Tag Archives: Review

WATCH: Humor Mill @ The Movies Review- ‘Tomb Raider’!

TombRaider WATCH: Humor Mill @ The Movies Review  ‘Tomb Raider’!

Here’s our very first episode of Humor Mill @ The Movies, and first up is Warner Bros. remake of the smash video game hit of Tomb Raider! (Yeah, we know the review is a little bit late, but give us some time, they are about to start coming out much faster!)

The fate of humanity rests in her hands. Alicia Vikander is Lara Croft. #TombRaider

Check out our review below;

Jessica Moore AKA “Jess Hilarious” Set To Star In New Fox Comedy Pilot ‘Rel’!

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The Humor Mill

Year in Review Contest: Jan. 3-Jan. 31

What a rich and incredible year we’ve just wrapped up. Worldwide, 2017 was filled with change, discovery, exploration and challenge, much of which was captured in data. Starting today, the Microsoft Data Journalism Program and Power BI teams are excited to announce that we’re accepting your submissions to the Power BI “2017 Year in Review” Data Story Contest. Show us your best Power BI work as you share a story, illustrated through data, of something fascinating that occurred in 2017.


The grand prize winner of this contest will walk away with a powerful new Microsoft Surface Pro*.


The guidelines are simple: we want to see the most interesting interactive visualizations you can produce to tell a story about something that happened in 2017. Take advantage of your Power BI skills, and use a publicly shareable dataset, to tell an engaging and timely story. Be creative: the topic might be anything, serious or silly, about business, health, sports, politics, safety or science, or maybe even music, movies, pop culture or food trends. Whatever you like. If it took place or reached a tipping point in 2017, it’s fair game.


Our expert panel of judges will score entries on how interesting the story is, the insights you uncover, clarity of design, composition and interactive function, and the integrity of your data.


The “Year in review” Data Stories Contest Overview:

  • January 3, 2018 (today) – The contest is open, and we’re accepting entries.
  • The general rules –
    • Build a visualization from a dataset you can share publicly.
    • Enter the contest by publishing your visualization in the Data Stories Gallery.
    • Along with your visualization, provide a description of the story it tells, as well as the Power BI source file (.PBIX) and original dataset you used to create your report.
    • Additional details are available in the official rules, attached to the community blog post.
  • January 31, 2018 – Entry submission closes.
    • Submit your entry by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on January 31, 2018. No late entries will be accepted.


Content entries will be judged by a three-judge panel:

  • Amir Netz, Microsoft Technical Fellow
  • Troy Thibodeaux, The Associated Press Data Journalism Team Editor, and
  • Lukasz Pawlowski, Data Journalism Program Product Lead


We love seeing your creative side! So, we will be looking for entries that show off how you can blend data and analytics with some of the compelling features Power BI has to help you tell stories, for example:

  • Use custom visuals
  • Use bookmarks to gain narrative flow
  • Use Power BI’s publish to web feature to post your visual on an external website where you tell your story (include a link to your external site in your Data Stories Gallery submission)
  • Use the new data connector in Power BI Desktop to pull data from world, a site you may find to be a great source for your public data set!


We’ll select a single grand prize winner from the reports submitted. Please note that all submissions will be used by Microsoft for research and to improve our products and services. Additionally, they may be amplified or published more broadly, either by Microsoft or in the media.


The grand prize will be an awesome new Microsoft Surface Pro to help you kick off your 2018 computing right.


We’re tremendously excited to see what you submit. Good luck!






*terms and conditions apply; see official rules for details.

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Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

Review of Big Data Warehousing at OpenWorld 2017 – Now Available

 Review of Big Data Warehousing at OpenWorld 2017   Now Available

Did you miss OpenWorld 2017? Then my latest book is definitely something you will want to download! If you went to OpenWorld this book is also for you because it covers all the most important big data warehousing messages and sessions during the five days of OpenWorld.

Following on from OpenWorld 2017 I have put together a comprehensive review of all the big data warehousing content from OpenWorld 2017. This includes all the key sessions and announcements from this year’s Oracle OpenWorld conference. This review guide contains the following information:

Chapter 1 Welcome – an overview of the contents.  

Chapter 2 Let’s Go Autonomous - containing all you need to know about Oracle’s new, fully-managed Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud. This was the biggest announcement at OpenWorld so this chapter contains videos, presentations and podcasts to get you up to speed on this completely new data warehouse cloud service.

Chapter 3 Keynotes – Relive OpenWorld 2017 by watching the most important highlights from this year’s OpenWorld conference with our on demand video service which covers all the major keynote sessions.

Chapter 4 Key Presenters – a list of the most important speakers by product area such as database, cloud, analytics, developer and big data. Each biography includes all relevant social media sites and pages.

