down the Golden Gate Bridge.

More than 50 NVIDIA AI city partner companies are already providing products and applications that use deep learning on GPUs, among them industry leaders like Avigilon, Dahua, Hanwha Techwin, Hikvision, Alibaba, Huawei, and Milestone.

With Metropolis, Hikvision has achieved recall rates of more than 90 percent for its identification and matching technology, which makes it easier to find lost people in crowded places. It works with a camera and network video recorder, plus compute-intensive system at the edge, cloud servers, and an AI supercomputer for training.

Alibaba Cloud’s City Brain offers real-time traffic management and prediction, city services and smarter drainage systems. In Hangzhou’s pilot district City Brain helped to ease traffic congestion by 11 percent.

Huawei is combating traffic congestion using intelligent video analytics, combined all the data necessary, including vehicle information, speed, direction, and more, to provide real-time traffic analysis and improve traffic flow. They have seen speed congestion rates drop by 15 percent.

And development is speeding up with their partner program, which gathers together a dozen software partners to offer a curated list of applications that make it easy for systems integrators and hardware vendors to build new products.

Among them is a facial recognition solution from SenseTime, designed for public safety, retail, and access control. The company is already working with Chinese industry leaders, including China Mobile Communications Corp, China UnionPay and Sina Weibo Corp, to leverage its technology for security and surveillance, finance, education and robotics.

Pilot projects are running in the San Francisco and San Jose area, where the NVIDIA Metropolis platform is being leveraged to make parking an easier, frictionless experience.

“The proof is in the pudding,” Naphade says. “Some of our partners are now being asked by cities in the United Arab Emirates for this technology; we’re seeing a proliferation of the cities that are now wanting to have this technology at their fingertips.”

Today, you can’t live without internet, Naphade says. Years ago, you couldn’t live without electricity. And in the next few years, we’ll see AI becoming that pervasive in our lives,

“We’re going to be permanently, irreversibly changing the paradigm,” he adds. “I can tell you that every city will be leveraging AI, not just for video sensing and intelligence, from edge to cloud, but you will have AI in sidewalks, AI in bridges, buildings, bikes, traffic signals and more. Pervasive, right? Because this will deliver value to citizens. They’ll come to expect it. It will not be the exception. It will be the norm.”

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“Some People Are Like Lemmings Who Rush In A Pack Into The Sea”

Some people search and find the wrong thing.

Such was the case with the followers of the technologically friendly cult Heaven’s Gate, which stunned the world when 38 members committed a mass suicide in 1997 at the behest of the group’s leader Marshall Applewhite, a bisexual man deeply troubled by his orientation, who founded the pseudo-religion 22 years earlier in Los Angeles. The guru believed the Hale-Bopp Comet would be tailed by a UFO which would take them to heaven if they killed themselves at just the right moment, and somehow a diverse group of basically intelligent people heeded his call. 

I thought of this sad and strange chapter from America’s recent past (on another sad and strange day) when I came across Fiona Sturges’ Financial Timesreport on the new podcast series Cults, which covers Heaven’s Gate and other dangerous group dynamics. It reminds that the stories we tell ourselves as small clans or large nations can sustain life or get plenty of us killed. That’s why we need to be sane and rational about the narratives we choose.

Just after the mass death 20 years ago, People magazine profiled Applewhite and some of his acolytes. An excerpt:

Marshall Herff Applewhite 65, music teacher turned cult leader

Missouri prosecutor Tim Braun never forgot the car-theft case that came his way in 1974, when he was a novice St. Louis County public defender. “Very seldom do we see a statement that ‘a force from beyond the earth has made me keep this car,’ ” he says. The defendant: Marshall Herff Applewhite. The sentence: four months in jail.

His early life offers few hints of what led Applewhite—son of a Presbyterian preacher and his wife—to abandon his career as a music professor for a life chasing alien spacecraft. Married with two children, he seemed the devoted family man. But his marriage broke up in the mid-’60s, and he moved to Houston, where he ran a small Catholic college’s music department and often sang with the Houston Grand Opera.

A sharp dresser whose taste in cars ran to convertibles, and in liquor to vodka gimlets, he became a fixture of Houston’s arts scene—and, less overtly, its gay community. “Everybody knew Herff,” says Houston gay activist and radio host Ray Hill. But in 1970, Applewhite left the college, apparently after allegations of an affair with a male student.

Soon afterward, Houston artist Hayes Parker recalls, Applewhite claimed to have had a vision during a walk on the beach in Galveston, Texas. “He said he suddenly had knowledge about the world,” recalls Parker. Around that time he met nurse Bonnie Nettles, with whom he formed an instant bond that became the basis of a 25-year cult odyssey. They wandered the country, gathering followers and attracting so much curiosity that by the mid-’70s he had been interviewed by The New York Times. “Some people are like lemmings who rush in a pack into the sea,” Applewhite said of other alternative lifestyles. “Some people will try anything.”

