Tag Archives: Management

Ignite 2017 Demonstration: PowerShell with the Dynamics 365 Online Management API

Today’s post contains the sample script we used to talk through our PowerShell demo’s at Ignite – to all those who watched remotely or in person: thank you!  The purpose of this script is to give admins a ready-to-run script that demonstrates some of the Online Management API features in PowerShell and uses an optional module (Microsoft.Xrm.Data.PowerShell GitHub link & PowerShell Gallery link) to also review and edit data in a given Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement instance.  This script may require you changing your execution policy (specifically the Xrm.Data.Powershell module as it’s not signed with a public cert at this point – I am looking to sign it hopefully in our next release, though it will be self-signed) but the online management PowerShell module is signed for your consumption.

For those looking for more content or an API reference for our new Online Management API you can find there here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/customer-engagement/developer/online-management-api/get-started-online-management-api

And for those who just want to install the PowerShell Module – use the script below to get started.

Thanks for reading!

Sean McNellis | Twitter: @seanmcne

#Install the Online Management API to the current user profile
install-module Microsoft.Xrm.OnlineManagementAPI -Scope CurrentUser -force  

#interactive prompt
$  cred = Get-Credential 

$  apiUrl = "https://admin.services.crm.dynamics.com/" #Northamerica Service Instance 

Import-Module Microsoft.Xrm.OnlineManagementAPI -Verbose 

#get instance info 
$  instances = Get-CrmInstances -Credential $  cred -ApiUrl $  apiUrl -verbose 

#retrieve all the current deployed versions of Dynamics 365 
$  Versions = Get-CrmServiceVersions -ApiUrl $  apiUrl -Credential $  cred   

#find version 8.2 
$  v8dot2 = $  Versions | where Version -like "8.2"  

#now create new instance information for our new instance that we wish to create 
$  instanceInfo = New-CrmInstanceInfo -BaseLanguage 1033 `
    -ServiceVersionId $  v8dot2.Id `
    -InstanceType Sandbox `
    -DomainName "pfecrmonline.onmicrosoft.com" `
    -InitialUserEmail "user@tenantname.onmicrosoft.com" `
    -FriendlyName "Ignite 2017" 

#create that new instance using the info from above 
$  newInstance = New-CrmInstance -ApiUrl $  apiUrl -Credential $  cred -NewInstanceInfo $  instanceInfo

#now parse the resource ID (instance ID) 
$  resource = $  newInstance.ResourceLocation.Split("/")
$  instanceId = $  resource[$  resource.Count-1]

Write-Output "the instance ID is: $  instanceId" 
Get-CrmInstance -ApiUrl $  apiUrl -Credential $  cred -Id $  instanceId -Verbose

#now get backups for another instance by the instance's uniquename 
$  instance = Get-CrmInstance -ApiUrl $  apiUrl -Credential $  cred -Id ($  instances|where UniqueName -eq "uniqueinstancename").Id -Verbose
$  instance|Select UniqueName,version,state, ApplicationUrl, Id | Format-Table
$  backups = Get-CrmInstanceBackups -ApiUrl $  apiUrl -Credential $  cred -InstanceId $  instance.Id|ft

#next let's use Xrm Data PowerShell to explore data within a particular instance 

#install from PowerShell Gallery 
Install-Module Microsoft.Xrm.Data.PowerShell -Scope CurrentUser

#load the module
Import-Module Microsoft.Xrm.Data.PowerShell -Verbose 

Connect-CrmOnline -ServerUrl naosrtw.crm.dynamics.com -Cred $  cred

Invoke-CrmWhoAmI

$  iam = Invoke-CrmWhoAmI

Get-CrmRecords -EntityLogicalName account 

Get-CrmEntityAttributes -EntityLogicalName systemuser | select logicalname,AttributeType | sort logicalname

Get-CrmRecord -EntityLogicalName systemuser -Id $  iam.UserId -fields personalemailaddress

Set-CrmRecord -EntityLogicalName systemuser -Id $  iam.UserId -Fields @{"personalemailaddress"="jim@outlook.com"}

$  accounts = Get-CrmRecords -EntityLogicalName account -Fields name -TopCount 400 

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Dynamics CRM in the Field

Data Management and the Democratization of Machine Learning

Machine learning was once something that only the largest companies could leverage effectively. That is changing. New tools that democratize machine learning are now available. This enables ordinary organizations to leverage their data for designing machine learning applications.

blog machine learning democratize Data Management and the Democratization of Machine Learning

The concept of machine learning is not new. Since the early decades of computing, developers have experimented with strategies that allow programs to learn or make informed decisions.

