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Data & BI Summit announces keynote: The Next Era of Analytics with Microsoft Power BI

The Data & BI Summit, held in Dublin, Ireland 24-26 April is quickly approaching and we are happy to announce our keynote session and speaker details:

Keynote speaker: John Doyle

John Doyle, Senior Director of Product Marketing on the Cloud & Enterprise team at Microsoft, will host the keynote at the inaugural Data & BI Summit. His team’s responsibilities include product marketing, messaging, positioning, licensing, pricing, channel training, interfacing with the development team, sales and account support engagements, and branding efforts. Before joining Microsoft, Doyle held product management, marketing, business development and engineering roles at start up and multinational companies including Philips.

Keynote session: The Next Era of Analytics

Modern BI enables everyone in an organization to easily access data and insights. The need to “speak data” is key for a successful digital transformation. Join John Doyle, Sr. Director of Product Marketing, to learn how Power BI is shaping the future of data and analytics, and get a closer look at enterprise-grade, customer-centric innovation powering this vision.

You can also check the full lineup of sessions and speakers

Advanced Pricing Ends 15 March

Join Business Analysts, Data Professionals & Power BI Users at the inaugural Data & BI Summit, located in Dublin, Ireland 24-26 April 2018 at the Convention Centre Dublin.

Take advantage of Advanced Pricing and save up to €200 before 15 March. After this date, tickets willbe sold at full price.

Other Session Highlights

The conference content will allow you to deepen the understanding of your data and increase your knowledge of the Microsoft Business Intelligence suite. Session presenters includeMicrosoft Executives, Engineers, MVPs, and Power Users sharing real-life scenarios. Here’s a taste of what to expect:

· Using Teams to Promote Power BI User Adoption – Listen in as Shannon Lindsay and Stephanie Bruno from the Pediatric AIDS Foundation demonstrate how they’ve used Power BI and Teams together to improve the data culture of a global organization

· Introduction to M Programming – Join Microsoft MVP, author and conference favorite Chris Webb as he shows several practical examples of how to use M.

· Advanced Power BI Embedded Development Topics – Presented as part of the Microsoft Power Series you won’t want to miss this hands-on deep dive into Power BI Embedded by Nimrod Shalit, Microsoft Program Manager and data enthusiast.

Save Now & Register

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Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

The Next Frontier of Data Integration: Data Lineage and Governance

For the past few years, Syncsort DMX-h has been helping large enterprises populate their data lakes by making it easy to access legacy data coming from the Mainframe or Enterprise Data Warehouse platforms such as Teradata or Oracle and integrate it with data in Hive, HDFS, Kafka, etc.

As a growing number of enterprises successfully deploy their newly populated data lakes, we have started to hear about the next pain point: Data Lineage and Governance. In Syncsort’s recently published Big Data survey, nearly 60% of respondents who are testing or in production with Hadoop or Spark identified “including the data lake in data governance initiatives and meeting regulatory compliance mandates” as a significant challenge.

The Next Frontier of Data Integration Data Lineage and Governance The Next Frontier of Data Integration: Data Lineage and Governance

Tracking Data Movement

Data lineage tracks, at a field level, data origination (source), what happens to it (transformations), and where it moves to over time (target). Data lineage also simplifies tracing errors back to their sources in a data analytics process.

Enterprises must track data movement throughout the organization for many types of use cases including regulatory reporting, security, and auditing. This might be part of a larger data governance practice in the organization. The challenges for the organizations are: addressing the volume and variety of their data sources (e.g., mainframe, DBMS, files, external); tracking and understanding the vast movement and transformation of data; and being able to “consume” this understanding presented via a graphical user interface, or integrated with tools or technologies already present within the organization.

Cloudera Navigator is Cloudera’s Data Governance solution for Hadoop. It automatically collects audit logs from across the entire platform and maintains a full history, with a unified, searchable audit dashboard for simple, point-in-time visibility.

Syncsort has partnered with Cloudera to extend Navigator’s reach beyond the Hadoop cluster. Not only does Syncsort DMX-h access data from the Mainframe, RDBMS, or other legacy sources, and transforms those into Hadoop compatible formats, but now, with new, extended integration with Cloudera Navigator, it makes the lineage information accessible to Navigator.

DMX-h is also used for data integration within the cluster: ETL jobs created in the DMX-h point-and-click interface can be run on MapReduce, Spark, or stand-alone Windows/Linux/Unix systems. And the best part is that now, all the details of that data processing can also be published to Navigator. This means that regardless of whether the data movement and transformation process was run inside or outside of Hadoop, or some of both. Navigator shows the data lineage from beginning to end.

Syncsort DMX-h makes its lineage information available through an API that can be integrated into different Data Lineage and Governance solutions. As the first of our joint customers with Cloudera opted to use Navigator as their Data Governance solution, our engineering team worked very closely with our partners at Cloudera to implement the deep integration of DMX-h lineage with Navigator. The joint customers were involved in every step of the development process to provide feedback and ensure the integration will meet their needs.

For enterprises that are not using Cloudera Navigator, DMX-h makes the lineage information available through a REST-API that can be used to integrate with different governance solutions.

To learn more about the integrated Syncsort DMX-h and Cloudera Navigator solution, visit booth #1022 at Strata Data Conference in San Jose from March 6-8, 2018, or watch our webinar on End-to-End, Source to Analytics, Data Lineage with Syncsort DMX-h.

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Next Steps In Digital Procurement Transformation: More Obvious Than We Think

In 2013, several UK supermarket chains discovered that products they were selling as beef were actually made at least partly—and in some cases, entirely—from horsemeat. The resulting uproar led to a series of product recalls, prompted stricter food testing, and spurred the European food industry to take a closer look at how unlabeled or mislabeled ingredients were finding their way into the food chain.

