Tag Archives: Modern

International Housewares Show: Customer Experience, Curation, Mobile are Key to the Modern Consumer

Posted by Ranga Bodla, Head of Industry Marketing

From the kitchen to the bathroom to the living room, the annual International Housewares Show that descended upon Chicago this week offered a glimpse into not only every room of the house, but also the future of retail.

 International Housewares Show: Customer Experience, Curation, Mobile are Key to the Modern ConsumerCelebrating its 80th anniversary, this year’s show features the latest and greatest that the industry has to offer in home furnishings and, my favorite part, the kitchen. I was part of the keynote panel with HFN (Home Furnishing News), which presented its annual research into consumer trends that are impacting the industry. The lively panel discussion that followed included executives from Wayfair (a NetSuite customer), Evine and Kitchen a la Mode (a specialty brick and mortar store).

There were a few takeaways that we discussed that I found particularly interesting:

Mobile-first is table stakes 

When it comes to online shopping, businesses need more than just having a great app, they have to be fully mobile enabled for every aspect of how consumers might interact with them. Google drove a big push towards responsive design and mobile in 2017, but many companies are still playing catch up. Whether its consumers doing research before shopping, or while shopping, the expectation is that they have a mobile friendly experience (without having to download an app). And if a consumer wants to buy a product, they want to be able to complete that transaction on their phone. Additionally, consumers want to be able to start researching on one device, transition to another device and then finally complete the transaction on another. Sites need to make sure they can carry that cart across those platforms without placing additional burden on the user.

Customer Experience Wins Over Couponing and Loyalty Programs

Ryan Gilchrist, director of housewares & more at Wayfair, discussed how the company is hyper focused on the customer experience and, when it comes to couponing, it focuses on the transactions that will gain new customers and increase its total volume. Wayfair’s focus is on coupons for major life events (new house, birth, etc.) instead of the ubiquitous 40 percent off coupon that trains consumers to wait for sales. Additionally, while loyalty programs seemed to be all the rage 18 months ago, they have lessened in their importance as consumers are more interested in a good experience than loyalty points when it comes to their houseware purchases.

Curation is key

The amount of choice available to consumers only continues to increase, particularly at a show that showcases hundreds of new products in every category. Increasingly, consumers are looking for guidance about the best products to buy and advice about products in specific categories and prices. Sites and stores that are able to help curate products and provide advice about what to buy are winning and thriving. Trying to compete with Amazon on the price for a Kitchen-Aid isn’t a viable long-term strategy.

The bottom line is, housewares is one of the fastest growing segments as consumers are increasingly spending more time at home and in their kitchens. Learn more about NetSuite software for houseware companies.

Posted on Wed, March 14, 2018
by NetSuite filed under

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The Importance Of Cybersecurity In Modern E-Commerce

In a future teeming with robots and artificial intelligence, humans seem to be on the verge of being crowded out. But in reality the opposite is true.

To be successful, organizations need to become more human than ever.

Organizations that focus only on automation will automate away their competitive edge. The most successful will focus instead on skills that set them apart and that can’t be duplicated by AI or machine learning. Those skills can be summed up in one word: humanness.

You can see it in the numbers. According to David J. Deming of the Harvard Kennedy School, demand for jobs that require social skills has risen nearly 12 percentage points since 1980, while less-social jobs, such as computer coding, have declined by a little over 3 percentage points.

AI is in its infancy, which means that it cannot yet come close to duplicating our most human skills. Stefan van Duin and Naser Bakhshi, consultants at professional services company Deloitte, break down artificial intelligence into two types: narrow and general. Narrow AI is good at specific tasks, such as playing chess or identifying facial expressions. General AI, which can learn and solve complex, multifaceted problems the way a human being does, exists today only in the minds of futurists.

The only thing narrow artificial intelligence can do is automate. It can’t empathize. It can’t collaborate. It can’t innovate. Those abilities, if they ever come, are still a long way off. In the meantime, AI’s biggest value is in augmentation. When human beings work with AI tools, the process results in a sort of augmented intelligence. This augmented intelligence outperforms the work of either human beings or AI software tools on their own.

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AI-powered tools will be the partners that free employees and management to tackle higher-level challenges.

Those challenges will, by default, be more human and social in nature because many rote, repetitive tasks will be automated away. Companies will find that developing fundamental human skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, within the organization will take on a new importance. These skills can’t be automated and they won’t become process steps for algorithms anytime soon.

In a world where technology change is constant and unpredictable, those organizations that make the fullest use of uniquely human skills will win. These skills will be used in collaboration with both other humans and AI-fueled software and hardware tools. The degree of humanness an organization possesses will become a competitive advantage.

This means that today’s companies must think about hiring, training, and leading differently. Most of today’s corporate training programs focus on imparting specific knowledge that will likely become obsolete over time.

Instead of hiring for portfolios of specific subject knowledge, organizations should instead hire—and train—for more foundational skills, whose value can’t erode away as easily.

Recently, educational consulting firm Hanover Research looked at high-growth occupations identified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and determined the core skills required in each of them based on a database that it had developed. The most valuable skills were active listening, speaking, and critical thinking—giving lie to the dismissive term soft skills. They’re not soft; they’re human.

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This doesn’t mean that STEM skills won’t be important in the future. But organizations will find that their most valuable employees are those with both math and social skills.

