Tag Archives: Mobile

Power BI Service and Mobile January Feature Summary

The Power BI service and mobile team is thrilled to kick off the first feature summary blog for 2018! With a new year in full swing, we’ve been hard at work on features to make it easier for you to achieve more with your data. In January, we released some highly anticipated features in the Power BI service and mobile apps. Here’s a quick recap in case you missed it:

Dashboards and reports provide two distinct ways of presenting information in Power BI, each with their own advantages. Since we launched the product, dashboards have been the primary way to share content with others in the service. However, there has always been an overwhelming ask from our community and users to extend the same capability to reports – and that’s exactly what we delivered in January. Yes, you read that right – you can now sharereports directly with others in Power BI!

The feature works just like dashboard sharing. Simply head to any report, look for the “Share” option in the top bar, and select it to launch into a familiar pane experience where you can select the recipients that you want to share the report with and choose to give them re-share permissions.

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After you share a report, it will appear in their “Shared with me” page and receive an e-mail if you’ve selected it.

In addition, we have also made it easy for you to quickly find and access Power BI content by allowing you to favorite reports, paralleling the functionality in existing dashboards. Just select the “Favorite” option with the star on the top bar of a report, and it should immediately appear in your Favorites content list. Learn more

It doesn’t stop there. You can also access reports that are shared with you on to go using your Power BI mobile app and even favorite them for quick access!

Starting in January, dataset owners can choose to use AAD OAuth credentials when connecting the Power BI service to Azure SQL databases. With this update, Power BI can leverage all the security features of AAD when connecting to Azure SQL – including multi-factor authentication, when its configured. The OAuth authentication method is supported when connecting for both import and DirectQuery. In addition, when connecting to these data sources via DirectQuery, the Power BI service can now be configured to connect to the data source with the end users’ credentials, allowing the service to respect the security settings configured at the data source level. Learn more

We’re pleased to announce that Power BI customers around the globe who enable auditing in their tenant will now have these audit logs stored in the same Office 365 region as their tenant.  This region is determined for each tenant, based on the country selected during initial signup for the first Microsoft service in the tenant, such as Power BI or Office 365. Specific audit log locations can be found in the Office 365 trust center by finding the Exchange Online locations based on your tenant country. Another benefit of this change to how audit logs are handled is the data will be available much sooner than it was previously, where customers would often not see events in their audit logs for up to 24 hours after they originally occurred.  Now, these same events will be available within an hour or so, and often times even sooner.

We are excited to announce the general availability of embedding interactive Power BI reports in SharePoint Online. This feature enables SharePoint authors to easily embed Power BI reports directly on their page without any code! Since the introduction of this feature almost a year ago, we have made significant improvements based on your feedback to ensure reliability and performance.

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To learn how to use the Power BI web part, see Embed with report web part in SharePoint Online on the Power BI documentation site.

We are giving IT admins more control over whether users in their organization can  view reports containing custom visuals. Please note that the setting cannot be limited to specific groups and applies to the entire organization. Learn more

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Power BI has had seamless connectivity to Azure Analysis Services since it was first launched. However, we only supported live connections – until now. We are excited to announce that Power BI now supports imported data from Azure Analysis Services and for the scheduling of those imports to be refreshed.

We continued to make enhancements and shipped a new update for the Power BI On-premises data gateway in January. The update includes a beta release of the PowerShell Cmdlets to manage on-premises data gateway in the public PowerShell gallery, configuration that lets you control the number of mashup engine containers that can run in parallel, and a new version of the Mashup Engine. Try it out for yourself by installing the new gateway and continue to send us feedback on any new capabilities you’d like to see in the future.

We’ve continued to improve your mobile experience by now allowing you to directly navigate to links within custom visuals and open them on your favorite mobile browser.

Resources

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Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

Improve Your Relationship with Your Mobile Users

crm growth mobile Improve Your Relationship with Your Mobile Users

Making your customers a priority should be the main concern of all businesses, since they either succeed or thrive based on how the customers feel about the business. With all of the current advances in technology, from creating a social media presence to online reviews of businesses, knowing where your customers come from and how to best effectively reach them is of the utmost importance. In today’s age most users turn to devices to shop, communicate with others and even conduct business. Those devices can be their tablets and most commonly used, a smartphone.

Reaching your customers where they are opens a range of opportunities for businesses. So once you know where your customers go to either buy from your business or at least browse, it is time to start catering your business toward them. Read below to find out three ways to improve your relationship with mobile users.

Improvement #1: Mobile Responsive Site

Creating a mobile friendly site is the first step many businesses take before designing their own app. A mobile site is the same version of the website that adapts itself to the device that the site is being accessed on. A mobile responsive layout often times look slightly different depending on the device that is being used. Having a website designed to be mobile friendly shows your customers that you know many users prefer their cellphones to laptops or desk computers. Designing a site for mobile users also shows that you would like to make the site experience an easy one to navigate.

Improvement #2: Mobile Apps

The next step up from a mobile responsive site, is developing an app. Not only is it an easier solution than a mobile site, it is also a more up to date and trendy one.  Knowing that your customers took the time to download you app shows that they have an invested interest in purchases from you and visiting the app again, creating more opportunities for a transaction to be made.  A lot of the customer’s interactions will be made through the app, so developing it with the customers in mind will help to give them a satisfactory experience whenever they use it.

Improvement #3: Consistent Social Media Usage

Another forum that many customers use is social media. With social media, it is often times accessed through mobile devices which is another opportunity to reach your customer base. No matter the social media site, statistics have shown that many mobile users go to social media on their phone more than any other reason they use their phone for. Integrating social media into your marketing plan places you right into the heart of where your customers are.

Additional Improvement: Mobile CRM

Another great improvement that a business can utilize in an effort to best build their relationships with mobile users is mobile CRM software.  Workwise OnContact CRM software allows you to access your software from a laptop, tablet and of course your smartphone. This often times allows business employees to have access to the software no matter where they are so long as they have a Wi-Fi connection and their cellular device. Customer relationship management software allows for businesses to know their customer base better, with information about their shopping history and even ways to contact them. Having this information on the go allows for immediate assistance and updates, improving the customer service experience.

Paying attention to the latest trends, many of which are now becoming staples such as mobile usage allows for your business to make the necessary changes it needs to make in order to not only stay afloat, but to thrive in their respective industries. Consider the ways that your relationship will improve with your customers when you place a mobile minded thought process into play. Meeting your customers where they are shows that you are interested in them and want to make their experience with you a meaningful one.

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OnContact CRM

Field Service Mobile Forms and Checklists with FIELDBOSS Software

CRM Blog Field Service Mobile Forms and Checklists with FIELDBOSS Software

Despite the technological advances that have led to the widespread adoption of mobile devices in the field service industry, many field service businesses still rely on paper forms and checklists. Replacing paper-based forms and checklists for maintenance, service, and inspections with customized field service mobile forms and checklists empowers you to drive the standardization of processes and procedures across the whole organization. This way the technician can follow and document approved maintenance or service procedures, including the performance of tests and collection of data, while on-site and automatically send it back to the office or the customer.