Until recently, only very large organizations had the data management capabilities to leverage machine learning effectively. With few open source frameworks available for machine learning, developers had to write algorithms from scratch to teach computers how to learn from data. Integrating, storing and analyzing large volumes of data was difficult because few tools existed to automate the process.

blog banner MachineLearning Data Management and the Democratization of Machine Learning

As a result, machine learning was only possible for organizations that could dedicate programmers and data scientists to building complex machine learning frameworks from scratch. Companies like Google, Netflix (which uses machine learning to make recommendations about the shows people want to watch), and Amazon (which makes product recommendations using machine learning) were among the few whose resources allowed them to take advantage of machine learning.

Machine Learning for the Masses

This is no longer the case. New tools and technologies are enabling companies of all sizes to begin experimenting with machine learning. (In fact, it was a hot topic at this year’s Strata Data Conference)

Those technologies include open source data analytics platforms, such as Apache Spark and Hadoop. Anyone can leverage tools like these to drive machine learning algorithms within applications. They obviate the need to build analytics engines from scratch.

At the same time, open source machine learning libraries, such as TensorFlow and Torch, make it easier to write the algorithms that enable machine learning. It still takes some know-how to add machine learning to an application, but these frameworks make it much easier to do so.

blog democratic definition Data Management and the Democratization of Machine Learning

Effective Data Management

Another piece of the machine learning democratization puzzle is better data management techniques.

Machine learning algorithms are only as good as the data that drives them. And that is only useful when it is free of errors and able to be moved or manipulated whenever needed.

Effective data management provides both qualities. Data management processes help ensure that data stored in any format or structure can be translated into another one. This is important when, for example, you have mainframe data that you want to analyze with Hadoop. Without a good data management solution, you’d have to move your mainframe data via manual processes into Hadoop. Not only would that take a long time, it is not reasonable to do on a large scale.

In addition, good data management techniques help to ensure data quality. They allow organizations to find and fix the errors, inconsistencies, redundancies and other problems that exist within data sets. In effect, data quality tools purify data, ensuring that the information that powers machine learning algorithms is clean and effective. (Related: Alation’s CEO Sangani Discusses Big Data Management Trends and Best Practices)

Conclusion

For now, machine learning at most companies is still in the experimental stages. overall, demand for production machine learning applications is generally limited to very large companies with unique use cases.

Even so, it is now much easier for ordinary organizations to experiment with machine learning and make plans for including it in their solutions sets. This opportunity will grow as machine learning libraries and analytics tools evolve.

As noted above, machine learning will only work well if it is paired with effective data management. On this front, Syncsort can help. Syncsort’s data management tools include Big Data solutions for accessing and translating data between different formats to integrate it into Hadoop and Spark. In addition, Syncsort now offers data quality tools for improving the consistency and accuracy of data sets.

Read our free eBook, Mainframe Meets Machine Learning, to learn the challenges and issues facing mainframes today, and how the benefits of machine learning could help alleviate some of these issues.

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Released: Public Preview for SQL Server Management Packs Update (6.7.34.0)

We are getting ready to update the SQL Server Management Packs. Please install and use this public preview and send us your feedback (sqlmpsfeedback@microsoft.com)! We appreciate the time and effort you spend on these previews which make the final product so much better.

Please download at:

Microsoft System Center Management Packs (Community Technical Preview) for SQL Server

Included in the download are Microsoft System Center Management Packs for SQL Server 2008/2008 R2/2012/2014/2016 (6.7.34.0).

New SQL Server 2008-2012 MP Features and Fixes

  • Reimplemented Always On workflows to enable monitoring of Availability Groups hosting over 200 databases
  • Updated alert descriptions of Availability Group monitors: added cluster name and primary replica name
  • Implemented 3 alerting rules for events #5105 (error with physical file access), #833 (IO request has taken longer than 15 seconds), and #41144 (AO availability group failed); they are disabled by default
  • Added debug information to Always On monitoring scripts
  • Disabled the alerting rule for event #18456 by default
  • Fixed issue: Invalid encoding of SQL names in Always On console tasks

New SQL Server 2014 MP Features and Fixes

  • Reimplemented Always On workflows to enable monitoring of Availability Groups hosting over 200 databases
  • Updated alert descriptions of Availability Group monitors: added cluster name and primary replica name
  • Implemented 3 alerting rules for events #5105 (error with physical file access), #833 (IO request has taken longer than 15 seconds), and #41144 (AO availability group failed); they are disabled by default
  • Implemented “MSSQL 2014/16: HTTP Storage: Avg. Bytes/Transfer” performance rule
  • Added debug information to Always On monitoring scripts
  • Disabled the alerting rule for event #18456 by default
  • Fixed issue: Invalid encoding of SQL names in Always On console tasks