That’s because technical skills will become more perishable as AI shifts the pace of technology change from linear to exponential. Employees will require constant retraining over time. For example, roughly half of the subject knowledge acquired during the first year of a four-year technical degree, such as computer science, is already outdated by the time students graduate, according to The Future of Jobs, a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The WEF’s report further notes that “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist.” By contrast, human skills such as interpersonal communication and project management will remain consistent over the years.

For example, organizations already report that they are having difficulty finding people equipped for the Big Data era’s hot job: data scientist. That’s because data scientists need a combination of hard and soft skills. Data scientists can’t just be good programmers and statisticians; they also need to be intuitive and inquisitive and have good communication skills. We don’t expect all these qualities from our engineering graduates, nor from most of our employees.

But we need to start.

From Self-Help to Self-Skills

Even if most schools and employers have yet to see it, employees are starting to understand that their future viability depends on improving their innately human qualities. One of the most popular courses on Coursera, an online learning platform, is called Learning How to Learn. Created by the University of California, San Diego, the course is essentially a master class in human skills: students learn everything from memory techniques to dealing with procrastination and communicating complicated ideas, according to an article in The New York Times.

Although there is a longstanding assumption that social skills are innate, nothing is further from the truth. As the popularity of Learning How to Learn attests, human skills—everything from learning skills to communication skills to empathy—can, and indeed must, be taught.

These human skills are integral for training workers for a workplace where artificial intelligence and automation are part of the daily routine. According to the WEF’s New Vision for Education report, the skills that employees will need in the future fall into three primary categories:

  • Foundational literacies: These core skills needed for the coming age of robotics and AI include understanding the basics of math, science, computing, finance, civics, and culture. While mastery of every topic isn’t required, workers who have a basic comprehension of many different areas will be richly rewarded in the coming economy.
  • Competencies: Developing competencies requires mastering very human skills, such as active listening, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration.
  • Character qualities: Over the next decade, employees will need to master the skills that will help them grasp changing job duties and responsibilities. This means learning the skills that help employees acquire curiosity, initiative, persistence, grit, adaptability, leadership, and social and cultural awareness.

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The good news is that learning human skills is not completely divorced from how work is structured today. Yonatan Zunger, a Google engineer with a background working with AI, argues that there is a considerable need for human skills in the workplace already—especially in the tech world. Many employees are simply unaware that when they are working on complicated software or hardware projects, they are using empathy, strategic problem solving, intuition, and interpersonal communication.

The unconscious deployment of human skills takes place even more frequently when employees climb the corporate ladder into management. “This is closely tied to the deeper difference between junior and senior roles: a junior person’s job is to find answers to questions; a senior person’s job is to find the right questions to ask,” says Zunger.

Human skills will be crucial to navigating the AI-infused workplace. There will be no shortage of need for the right questions to ask.

One of the biggest changes narrow AI tools will bring to the workplace is an evolution in how work is performed. AI-based tools will automate repetitive tasks across a wide swath of industries, which means that the day-to-day work for many white-collar workers will become far more focused on tasks requiring problem solving and critical thinking. These tasks will present challenges centered on interpersonal collaboration, clear communication, and autonomous decision-making—all human skills.

Being More Human Is Hard

However, the human skills that are essential for tomorrow’s AI-ified workplace, such as interpersonal communication, project planning, and conflict management, require a different approach from traditional learning. Often, these skills don’t just require people to learn new facts and techniques; they also call for basic changes in the ways individuals behave on—and off—the job.

Attempting to teach employees how to make behavioral changes has always seemed off-limits to organizations—the province of private therapists, not corporate trainers. But that outlook is changing. As science gains a better understanding of how the human brain works, many behaviors that affect employees on the job are understood to be universal and natural rather than individual (see “Human Skills 101”).

Human Skills 101

As neuroscience has improved our understanding of the brain, human skills have become increasingly quantifiable—and teachable.

Though the term soft skills has managed to hang on in the popular lexicon, our understanding of these human skills has increased to the point where they aren’t soft at all: they are a clearly definable set of skills that are crucial for organizations in the AI era.

Active listening: Paying close attention when receiving information and drawing out more information than received in normal discourse

Critical thinking: Gathering, analyzing, and evaluating issues and information to come to an unbiased conclusion

Problem solving: Finding solutions to problems and understanding the steps used to solve the problem

Decision-making: Weighing the evidence and options at hand to determine a specific course of action

Monitoring: Paying close attention to an issue, topic, or interaction in order to retain information for the future

Coordination: Working with individuals and other groups to achieve common goals

Social perceptiveness: Inferring what others are thinking by observing them

Time management: Budgeting and allocating time for projects and goals and structuring schedules to minimize conflicts and maximize productivity

Creativity: Generating ideas, concepts, or inferences that can be used to create new things

Curiosity: Desiring to learn and understand new or unfamiliar concepts

Imagination: Conceiving and thinking about new ideas, concepts, or images

Storytelling: Building narratives and concepts out of both new and existing ideas

Experimentation: Trying out new ideas, theories, and activities

Ethics: Practicing rules and standards that guide conduct and guarantee rights and fairness

Empathy: Identifying and understanding the emotional states of others

Collaboration: Working with others, coordinating efforts, and sharing resources to accomplish a common project

Resiliency: Withstanding setbacks, avoiding discouragement, and persisting toward a larger goal

Resistance to change, for example, is now known to result from an involuntary chemical reaction in the brain known as the fight-or-flight response, not from a weakness of character. Scientists and psychologists have developed objective ways of identifying these kinds of behaviors and have come up with universally applicable ways for employees to learn how to deal with them.