FIELDBOSS’s automated field service mobile forms and checklists enable your field team to easily capture required information, add notes and pictures and go completely paperless while streamlining workflow for inspections and maintenance schedules with an easy to follow to-do list.

The benefits of mobile forms and checklists:

  • CUSTOMIZABLE AND CONFIGURABLE
    Every business is unique and so too are their forms and checklists. Configuration is not only industry-specific but also individual checklists for different kinds of service calls can be created, allowing for even greater configuration and customization.
  • SMART CHECKLISTS
    Additional questions or actions are prompted based on the technician’s answers.
  • STAY COMPLIANT
    With so many different pieces of equipment, rules, and ever-changing regulations, it can be hard to stay on top of what needs to be done. Automated checklists mean no step is ever skipped and you will always be compliant. No violations. No fines.
  • COMPLETE AUTOMATION
    Have checklists automatically applied to inspection or maintenance work orders so technician has easy access?
  • STREAMLINE WORKFLOWS
    Mandatory fields ensure no part of the inspection or procedure is missed before a work order is closed out.
  • SAVE TIME AND MONEY
    Removing the need for a technician to return to the office to hand in paperwork allows for more time spent with customers in the field.
  • MOBILE FORMS RECORD MORE ACCURATE AND DETAILED DATA
    With the ability to customize forms and utilize automatic calculations, submitted data is always accurate and instantaneous. Technicians can also note when each task is completed, and follow up with pictures and notes.
  • INCREASE INFORMATION SHARING ACROSS YOUR ORGANIZATION
    Allows crucial field data to be synched in real-time and easily accessed across your organization by various team members, departments, and their systems.

FIELDBOSS’s mobile forms and checklists bring greater efficiency to the technician’s time and ensure that important checklists and inspection reports are not lost in the shuffle of papers. It also means faster turnaround times for jobs to be completed and the customer to be invoiced Creating a streamlined and efficient environment lowers mistakes created in the field and brings the maintenance and inspection process into real-time allowing for all details to enter the system quickly and accurately.

Contact FIELDBOSS or request a demo to see how mobile forms and checklists can save your field service company time and money.

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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

Mobile Report Publisher – Dashboards Everywhere

When you think about reporting, two tools come to mind: SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) and Power BI. SSRS is an excellent choice for detailed, line item style reporting or reports with some basic graphs. You may have heard of this style as paginated reports in SQL Server 2016. At the other end of the spectrum is Power BI, an outstanding tool for creating self service analytic dashboards.

But what about the middle ground? What about the user who wants a higher-level view of their data than normally found on an SSRS report, but has no desire or time to generate their own dashboards with Power BI? This is where Mobile Report Publisher comes to the rescue!

Don’t be misled by the name. Mobile Report Publisher isn’t just for creating reports on mobile devices such as phones and tablets, although it does that well. It can be used to create beautiful, functional, and useful dashboards for the web. Because Mobile Report Publisher renders all its reports in HTML5, the reports look the same whether you are using Edge on a Windows computer, Firefox on Linux, or Safari on a Mac or even an iPad!

Mobile Report Publisher operates within the framework of SQL Server Reporting Services, so you’ll need an SSRS 2016 (or later) server to be able to use it. Sorry those of you on older versions of SQL Server, but this will at least give you another reason to get your boss to upgrade!

Of course, we’ll need some data to report from as well, so for this article we’ll be using the WideWorldImportersDW sample database. This is the data warehouse version of the new Wide World Imports sample introduced with SQL Server 2016. You can download the database backup, or download the source code and build the database yourself.

One way that Mobile Reports can get the data is through Excel spreadsheets. Mostly likely, you’ll want to see data from a database. To access that data, data sources and datasets must be set up in SSRS. Before we begin creating reports, let’s set up the data source and datasets in the SSRS report portal.

Data Sources

The first step is to create a data source. Most folks have folders setup within their Reporting Services portal for things like data sources and datasets as you can see in this next screen shot from my system.

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If you’ve worked with SSRS before, you’ve likely used data sources and datasets already, but briefly you’ll first need to create a data source to connect to the WideWorldImportersDW database.

  1. Navigate to the Data Sources folder (or create one if it doesn’t exist).
  2. Click the New button in the toolbar (shown above in about the middle of the image).
  3. From its menu, pick Data Source.
  4. For the name, enter WideWorldImportersDW.
  5. For the Connection Type, pick Microsoft SQL Server.
  6. You’ll next enter the connection string. If you need help, there is a handy Learn more link beside the Connection String title that has a lot of great information. For this article we’re accessing SSRS from the same computer it is running on, so we can use localhost. Therefore the connection string reads:
    Data Source=localhost;Initial Catalog=WideWorldImportersDW
  7. For credentials you have two basic choices. As the user viewing the report is a great option if you have authentication (Active Directory, Kerberos) setup correctly, or you are running your reports on the same computer as SSRS (i.e. localhost). If you are going to be running the report unattended, or you are on a system such as a development box you can also pick Using the following credentials and enter your (or an appropriate) user id and password.
  8. Always be sure to click the Test connection button to ensure everything works.
  9. Click Create to apply the new Data Source to the server.

Datasets

With your data source setup, you can now create your datasets. You can think of a dataset as a query that is saved for others to easily use. In this case it will be a SQL query, but had a different data source been used, such as SSAS (SQL Server Analysis Services), it might be an MDX or DAX query. There are two utilities that can be used to create a dataset, Visual Studio and Report Builder. As Report Builder is a bit simpler, we’ll use it for this article.

Inside the report portal, click New, then in the drop-down menu select Dataset.

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When you do, you’ll get a dialog that SSRS is attempting to open the Report Builder app. If you don’t have Report Builder, there is a big Get Report Builder button you can use to download it. If you already have it installed, and are in Microsoft Edge, you’ll get a second dialog asking Did you mean to switch apps? This is a safety feature of Edge, in this case we can just say Yes.

When Report Builder opens, it comes to the first step in creating a dataset. On this window you’ll have to select the shared data source for your dataset.

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If you have used Report Builder before, it will remember the previously selected data sources and list them, as you can see above. If the data source you want isn’t listed, but is already on your SSRS server, you can click on the Browse other data sources link to find and add it to the list. Once it is in the list, click on it, then click the Create button in the lower right.

Once the data source is selected, Report Builder opens to a dataset designer which will allow users to navigate a tree, select fields, create filters, and the like. This is meant for business users who are not familiar with the syntax of SQL. If you are though, you can take a short cut and enter SQL directly into the dataset designer. Simply click the Edit as Text button in the toolbar.