By 2020, a scandal like this will be eminently preventable.

The separation between bovine and equine will become immutable with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, which will track the provenance and identity of every animal from stall to store, adding the data to a blockchain that anyone can check but no one can alter.

Food processing companies will be able to use that blockchain to confirm and label the contents of their products accordingly—down to the specific farms and animals represented in every individual package. That level of detail may be too much information for shoppers, but they will at least be able to trust that their meatballs come from the appropriate species.

The Spine of Digitalization

Q118 CoverFeature img1 spine Next Steps In Digital Procurement Transformation: More Obvious Than We Think

Keeping food safer and more traceable is just the beginning, however. Improvements in the supply chain, which have been incremental for decades despite billions of dollars of technology investments, are about to go exponential. Emerging technologies are converging to transform the supply chain from tactical to strategic, from an easily replicable commodity to a new source of competitive differentiation.

You may already be thinking about how to take advantage of blockchain technology, which makes data and transactions immutable, transparent, and verifiable (see “What Is Blockchain and How Does It Work?”). That will be a powerful tool to boost supply chain speed and efficiency—always a worthy goal, but hardly a disruptive one.

However, if you think of blockchain as the spine of digitalization and technologies such as AI, the IoT, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, and drones as the limbs, you have a powerful supply chain body that can leapfrog ahead of its competition.

What Is Blockchain and How Does It Work?

Here’s why blockchain technology is critical to transforming the supply chain.

Blockchain is essentially a sequential, distributed ledger of transactions that is constantly updated on a global network of computers. The ownership and history of a transaction is embedded in the blockchain at the transaction’s earliest stages and verified at every subsequent stage.

A blockchain network uses vast amounts of computing power to encrypt the ledger as it’s being written. This makes it possible for every computer in the network to verify the transactions safely and transparently. The more organizations that participate in the ledger, the more complex and secure the encryption becomes, making it increasingly tamperproof.

Why does blockchain matter for the supply chain?

  • It enables the safe exchange of value without a central verifying partner, which makes transactions faster and less expensive.
  • It dramatically simplifies recordkeeping by establishing a single, authoritative view of the truth across all parties.
  • It builds a secure, immutable history and chain of custody as different parties handle the items being shipped, and it updates the relevant documentation.
  • By doing these things, blockchain allows companies to create smart contracts based on programmable business logic, which can execute themselves autonomously and thereby save time and money by reducing friction and intermediaries.

Hints of the Future

Q118 CoverFeature img2 future Next Steps In Digital Procurement Transformation: More Obvious Than We ThinkIn the mid-1990s, when the World Wide Web was in its infancy, we had no idea that the internet would become so large and pervasive, nor that we’d find a way to carry it all in our pockets on small slabs of glass.

But we could tell that it had vast potential.

Today, with the combination of emerging technologies that promise to turbocharge digital transformation, we’re just beginning to see how we might turn the supply chain into a source of competitive advantage (see “What’s the Magic Combination?”).

What’s the Magic Combination?

Those who focus on blockchain in isolation will miss out on a much bigger supply chain opportunity.

Many experts believe emerging technologies will work with blockchain to digitalize the supply chain and create new business models:

  • Blockchain will provide the foundation of automated trust for all parties in the supply chain.
  • The IoT will link objects—from tiny devices to large machines—and generate data about status, locations, and transactions that will be recorded on the blockchain.
  • 3D printing will extend the supply chain to the customer’s doorstep with hyperlocal manufacturing of parts and products with IoT sensors built into the items and/or their packaging. Every manufactured object will be smart, connected, and able to communicate so that it can be tracked and traced as needed.
  • Big Data management tools will process all the information streaming in around the clock from IoT sensors.
  • AI and machine learning will analyze this enormous amount of data to reveal patterns and enable true predictability in every area of the supply chain.

Combining these technologies with powerful analytics tools to predict trends will make lack of visibility into the supply chain a thing of the past. Organizations will be able to examine a single machine across its entire lifecycle and identify areas where they can improve performance and increase return on investment. They’ll be able to follow and monitor every component of a product, from design through delivery and service. They’ll be able to trigger and track automated actions between and among partners and customers to provide customized transactions in real time based on real data.

After decades of talk about markets of one, companies will finally have the power to create them—at scale and profitably.

Amazon, for example, is becoming as much a logistics company as a retailer. Its ordering and delivery systems are so streamlined that its customers can launch and complete a same-day transaction with a push of a single IP-enabled button or a word to its ever-attentive AI device, Alexa. And this level of experimentation and innovation is bubbling up across industries.

Consider manufacturing, where the IoT is transforming automation inside already highly automated factories. Machine-to-machine communication is enabling robots to set up, provision, and unload equipment quickly and accurately with minimal human intervention. Meanwhile, sensors across the factory floor are already capable of gathering such information as how often each machine needs maintenance or how much raw material to order given current production trends.

Once they harvest enough data, businesses will be able to feed it through machine learning algorithms to identify trends that forecast future outcomes. At that point, the supply chain will start to become both automated and predictive. We’ll begin to see business models that include proactively scheduling maintenance, replacing parts just before they’re likely to break, and automatically ordering materials and initiating customer shipments.

Italian train operator Trenitalia, for example, has put IoT sensors on its locomotives and passenger cars and is using analytics and in-memory computing to gauge the health of its trains in real time, according to an article in Computer Weekly. “It is now possible to affordably collect huge amounts of data from hundreds of sensors in a single train, analyse that data in real time and detect problems before they actually happen,” Trenitalia’s CIO Danilo Gismondi told Computer Weekly.