Organizations that emphasize such individual behavioral traits as active listening, social perceptiveness, and experimentation will have both an easier transition to a workplace that uses AI tools and more success operating in it.

Framing behavioral training in ways that emphasize its practical application at work and in advancing career goals helps employees feel more comfortable confronting behavioral roadblocks without feeling bad about themselves or stigmatized by others. It also helps organizations see the potential ROI of investing in what has traditionally been dismissed as touchy-feely stuff.

Q118 ft2 image3 automation DD The Importance Of Cybersecurity In Modern E CommerceIn fact, offering objective means for examining inner behaviors and tools for modifying them is more beneficial than just leaving the job to employees. For example, according to research by psychologist Tasha Eurich, introspection, which is how most of us try to understand our behaviors, can actually be counterproductive.

Human beings are complex creatures. There is generally way too much going on inside our minds to be able to pinpoint the conscious and unconscious behaviors that drive us to act the way we do. We wind up inventing explanations—usually negative—for our behaviors, which can lead to anxiety and depression, according to Eurich’s research.

Structured, objective training can help employees improve their human skills without the negative side effects. At SAP, for example, we offer employees a course on conflict resolution that uses objective research techniques for determining what happens when people get into conflicts. Employees learn about the different conflict styles that researchers have identified and take an assessment to determine their own style of dealing with conflict. Then employees work in teams to discuss their different styles and work together to resolve a specific conflict that one of the group members is currently experiencing.

Q118 ft2 image5 talkingtoAI DD The Importance Of Cybersecurity In Modern E CommerceHow Knowing One’s Self Helps the Organization

Courses like this are helpful not just for reducing conflicts between individuals and among teams (and improving organizational productivity); they also contribute to greater self-awareness, which is the basis for enabling people to take fullest advantage of their human skills.

Self-awareness is a powerful tool for improving performance at both the individual and organizational levels. Self-aware people are more confident and creative, make better decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. They are also less likely to lie, cheat, and steal, according to Eurich.

It naturally follows that such people make better employees and are more likely to be promoted. They also make more effective leaders with happier employees, which makes the organization more profitable, according to research by Atuma Okpara and Agwu M. Edwin.

There are two types of self-awareness, writes Eurich. One is having a clear view inside of one’s self: one’s own thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses. The second type is understanding how others view us in terms of these same categories.

Interestingly, while we often assume that those who possess one type of awareness also possess the other, there is no direct correlation between the two. In fact, just 10% to 15% of people have both, according to a survey by Eurich. That means that the vast majority of us must learn one or the other—or both.

Gaining self-awareness is a process that can take many years. But training that gives employees the opportunity to examine their own behaviors against objective standards and gain feedback from expert instructors and peers can help speed up the journey. Just like the conflict management course, there are many ways to do this in a practical context that benefits employees and the organization alike.

For example, SAP also offers courses on building self-confidence, increasing trust with peers, creating connections with others, solving complex problems, and increasing resiliency in the face of difficult situations—all of which increase self-awareness in constructive ways. These human-skills courses are as popular with our employees as the hard-skill courses in new technologies or new programming techniques.

Depending on an organization’s size, budget, and goals, learning programs like these can include small group training, large lectures, online courses, licensing of third-party online content, reimbursement for students to attain certification, and many other models.
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Human Skills Are the Constant

Automation and artificial intelligence will change the workplace in unpredictable ways. One thing we can predict, however, is that human skills will be needed more than ever.

The connection between conflict resolution skills, critical thinking courses, and the rise of AI-aided technology might not be immediately obvious. But these new AI tools are leading us down the path to a much more human workplace.

Employees will interact with their computers through voice conversations and image recognition. Machine learning will find unexpected correlations in massive amounts of data but empathy and creativity will be required for data scientists to figure out the right questions to ask. Interpersonal communication will become even more important as teams coordinate between offices, remote workplaces, and AI aides.

While the future might be filled with artificial intelligence, deep learning, and untold amounts of data, uniquely human capabilities will be the ones that matter. Machines can’t write a symphony, design a building, teach a college course, or manage a department. The future belongs to humans working with machines, and for that, you need human skills. D!

About the Authors

Jenny Dearborn is Chief Learning Officer at SAP.

David Judge is Vice President, SAP Leonardo, at SAP.

Tom Raftery is Global Vice President and Internet of Things Evangelist at SAP.

Neal Ungerleider is a Los Angeles-based technology journalist and consultant.

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Digitalist Magazine

5 Things We Learned at the Digital Transformation for the Modern Manufacturer Round Table

5 Key Points 300x225 5 Things We Learned at the Digital Transformation for the Modern Manufacturer Round Table

On February 15, PowerObjects met with industry professionals in the Bay Area to discuss the latest in business trends and innovative solutions. We acknowledged challenges in the industry today and explored how companies rise to the challenge to stay connected with customers and employees. Below are the five things we learned:

1. Customer Experience

It’s no secret that customers today are forcing companies to re-evaluate customer experience strategies. To thrive in today’s economy, successful businesses are re-focusing on superior service through an Omni-channel approach, including self-service capabilities, and empowering agents to surpass standard service levels and have informed and productive interactions with customers.

2. LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Companies are leveraging tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator with Dynamics 365 for Sales to develop and cultivate customer relationships. LinkedIn Sales Navigator seamlessly integrates with Dynamics 365 and Office 365 to manage and analyze existing relationships while identifying potential opportunities. Watch LinkedIn Sales Navigator video here!

3. Artificial Intelligence (External)

Imagine your company taking a proactive approach to issues, instead of a reactive one. What if you reached out to a customer about correcting product failure before they even knew there was a problem? Artificial intelligence and Connected Field Services are giving companies a chance to predict and analyze products and services, and increase the overall customer experience.

4. Artificial Intelligence (Internal)

AI tools are reshaping the industry, both externally and internally. Tools like Customer Insights provide customer data in real-time with visibility to departments across the company. This allows these businesses to make better data-driven decisions. For example, AI tools deployed on a website or app can observe, learn, analyze and predict prospect behaviors for a sales team to focus effectively on leads based on these AI analytics.

5. Change Management

We learned that change management is not the easiest for companies to define yet one of the biggest challenges they face. It is important for companies to recognize change management is the people side of change. Even the best software implementations can fail if the change management plan is not well thought out (or not thought about at all – yikes). Addressing the impact to employee users helps companies get the most out of their digital transformation investment. PowerObjects employs change practitioners and certified trainers to guide users through Dynamics 365 for an overall successful transition.

For more on round table experience and industry discussion, check out our Digital Transformation PointDrive.

Subscribe to our blog to stay up to date with the latest news and trends with Dynamics 365!

Happy Dynamics 365’ing!

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PowerObjects- Bringing Focus to Dynamics CRM

Sync members from O365 Modern group to a mail-enabled security group

I’ve seen a few scenarios where Office 365 modern groups were depended on for security access, but when trying to use them within Power BI you will find they are not available. Power BI really relies on mail enabled security groups that are not the O365 modern groups.

So, what do you do? There are probably other approaches that you may have come up with, and I’d love to hear about those in the comments. One workaround I came up with was to use PowerShell to create a mail enabled security group through Exchange Online and then match the group members from an existing Office 365 Modern group. Then you can reference the new mail enabled group, by email address, within Power BI. These can then be used within apps, organizational content packs, and more.

For the full script, head over to GitHub.

How the script works

This script will first create a new distribution group within Exchange Online if it doesn’t already exist.

## Update the managedby and PrimarySmtpAddress addresses
## Managed by = owner of group
## these can be changed later in the Exchange Online Admin portal

New-DistributionGroup -Name $ newGroupName -Type “Security” -ManagedBy “asaxton@guyinacube.com” -PrimarySmtpAddress mygroup@guyinacube.com

After the new group is created, or if the group already exists, we will then get the members from both the old group (O365 Modern Group) and the new group (Mail-enabled security group).

$ oldGroupMembers = Get-AzureADGroupMember -ObjectId $ oldGroup.ObjectId -All $ true
$ newGroupMembers = Get-AzureADGroupMember -ObjectId $ newGroup.ObjectId -All $ true

Then we will loop through the old group members. First checking to see if the member is already in the group. If it isn’t, we add it. If it is, we just write a message indicating it already exists and move onto the next member.

## Add old members to new group
## Check to make sure the member doesn’t already exist.
Foreach ($ member in $ oldGroupMembers)
    if($ newGroupMembers -notcontains $ member)
        Add-DistributionGroupMember -Identity $ newGroupName -Member $ member.UserPrincipalName
        $ message = “New group does not contain member – “
        $ message += $ member.UserPrincipalName
        Write-Output $ message
        $ message = “New group contains member – “
        $ message += $ member.UserPrincipalName
        Write-Output $ message

This can be re-run multiple times to make sure the Mail-enabled security group stays in sync with the O365 Modern group. So, if new users get added to the O365 Modern group, you can make sure they also get added to the Mail-enabled security group.

A couple of things that are missing from the script that you add.

  • Removal of users from the mail-enabled security group
  • Adding/removing users from the Office 365 Modern Group

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Unilab turns to NetSuite OneWorld for a modern, cloud-based system to transform B2B operations

og image Unilab turns to NetSuite OneWorld for a modern, cloud based system to transform B2B operations

Philippines’ Largest Pharmaceutical Company Improves Efficiency, Transparency in B2B Healthcare Distribution Channel

SAN MATEO, Calif., and MAKATI CITY, Philippines—November 1, 2017—Oracle NetSuite, one of the world’s leading providers of cloud-based financials / ERPHRProfessional Services Automation (PSA) and omnichannel commerce software suites, announced today that Unilab, the largest pharmaceutical company in the Philippines, has implemented NetSuite OneWorld to help power its 21 distributors by setting them up as individual business partners. Unilab upgraded from a 15-year-old locally developed application to a unified cloud ERP system, enabling its distributors to easily manage inventory and billing processes of around 10,000 trade accounts such as drug stores, clinics, and groceries. Unilab is also using OneWorld for sales and data consolidation and multi-subsidiary management. Since completing the NetSuite OneWorld implementation in January 2017, Unilab has streamlined operations for its distributors and has gained greater visibility into the channel, which accounts for a significant percentage of its US $ 1 billion annual revenue. Unilab is the first in the industry to leverage cloud ERP to standardize and stabilize its distributor management program through its project called iSERV 2.0.