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It’s likely that, as part of your routine, you’ll have developed the query you wish to use in a tool such as SSMS (SQL Server Management Studio) or the new SQL Server Operations Studio (see the article A Walk Around SQL Operations Studio for more info on this tool). That’s what was done here, so just paste the already tested query below into the Query Designer in Report Builder.

It’s a good idea to test within Report Builder to ensure the query still functions as expected, so click the red exclamation mark at the top. The grid at the bottom should then populate with data.

word image 108 Mobile Report Publisher – Dashboards Everywhere

Yea! It worked! Now it can be saved; just use File, Save or click the floppy disk icon in the upper left. You’ll need to save it to the server, so if the Look in: area at the top doesn’t already read the name of your server, use the Recent Sites and Servers button to navigate to the server. Then on the server navigate to the Datasets folder, or a similar folder where you wish to store it.

Name this dataset Yearly Totals.rsd and click OK to save it.

For the report we will be generating, a second dataset will be needed. If you closed report builder just refollow the steps above. On the other hand, if Report Builder is still open simply click File, New. In the New Report or Dataset window, click New Dataset. From here, just follow the same steps you’ve already done.

In either case, use the code below for the new datasets query.

Save the dataset as Yearly Totals by State.rsd. You can now close Report Builder.

Installing the Mobile Report Publisher

Now that the groundwork has been laid, it’s finally time to start generating a mobile report. To do so, we’ll need to get the Mobile Report Publisher tool installed. In the SQL Server Reporting Services Report Portal, go to the New menu, then click on Mobile Report.

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When you do, you are prompted that SSRS is opening Mobile Report Publisher. If you don’t have Mobile Report Publisher already installed, there is a button you can click, Get Mobile Report Publisher, that will take you to a webpage where you can download and install.

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If you’ve not installed Mobile Report Publisher, go ahead and do so now. It’s a free download from Microsoft. Once it is installed, and you only have to install it once, then you can simply close this window once it is open.

If you are using Microsoft Edge to view your SSRS portal, you will get an additional security prompt.

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Simply click Yes to launch Mobile Report Publisher.

Alternatively, you could first install the tool without going through the New step. In the top of the report portal, on the right side is a down arrow. This is the download menu, clicking it will bring you to the various sites to install SQL Server Reporting Services tools. Also, once Mobile Report Publisher is installed it isn’t necessary to go through the SSRS portal to open it; you can simply use the Windows menus to launch it.

Designing the report

When Mobile Report Publisher opens, it first needs a connection to a SSRS server. In the dialog that appears, simply fill out the required information and click Connect.

word image 111 Mobile Report Publisher – Dashboards Everywhere

The computer used in writing this article is a virtual machine with both SSRS and Mobile Report Publisher installed, so for the server name we can use localhost. Alternatively, we could use the real computer name hosting SSRS.

As this is just a virtual machine setup for this article, similar to using your home computer, no authentication was created, so Use secure connection is unchecked. If you are in your enterprise where you are using Active Directory, it is likely you will need to check this on.

If you wish the users of the report to connect using their credentials, leave the Use current Windows account checked on, otherwise enter the credentials you wish to use to run the report. When done, just click Connect.

The Designer

Let’s take a look now at the designer. To make discussion easier, sections of the designer have been outlined in various colors.

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On the top left, highlighted in red, are four buttons that control the designer. In the image above, the Layout is being displayed. In Layout mode, under the buttons are various report elements that can be dragged and dropped into the design area, highlighted in green to the right. In addition to Navigators and Gauges, scrolling down will reveal Charts, Maps, and Data grids.

Above the green design area is the report name, which defaults to New Mobile Report. Simply click in there to change the report title. Next to it are sliders which control how many grid rows and columns appear. For this report just use the defaults.

To the right of the row / column sliders are two drop downs. These control the layout configuration (Web, Tablet, or Mobile) and color scheme. Those will be explored in a bit. Under the grid of rows and columns is a big blank gray box. This will hold the properties for the various components that will be placed on the report, you’ll see those appear as we begin creating the report.

Before we begin, though, there’s one more area to point out, highlighted in gold in the upper left. These are simply the file handling icons, from left to right New, Open, Save, Save as, and Server Connections. The first four are obvious, the last one simply allows you to alter the connection information to the server that you entered when you first opened Mobile Report Publisher. This is useful for developing on a local machine, then later changing to a production server.

Creating A Report

Now that you are familiar with the Layout mode of the designer, let’s begin creating a report. In the report elements area (highlighted in blue) scroll down to the Charts area. Find the Category chart, drag and drop it into the layout area in the very upper left square.

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After doing so, you’ll note a sizing handle. Clicking on it, drag until the chart takes up an area five boxes wide by two boxes high.

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In the area under the layout configuration is the properties for this chart. Click in the title area, and change the title from the default of Category chart 1, to Yearly Sales.

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Note that once you tab out of the Title property box, the title over the left side of the chart will update as well.

Next add a map. Scroll down to the Maps area in the report elements area, click on the Gradient heat map, and drag and drop it into the square on the very left just under the chart. Expand it to be three rows high by five wide. In the properties area at the bottom, change the Title to Yearly Total by State.

While in the properties, scroll to the right. The default map is USA, but clicking the Map dropdown will allow you to pick from other maps, or use a custom map. The Value direction area lets you set whether larger numbers are better, or smaller numbers. Leave these at the defaults, but just know they are there when you begin to create you own reports.

Finally, let’s add one last report element. In the Data grids area, move a Simple data grid onto the configuration area. Place it in the blank square in the upper left, and expand to take up the remaining space. In the properties area, change the Title to Sales Details. Your designer should now resemble the following image:

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In the button area, click Preview to see your report.

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The preview shows not just the layout, but populates the various components with data. The Sales Details area can be scrolled up and down to look at values. But where did it get the data from?

Data? What data?

Click the arrow to the left of the report title (New Mobile Report in the previous image) to return to the designer. The next step is to add real data to the report. Click on the Data button in the button bar.

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The main area shows the data for each dataset. Datasets can be selected by using the lower tabs (highlighted in red in the above image). The properties pane on the bottom is used to tie each report element, on the left, to a dataset. To change the dataset for a report element, simply click on an element in the elements pane on the left. Then in the properties area the various data properties can be set.

Right now, the data area is showing sample data. Each report element contains a sample dataset of its own. This allows you to get a realistic feeling of how the report will look like. It’s time now to add some real data.

Click on the Add data button on the top right. You will then be prompted for the source, Excel or a Report server. We went to a lot of effort earlier in this article to setup datasets on our report server, so that’s the option to select here. Next, you will be show a list of servers the report knows about. It got these from the options you selected when initially creating the report. If you don’t see a server you need, simply cancel, then use the Server Connections button to add another server. Then return to add data. Assuming your server is listed, just click on it.

The next screen shows you a list of datasets in the last folder you accessed on the report server.

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In this example, Mobile Report Publisher defaults to the last folder that was accessed, in this case Demo, but it has no datasets in it. Just use the up arrow to return to the folder above it until you get to the root folder.