 New SQL Server 2016 MP Features and Fixes

  • Reimplemented Always On workflows to enable monitoring of Availability Groups hosting over 200 databases
  • Updated alert descriptions of Availability Group monitors: added cluster name and primary replica name
  • Implemented 3 alerting rules for events #5105 (error with physical file access), #833 (IO request has taken longer than 15 seconds), and #41144 (AO availability group failed); they are disabled by default
  • Added debug information to Always On monitoring scripts
  • Implemented “MSSQL 2014/16: HTTP Storage: Avg. Bytes/Transfer” performance rule
  • Enabled Memory-Optimized workflows for all editions of SQL Server 2016 by default, so far as all editions now support Memory-Optimized Data since SP1
  • Disabled the alerting rule for event #18456 by default
  • Optimized ProbeAction for User Resource Pool Memory workflows
  • Fixed issue: Invalid encoding of SQL names in Always On console tasks
  • Fixed issue: “XTP Configuration” monitor is in healthy state when XTP filegroup container and the transaction log are placed on different volumes of a physical disk
  • Fixed issue: Incorrect publishers’ names for SSIS EventCollection rules (SQL2016)
  • Fixed issue: GetSQL2016DBEngineWinServState.js crashes when getting neither “true” nor “false” as the second parameter (CheckStartupType)

For more details, please refer to the user guides that can be downloaded along with the corresponding Management Packs.
We are looking forward to hearing your feedback at sqlmpsfeedback@microsoft.com.

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Akustica Showcases the Future of Global Supply Chain Management

Posted by Marissa Kinsley, Manufacturing and Distribution Industry Marketing Lead

From Internet of Things and machine learning to advanced business intelligence and new business models, the supply chain of today looks very different than it did even 10 years ago. At NetSuite we recognize these trends, embrace them as the future, and are adding more product functionality to help our customer capitalize on them.

Image%20for%20Akustica%20Blog Akustica Showcases the Future of Global Supply Chain ManagementAt SuiteConnect during OpenWorld 2017, NetSuite experts explained the Supply Chain Operational Excellence (SCOPE) initiative, which maps the trajectory of our supply chain functionality through direct customer feedback. The group of customer representatives participating in this initiative – including Roku, Blue Microphones, and Akustica – shared their insights from the front lines on changes in the world of supply chain and opportunities for improvement in NetSuite’s offerings.

Akustica’s supply chain story is one of process automation, lean initiatives, and streamlined data management with NetSuite as the cornerstone.

“NetSuite has been instrumental in our supply chain transformation by giving us visibility, control and automation that wasn’t possible in our previous environment,” said Bryan Bishop, Director of Supply Chain and Export Control Officer at Akustica.

Using NetSuite as the centerpiece, Akustica links together its inventory across all of its facilities, as well as their vendors, to simulate a single company working together on building a product. In combination with Dell Boomi middleware, Akustica is able to link in data and transactions from suppliers with the NetSuite instance. The result of this? A fully automated supply chain, from raw material purchase through customer fulfillments from 3PLs.

Akustica has also brought data visualizations and business intelligence into the day-to-day using NetSuite dashboards. Using iCharts in conjunction with NetSuite’s vast amount of supply chain data, Akustica delivers key stakeholders visual representations of key metrics on their dashboards, including inventory vs. forecast and inventory vs. targets. Business intelligence along with NetSuite tasks enables Akustica to track problem areas in their supply and demand planning and alert specific users of required actions to close supply and demand gaps.

Akustica Akustica Showcases the Future of Global Supply Chain Management

Although this only scratches the surface of Akustica’s advancements in supply chain, it shows that the company is thinking about the trends at hand and are taking action to keep up.

Learn more about Akustica’s supply chain story with NetSuite.

Posted on Tue, October 10, 2017
by NetSuite filed under

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Released: Public Preview for SQL Server 2017+ and Replication Management Pack (RC)

We are happy to announce SQL Server 2017+ Management Pack Release Candidate with new features is ready (6.7.65.0). Please install and use this public preview and send us your feedback (sqlmpsfeedback@microsoft.com).