Founded in 1945, Unilab manufactures over 350 brands of over-the-counter and prescription medications and personal health care products. The 4,000-person company, based in Mandaluyong in greater Manila, has maintained more than 20-percent market share in the Philippines for more than three decades. To help support continued growth and keep up with the changing times, Unilab needed to modernize from an on-premise system used by distributors to a flexible and scalable cloud-based system. Previously, Unilab’s business leaders had to manually consolidate and track data from distributors. Unilab realized it would need a new modern system that did not need to rely on servers scattered across the corporate landscape.

As part of its business continuity plan, Unilab also wanted to transition to the cloud as a disaster-protection measure that would stabilize the entire system during unexpected events like typhoons.

After evaluating several software options, Unilab selected NetSuite OneWorld as an agile, scalable cloud platform ideal to improve efficiency, visibility and standardization in the distribution channel. NetSuite Solution Provider CloudTech played a key role, successfully and seamlessly implementing NetSuite at Unilab’s distributors.

With NetSuite OneWorld, Unilab has been able to realize its goals of real-time data visibility, streamlined distribution process, simplified data consolidation, and strengthened compliance while providing disaster protection through its cloud-based architecture.

NetSuite OneWorld supports 190 currencies, 20 languages, automated tax calculation and reporting in more than 100 countries, and transactions in more than 200 countries.
With NetSuite OneWorld, Unilab has also realized the following benefits:

Channel efficiency and visibility. Today, distributors use NetSuite for transactions with its trade accounts such as managing the inventory and billing process. Distributors are also able to monitor accounts receivable, inventory status, order status, and credit limits in NetSuite, while Unilab can better track vital data in real time.

Improved compliance. NetSuite gives Unilab better inventory management with lot-tracking capabilities to support compliance of distributors with the FEFO (first expiration, first out) distribution.

Multi-subsidiary management. With OneWorld, Unilab is able to centrally manage each of its 21 distributors.

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

Follow Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit’s Cloud blog, Facebook page and @NetSuite Twitter handle for real-time updates.

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

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

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NetSuite's Latest Press Coverage

The city of Kamianets-Podilskyi, in modern Ukraine, has the…

The city of
Kamianets-Podilskyi, in modern Ukraine, has the unique feature of being almost entirely surrounded by
Smotrych River.  This natural defense was supplemented by successive fortresses, yet still the town changed hands numerous times in its thousand year history.

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A Historian Walks into a Bar . . .

Announcing the Modern Servicing Model for SQL Server

Background to SQL Server servicing

Historically, we have released Cumulative Updates (CUs) every 2 months after a major version is released, and roughly yearly Service Packs (SPs), containing fixes from all previous CUs, plus any feature completeness or supportability enhancements that may require localization. You can read more about the SQL Server Incremental Servicing Model (ISM) here.

Up to and including SQL Server 2016, RTM and any subsequent SPs establish a new product baseline. For each new baseline, CUs are provided for roughly 12 months after the next SP releases, or at the end of the mainstream phase of product lifecycle, whichever comes first.

For the entire product lifecycle, we release General Distribution Releases (GDRs) when needed, containing only security related fixes.

The Modern Servicing Model

Starting with SQL Server 2017, we are adopting a simplified, predictable mainstream servicing lifecycle:

  • SPs will no longer be made available. Only CUs, and GDRs when needed.
  • CUs will now accommodate localized content, allowing new feature completeness and supportability enhancements to be delivered faster.
  • CUs will be delivered more often at first and then less frequently. Every month for the first 12 months, and every quarter for the remainder 4 years of the full 5-year mainstream lifecycle.
  • CUs are delivered on the same week of the month: week of 3rd Tuesday.

Note: the Modern Servicing Model (MSM) only applies to SQL Server 2017 and future versions.

Servicing lifecycle

The servicing lifecycle is unchanged from SQL Server 2016:

  • Years 0-5 (Mainstream Support): Security and Functional issue resolution though CUs. Security issues through GDRs.
  • Years 6-10 (Extended Support): Security or critical functional issues.
  • Years 11-16 (Premium Assurance): Optional paid extension to Extended Support (no scope change).


Having questions is expected. Please read below in case we have already covered it in this FAQ.

Q1: SPs were fully localized, and you released one update file for every supported language. How will this be handled with no SPs?
A1: CUs will be localized starting with SQL 2017. CUs will handle this requirement maintaining a single update file.

Q2: When we upgraded from a previous version of SQL Server, we did so at SP1 using slipstream media provided by Microsoft. How will this work with no SPs?
A2: We will provide CU based slipstream media for CU12 allowing for this.

Q3: My company always waited for SP1 to perform an upgrade from a previous version. What are my options now?
A3: Even before GA, the final SQL Server 2016 CTP versions were considered production-ready having gone through exhaustive testing both internally and with many preview customers. So there is no need to wait for an SP to install the latest SQL Server – you can install confidently as soon as a given version goes GA.
With that, you can still target any CU for Upgrade. For example, you could target CU12 for upgrade, and have slipstream media available.