On this server, all the datasets are stored in a folder name Datasets, so once it was clicked on we see a list of all our datasets. All that is needed is to scroll down the list of datasets and pick Yearly Totals.

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The new data now appears as a tab in our report data area.

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You can view the data, but cannot change it. Also notice the icons to the left of the tab names. Simulated datasets have red icons, whereas imported datasets have black ones, providing visual cues as to the source of the data.

Next, repeat the steps above to add the Yearly Totals by State dataset from the report server.

Datasets and Report Elements – Better Together!

The next step is to tie the existing report elements to the new datasets. Start by clicking the Yearly Sales report element on the left. Then in the properties area at the bottom, use the dropdown to change the Series name field to YearlyTotals. The drop down to the right indicates the series to use, in this graph what should each bar in the chart represent. For this example, ensure it is set to Calendar_Year_Label. It should be noted, Mobile Report Publisher doesn’t handle spaces well. In dataset names, it simply strips out any spaces it finds, for field names it replaces spaces with an underscore.

The Main series area are the values that will be plotted. Simply validate it is set to Yearly_Total_Including_Tax.

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Next, click on the Sales Details report element on the left. In the data properties area, change the Data for the grid view to YearlyTotalsbyState. To the right is the Data grid columns pane. In here, you can clean up the titles of the columns; these are the labels that will be presented to the user. You may also uncheck a column to prevent it from appearing. Finally, you may also use the ‘hamburger’ icons (the stack of horizontal bars to the left of the check boxes) to rearrange the columns. Simply click and hold on the icon then drag it up and down to rearrange the order.

Take a moment to clean up the titles that will be shown to the end user. For this sample, change it to Year, State, and Total Including Tax, as shown below.

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As the last item for the data grid, click on the options button beside the bottom total column. In the pop up window that appears, change the String format property to Currency.

Finally, we’ll set the map properties. Click on the Yearly Total by State map in the report elements area. Change the Keys to YearlyTotalsbyState so it knows which dataset to use. To the right is a drop down that indicates the key to use for geography. This needs to be the name or abbreviation of a state, country, or some other similar geographic key. As this dataset has the State_Province column, select it in the drop down. The values can be left at the Yearly_State_Total_Including_Tax.

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As a last step before we preview, click in the New Mobile Report title at the top. Change the value to State Sales Totals. Now you can click the Preview button.

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We now have an attractive report but there’s still more to do. Before proceeding though, there’s one thing that should be pointed out regarding the simulated datasets.

Use the arrow to return to the designer. Next click on the Layout button, then click on the Data button to go back. You should see the simulated datasets have vanished. Whenever you return to the data, Mobile Report Publisher checks to see if there are any simulated datasets that are no longer in use, and removes them.

Putting the Mobile in Mobile Report Publisher

We’re finally ready to bring the Mobile to Mobile Report Publisher. Return to the Layout, then click on the white drop down in the upper right.

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Thus far all the work has been done in the Master layout. This is the layout that will appear when any web browser is used to access this report on the report portal. And Microsoft does mean any. Mobile Report Publisher is HTML5 compliant; your report should render the same whether viewed on Edge in Windows, Firefox on Linux, or Safari on a Mac or iPad.

But what about when you wish to render a special layout when using a mobile device, such as a phone or tablet? For those situations Microsoft has provided the Power BI app. Yes, the same app you can use to view Power BI reports may also be used to view Mobile Report Publisher reports. First though, the layouts for those platforms need to be created. Click on the Tablet option in the menu above.

The layout now updates to (by default) a grid of eight rows by six columns. Begin by placing the Yearly Sales in the upper left, and make it three by three in size. Then place the Yearly Total by State map directly next to it, also three by three. Finally place the Sales Details under them, taking up the remaining space.

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Return to the layout menu now, and pick Phone. The layout updates to six rows by four columns. Place the Yearly Sales chart in the upper left, and expand to two rows high by four wide. Next, place the Sales Details underneath, and expand to take up the remaining space.

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At this point some of you may be going “But Robert! What about the map?” It’s not required you use every report element when creating a layout. For this report, on a layout as small as a phone, the map wouldn’t render large enough to provide useful information, so it was omitted from this report. This is a decision though that should always be made in conjunction with your end user, and based on the data being rendered in the report!

Making It Colorful

Using the layout menu return to the Master layout. Then click the colorful rainbow icon to the right, and you will see a variety of themes appear, from which you can colorize your report.

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Currently it is not possible to select individual colors for each element, only an overall theme. As this is written the US is in the middle of a wintery cold freeze, so for this example let’s select the Snow theme. Be sure though to look at your selection in all three layouts, Master, Tablet, and Phone, to ensure your data renders visibly with the theme you selected.

Save, Save, Save

Typically, you will want to save your work as you go, but for this article we’ll save our work now. Just click Save, then select the spot to save it to. During development you may wish to save to the file system, then at the end use Save As to save to the server. For our purposes, pick Save to server.

You’ll then be prompted for the report name, this is the name that will be shown on the SSRS report portal. By default, it uses the report title, but you may change it if you wish. It then asks for the server, and finally the location. It is likely you will want to change the location, so use the Browse button to do so. For this example, it will be saved to the root folder of the report portal, to make it easier to find.

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And here it is! On our report portal, you will now see the new State Sales Totals report.

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Mobile Report Publisher Everywhere

Below is our report, as displayed in Microsoft Edge, running on the SSRS server.

word image 131 Mobile Report Publisher – Dashboards Everywhere

But then you’d expect it to render well on Edge. But what about on another platform all together? Perhaps from a MacBook running on your network?

Well that may require one additional step, depending on where you are running SSRS. If you are running this in an enterprise, your network administrator has worked out the connectivity issues ahead of time, and you likely won’t need this section. But what if you are a developer or student, using the developer edition of SQL Server on your Windows 10 PC at home in order to learn?

Well for those folks, there is one additional step. You will have to open Port 80 on your Windows 10 (or 8 or 7) computer which is running SSRS in order for another computer on your home network to be able to access it. It’s not difficult, but there’s quite a few steps involved, so I’ve put complete instructions on my blog at https://arcanecode.com/2018/01/02/opening-port-80-in-windows-firewall-to-support-calling-ssrs-from-another-computer/ .

So, assuming you have your network configured correctly, either by yourself for your network administrator, how about that example of viewing the report from Safari, running on MacBook Pro? Well take a look:

word image 132 Mobile Report Publisher – Dashboards Everywhere

You’ll note I used the IP address of the computer running SSRS, adding the /reports to the end (i.e. http://192.168.0.113/reports for this example). That’s because this network doesn’t have any type of domain setup, so just using the IP address is the simplest method. (To see the IP address, just open a CMD window on your SSRS computer and type in IPCONFIG and press enter, it will show you the IP address.)

