Tag Archives: Modern

Power BI expands self-service prep for big data, unifies modern and enterprise BI

More organizations are embracing a data culture that unifies information from many sources to drive business decisions. For a data-centric culture to thrive, it requires everyone to work from the same data platform, and intuitive tools that let them leverage vast quantities of data quickly to reach insights.

The Power BI updates we’re announcing today help organizations unify their enterprise BI needs on one platform and empower business analysts to leverage data more easily. Starting in July, these capabilities will begin to appear in Power BI in preview.

Accelerating data prep and unifying access to data across roles

I recently discussed the challenges associated with analyzing large volumes of data – specifically ingesting, integrating and analyzing disparate data. Data preparation and modeling are key components of the data journey, and our customers tell us that these activities often account for the majority of the time users spend working with data.

We’re investing in capabilities that reduce the time it takes for business analysts working with data to get insights.

  • Self-service prep for big data – We’re expanding self-service data prep in Power BI by introducing new capabilities to help business analysts extract insights from big data. Using the Power Query experience familiar to millions of Power BI Desktop and Excel users, business analysts can ingest, transform, integrate and enrich big data directly in the Power BI web service – including data from a large and growing set of supported on-premises and cloud-based data sources, such as Dynamics 365, Salesforce, Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Excel and SharePoint. The ingested data can now be shared across multiple Power BI models, reports and dashboards enabling easy data reuse.

  • Advanced analytics and AI with Azure – Additionally, it’s important that all of the users throughout an organization operate on the same data. We’re fueling collaboration across roles by unifying access to data between Power BI and Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2. Business analysts can seamlessly operate on data stored in Azure Data Lake Storage taking advantage of its scale, performance, security and analytics with the self-service capabilities in Power BI, while data engineers, data scientists and other users can extend access to insights with advanced analytics and AI from complementary Azure Data Services like Azure Data Factory, Azure Databricks, and Azure Machine Learning.

For example, data engineers can add, enrich and orchestrate data; data scientists can build machine learning models; and business analysts can benefit from the work of others and the data available in the Azure Data Lake Storage while continuing to use the self-service tools in Power BI to build and share insights broadly.

  • Support for the common data model – Power BI will also support the common data model, which gives organizations the ability to leverage a standardized and extensible collection of data schemas (entities, attributes and relationships). Users can take advantage of a standard schema – or customize based on their unique needs – to simplify how they enrich their data with other sources from Microsoft and third parties to accelerate analysis across a broad, unified dataset.

Unifying self-service and enterprise BI

Just as managing data from multiple sources can create challenges, managing multiple BI platforms within an organization can limit centralized access to insights.

Moving to one modern, compliant platform as the single destination for business analytics is easier than ever with key enterprise-facing updates on Power BI.

  • Enterprise-scale BI models & application lifecycle management (ALM) – We’re taking another step to bring advanced capabilities from SQL Server Analysis Services into Power BI, enabling larger data volumes, lifecycle management, and third-party BI tool connectivity. Incremental refresh, higher dataset size limits, and aggregates will allow customers to reach large dataset sizes, while maintaining fast and fluid reporting end users expect. With new support for the XMLA protocol, existing Analysis Services tools for managing lifecycle—from deployment through operations can now work with Power BI datasets. Additionally, since many third-party BI tools support XMLA, Power BI can now fuel analytics for all users across your enterprise, regardless of which reporting tool they choose to use.

  • Enterprise reporting – Popular SQL Server Reporting Services technology is now part of Power BI, creating a unified, secure, enterprise-wide reporting platform accessible to any user across devices. Pixel-perfect paginated reports can now be included alongside Power BI’s existing interactive reports.

f5a205db b3e8 4c61 805b e7d2a64a0d0b Power BI expands self service prep for big data, unifies modern and enterprise BI

Three years ago we launched Power BI to create new opportunities for businesses to drive a data culture where all employees, regardless of role and skillset, can access the insights and intelligence they need to make smart decisions based on facts.

Today, Power BI supports 43 languages and is used by customers in more than 18,000 cities. More than 19 million data models are hosted in Power BI and over 8 million dashboard queries are processed each hour. Thank you to our users for being part of this journey, and for the vibrant community that helps shape the product.