· · ·

Cheryl Butcher 42, computer trainer

Butcher was a shy, bright, self-taught computer expert who spent half her life in Applewhite’s orbit. Growing up in Springfield, Mo., she was “the perfect daughter,” says her father, Jasper, a retired federal corrections officer. “She was a good student. She did charity work, candy striper stuff.” But according to Virginia Norton, her mother, she was also “a loner. She watched a lot of TV and read. Making friends was hard for her.” That is, until she joined the cult in 1976. “She wrote me a letter once,” says Norton, “that said, ‘Mother, be happy that I’m happy.’ Another time she ended a letter with ‘Look higher.’ “

· · ·

David Van Sinderen 48, environmentalist

“When I was 4, he saved me from drowning,” says publicist Sylvia Abbate of her big brother David. The son of a former telephone company CEO, David became an environmentalist. ” ‘Don’t be hurt, I’m not doing this to you,’ ” Abbate says he told his family after he joined the cult in 1976. ” ‘It’s something I have to do for me.’ ” Visiting his sister in ’87, he puzzled her with his backseat driving, then apologized, explaining that cult members drove with a partner so they would have an extra set of eyes. Says Abbate: “That’s the kind of care they had for one another.”

· · ·

Alan Bowers 45, oysterman

Bowers had spent eight years with the cult in the ’70s before returning to Fairfield, Conn., in the early ’80s to work as a commercial oysterman. In 1988 his life derailed when his wife divorced him and his brother Barry drowned in a boating accident. Bowers, who had three children, moved to Jupiter, Fla., near his stepsisters Susan and Joy Ventulett. “He came down here to make a new start,” says Susan, but he could never quite get it together. Then in 1994, Bowers, while working for a moving company, ran into someone he knew from Applewhite’s legions at a McDonald’s in New Mexico. “He felt it might have been destiny,” says Joy. “He was a little vulnerable. He was searching for peace.”

· · ·

Margaret Bull 54, farm girl

Peggy Bull, among the cult’s first adherents in the mid-’70s, grew up on a farm outside little Ellensburg, Wash. Though shy, she was in the high school pep club and a member of the Wranglerettes, a riding drill team. Later “she belonged to all the intellectual-type groups,” says Brenda McIntosh, a roommate at the University of Washington, where Bull earned her B.A. in 1966. “It was sometimes hard to talk to her because she was so smart.” Recalls English professor Roger Sale: “She was a open and ready intellectually.” Her father, Jack, died less than three weeks before Bull’s suicide, says Margaret’s childhood friend Iris Rominger, who assumed that Bull had left the cult. “I guess it’s kind of a blessing.”•

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“We Are Broaching The Possibility Of Midwifing Humanity Into The Infinite Game”

Should the machines come for our jobs, not everyone will be able to shift into a rewarding career as a Zumba instructor. Someone will actually have to be in the Zumba class. That Zumba ain’t gonna do itself.

Luckily the Flow Industry is here to provide good jobs. As Casey Schwartz writes in a smart NYT Style piece “How to Hack Your Brain (for $ 5,000),” some are making a killing selling a “brain-shifting” system that allegedly allows people to “upgrade their nervous systems” and live in the moment. A former Esalen instructor named Jamie Wheal is a leader among the Flow educators, peddling the process with anti-Information Age fervor that ultimately sounds suspiciously like a slick Silicon Valley sales pitch, what with its promises of “hacking” and “optimization.” He hopes to increasingly marry the meditative method to neuroscience and heighten the results.

At present, his shoeless acolytes attend multi-day summits in Utah, listen to lectures in a white dome (“Flow Dojo”), do light exercise, engage in hyperventilation, live temporarily in tents and use centrally located porta-potties, which makes it possible for them to avoid shitting on the ground. It may seem like I’m making fun of those seeking to raise their consciousness—and I am!—but I also have a soft spot for people trying to comprehend the world at an off-center angle, if not for the ones charging thousands a head to “change minds.”

An excerpt:

But what is flow?

First popularized decades ago by the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow is an elusive state cultivated by artists, athletes and others, that of being so absorbed in what they’re doing that they lose track of time and thought, finding themselves guided rather by instinct and intuition. It has also been referred to as the Zone — not to be confused with the diet of the same name — or just “being in the moment.” And for those who have experienced it, there is no denying its magic.
Dr. Csikszentmihalyi, who turns 83 this month, is a deeply philosophical academic formerly of the University of Chicago (now at Claremont Graduate University) and still publishing. In 2004 he gave a Ted Talk that has been viewed over four million times.