Chapter 5 Key Sessions - a list of all the most important sessions with links to download the related presentations organized

Chapter 6 Staying Connected – Details of all the links you need to keep up to date on Oracle’s strategy and products for Data Warehousing and Big Data.  This covers all our websites, blogs and social media pages.

This review is available in three formats:

1) For highly evolved users, i.e. Apple users, who understand the power of Apple’s iBook format, your multi-media enabled iBook version is available here.

2) For Windows users who are forced to endure a 19th-Century style technological experience, your PDF version is available here.

3) For Linux users, Oracle DBAs and other IT dinosaurs, all of whom are allergic to all graphical user interfaces, the basic version of this comprehensive review is available here.

I hope you enjoy this review and look forward to seeing you next year at OpenWorld 2018, October 28 to November 1. If you’d like to be notified when registration opens for next year’s Oracle OpenWorld then register your email address here.

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Oracle Blogs | Oracle The Data Warehouse Insider Blog

Data Governance Review: From Basics to the Latest News & Trends

Similar to last week’s Data Quality Study Guide, we wanted to continue to take advantage of the slower summer season to review the latest in data governance. Take a break from the heat and spend a few moments to get yourself caught up.

New to Data Governance?

If you’re just getting started, we’ve got the perfect data governance primer for you. This article explains the basics of developing an effective data governance process for taming unruly data.

blog data governance policies Data Governance Review: From Basics to the Latest News & Trends

Data Governance + Data Quality = Trust

Data governance requires data quality because ensuring data quality is the only way to be certain that your data governance policies are consistently followed and enforced. It’s likely that is why both data governance and data quality were top of mind at this year’s Collibra Data Citizens event.

At this year’s Data Governance and Information Quality Conference (DGIQ), our own Keith Kohl lead the session about how data governance and data quality are intrinsically linked, and as the strategic importance of data grows in an organization, the intersection of these practices grows in importance, too.

During her Enterprise Data World presentation, Laura Sebastian-Coleman of the Data Quality Center of Excellence Lead for Cigna, noted specifically that data quality depends on fitness for purpose, representational effectiveness and data knowledge. And, without this knowledge, which depends on the data context, our data lakes or even our data warehouses are doomed to become “data graveyards.”

As our new eBook “The New Rules for Your Data Landscape” points out, data is shifting from IT to the business. The result is a new data supply chain which impacts data movement, manipulation and cleansing.

blog banner landscape Data Governance Review: From Basics to the Latest News & Trends

Today’s business leaders rely on Big Data analytics to make informed decisions. But according to figures presented at the recent Gartner Data and Analytics Summit, C-Level executives believe that 33% of their data is inaccurate.

It appears there is an abundance of data, but a scarcity of trust, and the need for data literacy. It’s important to understand what your data MEANS to your organization. Defining data’s value wedge may be key to developing confidence in your enterprise data.

For more information about the data value wedge, watch this educational webcast hosted by ASG and Trillium Software. The recorded discussion explores the importance – and challenge – of determining what data MEANS to your organization, as well as solutions to empower both your technical (IS) and business users (DOES) to collaborate in an efficient, zero-gap-lineage user interface.

Data Governance for Hadoop

Keeping track of data, data security, data access, and regulatory compliance are more critical and more challenging than ever before. Data governance in Hadoop — including auditing, lineage, and metadata management — requires a scalable approach that is easy to interoperate across multiple platforms.

In 2015, Syncsort joined Cloudera to provide a unified foundation for open metadata and end-to-end visibility for governance, effectively bridging the gap between mainframe and Hadoop.

Just last year, Hortonworks CTO Scott Gnau recognized that data governance in Hadoop was still in early development, but definitely a priority at his organization.

At this year’s DataWorks Summit, Gnau made a joint appearance on theCUBE with Syncsort CTO Tendü Yoğurtçu. Gnau was bullish on Hortonworks’ partnership with Syncsort, pointing out that it is built on the foundation of accelerating joint customers time to value and leveraging our mutual strengths.

Syncsort’s Focus on Data Governance

Also during her DataWorks theCUBE appearance, Yoğurtçu explained how the Trillium Software acquisition has been transformative for Syncsort, allowing the organization to deliver joint solutions from data integration and data quality & profiling portfolios. She shared that recent first steps have been focused on data governance use cases leveraging Trillium’s solutions.

Yoğurtçu also touched on the recent announcement of  Syncsort’s partnership with Collibra, noting the importance of making business rules and technical metadata available thru dashboards for data scientists.

For more information on how data governance is changing to match the new flow of data delivery, download our new eBook:The New Rules for Your Data Landscape

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Syncsort + Trillium Software Blog

Data Quality Study Guide – A Review of Use Cases & Trends

Our summer school series continues with today’s fully loaded study session. Have you been taking note of all the use cases and current trends for data quality? Maybe now is a good time for a review!