But let’s really push the edge, beyond just a PC. Here’s Safari running on an iPad Pro:

word image 133 Mobile Report Publisher – Dashboards Everywhere

As you can see, when viewed as a webpage Mobile Reports really show up nicely, and consistently, across a variety of browsers and platforms. But what about mobile?

First, you’ll need to get the Power BI app from the AppStore of your preferred device. When you launch it for the first time, you’ll be asked whether you wish to connect to a Power BI server, or a Report server. For this article we’ll pick Report server.

word image 134 Mobile Report Publisher – Dashboards Everywhere

Next, it prompts you for the name of the server to connect to. In the lab used to create this article there’s no domain controller, so the IP address of the computer running SSRS was used. Don’t forget the /reports on the end! For the Advanced options a friendly name for the server was given.

word image 135 Mobile Report Publisher – Dashboards Everywhere

Finally, you will be asked for your login credentials. Provide them and press sign in.

word image 136 Mobile Report Publisher – Dashboards Everywhere

If you have connected to a different Power BI or SSRS server previously, all you need to do is press the menu icon in the upper left, click on the gear in the pop out menu, then click connect to server, and it will walk you through the above steps.

Once in you will be shown the report portal. Simply scroll down to find the mobile report that you just created and tap on it. Here is our report as displayed on an iPad:

word image 137 Mobile Report Publisher – Dashboards Everywhere

Setting up on a phone follows the same steps as above, only the report will be formatted for the phone:

word image 138 Mobile Report Publisher – Dashboards Everywhere

Summary

Mobile Report Publisher is a great tool for creating dashboards. It nicely fits the niche between the line item reports native SSRS is great at producing, and the self-service dashboards Power BI is used for. With a pool of datasets ready to go, dashboards can be assembled quickly and easily, to fit a variety of needs.

This article just tapped the most basic of Mobile Report Publisher’s capabilities. Report elements can be linked together so one report element can act as a filter for another. Drill through is supported, so you can open another Mobile Report, a website, or a SSRS paginated report from a Mobile Report. As you saw, there are also many other report elements available to explore.

Even if you don’t plan on running reports on mobile devices such as tablets and phones, Mobile Report Publisher is still an excellent tool for creating dashboards for use across your enterprise.

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Measuring ROI In Mobile Analytics/BI In Field Sales

When members of Lowe’s Innovation Labs first began talking with the home improvement retailer’s senior executives about how disruptive technologies would affect the future, the presentations were well received but nothing stuck.

“We’d give a really great presentation and everyone would say, ‘Great job,’ but nothing would really happen,” says Amanda Manna, head of narratives and partnerships for the lab.

The team realized that it needed to ditch the PowerPoints and try something radical. The team’s leader, Kyle Nel, is a behavioral scientist by training. He knows people are wired to receive new information best through stories. Sharing far-future concepts through narrative, he surmised, could unlock hidden potential to drive meaningful change.

So Nel hired science fiction writers to pen the future in comic book format, with characters and a narrative arc revealed pane by pane.

The first storyline, written several years before Oculus Rift became a household name, told the tale of a couple envisioning their kitchen renovation using virtual reality headsets. The comic might have been fun and fanciful, but its intent was deadly serious. It was a vision of a future in which Lowe’s might solve one of its long-standing struggles: the approximately US$ 70 billion left on the table when people are unable to start a home improvement project because they can’t envision what it will look like.

When the lab presented leaders with the first comic, “it was like a light bulb went on,” says Manna. “Not only did they immediately understand the value of the concept, they were convinced that if we didn’t build it, someone else would.”

Today, Lowe’s customers in select stores can use the HoloRoom How To virtual reality tool to learn basic DIY skills in an interactive and immersive environment.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image2 Measuring ROI In Mobile Analytics/BI In Field SalesOther comics followed and were greeted with similar enthusiasm—and investment, where possible. One tells the story of robots that help customers navigate stores. That comic spawned the LoweBot, which roamed the aisles of several Lowe’s stores during a pilot program in California and is being evaluated to determine next steps.

And the comic about tools that can be 3D-printed in space? Last year, Lowe’s partnered with Made in Space, which specializes in making 3D printers that can operate in zero gravity, to install the first commercial 3D printer in the International Space Station, where it was used to make tools and parts for astronauts.

The comics are the result of sending writers out on an open-ended assignment, armed with trends, market research, and other input, to envision what home improvement planning might look like in the future or what the experience of shopping will be in 10 years. The writers come back with several potential story ideas in a given area and work collaboratively with lab team members to refine it over time.

The process of working with writers and business partners to develop the comics helps the future strategy team at Lowe’s, working under chief development officer Richard D. Maltsbarger, to inhabit that future. They can imagine how it might play out, what obstacles might surface, and what steps the company would need to take to bring that future to life.

Once the final vision hits the page, the lab team can clearly envision how to work backward to enable the innovation. Importantly, the narrative is shared not only within the company but also out in the world. It serves as a kind of “bat signal” to potential technology partners with capabilities that might be required to make it happen, says Manna. “It’s all part of our strategy for staking a claim in the future.”

Companies like Lowe’s are realizing that standard ways of planning for the future won’t get them where they need to go. The problem with traditional strategic planning is that the approach, which dates back to the 1950s and has remained largely unchanged since then, is based on the company’s existing mission, resources, core competencies, and competitors.

Yet the future rarely looks like the past. What’s more, digital technology is now driving change at exponential rates. Companies must be able to analyze and assess the potential impacts of the many variables at play, determine the possible futures they want to pursue, and develop the agility to pivot as conditions change along the way.

This is why planning must become completely oriented toward—and sourced from—the future, rather than from the past or the present. “Every winning strategy is based on a compelling insight, but most strategic planning originates in today’s marketplace, which means the resulting plans are constrained to incremental innovation,” says Bob Johansen, distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future. “Most corporate strategists and CEOs are just inching their way to the future.” (Read more from Bob Johansen in the Thinkers story, “Fear Factor.”)

Inching forward won’t cut it anymore. Half of the S&P 500 organizations will be replaced over the next decade, according to research company Innosight. The reason? They can’t see the portfolio of possible futures, they can’t act on them, or both. Indeed, when SAP conducts future planning workshops with clients, we find that they usually struggle to look beyond current models and assumptions and lack clear ideas about how to work toward radically different futures.

Companies that want to increase their chances of long-term survival are incorporating three steps: envisioning, planning for, and executing on possible futures. And doing so all while the actual future is unfolding in expected and unexpected ways.

Those that pull it off are rewarded. A 2017 benchmarking report from the Strategic Foresight Research Network (SFRN) revealed that vigilant companies (those with the most mature processes for identifying, interpreting, and responding to factors that induce change) achieved 200% greater market capitalization growth and 33% higher profitability than the average, while the least mature companies experienced negative market-cap growth and had 44% lower profitability.