NEW: Version Agnostic SQL Server MPs

We understand that with many SQL Server versions in market and with new server releases becoming more frequent, it is becoming harder to manage a separate MP for each server version. We are moving to version agnostic MPs to address this issue. This will be valid going forward. The new MP is named SQL Server 2017+. The ‘+’ in the name indicates that it will be used to monitor SQL Server 2017 and the releases that come after that. Current in-market MPs (2008 through 2016) will not be changed and the 2017+ MP cannot be used to monitor older releases. We are making this change for SQL Server and Replication MPs. It would be great to get your feedback on this public preview before we reach GA.

Please download the public preview bits at:

Microsoft System Center Management Pack (Release Candidate 1) for SQL Server 2017+

Microsoft System Center Management Pack (Release Candidate 1) for SQL Server 2017+ Replication

New Features and Fixes for SQL Server 2017+ Windows and Linux MP (6.7.65.0)

  • The management pack was reimplemented in order to enable monitoring SQL Server 2017 and all upcoming SQL Server versions
  • Reduced the number of files in the management pack
  • Removed dependency on SQL Server Dashboards management pack
  • Introduced a number of fixes and improvements to functionality, performance, and display strings

New Features and Fixes for SQL Server 2017+ Replication Windows MP (6.7.65.0)

  • The management pack was reimplemented in order to enable monitoring SQL Server 2017 and all upcoming SQL Server versions
  • Reduced the number of files in the management pack
  • Introduced a number of fixes and improvements to functionality, performance, and display strings
Feature/Workflow
CTP1 (6.7.18.0)
CTP2 (6.7.40.0)
CTP3 (6.7.55.0)
CTP4 (6.7.60.0)
RC (6.7.65.0)
Core objects
DB Engine Discovery W/L W/L W/L W/L W/L
Local DB Engine Discovery (windows only feature) W W W W
SQL Cluster instances W W W W W
DB Discovery W/L W/L W/L W/L W/L
DB Filegroup Discovery W/L W/L W/L W/L W/L
DB File Discovery W/L W/L W/L W/L W/L
DB Log file Discovery W/L W/L W/L W/L W/L
DB Policy Discovery W/L W/L W/L W/L
Filestream Filegroup Discovery W W W W
Memory-Optimized Data Filegroup Discovery W/L W/L W/L W/L
Memory-Optimized Data Filegroup Containers Discovery W/L W/L W/L W/L
DB Engine Resource pool Discovery W/L W/L W/L
SQL Agent Discovery W/L W/L W/L
Always On Discovery W W/L W/L
Features
Agentless Monitoring W/L W/L W/L W/L W/L
Mixed monitoring (windows only feature) W W W W W
Agent Monitoring (windows only feature) W W W W W
SQL Credentials W/L W/L W/L W/L W/L
AD Credentials W W W W/L W/L
In-memory OLTP support W/L W/L W/L W/L
SQL Server Express support W W W W/L W/L
MSSQL LogReader module W/L W/L W/L W/L
Support long names (windows only feature) W W W W W
Wizard multithreading W/L W/L W/L W/L
Tasks Execution W/L W/L W/L
Docker Support L L L
Monitoring Scenarios
DB Engine Health Status Monitoring W/L W/L W/L W/L W/L
DB Engine Performance Monitoring W/L W/L W/L W/L W/L
DB Engine Service Pack Compliance Monitoring W/L W/L W/L W/L
DB Configuration Monitoring W/L W/L W/L W/L W/L
DB Memory-Optimized Data Filegroup Performance Monitoring W W W/L W/L
CPU Monitoring and performance metrics W W W W/L
Log Shipping monitoring W W W W/L
WMI Health Monitoring W/NA W/NA W/NA W/NA
Event Base monitoring (400+ Alert rules) W/L W/L W/L W/L
DB Space Monitoring and performance metrics collection W W W W/L W/L
DB Space Monitoring and performance metrics collection for Filestream objects W W W W
DB Space Monitoring and performance metrics collection for Hekaton objects W W W W/L
SQL Full-text Filter Daemon Launcher Service Monitoring W/L W/L W/L W/L
SQL Agent Monitoring W/L W/L W/L
Always On Monitoring W W/L W/L

Legend

Completed

W – Supported on Windows

L – Supported on Linux

W/L – Supported on Windows and Linux

W/NA – Supported on Windows but no applicable to Linux

All the details regarding the new functionality can be found in the Operations Guide that can be downloaded along with the Management Pack.

We are looking forward to hearing your feedback (sqlmpsfeedback@microsoft.com).