Data Quality Saves You Money

A big reason to pay attention to data quality is that it can save you money. First and foremost, it can help you maximize the return on your Big Data investments. And there are additional cost-related benefits (areas that we will discuss below) to help you save even more.

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It Builds Trust

Business leaders rely on Big Data analytics to make informed decisions. But according to figures presented at the recent Gartner Data and Analytics Summit, C-Level executives believe that 33% of their data is inaccurate. Ensuring quality data can help organizations trust the data.

And further, customers can trust businesses who are confident in their data. If your data is inaccurate, inconsistent or otherwise of low quality, you risk misunderstanding your customers and doing things that undermine their trust in you.

It appears there is an abundance of data, but a scarcity of trust, and the need for data literacy. It’s important to understand what your data MEANS to your organization. Defining data’s value wedge may be key to developing confidence in your enterprise data.

blog banner ASG webcast 2 Data Quality Study Guide – A Review of Use Cases & Trends

For more information, watch this educational webcast, hosted by ASG and Trillium Software, which explores the importance – and challenge – of determining what data MEANS to your organization, as well as solutions to empower both your technical (IS) and business users (DOES) to collaborate in an efficient, zero-gap-lineage user interface.

Data Quality’s Link to Data Governance

Data quality is essential for data governance because ensuring data quality is the only way to be certain that your data governance policies are consistently followed and enforced.

During her Enterprise Data World presentation, Laura Sebastian-Coleman, the Data Quality Center of Excellence Lead for Cigna, noted specifically that data quality depends on fitness for purpose, representational effectiveness and data knowledge. And, without this knowledge, which depends on the data context, our data lakes or even our data warehouses are doomed to become “data graveyards.”

At this year’s Data Governance and Information Quality Conference (DGIQ), our own Keith Kohl lead the session about how data governance and data quality are intrinsically linked, and as the strategic importance of data grows in an organization, the intersection of these practices grows in importance, too.

Data Quality and Your Customers

Engaging your customers is vital to driving your business. Data quality can help you improve your customer records by verifying and enriching the information you already have. And beyond contact info, you can manage customer interaction by storing additional customer preferences such as time of day they visit your site and which content topics and type they are most interested in.

The more customer information you have, the better you can understand your customers and achieve “Customer 360,” or full-view of your customer. But you need to be aware that more data means more complexity – creating a data integration paradox.

blog eBook Customer360 Data Quality Study Guide – A Review of Use Cases & Trends

For a more detailed overview of the different sources of this data, which data points are critical in obtaining, and tips for customer 360 success, download our eBook Getting Closer to Your Customers in a Big Data World.

Its Role in Cyber Security

You may be aware of all the ways you can leverage Big Data to detect fraud, but maybe you’re wondering how data quality can fight security breaches?

Think about it. If the machine data that your intrusion-detection tools collect about your software environments is filled with incomplete or inaccurate information, then you cannot expect your security tools to effectively detect dangerous threats.

Keep in mind, too, that when it comes to fraud detection, real-time results are key. By extension, your data quality tools covering fraud analysis data will also need to be work in real time.

Additional Data Quality Trends

Of course, we’re always thinking about what’s next for data quality. In March, Syncsort’s CEO Josh Rogers was interviewed on theCUBE, where he discussed his vision for its future.

One additional area of interest that’s gaining momentum is machine learning. While machine learning may seem like a “silver bullet,” because of the technologies it enables for us today, it’s important to understand that without high-quality data on which to operate, it is less magical.

Download theGartner Magic Quadrant Report to learn how leading solutions including Trillium can help you achieve your long-term data quality objectives.

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Syncsort + Trillium Software Blog

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portal – Strengths and Weaknesses Review

What information do people ask you for over and over again?

Setting up an online portal gives your audience (either employees, partners or customers) access to information they need, such as support cases, knowledge base articles, community forums, product guides and more.

The core functionality of any CRM portal is to e    xpose CRM data to users outside of the CRM system. All portal tools can do this. But the portal you choose will depend on the specific features that are important to you. For example, did you know that not all portal tools are compliant with government regulations. That could be a deal breaker for you.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 includes a Portal tool. If you already use Microsoft Dynamics 365 you can start using it right away. Yes, it is government compliant, but that is not all you need to know.

In this post we will do a complete review of the portal tool in Microsoft Dynamics 365 including background, types, configuration, licensing and our conclusions on the strengths and weaknesses.