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Looking Outside the Margins

“Most organizations lack sufficient capacity to detect, interpret, and act on the critically important but weak and ambiguous signals of fresh threats or new opportunities that emerge on the periphery of their usual business environment,” write George S. Day and Paul J. H. Schoemaker in their book Peripheral Vision.

But that’s exactly where effective future planning begins: examining what is happening outside the margins of day-to-day business as usual in order to peer into the future.

Business leaders who take this approach understand that despite the uncertainties of the future there are drivers of change that can be identified and studied and actions that can be taken to better prepare for—and influence—how events unfold.

That starts with developing foresight, typically a decade out. Ten years, most future planners agree, is the sweet spot. “It is far enough out that it gives you a bit more latitude to come up with a broader way to the future, allowing for disruption and innovation,” says Brian David Johnson, former chief futurist for Intel and current futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination. “But you can still see the light from it.”

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image4 Measuring ROI In Mobile Analytics/BI In Field SalesThe process involves gathering information about the factors and forces—technological, business, sociological, and industry or ecosystem trends—that are effecting change to envision a range of potential impacts.

Seeing New Worlds

Intel, for example, looks beyond its own industry boundaries to envision possible future developments in adjacent businesses in the larger ecosystem it operates in. In 2008, the Intel Labs team, led by anthropologist Genevieve Bell, determined that the introduction of flexible glass displays would open up a whole new category of foldable consumer electronic devices.

To take advantage of that advance, Intel would need to be able to make silicon small enough to fit into some imagined device of the future. By the time glass manufacturer Corning unveiled its ultra-slim, flexible glass surface for mobile devices, laptops, televisions, and other displays of the future in 2012, Intel had already created design prototypes and kicked its development into higher gear. “Because we had done the future casting, we were already imagining how people might use flexible glass to create consumer devices,” says Johnson.

Because future planning relies so heavily on the quality of the input it receives, bringing in experts can elevate the practice. They can come from inside an organization, but the most influential insight may come from the outside and span a wide range of disciplines, says Steve Brown, a futurist, consultant, and CEO of BaldFuturist.com who worked for Intel Labs from 2007 to 2016.

Companies may look to sociologists or behaviorists who have insight into the needs and wants of people and how that influences their actions. Some organizations bring in an applied futurist, skilled at scanning many different forces and factors likely to coalesce in important ways (see Do You Need a Futurist?).

Do You Need a Futurist?

Most organizations need an outsider to help envision their future. Futurists are good at looking beyond the big picture to the biggest picture.

Business leaders who want to be better prepared for an uncertain and disruptive future will build future planning as a strategic capability into their organizations and create an organizational culture that embraces the approach. But working with credible futurists, at least in the beginning, can jump-start the process.

“The present can be so noisy and business leaders are so close to it that it’s helpful to provide a fresh outside-in point of view,” says veteran futurist Bob Johansen.

To put it simply, futurists like Johansen are good at connecting dots—lots of them. They look beyond the boundaries of a single company or even an industry, incorporating into their work social science, technical research, cultural movements, economic data, trends, and the input of other experts.

They can also factor in the cultural history of the specific company with whom they’re working, says Brian David Johnson, futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination. “These large corporations have processes and procedures in place—typically for good reasons,” Johnson explains. “But all of those reasons have everything to do with the past and nothing to do with the future. Looking at that is important so you can understand the inertia that you need to overcome.”

One thing the best futurists will say they can’t do: predict the future. That’s not the point. “The future punishes certainty,” Johansen says, “but it rewards clarity.” The methods futurists employ are designed to trigger discussions and considerations of possibilities corporate leaders might not otherwise consider.

You don’t even necessarily have to buy into all the foresight that results, says Johansen. Many leaders don’t. “Every forecast is debatable,” Johansen says. “Foresight is a way to provoke insight, even if you don’t believe it. The value is in letting yourself be provoked.”

External expert input serves several purposes. It brings everyone up to a common level of knowledge. It can stimulate and shift the thinking of participants by introducing them to new information or ideas. And it can challenge the status quo by illustrating how people and organizations in different sectors are harnessing emerging trends.

The goal is not to come up with one definitive future but multiple possibilities—positive and negative—along with a list of the likely obstacles or accelerants that could surface on the road ahead. The result: increased clarity—rather than certainty—in the face of the unknown that enables business decision makers to execute and refine business plans and strategy over time.

Plotting the Steps Along the Way

Coming up with potential trends is an important first step in futuring, but even more critical is figuring out what steps need to be taken along the way: eight years from now, four years from now, two years from now, and now. Considerations include technologies to develop, infrastructure to deploy, talent to hire, partnerships to forge, and acquisitions to make. Without this vital step, says Brown, everybody goes back to their day jobs and the new thinking generated by future planning is wasted. To work, the future steps must be tangible, concrete, and actionable.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image5 Measuring ROI In Mobile Analytics/BI In Field SalesOrganizations must build a roadmap for the desired future state that anticipates both developments and detours, complete with signals that will let them know if they’re headed in the right direction. Brown works with corporate leaders to set indicator flags to look out for on the way to the anticipated future. “If we see these flagged events occurring in the ecosystem, they help to confirm the strength of our hypothesis that a particular imagined future is likely to occur,” he explains.

For example, one of Brown’s clients envisioned two potential futures: one in which gestural interfaces took hold and another in which voice control dominated. The team set a flag to look out for early examples of the interfaces that emerged in areas such as home appliances and automobiles. “Once you saw not just Amazon Echo but also Google Home and other copycat speakers, it would increase your confidence that you were moving more towards a voice-first era rather than a gesture-first era,” Brown says. “It doesn’t mean that gesture won’t happen, but it’s less likely to be the predominant modality for communication.”

How to Keep Experiments from Being Stifled

Once organizations have a vision for the future, making it a reality requires testing ideas in the marketplace and then scaling them across the enterprise. “There’s a huge change piece involved,”
says Frank Diana, futurist and global consultant with Tata Consultancy Services, “and that’s the place where most
businesses will fall down.”

Many large firms have forgotten what it’s like to experiment in several new markets on a small scale to determine what will stick and what won’t, says René Rohrbeck, professor of strategy at the Aarhus School of Business and Social Sciences. Companies must be able to fail quickly, bring the lessons learned back in, adapt, and try again.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image6 Measuring ROI In Mobile Analytics/BI In Field SalesLowe’s increases its chances of success by creating master narratives across a number of different areas at once, such as robotics, mixed-reality tools, on-demand manufacturing, sustainability, and startup acceleration. The lab maps components of each by expected timelines: short, medium, and long term. “From there, we’ll try to build as many of them as quickly as we can,” says Manna. “And we’re always looking for that next suite of things that we should be working on.” Along the way certain innovations, like the HoloRoom How-To, become developed enough to integrate into the larger business as part of the core strategy.

One way Lowe’s accelerates the process of deciding what is ready to scale is by being open about its nascent plans with the world. “In the past, Lowe’s would never talk about projects that weren’t at scale,” says Manna. Now the company is sharing its future plans with the media and, as a result, attracting partners that can jump-start their realization.