Q4: I service an instance only with GDRs. I do not apply CUs, but apply SPs. Will I need to move to a CU servicing train if I need a non-critical/security fix?
A4: Yes. While this was previously true only leading up to SPs, now you must apply latest CU and there will not be an opportunity to reset back to receiving GDR updates only.

Q5: Assume that after Mainstream Support, you release a security fix. Are these going to be GDRs only? If so, how can I install it, if I’m already on a CU servicing train?
A5: During Extended Support, we will release GDRs and GDR-CUs separately. The same is valid for customers that purchase the additional Premium Assurance.

Q6: Previously, once SP2 was released (for example), if I was on the RTM baseline I would have to upgrade to SP1 or SP2 to get a hotfix. How will this work now?
A6: The only baseline will be RTM, and it will receive CUs for 5 years. There are no upgrades to an SP to receive CUs, or worry about which baseline a CU applies to.

Q7: If I am on RTM baseline, and CU20 (for example) was just released, will I receive technical support?
A7: This may be handled on a case by case basis. If the issue/question is in an area that has received a significant number of updates throughout the years, you may be asked to update to a later CU, yes.

Q8: Will SQL Server on Linux receive CUs and GDRs as well?
A8: Yes, every CU and GDR will have corresponding updates to all current Linux platforms.

Q9: Will CU and GDR KB articles then cover both SQL Server on Windows and Linux?
A9: Yes. Issues addressed in each release will be categorized by impacted platform(s).

Q10: Will SQL Server for Linux CUs and GDRs be updates to an existing installation like SQL Server on Windows?
A10: No, SQL Server on Linux updates will completely replace all binaries in the existing installation.

Q11: On SQL Server on Linux, can I remove an update?
A11: Yes, however this operation is performed by re-installing any desired previous servicing level package.

Q12: Will the testing and resulting quality levels of CUs be the same as SPs?
A12: Yes. CUs for all versions of SQL Server are tested to the same levels of Service Packs. As announced in January 2016, you should plan to install a CU with the same level of confidence you plan to install SPs as they are released. You can read more about that here.

Q13: Monthly CU releases are fast, I do not believe my business can keep pace with this, yet you have been proactively encouraging customers to stay current.
A13: Yes, the cadence is fast for the first 12 months. However, payload will be roughly 50% in theory, so these should be easier to consume. Of course, you still have the option to install every other CU for example, for the first 12 months. As the name suggests, all CUs are cumulative.

Q14: Why release CUs every month only for the first year, then move to quarterly updates for the remaining 4 years?
A14: Data shows that the vast majority of all hotfixes issued for a major release occurs in the first 12 months. The monthly cadence brings these fixes to customers much faster when it has the most impact. Reducing to quarterly updates reduces customer and operational overhead the course of the remaining 4 years.

Q15: Will the availability of CUs remain unchanged?
A15: For SQL Server on Windows CUs, no changes are planned. The most recent CU will be available on the Download Center, Windows Catalog, and WSUS. Previous CUs will be available in the Windows Catalog.

Q16: Where will I look for SQL Server on Linux CUs and GDRs?
A16: All updates, current and previous, will be maintained and available in repositories.

Q17: I see that Reporting Services (SSRS) is no longer installed by Setup. Where is it and how will it be serviced?
A17: RS is available for download via a link in Setup. Servicing will be independent moving forward.

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An Inside-Out Approach to ERP can Deliver a Modern Customer Experience

websitelogo An Inside Out Approach to ERP can Deliver a Modern Customer Experience

Posted by Anand Misra, Principal Product Marketing Manager

For businesses today still running siloed, departmental solutions of yesterday, there are daily challenges meeting the needs of the modern consumer. The answer for many is to turn their ERP system inside out.

Consumers today have virtually unlimited options for researching and purchasing products, with online sales and new digital channels providing not only transparency into pricing but the actual shopping experience for millions of shoppers around the world. That ubiquity of information has raised expectations and most businesses are having a hard time delivering on.

A chief culprit for the challenge in delivering an omnichannel customer experience is the ERP system itself. Traditionally, ERP software was built to serve the needs of employees, not today’s consumers, let alone the partners and vendors that are a critical part of any modern enterprise. Today’s customers expect accurate inventory information, cross-channel order history and flawless order execution. These are inherently difficult for the legacy ERP systems from the ‘90s that too many businesses are still running on today. Those systems were designed around departmental processes, rather than around the customer and many of the newer versions of those older systems struggle to cast of the legacy of their origins. When the internet emerged with new platforms to transform the way companies deliver product support and information to customers, most companies just began bolting on ecommerce and content management systems that were disconnected from the system of record. To this day, customer data is still spread across CRM, ecommerce, marketing and multiple systems of record, making it near impossible to reward the most profitable customers, predict demand or ensure repeat business.

The answer for many is to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to integrate these separate systems to support their omnichannel ambitions. The results are mixed, with integrations breaking with software upgrades, a lack of real-time visibility as data transfers are done in batches and companies still left with software designed to support employees rather than customers.

These companies fail to realize the depth to which the need to redesign their core infrastructure. Every aspect of this infrastructure needs to be evaluated to design around a customer-centric model from the beginning. They need to turn the ERP system inside out with the explicit goal of improving the customer experience.

Companies that orient around their customers and directly connect demand to a digitally-enabled supple chain will be the long-term winners. Amazon, the prime example, has built its infrastructure to take advantage of global product and price transparency, even dynamically pricing versus competitors.