The Background of Dynamics 365 Portal

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portal was formerly known as ADX Studio Portal.  This tool was acquired by Microsoft in November 2015 and now it is only provided as an add-on subscription for Microsoft Dynamics 365.  The old ADX Studio Portal site was an on-premise asp.net web site, which means it could be hosted on a client’s own server. Since Microsoft acquired the technology, following their “Go mobile, go cloud” policy, the portal is now part of Dynamics 365 (online). The portal web site is fully managed by Microsoft and no customized asp.net code can be added to it. Also Microsoft Portal can only connect to the CRM instance within the same Office 365 subscription.

Dynamics 365 Portal Types

Dynamics 365 has five pre-configured Portal solutions. You can start with one of these and then add your own pages and business logic.

  1. Customer Portal (Feedback). We use this template to springboard our own customer applications
  2. Customer Self-Service Portal (Feedback, Knowledge Base, Forums, Support, Case Management).
  3. Employee Service Portal (Feedback, Knowledge Base, Forums, Support, Case Management, Azure AD authentication).
  4. Community Portal (Feedback, Blogs, Forums, Ideas, Knowledge Base, Support, Case Management). This can be used to foster cooperation among your various audiences/communities.
  5. Partner Portal (Feedback, Forums, Partner Pipeline, Case Management, Knowledge Base, Badges, Opportunity Management). We can use this to coordinate with partner sellers and distribute sales opportunities to them. It is designed to be a platform for empowering your partners and giving them the tools they need to close sales.

Each portal solution comes with a set of sample pages and templates that fits the corresponding portal audience. More portal solutions will be added in future releases.

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To understand the structure easily, you can consider the portal as a “Content Management System” (CMS) site that utilizes Dynamics 365 as the content repository. Ideally all the content and configuration should be stored inside CRM. The web portal only renders them to the outside.

Add and Configure Dynamics 365 Portal

Once the portal add-on application is enabled in Dynamics 365, multiple solutions are installed within CRM. The new Portals tab is added to the CRM sitemap. It includes the entities we can use to configure and manage the portal.

When enabling the add-on, only the pre-configured portal you picked will be installed. But you can use the “Manage your solutions” page to install other portal solutions.

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After the portal site is provisioned, you can go to the portal manage page to add further configurations such as the domain name and SSL certification. You can also switch the portal site to another pre-configured portal solution or connect the portal site to another CRM instance within the same Office 365 subscription.

portal 365 3 625x510 Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portal – Strengths and Weaknesses Review

This screenshot shows the Community Portal to give an idea of what the pre-configured portal site looks like.

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This is a sample case support page within the Employee Self Service portal to allow a user to open a new case, view an existing case or search the knowledge base.

For full step by step instructions, download the Administrator’s Guide to Portal Capabilities for Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portal Licensing

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition Plan 1 subscription only includes one portal. You can purchase licenses for additional portals for use as non-production or production portals.

The one portal that is included with any Dynamics 365 Plan 1 Business Application subscription is per tenant, shared across all Plan 1 Business Applications. A Plan 1 Business Application subscription is required to administer and configure the portal. Each Portal may only be associated with one instance. Internal users indirectly accessing Microsoft Dynamics 365 application data via a portal are required to have the appropriate Microsoft Dynamics 365 license.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portal Page View Capacity

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portal has page view capacity requirements. For each portal, the first 1 million page views per month are covered by the plan.  Additional capacity can be purchased by a unit of 500,000 page views/access per month. (Contact us for current pricing.)

Unused capacity expires at the end of the month and does not roll over to the next month.

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Our Conclusions on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portal

Offering a portal is an excellent way to provide better service – to your customers, partners and employees.  The portal included with Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a strong choice with a few weaknesses we hope are resolved in the future.

Dynamics 365 Portal: Strengths

  • Better for non-technical administrators
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Azure/AD integration
  • Included with Dynamics 365 subscription, easy set up.

Dynamics 365 Portal: Weaknesses

  • No on-premise deployment support, no server code adjustments allowed.
  • Adding multiple portals requires additional cost.
  • No client API.
  • Only documented extensibility is Liquid templates.
  • Needs more extensions as solutions in AppSource (such as SharePoint, Payment, etc).

More Points to Consider

Dynamics 365 Portal
Hosting (SaaS) Yes Add-on subscription to Dynamics CRM 365 online
CRM contact as portal user Yes Also supports Azure AD Users
SharePoint Integration Will be available in future release
CRM Data Surfacing Yes
Portal Configuration stored in CRM Yes
Supports content editing on Portal and Custom HTML pages Yes
Customer Service and Knowledge Base Yes
E-Commerce and Events Registration More sample portals will be added
Custom Code Yes JavaScript, Liquid Templates

If you are interested in evaluating Microsoft Dynamics 365 to see how your organization can use Portals, contact us at 877-600-2253 or [email protected].