Learn more about these latest updates during Microsoft Inspire at the Power BI session, and for a deeper dive, join us at the Microsoft Business Applications Summit in Seattle on July 23 where you will learn more about these capabilities and see them in action. Register now for the Microsoft Business Applications Summit if you haven’t already!

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The Republic of Upper Volta was the predecessor to modern day…

The Republic of Upper Volta was the predecessor to modern day Burkina Faso.  The area was under French control till 1958, but changed its name and governmental structure when a 
military coup d’état occured in 1983.

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A Historian Walks into a Bar . . .

New All-Day Session: Designing Modern Data and Analytics Solutions in Azure

 New All Day Session: Designing Modern Data and Analytics Solutions in Azure

I have a natural inclination to share information that I have learned. Being a hands-on techie is something I absolutely love, but I have a bit of educator in my blood as well. And, continually learning new skills is at the core of what makes me happy. All of which means that I aim to teach others in a way that I would want to learn. 

What Will You Learn? 

This session will very much be about planning the architecture and factors around decision-making, presented in a very practical and realistic way (full abstract can be found here). We will build the components for one reference architecture, using scripts that we will provide you. 

PreconTime New All Day Session: Designing Modern Data and Analytics Solutions in Azure

The full abstract can be found on the PASS Summit site. To highlight just a few of the topics that you’ll hear about:

  • Going to the cloud – What’s easier? What’s harder? What trade-offs can you expect to make with respect to cost, control, complexity, performance, and security?
  • Cloud design patterns – In what ways are cloud design patterns different from traditional on-premises solutions? How does that change the typical roles for developers and administrators?
  • Schema-on-read – In what scenarios does schema-on-read work extremely well? In which situations is it not ideal?
  • Patterns-based development – What automation techniques can save you time, improve efficiency, and reduce the chance for error? 
  • Architecture – What does a BI/analytics/DW architecture look like if we value the concept of polyglot persistence vs. architectural simplicity? What kind of differences should we be aware of if we are using a distributed architecture? What are the Azure options for supporting data science and self-service BI?
  • Data storage - When do we want to analyze data in place vs. move it to another data store? What technology options do we have in Azure, and what factors do we want to consider for deciding between data virtualization and data integration? In what cases can you take advantage of a data lake in your architecture? 

Who is the Target Audience?

The ideal audience member has some experience as a data engineer, BI professional, or database developer, and is in the early stages of migrating or building solutions in Azure.

This session is broad because the data platform offerings in Azure are broad with many choices and considerations. Our day job *is* planning and building data solutions in Azure. Meagan and I are very excited to help you get started with building a solid data architecture in Azure.

More details and to register: Designing Modern Data and Analytics Solutions in Azure

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Best Practices To Guide Your Journey To Modern Marketing

For nerds, the weeks right before finals are a Cinderella moment. Suddenly they’re stars. Pocket protectors are fashionable; people find their jokes a whole lot funnier; Dungeons & Dragons sounds cool.

Many CIOs are enjoying this kind of moment now, as companies everywhere face the business equivalent of a final exam for a vital class they have managed to mostly avoid so far: digital transformation.

But as always, there is a limit to nerdy magic. No matter how helpful CIOs try to be, their classmates still won’t pass if they don’t learn the material. With IT increasingly central to every business—from the customer experience to the offering to the business model itself—we all need to start thinking like CIOs.

Pass the digital transformation exam, and you probably have a bright future ahead. A recent SAP-Oxford Economics study of 3,100 organizations in a variety of industries across 17 countries found that the companies that have taken the lead in digital transformation earn higher profits and revenues and have more competitive differentiation than their peers. They also expect 23% more revenue growth from their digital initiatives over the next two years—an estimate 2.5 to 4 times larger than the average company’s.

But the market is grading on a steep curve: this same SAP-Oxford study found that only 3% have completed some degree of digital transformation across their organization. Other surveys also suggest that most companies won’t be graduating anytime soon: in one recent survey of 450 heads of digital transformation for enterprises in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany by technology company Couchbase, 90% agreed that most digital projects fail to meet expectations and deliver only incremental improvements. Worse: over half (54%) believe that organizations that don’t succeed with their transformation project will fail or be absorbed by a savvier competitor within four years.