Today, a company no longer needs to physically own a product to sell it on its website. If a retailer knows a vendor has inventory, it can take the order without ever possessing the product. And beyond supply chain efficiencies, there was incredible efficiency from operating at scale. As the businesses grow, the incremental costs associated with demand could be handled with far fewer employees and far lower inventory costs.

Newer companies that built (or rebuilt) from the ground up with ecommerce and a digital supply chain reap significant advantages:

  • Visibility into supplier and manufacturer inventory.
  • Responsive, consistently excellent customer service.
  • The ability to track and evaluate customer buying histories, behaviors and preferences.
  • Customer profiling and product recommendations for better targeting.
  • Customer self-service through low-cost online portals.

What started as a challenge for B2C companies is now manifesting in the B2B world. B2B customers that have seen the ease of use, visibility and real-time information provided in the B2C world, couple with a new generation of employees that knows no other way, are forcing B2B companies to reimagine their own processes.

Delivering the best customer experiences requires wholesale changes: in organizational structure, in culture and in IT systems. It requires a more modern infrastructure built around the customer. A modern infrastructure is an investment that will pay off in the years and decades to come. But finally, the ultimate goal is within reach: give customers a personalized, relevant and consistent experience across every channel.

For more on the power of building ERP around the customer, download the white paper Customer Commerce: Turning Your ERP Inside Out.

Learn how NetSuite helps create ubiquitous customer experience, helps differentiate your brand and exceed customer expectations: www.suitecommerce.com

Posted on Wed, August 16, 2017
by NetSuite filed under

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Measurement, Accountability, And Alignment: The Keys To Modern Marketing

”That which is measured, improves.”

This is commonly attributed to either Karl Pearson, a famous statistician, or Peter Drucker, a well-known management consultant. I learned about this years ago studying how Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile barrier in running, which seemed insurmountable. Likewise, accountability and alignment are key to achieving success, and became a guiding principle while coaching youth ice hockey years ago. I would show how one player skating the puck along the entire length of the ice took far longer than a succession of quick passes between players working together to move the puck up the ice. Understanding the importance of aligning efforts empowered the team to play as one unified unit with a common goal and reward. And every player knew their role and was accountable to specific roles.

The same applies to marketing and specifically business-to-business (B2B) marketing, which is composed of a marketing plan, various tactics, business goals, and measurement of sales growth within a target market. Everyone in the marketing organization must be accountable for achieving a common set of goals, results, and expected outcomes in everything they do. Plus, this performance must be measured in terms of growth and gained efficiencies. With this combination of accountability and measurement, the path to success is clear.

Alignment and accountability ignite business growth and profitability

Recently, these themes were the focus of a briefing and networking event held by SiriusDecisions down the road from my office outside of Boston. Focused on how B2B organizations need a combination of alignment and accountability, supported by data, to reach goals, the day was kicked off by Megan Heurer, vice president of research at SiriusDecisions, who expertly articulated the value of an aligned team, person, role, or organization.

Fostering a vital connection to the goals of their team, role, and company, employees can work with greater efficiency as they understand which activities are redundant and do not add value to the business and customer experience. Transparency is critical to report progress towards goals based on specific data and measurements. Plus, accountability helps employees know what they need to specifically do and how their actions advance defined goals by measuring performance, progress, outcomes.

In this case, top-line benefits of combining accountability and alignment are real and carry significant weight. Megan cited SiriusDecisions research that revealed alignment and accountability drives 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability.

All of this is made possible by advancing the organization with data to help all parties gain clarity and focus. We call this insight-driven marketing, and it’s a guiding principle of my organization’s brand of modern marketing. The availability of data and underlying insights support the ability to regularly compare key performance indicators (KPIs) and report those findings.

But for this information to be truly insightful, measurements must go beyond typical sales and marketing metrics such as counting content assets, products delivered, customer successes, channel growth, and partner engagement. Rather like my efforts to measure the playtime of the puck, the wisdom “that which is measured, improves” reminds us that investments in data and performance management will pay off with considerable benefits.

Metric Spectrum provides the structure necessary to secure success

Furthering its reputation for creating breakthrough marketing frameworks and models, SiriusDecisions featured its Metrics Spectrum, which helps organize and structure the journey to insight-driven decision making. When I first learned about this new framework, it was easy to see how relevant to optimizing team performance. Like a coach devising a game plan to help a hockey team succeed, team leaders are called to choose the right metrics to track actions, milestones, and goal attainment.

SiriusDecisions’ Metrics Spectrum consists of four primary components:SD Metrics 1 Measurement, Accountability, And Alignment: The Keys To Modern Marketing

  1. Readiness – Determine how well the team is prepared to perform by analyzing data, skills, and business processes. This assessment provides a solid foundation for any strategic plan or business case.
  1. Activity – Adopt an activity-based metrics approach by counting the tactics and actions taken, from outbound calls from telemarketing and inside sales to e-mails sent.
  1. Output – Measure the direct result of business actions and activity—from responders, inquiries, and inbound requests for more information and next steps—and go beyond purely activity-based metrics.
  1. Impact – Assess how the team performed against defined goals—revenue, profitability, and ultimately, market share. Too many organizations fail to do this because they are mired in the details of activities. But when this is done (and done well), the team provides the transparency to demonstrate its value to the executive leadership who is signing paychecks.