By Ryan Plourde, Crowe Horwath, a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Gold Partner www.CroweCRM.com

Follow us on Twitter: @CroweCRM

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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

Power BI Desktop – 2016 Year in Review

2016 has been quite the year for the Power BI Desktop. Over the course of our 11 releases this year, we’ve delivered over 190 features and improvements based on your feedback. For December, we are taking a break from our monthly releases to focus on quality. We’ll start the new year with another Desktop release. In this month’s post, we’ll take a look back at the past year, recapping several of our favorite features, and taking a look at our big focus areas from this past year. If you’d like to see the features in action instead of reading about them, go ahead and download the file I used in this blog post.

Here’s the list of focus areas and features we’ll be recapping:


  • See data
  • Export data
  • See records
  • Trend lines
  • Dynamic reference lines
  • Analytics pane
  • Forecasting
  • Grouping
  • Binning
  • Clustering


  • Pick the location of your R environment
  • Support for Unicode characters and spaces in the R environment directory path
  • Support for localized number formats
  • R script data connector
  • Run R scripts in the Query Editor
  • Use your own R IDE
  • R-powered custom visuals

Visual formatting

  • Chart borders
  • Background images for reports and visuals
  • Formatting features for tables, matrices, and multi-row cards
  • Predefined table and matrix styles
  • Configure line chart data labels
  • Data label improvements for column and bar charts
  • Customize tooltips
  • Keyboard nudging for visuals
  • Snap to grid
  • Shape map
  • Custom maps for Shape map
  • ArcGIS maps

Slicers and filters

  • Search in slicers
  • Date slicer
  • Top N filters
  • Include/exclude
  • Dropdown slicer


  • Row-level security

Data connectivity

  • 22 new data sources
  • DirectQuery support for 6 additional data sources
  • Many improvements to existing connectors
    • URL validation for SharePoint List connector
    • Hierarchy support in SAP BW
    • Multi-select values for a given variable or parameter when using SAP BW and SAP HANA
    • Web page previews in the web connector

Data preparation

  • Append tables improvement
  • Conditional columns
  • Query dependencies view
  • Enhanced combine binaries experience
  • Improved function authoring and invoking

A big focal point for this year was analytics. At the start of the year, we began small, but by the end of the year, we were releasing major updates every month.

It started back in February when we released our first analytical features of the year, See data and Export data. With these two features, you can see the data we use to create the chart and then export it to do further analysis on it. This is especially valuable if you weren’t the report creator and want to learn more about the data.

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In April, we followed that up with the release of See records, which allows you to see all the data records behind a data point. Using this feature, you can focus on a given data point and see the detailed records of it.

In April, we also released trend lines on visuals, which are a quick and easy way to identify either a positive or negative trend in charts. In August, we expanded this functionality with dynamic reference lines, which allow you to create data bound lines in your charts, such as Average lines or Median lines, to help with analysis of your charts. We also gave these trend and value lines a home in a dedicated Analytics pane. You can use these features in combination to find insights in your data. For example, you can use the trend line and average line to see how net satisfaction changes based on deal size and how that compares to the average net satisfaction of our customers.

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In September, we added yet another feature to the Analytics Pane, forecasting. This forecasting feature uses built-in predictive forecasting models to automatically detect the step (monthly/weekly/annually) and seasonality in your data to provide forecasting results. This is a very powerful feature that can help you predict things such as your sales in the coming months.

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In October, we introduced the ability to group points on your visual to help you more easily explore and analyze related categories. Our grouping feature lets you create these ad-hoc groups, which allows you to easily associate related data points, group many small data points into an Other bucket, and refine the data in your chart to make analysis easier. Binning gives a similar experience for numerical and time fields. In November, we followed up with our clustering preview. Clustering will automatically find associated data points for you and create the groups for you to use throughout your report. This will frequently find associations you might not have realized existed in your data. One example is finding related products that have similar satisfaction and likely to purchase again ratings. You could then use those product clusters in other charts in your report to do further analysis.

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Power BI’s R integration is an integral part of our analytics offering. R is a programming language widely used by statisticians, data scientists, and data analysts to perform advanced analysis, clean data, and create visuals. Throughout this year, we’ve vastly improved upon the integration and added new ways to combine the power of R with Power BI.

The improvements started right away in our January release, where we made three improvements to the R integration. The first was the ability pick the location of your R environment from a drop down in the Options dialog. This location is shared between the R Script data connector and the R visuals. The other improvements allowed you to use Unicode characters and spaces as part of the R environment directory path and added support for localized number formats.

In March, we moved the R script data connector out of preview. This connector, which can be found under the Other list of connectors in Get data, allows you to connect to any data source supported by R and run R scripts to create a data model to use in your reports.