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Data Management in a CRM Software Solution

gettyimages 611868428 Data Management in a CRM Software Solution

When prospects call us to discuss our OnContact customer relationship management (CRM) software, it’s usually for one of two reasons: their current CRM is not good enough, or they need to combine their multiple systems or methods. Overall, it’s always about data centralization, and making sure all the organization’s data is easily accessible through one database.

Whether they have a CRM they have outgrown, a system which was never properly implemented, or never fully adopted, there is usually still the issue of centralized data. When a company has manual systems, it often means they have Excel, email, pen and paper, or other manual methods that need to be combined because they are not working together, causing problems for employees. No employee is happy if they are stuck in one of these scenarios where they’re using outdated data organization and processing methods.

Getting a customer relationship management solution to centralize all data and end all the problems with data and processes has many benefits. No one wants to have a database in three different areas, guessing where data is and where the proper place to put it should be. Below, we’ll discuss some of the many benefits implementing a new CRM solution can have for businesses looking to centralize their data.

Saves company money

Rather than running one system for marketing automation, one for customer service, and one for sales, you can combine all these into one quality CRM solution. This will bring you one cost for users, one cost for support, and one cost for things like data migration, upgrades/updates, and training. When you run multiple systems, you pay for these things three times as opposed to once.

Saves employees time

Employees can now know exactly where to find their data, rather than have to search for it guessing which solution it may be in. Centralizing it into one CRM product will at least guarantee you where to look and save time in the search process.

Improves visibility internally

Anyone in the company from upper management to a customer service representative can now see throughout the CRM. There is no miscommunication or lack of conciseness in the data so everyone can see the same thing and be on the same page, unless you choose to limit someone’s access.

Improves company tracking

Whether a company is a prospect, in the sales cycle, or a customer, it is important to know who they are, what they have (for upsells and additional product sales), and previous communications. You can know better about who to market to, what to market to them, and keep them in call/communication cycles much easier.

Eliminates double entry and lessens chance for mistakes

To put it bluntly, eliminating multiple systems means you only need to enter data into the CRM now once. This eliminates having to enter the same thing in multiple spots, which then lessens the chance for inconsistencies in data, missing data, and simple errors.

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OnContact CRM

Integrating Social Media Management Technology with Dynamics 365

CRM Blog Integrating Social Media Management Technology with Dynamics 365

Social media management is a time-consuming endeavor when you consider creating social posts, scheduling those posts to each social network, measuring results, listening to and engaging with conversations on social, and more. It’s also more difficult and less effective to try to do all these activities through each platform where your business has a presence.

Fortunately, social media management technology can make your processes more efficient and give you a complete picture of performance across social rather than one-off views by platform. Here are some features to look for:

Social Publishing

Social publishing is the most popular social media management tool, and for good reason. It allows you to post to multiple social platforms from one convenient place. When on your search for social media management technology, be sure that your chosen option includes connectors to the social networks that are important to your business. And be sure that you can also incorporate rich media such as photos, videos and GIFs when posting to each of those networks, so you can create more compelling content.

Social media management technology should also be able to assist you with content curation, which can be a significant time saver. Content curation can help fill your social content calendar and position your business as a thought leader. A robust social media marketing platform should allow you to quickly discover and share articles from around the web that are related to topics that you identify.

Social Listening

With billions of users, social media is a noisy place. It can be difficult to follow along and find the conversations that matter most to your business. A social media marketing platform that contains a social listening component can help.

Rather than logging into each platform to find conversations, social listening functionality allows you to conveniently monitor everything from one place and take the appropriate actions. This includes engaging in conversations that impact your company and responding to individuals who mention your social handles, comment on your posts or directly contact you.

Social Analytics

It might seem like all social analytics are created equal, but the metrics that matter to B2B marketers differ from the ones of importance to B2C brands. When selecting a social media management platform, be sure to consider the type of data that the solution can offer you. Will it allow you to see how social media impacts your sales funnel? Can it help you measure the true ROI of your social activities?

In addition, look for a platform that enables you to measure the effectiveness of your content and optimize for future success. Clicks, likes, mentions and shares can all show your audience’s level of engagement and what’s driving it. These insights will help you answer important questions like which platform is best for your company for lead generation, the best time of day to post and which campaigns are resonating most with your audiences.

Social Advocacy

Many businesses will occasionally remind their employees and partners to share the company’s social posts, but that often isn’t sustained or effective. Instead, businesses should look to create a formal social advocacy program that will expand their social reach and amplify their message beyond their existing audience.