The project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2018, will change Trenitalia’s business model, allowing it to schedule more trips and make each one more profitable. The railway company will be able to better plan parts inventories and determine which lines are consistently performing poorly and need upgrades. The new system will save €100 million a year, according to ARC Advisory Group.

New business models continue to evolve as 3D printers become more sophisticated and affordable, making it possible to move the end of the supply chain closer to the customer. Companies can design parts and products in materials ranging from carbon fiber to chocolate and then print those items in their warehouse, at a conveniently located third-party vendor, or even on the client’s premises.

In addition to minimizing their shipping expenses and reducing fulfillment time, companies will be able to offer more personalized or customized items affordably in small quantities. For example, clothing retailer Ministry of Supply recently installed a 3D printer at its Boston store that enables it to make an article of clothing to a customer’s specifications in under 90 minutes, according to an article in Forbes.

This kind of highly distributed manufacturing has potential across many industries. It could even create a market for secure manufacturing for highly regulated sectors, allowing a manufacturer to transmit encrypted templates to printers in tightly protected locations, for example.

Meanwhile, organizations are investigating ways of using blockchain technology to authenticate, track and trace, automate, and otherwise manage transactions and interactions, both internally and within their vendor and customer networks. The ability to collect data, record it on the blockchain for immediate verification, and make that trustworthy data available for any application delivers indisputable value in any business context. The supply chain will be no exception.

Q118 CoverFeature img3 cheers ver2 Next Steps In Digital Procurement Transformation: More Obvious Than We Think

Blockchain Is the Change Driver

The supply chain is configured as we know it today because it’s impossible to create a contract that accounts for every possible contingency. Consider cross-border financial transfers, which are so complex and must meet so many regulations that they require a tremendous number of intermediaries to plug the gaps: lawyers, accountants, customer service reps, warehouse operators, bankers, and more. By reducing that complexity, blockchain technology makes intermediaries less necessary—a transformation that is revolutionary even when measured only in cost savings.

“If you’re selling 100 items a minute, 24 hours a day, reducing the cost of the supply chain by just $ 1 per item saves you more than $ 52.5 million a year,” notes Dirk Lonser, SAP go-to-market leader at DXC Technology, an IT services company. “By replacing manual processes and multiple peer-to-peer connections through fax or e-mail with a single medium where everyone can exchange verified information instantaneously, blockchain will boost profit margins exponentially without raising prices or even increasing individual productivity.”

But the potential for blockchain extends far beyond cost cutting and streamlining, says Irfan Khan, CEO of supply chain management consulting and systems integration firm Bristlecone, a Mahindra Group company. It will give companies ways to differentiate.

“Blockchain will let enterprises more accurately trace faulty parts or products from end users back to factories for recalls,” Khan says. “It will streamline supplier onboarding, contracting, and management by creating an integrated platform that the company’s entire network can access in real time. It will give vendors secure, transparent visibility into inventory 24×7. And at a time when counterfeiting is a real concern in multiple industries, it will make it easy for both retailers and customers to check product authenticity.”

Blockchain allows all the critical steps of the supply chain to go electronic and become irrefutably verifiable by all the critical parties within minutes: the seller and buyer, banks, logistics carriers, and import and export officials. Although the key parts of the process remain the same as in today’s analog supply chain, performing them electronically with blockchain technology shortens each stage from hours or days to seconds while eliminating reams of wasteful paperwork. With goods moving that quickly, companies have ample room for designing new business models around manufacturing, service, and delivery.

Q118 CoverFeature img4 roadblock Next Steps In Digital Procurement Transformation: More Obvious Than We Think

Challenges on the Path to Adoption

For all this to work, however, the data on the blockchain must be correct from the beginning. The pills, produce, or parts on the delivery truck need to be the same as the items listed on the manifest at the loading dock. Every use case assumes that the data is accurate—and that will only happen when everything that’s manufactured is smart, connected, and able to self-verify automatically with the help of machine learning tuned to detect errors and potential fraud.

Companies are already seeing the possibilities of applying this bundle of emerging technologies to the supply chain. IDC projects that by 2021, at least 25% of Forbes Global 2000 (G2000) companies will use blockchain services as a foundation for digital trust at scale; 30% of top global manufacturers and retailers will do so by 2020. IDC also predicts that by 2020, up to 10% of pilot and production blockchain-distributed ledgers will incorporate data from IoT sensors.

Despite IDC’s optimism, though, the biggest barrier to adoption is the early stage level of enterprise use cases, particularly around blockchain. Currently, the sole significant enterprise blockchain production system is the virtual currency Bitcoin, which has unfortunately been tainted by its associations with speculation, dubious financial transactions, and the so-called dark web.

The technology is still in a sufficiently early stage that there’s significant uncertainty about its ability to handle the massive amounts of data a global enterprise supply chain generates daily. Never mind that it’s completely unregulated, with no global standard. There’s also a critical global shortage of experts who can explain emerging technologies like blockchain, the IoT, and machine learning to nontechnology industries and educate organizations in how the technologies can improve their supply chain processes. Finally, there is concern about how blockchain’s complex algorithms gobble computing power—and electricity (see “Blockchain Blackouts”).

Blockchain Blackouts

Q118 CoverFeature img5 blackout Next Steps In Digital Procurement Transformation: More Obvious Than We ThinkBlockchain is a power glutton. Can technology mediate the issue?

A major concern today is the enormous carbon footprint of the networks creating and solving the algorithmic problems that keep blockchains secure. Although virtual currency enthusiasts claim the problem is overstated, Michael Reed, head of blockchain technology for Intel, has been widely quoted as saying that the energy demands of blockchains are a significant drain on the world’s electricity resources.