Seeing a Lowe’s comic about employee exoskeletons, for example, led Virginia Tech engineering professor Alan Asbeck to the retailer. He helped develop a prototype for a three-month pilot with stock employees at a Christiansburg, Virginia, store.

The high-tech suit makes it easier to move heavy objects. Employees trying out the suits are also fitted with an EEG headset that the lab incorporates into all its pilots to gauge unstated, subconscious reactions. That direct feedback on the user experience helps the company refine its innovations over time.

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Make the Future Part of the Culture

Regardless of whether all the elements of its master narratives come to pass, Lowe’s has already accomplished something important: It has embedded future thinking into the culture of the company.

Companies like Lowe’s constantly scan the environment for meaningful economic, technology, and cultural changes that could impact its future assessments and plans. “They can regularly draw on future planning to answer challenges,” says Rohrbeck. “This intensive, ongoing, agile strategizing is only possible because they’ve done their homework up front and they keep it updated.”

It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen in the future, but companies can help to shape it, says Manna of Lowe’s. “It’s really about painting a picture of a preferred future state that we can try to achieve while being flexible and capable of change as we learn things along the way.” D!


About the Authors

Dan Wellers is Global Lead, Digital Futures, at SAP.

Kai Goerlich is Chief Futurist at SAP’s Innovation Center Network.

Stephanie Overby is a Boston-based business and technology journalist.


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

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New White Paper: Tracing Transactions from Mobile to Mainframe

There has been explosive growth of large-scale business services that incorporate mobile and web-based applications. These services include transactions originating from tablets, PCs and smartphones and connect to back-end applications hosted on the mainframe.

With such high visibility among customers, partners, executives and investors, there is even more pressure to avoid unacceptable response times and unreliable performance. Wouldn’t it be great if businesses could track transactions for critical systems across their infrastructure and see exactly what happens to these transactions as they cross the mainframe?

Our latest white paper, “Tracing Transactions from Mobile to Mainframe,” lays out how organizations can get deep insight into web-based and mobile transactions’ impact on the mainframe, enabling them to monitor and improve IT operations and application performance.

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Download the white paper now!

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Mobile Payments Fraud: How Strong Is Your Defensive Line?

Mobile Fraud Payments Mobile Payments Fraud: How Strong Is Your Defensive Line?

Fall is ending and with that comes the final rush to the playoffs for our American football teams. And with the close of football comes the final push for fantasy football team owners as they navigate the final few weeks of the season. As the proud winner of my local fantasy league’s 2016 trophy (pictured above), I’m keenly focused on gearing up for my 2017 playoff run. Reflecting back on our 2017 draft party in August, I remember “The Commissioner” collecting participants’ money — specifically, cold hard cash. Not a mobile payment, Venmo or Zelle, PayPal or Cashbot was in sight.

Seeing the flutter of sawbucks gave me a flashback to one of my first payments memories, from the early 1980s, when the Connecticut Bank and Trust Co. (CBT) used a character called Barney to popularize the use of nascent ATMs. No, CBT’s Barney wasn’t a purple dinosaur. According to a report in the Hartford Courant, the bank’s Barney character, which had a small round face and bow tie, was once so recognizable in the state that any bank’s ATM came to be known as a “Barney machine.” As a kid, I remember my mom and mad withdrawing cash from a “Barney machine,” watching with delight as a few 20-dollar bills floated into their hands.

Mobile Payments Proliferate

In the 35 or so years since banks were trying to convince consumers to use newfangled automated teller machines, ATMs — and consumer — have gotten a lot more sophisticated. Recently, as part of my job at FICO, I have been using my phone to withdraw cash from Wells Fargo ATMs. I have to admit I am a little surprised at how easy it is; all of the withdrawals have been processed without a hitch.

However, as a payments professional in the business of preventing fraud, I’m not just impressed at how easy this new ATM technology is to use. I’m concerned about the emergence of yet another opportunity for mobile payments fraud.

It’s no secret that consumers are moving quickly to embrace mobile payments. Following the first salvo fired by ApplePay, seemingly innumerable offerings have entered the mobile payment fray, each gaining a loyal following. For example, during the second quarter of 2017, the dollar value of mobile payments processed by PayPal rose 50% year over year, to about $ 36 billion. Peer-to-peer payments made with PayPal’s Venmo app more than doubled to $ 8 billion, year over year. The meteoric rise of payment volumes alone indicates a significant increase in mobile payments fraud risk.

Mobile Payments Are Tied to DDA and Savings Accounts

However, as mobile payment mechanisms proliferate, so do the options for the underlying source of funds. While ApplePay and most fill-in-the-blank “pays” are secured with debit or credit cards, other newer entrants are funded directly by checking or savings accounts.

Most notable here is Zelle, a Venmo competitor backed by a coalition of 30 banks. Zelle allows users to send payments directly from their bank accounts; senders only need to know information like a recipient’s phone number or email.

The rollout was fraught with confusion as users of Zelle’s predecessor, clearXchange, struggled to figure out how to migrate from the old peer-to-peer payment system to the new one, prompting headlines like, “Zelle sign-up issues expose risks of tying phone numbers to accounts.”

In full disclosure, I’ve used Zelle for money transfers within my own household. It is very easy to use (both sender and recipient), even if it was a little “buried” on my bank’s app.

New Risks Require Additional Fraud Coverage

Payments professionals — and banks, for that matter — know that fraudsters lay in wait, watching for any opportunity to exploit risk in the payments ecosystem. As mobile payment types proliferate, so does the risk of mobile payments fraud. While FICO® Falcon® Fraud Manager is best known for protecting payment card transactions, the Falcon platform offers capabilities to detect fraud on non-card electronic payments such as person-to-person, ACH and wire, as well as deposit and other online/mobile banking activity.

Will banks bolster their defensive line with additional mobile payments fraud protections, driving further adoption? To me, it’s something every financial institution must be considering. As we make things more and more convenient for consumers, we are opening up avenues for financial crime.

Time will tell as to whether mobile P2P payments become mainstream—and I’ll believe it when money gets Zelle’d to “The Commissioner” of my fantasy football league. But it’s clear that the mobile device as a vehicle to funds is only going to get more and more commonplace. Hopefully, for me, it will be in the form of being recipient of funds from The Commissioner and I’ll be working on my strategy for a Three-Peat.

Follow my views on fraud, payments and the occasional football play on Twitter @fraudbird.

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Transaction Visibility from Mobile to Mainframe

Your most visible and strategic business services rely on transactions that originate on a mobile or web-based platform and connect to back-end applications on a mainframe. You’re likely monitoring these services 24/7 for potential problems impacting response times and performance – but do you have the details you need to identify and fix problems when they arise on the mainframe?