In addition to identifying who your advocates will be and what kinds of content you would like for them to share, also look at how you will communicate with your advocates and inspire them to act. Social advocacy features within a social media marketing platform enable you to deliver targeted content to your advocates for quick and simple sharing. They can also give you insight into who is sharing what and who are your most active advocates.

In addition to these features, to avoid siloed data and to make your data more actionable, it’s important to consider how a social marketing platform will integrate with other technologies that are essential to your business. Two of these key technologies are CRM and marketing automation. To maximize the benefits and performance of each of these systems, ensure that you have a tight integration among all three.

For example, the ClickDimensions marketing automation solution has a native integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365, delivering unparalleled access to CRM data for better segmentation, hyper-personalization and marketing success. ClickDimensions social engagement powered by Oktopost rounds out this marketing technology stack, providing smart, time-saving social features and closing the loop from social click to sale by tracking engagement in Dynamics 365.

This post is an excerpt from our eBook, The B2B Marketer’s Guide to Social Media Success. Download your complimentary copy here.

Posted by ClickDimensions.

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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

Expert Interview (Part 2): Alation’s CEO Sangani Discusses Big Data Management Trends and Best Practices

In Part 1of this two-part interview, Satyen Sangani (@satyx), CEO and co-founder of Alation, spoke about data cataloging. In today’s Part 2, he provides his thoughts on trends and best practices in Big Data management.

What are some of the more outdated or inefficient processes involved with accessing relevant data today? What is slowing businesses down?

It can take a long time to extract data from the data lake and get the right data to the right person exactly when they need it.

Businesses are moving to self-service analytics solutions where it isn’t necessary to have the involvement of the IT department to access and work with data. However, self-service tools often fail at helping users understand how to appropriately use the data. Specifically, they don’t always know which data sets to use, which definitions to use or which metrics are correct.

blog TDWI Data Lake Checklist 1 Expert Interview (Part 2): Alation’s CEO Sangani Discusses Big Data Management Trends and Best Practices

What should companies be doing today to prepare for how they’ll use data in the future? What should their long-term strategies look like?

Ultimately, you want to get data, business context and technical context in front of your employees as quickly as possible. The days where you could take months to prepare a report are over.

Given this, companies need to spend time thinking a.) how they can get data to their employees as fast as possible and b.) how to train their workforces to find, understand and use that data to get insights fast.

What’s one piece of advice you find yourself repeating to your clients over and over? Something you wish more companies were doing to get more out of their data?

Data governance has traditionally implied a top down, command and control oriented approach. Such an approach generally works when compliance is the primary goal, but when the goal is to get data consumers to use data more often, it’s important to take an iterative and agile approach to data governance.

It’s less about prescribing rules than reacting to users by gently correcting and improving their behavior.

What trends or innovations in Big Data management are you following today? Why do they excite you?

Self-service is, of course, a big one. We also like distributed computation engines like Presto and Spark. The notion that we can disconnect compute from storage is finally becoming a reality.

AI and Machine Learning need to be embedded into every layer of the stack. There’s too much manual work in data and that manual work comes at the cost of speed.

To learn how to put your legacy data to work for you, and plan and launch successful data lake projects with tips and tricks from industry experts, download the TDWI Checklist Report: Building a Data Lake with Legacy Data

2017 Big Data Survey Promo Expert Interview (Part 2): Alation’s CEO Sangani Discusses Big Data Management Trends and Best Practices

 Expert Interview (Part 2): Alation’s CEO Sangani Discusses Big Data Management Trends and Best Practices

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Expert Interview (Part 2): Andi Mann Compares ITSI and Business Service Management (BSM)

In Part 1 of this two-part expert interview with Andi Mann (@AndiMann), Splunk’s Chief Technology Advocate, he talks about IT Service Intelligence (ITSI) and how it fits with ITOA and AIOps, and the main drivers for the big investments organizations are making in Big Data. In today’s Part 2, he compares ITSI and Business Service Management, and discusses the reasons mainframe and distributed IT are sharing data, and the use cases where organizations are building more effective digital capabilities with mainframe back ends.

ITSI sounds a lot like what we have called Business Service Management (BSM) for the last decade, what is different about it?

Today, it is clear that the promise of Business Service Management was never fulfilled. It was too ambitious for its time, too complex in its make-up, and suffered from deficient underlying technologies – not least its database-driven approach.