Indeed, Wired magazine has estimated that by July 2019, the Bitcoin network alone will require more energy than the entire United States currently uses and that by February 2020 it will use as much electricity as the entire world does today.

Still, computing power is becoming more energy efficient by the day and sticking with paperwork will become too slow, so experts—Intel’s Reed among them—consider this a solvable problem.

“We don’t know yet what the market will adopt. In a decade, it might be status quo or best practice, or it could be the next Betamax, a great technology for which there was no demand,” Lonser says. “Even highly regulated industries that need greater transparency in the entire supply chain are moving fairly slowly.”

Blockchain will require acceptance by a critical mass of companies, governments, and other organizations before it displaces paper documentation. It’s a chicken-and-egg issue: multiple companies need to adopt these technologies at the same time so they can build a blockchain to exchange information, yet getting multiple companies to do anything simultaneously is a challenge. Some early initiatives are already underway, though:

  • A London-based startup called Everledger is using blockchain and IoT technology to track the provenance, ownership, and lifecycles of valuable assets. The company began by tracking diamonds from mine to jewelry using roughly 200 different characteristics, with a goal of stopping both the demand for and the supply of “conflict diamonds”—diamonds mined in war zones and sold to finance insurgencies. It has since expanded to cover wine, artwork, and other high-value items to prevent fraud and verify authenticity.
  • In September 2017, SAP announced the creation of its SAP Leonardo Blockchain Co-Innovation program, a group of 27 enterprise customers interested in co-innovating around blockchain and creating business buy-in. The diverse group of participants includes management and technology services companies Capgemini and Deloitte, cosmetics company Natura Cosméticos S.A., and Moog Inc., a manufacturer of precision motion control systems.
  • Two of Europe’s largest shipping ports—Rotterdam and Antwerp—are working on blockchain projects to streamline interaction with port customers. The Antwerp terminal authority says eliminating paperwork could cut the costs of container transport by as much as 50%.
  • The Chinese online shopping behemoth Alibaba is experimenting with blockchain to verify the authenticity of food products and catch counterfeits before they endanger people’s health and lives.
  • Technology and transportation executives have teamed up to create the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), a forum for developing blockchain standards and education for the freight industry.

It’s likely that the first blockchain-based enterprise supply chain use case will emerge in the next year among companies that see it as an opportunity to bolster their legal compliance and improve business processes. Once that happens, expect others to follow.

Q118 CoverFeature img7 milk Next Steps In Digital Procurement Transformation: More Obvious Than We Think

Customers Will Expect Change

It’s only a matter of time before the supply chain becomes a competitive driver. The question for today’s enterprises is how to prepare for the shift. Customers are going to expect constant, granular visibility into their transactions and faster, more customized service every step of the way. Organizations will need to be ready to meet those expectations.

If organizations have manual business processes that could never be automated before, now is the time to see if it’s possible. Organizations that have made initial investments in emerging technologies are looking at how their pilot projects are paying off and where they might extend to the supply chain. They are starting to think creatively about how to combine technologies to offer a product, service, or business model not possible before.

A manufacturer will load a self-driving truck with a 3D printer capable of creating a customer’s ordered item en route to delivering it. A vendor will capture the market for a socially responsible product by allowing its customers to track the product’s production and verify that none of its subcontractors use slave labor. And a supermarket chain will win over customers by persuading them that their choice of supermarket is also a choice between being certain of what’s in their food and simply hoping that what’s on the label matches what’s inside.

At that point, a smart supply chain won’t just be a competitive edge. It will become a competitive necessity. D!

About the Authors

Gil Perez is Senior Vice President, Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain, at SAP.

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

Hans Thalbauer is Senior Vice President, Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain, at SAP.

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

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology.

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


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Graph Databases: The Next Generation of Fraud Detection Technology

graph database Graph Databases: The Next Generation of Fraud Detection Technology

This is a follow-up blog post in our Graph Database series. Learn what a graph database is and why it’s important here.

Today’s approach to fraud detection: Discrete Analysis

With its terrific ability to enable users to spot patterns quickly and easily, graph database has wide implications for use in a number of industries including fraud detection. Fraud accounts for billions of dollars lost per year and it seems each year, fraudsters get more sophisticated in outsmarting the banks. Unfortunately, the most common attribute of fraud is misdirection and burying their patterns in lots of data.  With traditional data storage techniques, it really isn’t possible to see beyond individual points to the connections between them. That sort of heightened, overarching pattern-like view has now become more feasible with graph database. The connected data view in graph database can more easily uncover these larger complex patterns and make fraud evasion harder. To understand how useful an addition graph database can be in detecting fraud, it’s best to first understand Gartner’s layered approach to fraud detection.

Gartner analysts say “No single layer of fraud prevention or authentication is enough to keep determined fraudsters out of enterprise systems.” They say that you need a combination of monitoring and controls to combat fraud. Therefore, they recommend following the 5 layered fraud prevention approach. This approach recommends that companies use all five layers, ranging from the most basic of security measures (secure browsing) to the most complex (analysis of relationships), and encourages companies to face the fact that some determined fraudsters will break through the first few layers of security. Because some will make it in.

Most of today’s available fraud prevention solutions only address the first four layers of Gartner’s recommended approach. For instance, banks mainly use transaction monitoring systems (TMS) which rely on relational databases. Due to their linear, discrete analysis approach, most of today’s solutions can usually only spot trends and incidents after they’ve happened and only a limited basis.