In our recent webcast End-to-End Transaction Visibility from Mobile Devices to Your Mainframe, our experts Ed Hallock and Ian Hartley take a closer look at end-to-end transaction tracing, including new mainframe transaction visibility.

The Transaction Tracing Challenge

The growth of large-scale business services incorporating web and mobile apps has exploded. There is a greater reliance on mainframe than ever before. This is particularly true for industries such as banking, insurance, financial services, retail and healthcare.

The mobile transactions connecting to back-end applications hosted on the mainframe tend to be very visible – not only to customers, but also partners and executives. This new level of attention adds an extra layer of incentive to avoid issues such as delayed response times or outages.

To ensure reliable performance, you are likely monitoring the overall end-user experience to detect potential problems, but have limited information as the transaction crosses the mainframe. You probably know how long a transaction spends on the mainframe, but until now have had no way monitoring the transaction as it move through mainframe systems, including CICS and Db2. This lack of visibility can create significant challenges including impact to service levels.

blog banner webcast Ironstream Transaction Tracing Transaction Visibility from Mobile to Mainframe

The Solution: End-to-End Transaction Tracing

Transaction tracing enables organizations to get deep insight into web-based and mobile transactions on the mainframe with unprecedented granularity.

In his recent two-part blog post, our principal engineer Ian Hartley describes exactly what there is to see “on the dark side of the moon” and then details how our new product gets you there.

Syncsort Ironstream® Transaction Tracing leverages Ironstream® to deliver IBM z/OS machine data in real-time to leading platforms for operational analytics, like Splunk®. The slide below provides more detail into how it works.

blog Transaction tracing how does it work 1 Transaction Visibility from Mobile to Mainframe

This slide from Ed and Ian’s recent webcast details how cross-platform transaction tracing works, including mainframe transaction visibility

See Cross-Platform Transaction Tracing in Action

Ironstream® Transaction Tracing gives you the information you need to quickly spot problems and gain deep insight into a transaction’s impact on the mainframe – no matter where it originates.

Watch the recorded webcast for a full demo of the Ironstream® Transaction Tracing. See how to integrate with leading operational analytics platforms, such as Splunk® Enterprise and Splunk® IT Service Intelligence with a minimal footprint, easy installation and low overhead – with no mainframe expertise required.

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China's Mobile Phone Shipments Decrease 7.4%

Mobile phone shipments in China decreased by 7.4% year-on-year when comparing September 2016 to September 2017.

The China Academy of Information and Communications Technology published a report on the Chinese mobile phone market for September 2017, and stated mobile phone shipments in the Chinese domestic market were 44.186 million units in September 2017, representing a decrease of 7.4% compared with the same period of last year; and the number of newly launched mobile phone models was 123, a year-on-year increase of 0.8%.

From January to September 2017, China’s total mobile phone shipments were 367 million units, a year-on-year decrease of 8.2%; and the number of newly launched mobile phone models was 823, a year-on-year decrease of 28%.

Meanwhile, China’s 4G phone shipments were 41.596 million units in September 2017, a year-on-year decrease of 3.3%; and the number of newly launched 4G phone models was 90, a year-on-year decrease of 9.1%. From January to September 2017, China’s total 4G phone shipments were 346 million, a year-on-year decrease of 6.3%; and the number of newly launched 4G phone modes was 651, a year-on-year decrease of 33.2%.

In addition, the smartphone shipment in September 2017 was 41.556 million units, a year-on-year decrease of 3.8%. Of that total, 33.901 million were Android smartphones. During the first nine months of 2017, China’s total smartphone shipments decreased by 7% year-on-year to 345 million units, and 288 million were Android smartphones.

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AI-Powered Mobile Chatbots Promise More Efficient Customer Service

Helpshift’s new Web Chat application uses artificial intelligence to help companies release scalable chatbots that can automate customer service through real-time interactions.

chatbot customer service AI Powered Mobile Chatbots Promise More Efficient Customer Service

The new AI-based tool, released last week, will help customers provide enterprise-grade support to their customers, according to the company, which specializes in mobile customer support for the gaming industry.

“We have taken our mobile expertise and built a mobile-first conversational chat experience with built-in AI chatbots to drive huge efficiency gains in large-scale chat operations,” CSO Abinash Tripathy and CTO Baishampayan Ghose told CRM Buyer via email.

Web chat applications for the desktop have existed for years, they noted, but they typically utilized a synchronous phone call-like service that placed customers in a queue, essentially putting them on hold until a customer service agent entered the conversation.

Bringing in robotics and AI will help free human agents from having to answer questions that previously may have been answered, suggested Tripathy and Ghose, who pointed to data indicating that simple things like frequently asked questions could deflect 50 percent to 70 percent of customer queries.

Value of Customization

The Web Chat application allows routing of questions based on priority, skill and availability. It also allows prioritization of customer questions based on whether the customer is a premium user, on the value of items in the shopping cart, or on the status of an airline or hotel reservation.

It gives agents a 360-degree view of customer interactions — for example, allowing them to view all prior chat history — and provides other customized data from a CRM system.

The Web Chat interface has a look and feel similar to Facebook Messenger or Apple iMessage, with functions including typing indicators, chat avatars, and send and received receipts, according to the company.

The Helpshift chatbot types include the following:

  • An Answer Bot, which matches questions to relevant FAQs, sometimes negating the need for an agent;
  • A GetInfo Bot, which prompts users to enter their name, email and other information, so the agent doesn’t need to request it; and
  • A Customer Satisfaction bot, which monitors customer satisfaction immediately following resolution of the issue.

Customers will be able to develop their own customized bots as well.

Need It Now

The AI-based Web Chat application comes at a time of increasing demand for faster customer service, particularly due to the increasing use of mobile phones and other portable devices for online shopping.

“Customer expectations have shifted towards immediacy, and preferences for service through Web and mobile chat have increased,” said Cindy Zhou, principal analyst for digital marketing and sales effectiveness at Constellation Research.

“Chat is preferred over phone calls,” which often entail voice response unites that route customers to multiple places “before a single question is answered,” she told CRM Buyer, “or emails that can take days for a response.”

Questions like hours of operation, location address, credit card balance and payment due are perfect for interaction with bots, Zhou noted. Adding AI can look at patterns of questions in order to speed up the entire customer experience.

Helpshift’s applications already are installed on more than 2 billion devices worldwide, and the company claims more than 600 million active consumers engage with them every month.

Helpshift has made a major difference in
Chatbooks’ ability to service customers, the startup said. Chatbooks converts photos from social media into photo books for customers.

“Live chat is a game-changer for us at Chatbooks,” said Angel Brockbank, director of customer support at Chatbooks.

“If a customer has a question while making a Chatbooks photo book and she doesn’t get immediate support, she may never return,” she told CRM Buyer, noting that using live chat has allowed the company to reduce average time to resolve issues from nine days to 18 hours.
end enn AI Powered Mobile Chatbots Promise More Efficient Customer Service


David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.

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