R integration was further extended to the Query Editor in July. From the Query Editor, you can select Run R script to enter an R script to transform and shape your data. Data cleansing is an important and necessary part of data analysis and greatly affects how easy it is to find insights later in the process. With this feature, you can use the power of R to do all the prep work necessary for your analysis.

In September, we updated our R visual integration to allow you to use your own R IDE to create your R visuals. When you select an R visual from the visual gallery, the Power BI editor will open. But if you have a favorite IDE or need a more powerful editor, you can use the pop out icon to open your editor. In October, we released another update to the R visuals experience. The R visuals integration adds advanced analytical depth and endless visualization flexibility to your Power BI reports. These reports can then be used by all business users on the Power BI web service, not just R experts. However, report creators don’t always have R script expertise, and with this update, we removed this barrier with the R-powered visuals gallery. With this gallery extension, you can download any pre-built R-powered custom visual and use it in your reports.

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2016 has been a big year for visuals, with many new formatting features and a couple of new ways to visualize map data. A top priority for us this year was to allow you to customize your charts just the way you want, and we have many more features planned in this area for the coming year as well.

We started out in January adding the ability to add borders to your charts. The ability to add borders and choose the border’s colors was one of the first customizations added. Many users like to use this feature to align their charts and create a visible flow through the report. Also in January, we added the ability to control the background image for report pages and the plot area of charts, which is very useful when you are creating a report with a theme.

Tables and matrices are some of our most used visuals, and this year we started updating them with more formatting features. In April, we added many highly requested formatting features for tables, matrices, and multi-row cards. Starting with this release, you were able to start customizing the header, background, text, and grid colors of your tables, as well as grid lines, spacing, and padding. We followed up in July with predefined table styles and in August with predefined matrix styles. Using these predefined styles is a quick way to set the style of your chart and then do customization on top of that. We also added the ability to conditionally format a measure column in a table (May) and on matrices (November). This lets you quickly see low and high values in the visual. Additionally, in November, we released column formatting for both table and matrices, so you now have full control over your table column’s font and background color. You can use this feature to do things like change font color on conditionally formatted values so they are easier to read or use a bold background color on a key column that you want to draw attention to. We have many more table and matrix features planned for the coming year as well, so you will continue to see many improvements in this area.

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Data labels and tooltips was another area we focused on this year. Tooltips are an essential component in providing more context and details to your viewers. With our May release, we added the ability to add additional context to your visual by adding more measures to the tooltip. You can look for another update in this area early next year. In June, we made an improvement to our line chart data labels. You can control the density of data labels on continuous line charts through a density property slider. In October, we extended this by providing a density control for data labels on column charts with a continuous axis. At the same time, we provided the ability to control data label position and orientation for column, bar, and waterfall charts.

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Once you have well formatted visuals, you also need to lay them out on your report. At the start of the year, you had to manually align them the best you could without any guidance. In May, we improved this by allowing you to move visuals around with the arrow keys on your keyboard, which allowed you to be much more precise. However, this was still a difficult, time-consuming task until our October release of Snap to grid, which made laying out your charts a breeze. You can now easily drag your visuals around the canvas and they snap to a grid layout.

We’ve also done a fair amount of work on maps this year. In June, we added a new map type to the Desktop in preview. Shape map’s main purpose is to show relative comparisons of regions on a map by coloring them differently instead of showing precise geographical location of data points as our other maps do. We followed up in July with the ability for Shape maps to consume custom maps in TopoJSON format, giving you full control over the map’s appearance. This is a powerful feature as it allows you to create non-geographical maps such as floor plans. In September, we added a fourth map type, ArcGIS maps for Power BI by Esri, which unlocked new capabilities. In collaboration with Esri, a leader in the geographic information systems (GIS) industry, you can now take geographic information to a whole new level. Some of the benefits of this new map include map backgrounds, reference layers, and fine grained control over how your data appears on the map.

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Many of the top asks from you in our UserVoice forums were around filtering and slicers. In the second half of this past year, we made great strides in this area.

It all started in June when we added search to slicers. Many times, the list of items in slicers is long, and it can be cumbersome to find the item you are looking for. By adding the search bar through the More () menu, it makes your slicers much more user friendly for anyone using your reports.

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Our first new slicer type of the year, the Date Slicer, was released in October. Slicers are a great way for report viewers to quickly slice and dice the data they are seeing, and if you want to slice by dates, the date slicer’s slider and calendar picker is a very intuitive way to do this. It makes it very easy to filter your report to dates before or after a specific date.

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October was also a big release for filter functionality, with the release of our Top N filter and include/exclude of data points. The Top N filter is a great way to quickly filter your data to a given number of key data points, homing in on what matters most. Including and excluding data points through the right click menu is another great way to do this. You can choose to just include the outlier points or filter out points that are irreverent to the analysis you are doing.