While the discrete approach is an easy one that helps users spot patterns and capture fraudsters acting alone, it doesn’t necessarily detect patterns between all the different data endpoints and therefore, is not very useful in detecting elaborate crime rings. Further, modern fraud rings have become very familiar with the ways of discrete data analysis and know how to avoid detection with this approach. This leads us to the next frontier of fraud detection which revolves around connected analysis.

Tomorrow’s approach to fraud detection: Connected Analysis

This is where graph database can really add value. Graph database addresses Gartner’s fifth layer of fraud prevention: entity link analysis. Graph database enables banks to look beyond the individual data points of discrete analysis to the connections that link them. With graph database, banks can see their data in “graphs” and more easily visualize patterns and opportunities to better predict when and where fraud might occur.

Another important trait that makes graph database a value add to any fraud prevention solution is its inherent speed in calculating relationships. Since the relationships in graph database are treated with as much value as the database records themselves, the engine that navigates the connections between nodes can do so efficiently, enabling millions of connections per second. Graph database enables quick extraction of new insight from large and complex databases to help uncover unknown interactions and relationships. This means that with a graph database, banks can process data and compute risks quicker than today’s current relational databases so they can spot opportunities and threats before the competition.

According to Forbes, graph database reduces false positives, improve false negative detection, ease investigations, and reduce overall fraud investigation costs. Fundamentally, fraud detection depends on the ability to analyze the relationships between customers and transactions, and recognize patterns or trends. All at the speed of today’s transactions. Graph database provides the speed and the ability to detect large patterns making it the ideal addition to any fraud prevention solution.

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How Big Data Can Tell You Which Book To Read Next

273205 273205 l srgb s gl How Big Data Can Tell You Which Book To Read Next

Let me start with a quote from McKinsey, that in my view hits the nail right on the head:

“No matter what the context, there’s a strong possibility that blockchain will affect your business. The very big question is when.”

Now, in the industries that I cover in my role as general manager and innovation lead for travel and transportation/cargo, engineering, construction and operations, professional services, and media, I engage with many different digital leaders on a regular basis. We are having visionary conversations about the impact of digital technologies and digital transformation on business models and business processes and the way companies address them. Many topics are at different stages of the hype cycle, but the one that definitely stands out is blockchain as a new enabling technology in the enterprise space.

Just a few weeks ago, a customer said to me: “My board is all about blockchain, but I don’t get what the excitement is about – isn’t this just about Bitcoin and a cryptocurrency?”

I can totally understand his confusion. I’ve been talking to many blockchain experts who know that it will have a big impact on many industries and the related business communities. But even they are uncertain about the where, how, and when, and about the strategy on how to deal with it. The reason is that we often look at it from a technology point of view. This is a common mistake, as the starting point should be the business problem and the business issue or process that you want to solve or create.

In my many interactions with Torsten Zube, vice president and blockchain lead at the SAP Innovation Center Network (ICN) in Potsdam, Germany, he has made it very clear that it’s mandatory to “start by identifying the real business problem and then … figure out how blockchain can add value.” This is the right approach.

What we really need to do is provide guidance for our customers to enable them to bring this into the context of their business in order to understand and define valuable use cases for blockchain. We need to use design thinking or other creative strategies to identify the relevant fields for a particular company. We must work with our customers and review their processes and business models to determine which key blockchain aspects, such as provenance and trust, are crucial elements in their industry. This way, we can identify use cases in which blockchain will benefit their business and make their company more successful.

My highly regarded colleague Ulrich Scholl, who is responsible for externalizing the latest industry innovations, especially blockchain, in our SAP Industries organization, recently said: “These kinds of use cases are often not evident, as blockchain capabilities sometimes provide minor but crucial elements when used in combination with other enabling technologies such as IoT and machine learning.” In one recent and very interesting customer case from the autonomous province of South Tyrol, Italy, blockchain was one of various cloud platform services required to make this scenario happen.

How to identify “blockchainable” processes and business topics (value drivers)

To understand the true value and impact of blockchain, we need to keep in mind that a verified transaction can involve any kind of digital asset such as cryptocurrency, contracts, and records (for instance, assets can be tangible equipment or digital media). While blockchain can be used for many different scenarios, some don’t need blockchain technology because they could be handled by a simple ledger, managed and owned by the company, or have such a large volume of data that a distributed ledger cannot support it. Blockchain would not the right solution for these scenarios.

Here are some common factors that can help identify potential blockchain use cases:

  • Multiparty collaboration: Are many different parties, and not just one, involved in the process or scenario, but one party dominates everything? For example, a company with many parties in the ecosystem that are all connected to it but not in a network or more decentralized structure.
  • Process optimization: Will blockchain massively improve a process that today is performed manually, involves multiple parties, needs to be digitized, and is very cumbersome to manage or be part of?
  • Transparency and auditability: Is it important to offer each party transparency (e.g., on the origin, delivery, geolocation, and hand-overs) and auditable steps? (e.g., How can I be sure that the wine in my bottle really is from Bordeaux?)
  • Risk and fraud minimization: Does it help (or is there a need) to minimize risk and fraud for each party, or at least for most of them in the chain? (e.g., A company might want to know if its goods have suffered any shocks in transit or whether the predefined route was not followed.)

Connecting blockchain with the Internet of Things

This is where blockchain’s value can be increased and automated. Just think about a blockchain that is not just maintained or simply added by a human, but automatically acquires different signals from sensors, such as geolocation, temperature, shock, usage hours, alerts, etc. One that knows when a payment or any kind of money transfer has been made, a delivery has been received or arrived at its destination, or a digital asset has been downloaded from the Internet. The relevant automated actions or signals are then recorded in the distributed ledger/blockchain.

Of course, given the massive amount of data that is created by those sensors, automated signals, and data streams, it is imperative that only the very few pieces of data coming from a signal that are relevant for a specific business process or transaction be stored in a blockchain. By recording non-relevant data in a blockchain, we would soon hit data size and performance issues.