The backdrop for a successful execution is defined by an organization’s objectives, quantifiable impact on goals, specific milestones to prove progress, and an inventory of actions and tactics. By supporting organizational alignment and accountability with increased governance and availability of external data, teams can gain a thorough understanding of its impact on the entire bSD metrics 2 Measurement, Accountability, And Alignment: The Keys To Modern Marketingusiness, which is key to embracing modern marketing.

Bruce Brien, the chief technology officer of Sirius Decisions, showcased the SiriusDecisions Command Center a new offering announced at the SiriusDecisions 2017 Summit. As I am a lifelong fan and provider of marketing dashboards, this was music to my ears. It’s based upon the SiriusDecisions Metrics Spectrum, and organizations can leverage predefined metrics available with benchmarking against peers, etc. with a graphical view for decisions makers, a key for successful insight-driven marketing.

I hope you decide to apply the principles of “that which is measured, improves” across your accountable and aligned teams to fully realize significant benefits and payoff. Please review my trip report from this event to learn more.

Fred is the senior marketing director of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud and SAP Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP. Join Fred online: TwitterFacebookLinkedInsap.com


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Lead, Transform, Operate: A Three-Step Imperative for the Modern CFO

websitelogo Lead, Transform, Operate: A Three Step Imperative for the Modern CFO

Posted by Tom Kelly, Senior Director of Product Marketing

CFOs today face several ever-evolving challenges. Digital disruption continues to change the way business gets done everywhere from self-driving cars to closing the books. Additionally, businesses embracing hybrid business models that are bridging the internet-brick and mortar gap need to experiment and innovate without spending significant amounts of capital and resources. Meanwhile, globalization demands that companies comply with local laws and accounting requirements while simultaneously managing operations in each country. And, as if all of this is not enough, regulatory burdens continue to grow and the CFO still needs to hit the quarterly numbers.

In order to be successful in this ever changing, chaotic business environment it is essential that a CFO:

  • Lead by Focusing Resources on What Matters Most
  • Transform Proactively and Reactively
  • Operate the Finance Function Effectively and Efficiently

Lead by Focusing Resources on What Matters Most

No one is better positioned to help the organization concentrate on priorities. It is the CFO that leads the planning process, establishing the goals and how funds will be invested each year. Business acumen and expertise are important skills for a CFO to be able to focus the organization on key deliverables, but just as importantly the CFO needs a scalable infrastructure that can provide a single source of truth and actionable business intelligence. Combining business acumen and expertise with NetSuite’s unified data model, the CFO can deliver on actionable business intelligence across the entire enterprise by putting real-time data in the hands of the decision makers, on any device, at any time.

If the new model is successful, and the business grows continuously, the CFO needs to be wary of interrupting business momentum when the need to scale demands a new system and infrastructure. That’s where cloud platforms can future proof the business to scale, adapt and evolve. More importantly, multi-tenant cloud platforms ensure that customizations are carried forward and innovation is always current.

Transform Proactively and Reactively

The best way a CFO can make sure that the organization thrives is to put in place a flexible infrastructure that can react to an ever-changing environment. Today’s CFOs need a platform that does not compromise between scalability and control. As competitors innovate offering new products and/or services and new business models arise CFOs will need not only the functionality to deal with emerging challenges such as recurring billing but also a flexible platform to test and trial on newly emerging business models. In retail for example, businesses need a platform to test and configure a seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, or in a bricks and mortar store.

As business goes global, the CFO has to facilitate the transformation of multi-currency, multi-lingual, multi-book and different statutory requirements with efficiency. Failure to do so can result in degrading a company’s operational consistency, controls and visibility into foreign operations. Companies that have very large, rigid headquarters systems that cannot be quickly deployed forgoes the effort and the result is less visibility, less operational consistency and control. In these situations, the goal of maintaining one version of the truth is unobtainable.

Operate the Finance Function Effectively and Efficiently

While leading and transforming, the CFO has another thing to do – run the finance function in an effective an efficient manner. In some cases, this can be more demanding than anything else a CFO does, but it must be done, and done very well. With the ever-increasing amount of regulations, tax laws that are local, state, national and international, maintaining strong internal controls and corporate governance, and reporting information that is accurate, actionable and readily available can be enough of a challenge by themselves. Embracing the right software platform can make managing this menagerie simple.

Today’s CFOs should look at software companies that have considerable experience with organizations across industries, that can use that experience to ensure that best practices for things like corporate governance and controls are baked into the standard offerings. It is also important to get the information into the hands of decision makers in a timely and accurate manner. The standard approach of generating reports is (often through Excel spreadsheets) is no longer sufficient. CFOs need a system that puts actionable business intelligence and alerts in the hands of decision makers in real-time via mobile devices.

Are You an Old Version CFO?

Gone are the days of the Bean Counter! New regulations, new business models, the advent of big data, and exponential technology improvements requires that the CFO handle broader responsibilities beyond effectively and efficiently operating the finance function. Financial acumen is a must for today’s CFOs, but they must also possess strategic skills to help transform the organization and be able to have operational insight to lead. Using the old heavy rigid ERP offerings will not provide the tools to be nimble and break out of the “Old CFO’ mold.

Learn more about how NetSuite makes a CFO’s job easier, more strategic.

Posted on Thu, July 20, 2017
by NetSuite filed under

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