Companies that are making the grade understand that unlike earlier technical advances, digital transformation doesn’t just support the business, it’s the future of the business. That’s why 60% of digital leading companies have entrusted the leadership of their transformation to their CIO, and that’s why experts say businesspeople must do more than have a vague understanding of the technology. They must also master a way of thinking and looking at business challenges that is unfamiliar to most people outside the IT department.

In other words, if you don’t think like a CIO yet, now is a very good time to learn.

However, given that you probably don’t have a spare 15 years to learn what your CIO knows, we asked the experts what makes CIO thinking distinctive. Here are the top eight mind hacks.

1. Think in Systems

Q118 Feature3 img1 Jump Best Practices To Guide Your Journey To Modern MarketingA lot of businesspeople are used to seeing their organization as a series of loosely joined silos. But in the world of digital business, everything is part of a larger system.

CIOs have known for a long time that smart processes win. Whether they were installing enterprise resource planning systems or working with the business to imagine the customer’s journey, they always had to think in holistic ways that crossed traditional departmental, functional, and operational boundaries.

Unlike other business leaders, CIOs spend their careers looking across systems. Why did our supply chain go down? How can we support this new business initiative beyond a single department or function? Now supported by end-to-end process methodologies such as design thinking, good CIOs have developed a way of looking at the company that can lead to radical simplifications that can reduce cost and improve performance at the same time.

They are also used to thinking beyond temporal boundaries. “This idea that the power of technology doubles every two years means that as you’re planning ahead you can’t think in terms of a linear process, you have to think in terms of huge jumps,” says Jay Ferro, CIO of TransPerfect, a New York–based global translation firm.

No wonder the SAP-Oxford transformation study found that one of the values transformational leaders shared was a tendency to look beyond silos and view the digital transformation as a company-wide initiative.

This will come in handy because in digital transformation, not only do business processes evolve but the company’s entire value proposition changes, says Jeanne Ross, principal research scientist at the Center for Information Systems Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “It either already has or it’s going to, because digital technologies make things possible that weren’t possible before,” she explains.

2. Work in Diverse Teams

When it comes to large projects, CIOs have always needed input from a diverse collection of businesspeople to be successful. The best have developed ways to convince and cajole reluctant participants to come to the table. They seek out technology enthusiasts in the business and those who are respected by their peers to help build passion and commitment among the halfhearted.

Digital transformation amps up the urgency for building diverse teams even further. “A small, focused group simply won’t have the same breadth of perspective as a team that includes a salesperson and a service person and a development person, as well as an IT person,” says Ross.

At Lenovo, the global technology giant, many of these cross-functional teams become so used to working together that it’s hard to tell where each member originally belonged: “You can’t tell who is business or IT; you can’t tell who is product, IT, or design,” says the company’s CIO, Arthur Hu.

One interesting corollary of this trend toward broader teamwork is that talent is a priority among digital leaders: they spend more on training their employees and partners than ordinary companies, as well as on hiring the people they need, according to the SAP-Oxford Economics survey. They’re also already being rewarded for their faith in their teams: 71% of leaders say that their successful digital transformation has made it easier for them to attract and retain talent, and 64% say that their employees are now more engaged than they were before the transformation.

3. Become a Consultant

Good CIOs have long needed to be internal consultants to the business. Ever since technology moved out of the glasshouse and onto employees’ desks, CIOs have not only needed a deep understanding of the goals of a given project but also to make sure that the project didn’t stray from those goals, even after the businesspeople who had ordered the project went back to their day jobs. “Businesspeople didn’t really need to get into the details of what IT was really doing,” recalls Ferro. “They just had a set of demands and said, ‘Hey, IT, go do that.’”

But that was then. Now software has become so integral to the business that nobody can afford to walk away. Businesspeople must join the ranks of the IT consultants. “If you’re building a house, you don’t just disappear for six months and come back and go, ‘Oh, it looks pretty good,’” says Ferro. “You’re on that work site constantly and all of a sudden you’re looking at something, going, ‘Well, that looked really good on the blueprint, not sure it makes sense in reality. Let’s move that over six feet.’ Or, ‘I don’t know if I like that anymore.’ It’s really not much different in application development or for IT or technical projects, where on paper it looked really good and three weeks in, in that second sprint, you’re going, ‘Oh, now that I look at it, that’s really stupid.’”