Ideas to ignite thinking in specific industries

  • The digital, “blockchained” physical asset (asset lifecycle management): No matter whether you build, use, or maintain an asset, such as a machine, a piece of equipment, a turbine, or a whole aircraft, a blockchain transaction (genesis block) can be created when the asset is created. The blockchain will contain all the contracts and information for the asset as a whole and its parts. In this scenario, an entry is made in the blockchain every time an asset is: sold; maintained by the producer or owner’s maintenance team; audited by a third-party auditor; has malfunctioning parts; sends or receives information from sensors; meets specific thresholds; has spare parts built in; requires a change to the purpose or the capability of the assets due to age or usage duration; receives (or doesn’t receive) payments; etc.
  • The delivery chain, bill of lading: In today’s world, shipping freight from A to B involves lots of manual steps. For example, a carrier receives a booking from a shipper or forwarder, confirms it, and, before the document cut-off time, receives the shipping instructions describing the content and how the master bill of lading should be created. The carrier creates the original bill of lading and hands it over to the ordering party (the current owner of the cargo). Today, that original paper-based bill of lading is required for the freight (the container) to be picked up at the destination (the port of discharge). Imagine if we could do this as a blockchain transaction and by forwarding a PDF by email. There would be one transaction at the beginning, when the shipping carrier creates the bill of lading. Then there would be look-ups, e.g., by the import and release processing clerk of the shipper at the port of discharge and the new owner of the cargo at the destination. Then another transaction could document that the container had been handed over.

The future

I personally believe in the massive transformative power of blockchain, even though we are just at the very beginning. This transformation will be achieved by looking at larger networks with many participants that all have a nearly equal part in a process. Today, many blockchain ideas still have a more centralistic approach, in which one company has a more prominent role than the (many) others and often is “managing” this blockchain/distributed ledger-supported process/approach.

But think about the delivery scenario today, where goods are shipped from one door or company to another door or company, across many parties in the delivery chain: from the shipper/producer via the third-party logistics service provider and/or freight forwarder; to the companies doing the actual transport, like vessels, trucks, aircraft, trains, cars, ferries, and so on; to the final destination/receiver. And all of this happens across many countries, many borders, many handovers, customs, etc., and involves a lot of paperwork, across all constituents.

“Blockchaining” this will be truly transformational. But it will need all constituents in the process or network to participate, even if they have different interests, and to agree on basic principles and an approach.

As Torsten Zube put it, I am not a “blockchain extremist” nor a denier that believes this is just a hype, but a realist open to embracing a new technology in order to change our processes for our collective benefit.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business. Learn how.


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Microsoft Flow is coming to the next release of Dynamics 365

CRM Blog Microsoft Flow is coming to the next release of Dynamics 365

There’s a lot of new and exciting functionality coming to the next version of Dynamics 365. One of my favorites is Microsoft’s commitment to incorporate Flow directly into Dynamics 365. This gives you the ability to create integrations from within Dynamics 365 without ever having to leave the user interface!

What is Microsoft Flow?

Microsoft Flow is an app that allows you to automate your workflows. You can utilize it to build solutions that automate process from Dynamics 365 to disparate apps and services. It can also streamline notifications and sync data between systems. Check out how I utilized Flow to connect Twitter and Microsoft Dynamics 365. 

Microsoft Flow vs. Dynamics 365 Processes

Both Microsoft Flow and Dynamics 365 processes are very similar in nature for a couple reasons. First, they are triggered by a data change in Dynamics 365. Second, they can drive automation of data transfer both inside and outside of Dynamics 365. If they are so similar, then how do you pick the right technology for your task?

Dynamics 365 processes have been around since the inception of the product, and were fully incorporated into the user interface way back in version 4. You should continue to use this for all of your automation, especially when you are augmenting data in Dynamics 365.

If you want to build an integration to another system, and there is a supported connection available, then give Microsoft Flow a chance. If you are not a developer, this is the path of least resistance to build an integration.

Microsoft Flow is here to stay

Even though Microsoft Flow is new to Dynamics 365, Microsoft has been heavily investing into this technology for years. Their goal is to make integrations painless, and expand the platform that was once exclusive to developers. Experience it now, because my prediction is that Dynamics 365 processes and Microsoft Flow will soon be melded into one super workflow engine.

Beringer Technology Group, a leading Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and CRM for Distribution. We also provide expert Managed IT ServicesBackup and Disaster RecoveryCloud Based Computing and Unified Communication Systems.

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“The Person Next To Me Will Become A Celebrity!”

In “The Sadness of the Kardashians,” Sophie Gilbert’s Atlantic essay about the Reality TV family that has stretched its 15 minutes of fame into a decade-long stay in a Warholian vomitorium, the writer shines a light on the melancholia the women may be feeling about their less-than-brilliant careers, which seems like an odd place to put the piece’s emphasis. “If Kris were offered the same Faustian bargain again,” the article asks, “would she accept, knowing everything the next 10 years would bring?”

Hell yeah, she would. Kris Jenner is a monstrous person who was happy to shamelessly sell her soul as well as her daughters to the highest bidder in exchange for some recognition and a string shiny baubles. Even if she hadn’t been especially good at her disgraceful line of work and they’d never managed to attract an unblinking spotlight to their famous-for-nothing act, they would have been a damaged brood drowning in their own tears. With that mother, they were doomed from the start.