Business Service Management was too hard to create and update service definitions, and too rigid in how service data was collected and managed. It relied on too few data sources for actionable business insight, and was typically restricted to too few (typically tech-centric) users to have broad business impact.

blog banner eBook ITSI Need to Know Expert Interview (Part 2): Andi Mann Compares ITSI and Business Service Management (BSM)

By contrast, Splunk IT Service Intelligence (ITSI) uses an analytics-driven solution, with machine learning, open integrations, and real-time processes as part of a modern business-centric solution. Unlike legacy BSM tools, ITSI integrates data sources from across the organization (and beyond), providing highly customizable visualizations, even in rapidly changing environments. ITSI is flexible and secure enough to provide real-time insights for any user, on-demand and on-the-fly. BSM tools pale in comparison.

One of short-comings of BSM, or whatever we chose to call it, had been the weak integration between IT metrics from distributed platforms with mainframe systems within IT infrastructures – how does ITSI help to address this?

With so much mission-critical data coming from mainframe platforms, it is amazing how many tools and solutions ignore it, or at best publish some kind of loosely-coupled connector and call it a day. That is not nearly enough for such a valuable source of intelligence. Instead you need to treat the mainframe as a first-class citizen in the service environment, alongside cloud, *nix, mobile, and other systems.

ITSI integrates tightly with solutions from trusted mainframe partners like Syncsort to ingest data from mainframe platforms, and combine them with distributed systems, to provide cohesive insights into the activity, status, and performance of cross-enterprise services.

This means more than just scraping application outputs, but also safely and securely integrating data from syslog, RMF, SMF, IMS/CICS, MICS, and other sources on zOS and zLinux partitions. Tightly integrating mainframe data in this way is the only way to provide total visibility of enterprise-wide services.

2017 Mainframe Survey Promo Expert Interview (Part 2): Andi Mann Compares ITSI and Business Service Management (BSM)

We are seeing the walls between mainframe and distributed IT coming down as organizations are more open to sharing information – what are some of the primary use cases driving this?

People are starting to understand that, despite some challenges, mainframe applications and data are too critical to leave in their own silo.

As organizations work through new “digital” projects, they eventually realize that the mainframe is the locus of so much mission-critical information. Teams focused on mobile engagement, customer experience, sentiment analysis, web interfaces, application modernization, digital transformation, and even innovation are realizing that you cannot just “ringfence” the mainframe.

You need mainframe data for a truly cohesive application, so they are building more effective experiences by integrating new “digital” capabilities with mainframe back ends.

Download Syncsort’s eBook, IT Service Intelligence: What Professionals Need to Know, to see how an IT Service Intelligence approach extends ITSSM to provide end-to-end visibility and insight into the operational health of critical IT and business services which span distributed systems, mainframe, and even mobile devices.

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The Solution to Point Solutions: How Two Asset Management Firms Broke the Mold…and We’re Glad They Did

CRM Blog The Solution to Point Solutions: How Two Asset Management Firms Broke the Mold…and We’re Glad They Did

by Tom Berger, Vice President, Financial Services

Regardless of your area of financial services, your business software needs to accommodate and support what you do and how you do it. To that end, it seems like a point solution would make sense. Or would it?

While a point solution might work as though it was designed for your business, it comes with notable drawbacks. While the convenience of an “out-of-the-box” solution might seem attractive, the trade-off is loss of extensibility, support, integration, and future scalability.

At AKA, we see this with many of our clients. They have a point solution that’s maxed out and can no longer meet their needs, or they’ve reached the conclusion that their options are now either a point solution or an open platform like Microsoft Dynamics 365.

As you might guess, we’re proponents of Dynamics 365. But there are some compelling reasons for this. We have worked with many firms that chose to go with Dynamics 365, and they do not regreat the decision.

To be clear, there are businesses that prefer a point solution: Pre-built, easily deployed, and not requiring a great deal of involvement from you during planning and implementation. If you want someone else to “just deal with it,” a point solution could be right for you.

However, if you have specific, purpose-driven processes, goals involving growth and expansion, the desire to take full advantage of emergent technology, or the possible need to integrate or merge with other business-critical systems, a point solution is likely not the answer. While it might be an easy fit at first, it will bring with it a lot of difficulty in the long run.

But let’s hear it from a customer’s point of view. Following are stories of two firms that recently broke out of the point solution mold.

(H2) A Leading Institutional Asset Manager Sets the Stage for Growth and Expansion

In this case, the institutional asset manager was dealing with a point CRM that could no longer keep up with business. Notably, the team dealing with client requests, onboarding, new accounts, and terminations was growing at a rate that the old system couldn’t handle.

The firm’s sales team faced the same type of issues.