4. Learn Horizontal Leadership

CIOs have always needed the ability to educate and influence other leaders that they don’t directly control. For major IT projects to be successful, they need other leaders to contribute budget, time, and resources from multiple areas of the business.

It’s a kind of horizontal leadership that will become critical for businesspeople to acquire in digital transformation. “The leadership role becomes one much more of coaching others across the organization—encouraging people to be creative, making sure everybody knows how to use data well,” Ross says.

In this team-based environment, having all the answers becomes less important. “It used to be that the best business executives and leaders had the best answers. Today that is no longer the case,” observes Gary Cokins, a technology consultant who focuses on analytics-based performance management. “Increasingly, it’s the executives and leaders who ask the best questions. There is too much volatility and uncertainty for them to rely on their intuition or past experiences.”

Many experts expect this trend to continue as the confluence of automation and data keeps chipping away at the organizational pyramid. “Hierarchical, command-and-control leadership will become obsolete,” says Edward Hess, professor of business administration and Batten executive-in-residence at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. “Flatter, distributive leadership via teams will become the dominant structure.”

Q118 Feature3 img3 rock Best Practices To Guide Your Journey To Modern Marketing5. Understand Process Design

When business processes were simpler, IT could analyze the process and improve it without input from the business. But today many processes are triggered on the fly by the customer, making a seamless customer experience more difficult to build without the benefit of a larger, multifunctional team. In a highly digitalized organization like Amazon, which releases thousands of new software programs each year, IT can no longer do it all.

While businesspeople aren’t expected to start coding, their involvement in process design is crucial. One of the techniques that many organizations have adopted to help IT and businesspeople visualize business processes together is design thinking (for more on design thinking techniques, see “A Cult of Creation“).

Customers aren’t the only ones who benefit from better processes. Among the 100 companies the SAP-Oxford Economics researchers have identified as digital leaders, two-thirds say that they are making their employees’ lives easier by eliminating process roadblocks that interfere with their ability to do their jobs. Ninety percent of leaders surveyed expect to see value from these projects in the next two years alone.

6. Learn to Keep Learning

The ability to learn and keep learning has been a part of IT from the start. Since the first mainframes in the 1950s, technologists have understood that they need to keep reinventing themselves and their skills to adapt to the changes around them.

Now that’s starting to become part of other job descriptions too. Many companies are investing in teaching their employees new digital skills. One South American auto products company, for example, has created a custom-education institute that trained 20,000 employees and partner-employees in 2016. In addition to training current staff, many leading digital companies are also hiring new employees and creating new roles, such as a chief robotics officer, to support their digital transformation efforts.

Nicolas van Zeebroeck, professor of information systems and digital business innovation at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management at the Free University of Brussels, says that he expects the ability to learn quickly will remain crucial. “If I had to think of one critical skill,” he explains, “I would have to say it’s the ability to learn and keep learning—the ability to challenge the status quo and question what you take for granted.”

7. Fail Smarter

Traditionally, CIOs tended to be good at thinking through tests that would allow the company to experiment with new technology without risking the entire network.

This is another unfamiliar skill that smart managers are trying to pick up. “There’s a lot of trial and error in the best companies right now,” notes MIT’s Ross. But there’s a catch, she adds. “Most companies aren’t designed for trial and error—they’re trying to avoid an error,” she says.

Q118 Feature3 img4 fail Best Practices To Guide Your Journey To Modern MarketingTo learn how to do it better, take your lead from IT, where many people have already learned to work in small, innovative teams that use agile development principles, advises Ross.

For example, business managers must learn how to think in terms of a minimum viable product: build a simple version of what you have in mind, test it, and if it works start building. You don’t build the whole thing at once anymore.… It’s really important to build things incrementally,” Ross says.

Flexibility and the ability to capitalize on accidental discoveries during experimentation are more important than having a concrete project plan, says Ross. At Spotify, the music service, and CarMax, the used-car retailer, change is driven not from the center but from small teams that have developed something new. “The thing you have to get comfortable with is not having the formalized plan that we would have traditionally relied on, because as soon as you insist on that, you limit your ability to keep learning,” Ross warns.