Finally, in November, we release the much-anticipated dropdown slicer. Reporting canvas space can be a precious commodity, and slicers can take up too much of this space, especially if the list is very long. By switching the slicer type to Dropdown, you can conserve this much-needed space, while still providing your report viewers with a quick and easy way to filter the report data.

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A big concern for many report creators is making sure the data is secure and viewers only see what they are allowed to see. In the June update, we provided a way in the Desktop to control data access with row-level security. Row-level security allows you to secure your data at the row level with security filters based on roles you create. Using the Manage roles button in the Modelling tab, you can create roles then use DAX expressions to control what each role sees. Then, once you publish it up to the web, you can assign users to each role.

16c7b2d9 30a6 4c89 94d2 bc929bc7c9f6 Power BI Desktop – 2016 Year in Review

Over the course of this past year, we’ve vastly improved data connectivity in the Power BI Desktop. We’ve added support for 22 new data sources, such as the March release of our SAP Business Warehouse connector, the July release of the Amazon Redshift connector and Impala connector, and the August release of our Snowflake connector. We’ve also added DirectQuery support for 6 data sources: Oracle, Teradata, Amazon Redshift, Impala, Snowflake, and Spark.

We’ve also made many improvements to existing connectors based on customer feedback. In February, we improved the SharePoint List connector, which lets you provide the URL to your SharePoint site root and select the SharePoint lists you want to connect to. The improvement was adding URL validation when the URL provided is invalid. in July, one of many months with SAP BW improvements, we saw the addition of hierarchy support in SAP BW and the ability to multi-select values for a given variable or parameter when using SAP BW and SAP HANA. August included another big improvement with the addition of Web page previews in the Web connector, which lets you actually select the tables you want to connect to in context of the web page.

With over 50 different data connectivity improvements this year, this is just a snapshot of the work we did in this area. We will continue this pace next year as we strive to empower you to easily connect to any data you want in the manner that you want.

We pride ourselves on having very powerful built-in data preparation features in the Desktop that make it very easy to clean and transform your data before modeling and reporting on it. We put a lot of effort into continuing to innovate here, and during this year, we released almost 60 improvements in this area.

The first exciting addition of the year was in January when we extended the append tables experience to allow for more than two tables in one go. This new mode is extremely powerful for advanced scenarios where you want to quickly append many tables in one shot.

In April, we released conditional columns. This update made it extremely easy for you to create new columns in your queries based on values from a different column. This is very useful if you are trying to bucket your data into different categories.

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One of the most popular requests in the data preparation area was the Query dependencies view, which we released in September. By using this dialog, you can quickly and easily understand the dependencies across all your queries in your Desktop file. This helps you know what other queries may be affected when you make an update to a given query.

Many of you take advantage of one of our folder-like connectors, such as Folder, SharePoint folder, HDFS, etc. to combine multiple files with the same schema into one table. Because of the popularity, we enhanced the combine binaries experience in November to make it much more intuitive. Now when you use this transformation, it will analyze each input file to determine the file format to use and then let you select a specific object to use from the first file to extract.

Between September and October of this year we released 3 improvements around function authoring and invocation. First in September, we added the Invoke Custom Function operation to the Add Column tab in the ribbon. This new operation makes it seamless for users to invoke a custom function over each row of a table. The dialog gives you the option to pick one of the custom functions in the current file and specify either static values or other columns as input arguments. We followed this up in October with support for table parameters in the Invoke Function experience. You can now use parameters of type “Table” when invoking either a built-in or user-defined function. Lastly, in November, we made it easier to update function definitions without the need to maintain the underlying M code. When a function definition is created based on another query, a link is created between the original query and the newly generated function so that they remain synchronized. When the original query is modified with additional steps, the linked function will be automatically updated for you.

Across the entire Desktop, we made huge leaps forward this past year. And we aren’t planning on slow down. We have many new features planned for the coming year that we are very excited to share with you.

Thank you for all the support and feedback you’ve given throughout 2016. We value your input and as you can see, work hard to integrate your needs into our plans. Please don’t forget to vote for other features that you would like to see in the Power BI Desktop in the future, and we’ll see you again in the new year for the January Desktop release.

Happy New Year!

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Event Review of eXtremeCRM 2016 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365 Partners

CRM Blog Event Review of eXtremeCRM 2016 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365 Partners

As a Microsoft Dynamics Partner, which events will you attend next year? There are events that you can attend with your customers and others that are just for you. The key is determining what makes each event unique, and how this aligns with your goals.