The more important questions are what enabled the Kardashians to be famous, and why do so many people all over the globe wish for the kind of notoriety they possess? The first question is easier to answer. Two technological changes made the brand possible: A decentralized media allowed for an explosion of channels on TV and the Internet which created an overwhelming need for cheap content and new stars, and the advent of computer-based non-linear editing systems for video made such Reality fare technologically simple to piece together. The second query is more knotty. There is currently a hole inside us that makes many crave for attention beyond all satisfaction. The Kardashians may best represent that dynamic, but they are far from alone.

· · ·

In Doug Bock Clark’s excellent GQexegesis of Kim Jong-nam’s Malaysian airport murder, he writes of how simple it was for North Korean agents to dupe fame-hungry young women into unwittingly committing murder with a nerve agent by convincing them they were merely participating in a hidden-camera Reality TV show. As shocking as the wetwork was—and it was purposely so bizarre to send a chilling message to the world—you could hardly blame the clueless culprits for failing to recognize the ruse, not in a world of endless cameras and emotional cruelty, in which reality and fiction have become so blurred. 

An excerpt:

After James enticed Siti [Aisyah] with his too-good-to-be-true offer of salvation, they toured the luxury hotels and malls of Kuala Lumpur from January 5 through 9, smearing oil and hot sauce on Chinese-looking men. Each prank was rewarded with another windfall.

According to Siti’s lawyer, Gooi Soon Seng, before long, “Siti started telling James she was tired of her present career, and that she looked forward to the new life of being a star.” She bragged to acquaintances that she was going to be a celebrity. When a friend video-called Siti on her birthday and joked with her that she would soon outshine a famous Malaysian actress, Siti agreed, laughing and jauntily flipping her hair.

At least once, Siti asked to see the recordings of herself, but James told her the film was still being edited and, according to her cousin, wouldn’t let her see it because it would make her self-conscious. 

Then, on January 21, James flew her to Cambodia for more “spoofing,” as they called it. Gooi told me, “It was when she went overseas that she really started to believe she could escape her old life.” James had even suggested she might spoof people in America.

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, James informed Siti that “Chang,” a 34-year-old “Chinese” man who spoke fluent Bahasa, would replace him. Chang led Siti through three practice sessions at the airport.

Siti passed the end of the month back home in Ranca Sumur, with her family. She was there when Chang called, ordering her to return to Kuala Lumpur. Before flying out of Jakarta, Siti visited her son a final time.

On February 3, 4, and 7, Siti dirtied victims at Kuala Lumpur’s airport under Chang’s supervision. He increased her salary to two American Benjamins per hit, instead of half that in Malaysian ringgits. On February 8, Chang gave Siti $ 4,000 to arrange a trip to Macau—Jong-nam’s home. But the next day he canceled that. Jong-nam was already in Malaysia.

Two days later, she practiced again at the airport. It was Siti’s 25th birthday, and when they were finished, Chang bought her a taxi ticket home as a present. He told her that the next prank would be in a few days, on February 13.

Siti spent her last innocent night at a Hard Rock Cafe decorated with an enshrined Gwen Stefani bra. Her friends chipped in for a steak that cost two-thirds of her monthly salary at the sweatshop. An American pop song wailed over the speakers: I was supposed to do great things. At a table laden with fruit-bedecked cocktails, a friend announced, “And now the person next to me will become a celebrity!” Siti exposed her braces and bashfully tossed her hair. After her friends sang “Happy Birthday,” she blew out a lone candle on a cupcake-sized cake. Then they clubbed into the witching hours.

By 8 A.M., Siti was drinking coffee with Chang in a faux-Colonial coffeehouse that offered an excellent view of the airport terminal. Finally, Chang led her behind a pillar near the AirAsia self-check-in kiosks. There, Chang told her that a second woman would join the prank and that she should leave after the second woman struck. When Jong-nam strolled into the terminal, Chang identified him to Siti by noting his gray blazer and dark backpack. Then he told her to look away and stick out her hand, likely while unwrapping something from a white plastic bag he’d withdrawn from his black backpack. An oily substance slicked her palm. She noticed it smelled like machine oil, though the previous liquids had been odorless. Chang reminded her to apologize after striking and to leave quickly, since the target “looks rich.”

As Jong-nam approached, Chang ducked away, and Siti advanced on her target. After rubbing Jong-nam’s face, Siti fled. Her first few strides were measured, but by the time she neared the bathrooms, she was running. There, as she’d been instructed, she washed her hands of the affair. Then she went shopping at a middle-class mall. By the afternoon, she was laboring again at the spa, awaiting the next spoof, which would inch her closer to the life she had dreamed of when she had left Ranca Sumur.


What Siti would not comprehend until weeks later was that the North Koreans had stage-managed every detail of her recruitment and the assassination.•


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Next Week’s Strata Data Conference: What’s in a Name?

Next week, thousands of Big Data practitioners, experts and influencers will gather at New York’s Javits Center to attend the newly-branded Strata Data Conference. According to event organizers, the conference, which debuted in 2012 as Strata + Hadoop World, has been rebranded to more accurately reflect the scope of the conference beyond Hadoop.

The simplicity of the name belies the increasingly diverse and complex ecosystem of Big Data tools and technology that will be covered during three days packed with tutorials, keynotes and track sessions. It can be quite overwhelming – but here’s a sampling of what’s going on to help you plan your week.

Strata Data Conference Keynotes

Keynotes are always a great way to get energized for the day ahead, and this year looks to be no different, with titles including “Wild, Wild Data,” “Weapons of Math Destruction,” the cautionary “Your Data is Being Manipulated,” and the upbeat “Music, the window into your soul.”

We’re also looking forward to the presentation by Cloudera co-founder Mike Olson and Cesar Delgado, the current Siri platform architect at Apple.