8. Understand the True Cost—and Speed—of Data

Gut instincts have never had much to do with being a CIO; now they should have less to do with being an ordinary manager as well, as data becomes more important.

As part of that calculation, businesspeople must have the ability to analyze the value of the data that they seek. “You’ll need to apply a pinch of knowledge salt to your data,” advises Solvay’s van Zeebroeck. “What really matters is the ability not just to tap into data but to see what is behind the data. Is it a fair representation? Is it impartial?”

Increasingly, businesspeople will need to do their analysis in real time, just as CIOs have always had to manage live systems and processes. Moving toward real-time reports and away from paper-based decisions increases accuracy and effectiveness—and leaves less time for long meetings and PowerPoint presentations (let us all rejoice).

Not Every CIO Is Ready

Of course, not all CIOs are ready for these changes. Just as high school has a lot of false positives—genius nerds who turn out to be merely nearsighted—so there are many CIOs who aren’t good role models for transformation.

Success as a CIO these days requires more than delivering near-perfect uptime, says Lenovo’s Hu. You need to be able to understand the business as well. Some CIOs simply don’t have all the business skills that are needed to succeed in the transformation. Others lack the internal clout: a 2016 KPMG study found that only 34% of CIOs report directly to the CEO.

This lack of a strategic perspective is holding back digital transformation at many organizations. They approach digital transformation as a cool, one-off project: we’re going to put this new mobile app in place and we’re done. But that’s not a systematic approach; it’s an island of innovation that doesn’t join up with the other islands of innovation. In the longer term, this kind of development creates more problems than it fixes.

Such organizations are not building in the capacity for change; they’re trying to get away with just doing it once rather than thinking about how they’re going to use digitalization as a means to constantly experiment and become a better company over the long term.

Q118 Feature3 img6 CIOready Best Practices To Guide Your Journey To Modern MarketingAs a result, in some companies, the most interesting tech developments are happening despite IT, not because of it. “There’s an alarming digital divide within many companies. Marketers are developing nimble software to give customers an engaging, personalized experience, while IT departments remain focused on the legacy infrastructure. The front and back ends aren’t working together, resulting in appealing web sites and apps that don’t quite deliver,” writes George Colony, founder, chairman, and CEO of Forrester Research, in the MIT Sloan Management Review.

Thanks to cloud computing and easier development tools, many departments are developing on their own, without IT’s support. These days, anybody with a credit card can do it.

Traditionally, IT departments looked askance at these kinds of do-it-yourself shadow IT programs, but that’s changing. Ferro, for one, says that it’s better to look at those teams not as rogue groups but as people who are trying to help. “It’s less about ‘Hey, something’s escaped,’ and more about ‘No, we just actually grew our capacity and grew our ability to innovate,’” he explains.

“I don’t like the term ‘shadow IT,’” agrees Lenovo’s Hu. “I think it’s an artifact of a very traditional CIO team. If you think of it as shadow IT, you’re out of step with reality,” he says.

The reality today is that a company needs both a strong IT department and strong digital capacities outside its IT department. If the relationship is good, the CIO and IT become valuable allies in helping businesspeople add digital capabilities without disrupting or duplicating existing IT infrastructure.

If a company already has strong digital capacities, it should be able to move forward quickly, according to Ross. But many companies are still playing catch-up and aren’t even ready to begin transforming, as the SAP-Oxford Economics survey shows.

For enterprises where business and IT are unable to get their collective act together, Ross predicts that the next few years will be rough. “I think these companies ought to panic,” she says. D!


About the Authors

Thomas Saueressig is Chief Information Officer at SAP.

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist at SAP.

Sam Yen is Chief Design Officer at SAP and Managing Director of SAP Labs.

Bennett Voyles is a Berlin-based business writer.

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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.

Q118 ft2 image1 DD The Importance Of Cybersecurity In Modern E Commerce

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.

Q118 ft2 image2 softskills DD The Importance Of Cybersecurity In Modern E Commerce
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.

Q118 ft2 image4 usingsoftskills DD The Importance Of Cybersecurity In Modern E Commerce
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.
Q118 ft2 image6 AIandhumans DD The Importance Of Cybersecurity In Modern E Commerce

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
    }
    else
    {
        $ 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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Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

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.

Trademarks
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 . . .