Mr. Wheal has taken a somewhat brisker, more commercial approach. He has advised members of the United States Navy Special Operations, top-ranked athletes and executives of technology companies on “optimizing performance” through flow, receiving six-figure fees for some of his consultations.

His five-day retreat, at a sprawling, privately held property known as Summit and convened the day before the solar eclipse, cost almost $ 5,000 and was a sort of beta test for spreading his gospel to a larger public audience. (He also offers free assessments and videos on his website.)

Attendees were housed in white tepee-like tents, with portable toilets set up down a dirt path. The camp had been erected quickly by the “glamping” company Aether Camp, to Mr. Wheal’s specifications.

Mr. Wheal, who said his father was a test pilot for the British royal navy, came to the United States from England at age 8 and speaks rapidly in a mash-up accent, dropping idiosyncratic phrases and erudite references to the Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky, to Cincinnatus and Aldous Huxley. At moments he is given to phrases that are not immediately comprehensible, like “We are broaching the possibility of midwifing humanity into the infinite game.”

But his larger message came through clearly. In our digital age, loud with bottom-feeder commentary, the ping of incoming emails and bleating social media, the pursuit of flow is all the more urgent.

“Honestly, have we abdicated our purpose just because of these insistent micro asks?” Mr. Wheal said. “Have we just completely ceded our center, completely ceded clarity, and it was all just based on 20-something bro-grammers trying to crack our attention spans?”

To fulfill his flow-finding mission, Mr. Wheal wants to bring what he calls his Dojo Domes to locations around the world.•

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Nimble's Social CRM Finds Its Way Into Office 365

Social sales and marketing software provider
Nimble and cloud services consultant
NeoCloud on Thursday announced a partnership to deliver a simple, affordable contact management and CRM package for Microsoft Office 365 and GSuite users.

nimble crm Nimble's Social CRM Finds Its Way Into Office 365

NeoCloud has agreed to bundle Nimble CRM into all of its Office 365 deployments, beginning this month. Small and mid-sized business customers and workgroups in larger organizations will be able to access social business insights on any contact in Office 365 everywhere they work — across the Web, in popular Web applications, and in personal productivity applications.

Nimble CRM adds employees’ individual connections to a shared team relationship manager and enriches them with social insights and business context.

84828 500x349 small Nimble's Social CRM Finds Its Way Into Office 365

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“What I like about Nimble’s solution is that users continue to work through their usual tools such as email or social media platforms,” said Cindy Zhou, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

They “gain context and information on individuals through Nimble plug-ins to facilitate social selling, adding or augmenting CRM records, and marketing,” she told CRM Buyer.

Nimble also tracks engagement history, Zhou noted.

Insights for Everyone

Nimble integrates with first-party cloud-based solutions including Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Office 365 and Microsoft Outlook.

NeoCloud will provide sales, marketing and technical support services for the Nimble package.

Office 365 and GSuite are the two key business platforms NeoCloud sells, and virtually all of its customers need a simple relationship management platform that layers on top of those tools, said NeoCloud CEO Van Murray.

Nimble delivers relationship insights to users of the following products:

  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Edge
  • Hootsuite
  • iOS
  • Android

Nimble is available in two versions:

  • the Nimble Business Edition, which delivers access to team social sales and marketing functionalities, as well as social business insights on people and companies; and
  • a standalone freemium add-in for Microsoft Outlook Desktop and Outlook Mobile on iOS and Android, which allows profiling of email contacts.

Partnership Advantages

The partnership “will give SMBs an integrated, cost-effective way to execute on social selling,” said Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

“At a considerably lower price point than most other options, this makes social selling more accessible to firms with fewer resources,” she told CRM Buyer.

Social selling “increases sales productivity by more than 12 percent on average,” Wettemann said.

“As the number of people we work with increases, both internal and external to our organizations and across a variety of tools and channels, it becomes ever so important to provide context to the relationships and history we have with them,” Constellation Research Principal Analyst Alan Lepofsky told CRM Buyer.

How Users Will Benefit

The leading CRM challenge for companies of all sizes is the loss of engagement data, Constellation’s Zhou said.

Many solutions require users to input contact or associated emails, communications and other data manually, she noted. Tracking and inputting data “becomes a burden on sellers, marketers and services personnel.”

The integration of contact management, as well as allowing users to see social context and other features that come with layering contact management software on top of productivity applications, “helps users or companies engage with customers more efficiently and reduces the manual data entry effort,” Zhou remarked.

“Integration is key,” Nucleus Research’s Wettemann pointed out. People “aren’t optimally selling if they spend more than 8 percent of their time on entering data into a CRM.”
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Richard%20Adhikari Nimble's Social CRM Finds Its Way Into Office 365Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

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