They needed a solution that would support multiple strategies and allow them to work together. They also needed advanced reporting capabilities that the old system was unable to provide, which translated to a lack of information on their own products as well as the potential for client difficulties.

So, they chose Dynamics 365. Why? It’s not designed specifically for financial services. However, what this firm realized was that an open platform—implemented with the right partner behind the wheel (yes, us) allowed them to put all these challenges to bed. Completely. Why? Extensibility. They found that an open platform does not make you conform your business to the software; the software should be able to conform to how you run your business.

(h2) A National Intermediary Breaks Down Silos and Uncovers New Opportunities

This firm had a big job. They wanted to combine three lines of business: private client, institutional, and intermediary business. These areas were separated by two systems. Essentially, the private client business was shoehorned into one CRM system, along with the institutional business. The other CRM system was being used as intermediary software, data provider, and data aggregator. This forced the sales team to work in two CRM systems, which created havoc. Clients were duplicated in the two systems, and contacts were not being tracked in the same place, which meant that clients were often contacted by different people trying to sell them the same product.

Visibility was a serious issue as well. No one was able to see the big picture—the overall relationships with a client—in one system. They had to do research in two systems, reconcile the information, and put it in a meaningful format before they could have a conversation with the client. Reporting and roll-ups of AUM (all done in Excel), managing marketing efforts effectively—all of these operational problems and more were the result of silos caused by the fact that no single point solution could address their needs.

By choosing an open platform, they were able to completely eliminate those silos, bringing all that critical information together under one roof—and taking advantage of new features and integrations with complementary solutions like ClickDimensions.

Why Are Open Systems like Dynamics 365 Winning?

So, the question that comes to mind is, why are systems that were built specifically for financial services being replaced by open systems like Dynamics 365? Here are some very compelling reasons:

Reason #1: Flexibility and Extensibility

As the two previous case studies point out, open platforms do not force you to do things their way. Even something as simple as naming a field the way you want to name it can make life easier, and point solutions don’t allow that. Now, multiply that by a thousand when you think about complex business processes.

Reason #2: Customizability

This is a “Part 2” to Reason #1—and it does NOT mean having to deal with coding! No single product can do everything you need right out of the box. Each business is unique, so to get your solution exactly where you want it might require some configuring. With open platforms like Dynamics 365, that’s not an issue. Microsoft provides toolkits for developing, customizing, and your solution. Dynamics provides a business rule engine, process bar, field-level security, workflows, access to a full software developer kit, which provides you with the flexibility to give you exactly what you want. Oh, and Microsoft Certified Partners (like AKA) are experts not only in the technology, but in your industry. So, remember the point I made earlier about point solutions being “easier” in that you don’t have to deal with customizing? I take that back. With Dynamics 365 and AKA, you still come out on top.

Reason #3: Investment in the Product/Speed to Market by the Manufacturer 

Point solutions simply do not have economies of scale like Microsoft and other open platform providers, so they don’t have the dollars to put into research and development. It’s only natural that you will get THE latest and greatest—Cloud, mobility, machine learning, and so on—from a company that has the money and resources to keep that ball rolling, and rolling fast.

And speaking of investment in the product…the latest release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 really taps into the power of Machine Learning and AI. You can learn more in our webcast, What’s New in Dynamics 365 – 2017 Update.

Reason #4: Availability of Third-party Products/Ease of Integration

This someone relates to point number 1. Third-party providers like ClickDimensions are much more likely to work on integrations with a Microsoft product for two reasons: there is more opportunity because of a larger customer base, and modern, open platforms make it much easier to integrate. The same goes for integration with Microsoft Office/Outlook and other productivity tools.

Reason #5: Support and Security

This is where being a heavy hitter like Microsoft really benefits you. They have the resources to provide 24/7 support, 365 days a year. They’ve been doing this for a long time and have many customers to keep happy. Let’s just say they have this in the bag. The same goes for security; they must adhere to very stringent standards (read more at the Microsoft Trust Center)—particularly when it comes to the Cloud. They have invested millions of dollars and have teams of hundreds of professionals that focus exclusively on ensuring their products and customers are secure. Point solutions providers do not have these resources.

At the end of the day, the choice comes down to this: Do you want “convenience,” which will limit you both now and in the future? Or do the possibilities and opportunities presented by an open platform intrigue you enough to learn more? We believe it’s worth a look—and once you’ve seen what you can accomplish, you’ll make the right choice. And if you’re on a point solution now, talk to us. We have experience migrating customers like the two firms we talked about here, and we can help you, too.

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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365