Expanded Session Topics Connect Technology to the Business

While the main driver for dropping “Hadoop” from the conference title was to be more inclusive of the breadth of technology discussed, the new name appears to coincide with an expansion of topics that connect the technology to the business. In addition to Findata Day – a separate event curated for finance executives held on Tuesday – there is a “Strata Business Summit” track within the main conference, tailored for executives, business leaders and strategists.

Looking for more sessions that marry technology and business? You can filter on topics for Business Case Studies, Data-driven Business Management, Enterprise Adoption, and Law, Ethics & Governance.

Speaking of Governance … if you want to make sure the Big Data in your organization is actually trusted by the people who need and use it, be sure to attend “A Governance Checklist for Making Your Big Data into Trusted Data,” presented by our VP of product management, Keith Kohl, on Thursday at 2:05 pm.

LPheader StrataNYC17 Next Week’s Strata Data Conference: What’s in a Name?

Strata Data Conference Events You Won’t Want to Miss

Last, but not least, what’s a great conference without some great events? Here are a few favorites:

  • Ignite:Presenters get 5 minutes to present on an interesting topic – from technology to philosophy – that touch on the wonder and mysteries of Big Data and pervasive computing. Always a favorite, this event is free and open to the public. So stop by even if you don’t have a conference pass!
  • Strata Data Gives Back: Join Cloudera Cares and O’Reilly Media in assembling care kits for New York’s homeless and at-risk youth, in partnership with the Covenant House NY. Visit the Cloudera stand in the Expo Hall to get involved.
  • Booth Crawl and Data After Dark: Unwind after a day of sessions by with fellow attendees, speakers and authors while you enjoy a vendor-hosted cocktail hour in the Expo Hall. Be sure to stop by Syncsort Booth #715 where you can enjoy a Mexican Fiesta and get our latest t-shirt! Ask our data experts how you can unlock valuable – and trusted – insights from your mainframe and other legacy platforms using our innovative Big Data Integration and Data Quality solutions! Then head to 230 Fifth, New York’s largest outdoor rooftop garden, for Data After Dark: City View.

Haven’t registered for Strata Data Conference yet? Get a 20% discount on us!

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NetSuite prepares businesses for What's Next with 'Next Ready' Business Tour

og image NetSuite prepares businesses for What's Next with 'Next Ready' Business Tour

Leading Cloud ERP Provider Launches 15-City Tour to Help Businesses Grow with Scale and Adapt to Changes

SAN MATEO, Calif.—August 14, 2017—Oracle NetSuite, one of the world’s leading providers of cloud-based financials / ERP, HR, Professional Services Automation (PSA)</a> and omnichannel commerce software suites, today announced the ‘Next Ready’ Business Tour. Beginning this month and crisscrossing the country at select cities, the tour will feature industry thought leaders, customers, partners, NetSuite executives and sports legends from the NBA, NFL and MLB at multiple one-day events. The event series is designed to prepare businesses for whatever comes next, whether it’s a new business model, a new market, new technology or new regulation with NetSuite’s decades of experience across a wide range of industries, real-world examples of businesses thriving amidst change and some of the leading analysts and consultants in their field.

The 15-city tour will provide businesses an opportunity to learn about:

  • Scaling Your Business, enabling growth and innovation amidst an environment of constant change.
  • Preparing for ASC 606, adjusting to the biggest accounting change in over a decade that is bringing changes to how companies sell, manage and account for revenue.

Joining a wide array of companies that have transformed and grown their business on NetSuite will be a select group of ‘Next-Ready’ speakers and industry thought leaders including:

  • Dirk Beveridge, Founder of UnleashWD and a leading voice in the wholesale distribution industry.
  • Christopher Lochhead, Host of the hit podcast Legends & Losers, and Co-Author of “Play Bigger,” a book that examines how “category kings” dominate their industry.
  • Jeanne Urich, Managing Director, Service Performance Insight, LLC, a global research and training organization dedicated to services organizations.

The ‘Next Ready’ Business Tour will take place in the following cities on the following dates:

  • Chicago Monday, August 14
  • San Diego Thursday, August 24 with NBA Legend Bill Walton
  • Minneapolis Tuesday, August 29
  • Vancouver Wednesday, September 6
  • Boston Tuesday, September 12
  • Philadelphia Wednesday, September 13 with Basketball Hall of Famer Julius Erving aka Dr. J
  • Houston Thursday, September 14 with NBA All-Star Chris Paul
  • Denver Tuesday, September 20
  • Salt Lake City Wednesday, September 21
  • Toronto Tuesday, September 26
  • New York Wednesday, September 27
  • Atlanta Wednesday, October 11 with Basketball Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins
  • Washington, D.C. Thursday, October 12
  • Tampa Wednesday, November 8 with Olympic Gold Medalist and MLB All Star Tino Martinez
  • Miami Thursday, November 9 with 2017 Football Hall of Fame Inductee Jason Taylor
  • Chicago Tuesday, November 14

Select cities are almost near capacity. For more details on the specific city agendas and to register, visit www.netsuite.com/nrbt.

About Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit
Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit pioneered the Cloud Computing revolution in 1998, establishing the world’s first company dedicated to delivering business applications over the internet. Today, Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit 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 delivers hundreds of SaaS applications and enterprise-class PaaS and IaaS services to customers in more than 195 countries and territories while processing 55 billion transactions a day. 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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About Krisgo

I’m a mom, that has worn many different hats in this life; from scout leader, camp craft teacher, parents group president, colorguard coach, member of the community band, stay-at-home-mom to full time worker, I’ve done it all– almost! I still love learning new things, especially creating and cooking. Most of all I love to laugh! Thanks for visiting – come back soon icon smile Just thinkin’ about my next flight

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