Since 2010, eXtremeCRM has been the only event exclusively for Microsoft Dynamics CRM (now Dynamics 365) Partners. This year eXtremeCRM 2016 in Newport Beach, CA, hosted close to 400 attendees, a 25% increase over last year. 80% were VAR and SI Partners, and 20% were ISV Partners. The audience was roughly 50% technical, 25% executive and 25% sales/marketing.

eXtremeCRM is about the Partner experience with a focus on content and presence.


eXtremeCRM 2016 offered 93 breakout sessions plus keynotes and pre and post training. These were separated into three tracks; Sales/Marketing, Operations and Technical, with an emphasis on the technical content. (2016 Session List)

A unique opportunity available at this event was called the Executive Exchange, a private VIP experience for a select group. This year it sold out early and the 40 attendees included several international Partners from Germany, Netherlands and India.  The invited executives met together for roundtable discussions on Monday, joined the larger event Tuesday and then separated again for moderated sessions on Wednesday. They were also invited to private meals and events with Microsoft executives.

One Executive Exchange attendee commented: “I feel the Executive Exchange helped us rise up to be a noticeable player. We met with Microsoft executives right at the top. The Keynote speakers gave us one on one time and answered as many questions as we could throw at them.”


Microsoft heavily supports this event and the Microsoft presence was surely felt. There were sessions for R&D leadership, Partner sales leadership, business group leadership and field leadership.

The speakers list shows 37 speakers from Microsoft including executives such as:

  • Jujhar Singh, GM of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft
  • Param Kahlon, General Manager, Dynamics 365 Cloud & Enterprise, Microsoft
  • Ron Huddleston, Corporate Vice President, Ecosystem, Microsoft
  • Stephen Boyle, Vice President, US Partner Group, Microsoft

Joseph Corigliano, Business Development for eXtreme CRM said “eXtremeCRM wants to create a community for Partners to be with other Partners and a place for Microsoft to be in touch with Partners. We get this group in touch with the people who develop and live and breathe the product.”

A first time eXtremeCRM attendee said: “Getting a definitive answer to that one question, from someone at Microsoft, has made the trip worth it to me.”

Partner Experience

The fact that this is Partner only event means that the tone of the sessions can be different. You hear things, often still under NDA, that are for partner ears only.  This is the type of information that cannot be offered at user group events. User group events focus on the functional user. Partners attend because customers are there. But it is a different “feel”.

Corigliano added: “You can watch something on Youtube but it is different to be here and see it in person, talk to people about it.  You learn faster when you experience it.”

Another attendee said: “Being in the room with other Partner execs has made such a difference.”

What’s Coming Next

This year, on their 13th anniversary, the organizers of eXtremeCRM announced that the event will continue with a new name, eXtreme365. It will continue to be held in the Spring (Europe) and Fall (US) to coordinate with product release cycles.

Traditionally the event has centered around Microsoft Dynamics CRM, with a strong emphasis on technical content (for developers and consultants). Going forward the expanded focus on Dynamics 365 means the event will also include ERP content as well as BI, Azure, Cortana and the other technology included in the Dynamics 365 stack. According to Corigliano, “the content will be pushed out and up for the next event, starting at eXtreme365 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal”.

The coordinators will continue to expand the sales/marketing tracks and hope that more companies will send their sales and marketing professionals. With all of the current branding and messaging changes with Dynamics 365, this type of training and interaction in the sales and marketing community becomes even more valuable.

Another change debuting in Lisbon will be the invitation for prospective customers to join the event. The first two days will be for Partners only, followed by 2 days of content open to Dynamics 365 customers and prospective customers.

eXtreme365 2017

If you are wondering where the top Microsoft Dynamics 365 Partners will be in 2017, it is eXtreme365. Watch www.extremecrm.com to find out the date and location of the next US event.

By Anya Ciecierski, CRM Software Blog Manager, www.crmsoftwareblog.com

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2016: The Year in Review

This year will go down as an important turning point in CRM. For the last decade and a half, we’ve been simultaneously building and destroying CRM — first by linking all of the disparate databases to get that 360-degree view, and then by adding important accessories like social and analytics, to name just two. At the same time, we’ve been busy tearing down conventional client-server architectures and spinning up the cloud.

This year marked the point when most vendors were most of the way to the cloud. Some still might be selling and supporting conventional on-premises systems, but they’re at least leading with the cloud and its many benefits. As a result, many of the old disagreements among vendors have dried up, to be replaced by discussions of whose cloud is better.

For example, Salesforce and Microsoft have learned to cooperate competitively in areas where it suits their interests, and Oracle has posted significant gains in cloud sales. Equally important, enterprise resource planning has become a cloud app, with companies like Financial Force doing significant business.

Also, you can’t forget NetSuite, which is hovering at about a billion dollars in revenue after Oracle bought it for more than US$ 9 billion.

The cloud has forced ERP forward and into the front office, as back-office data has become essential to front-office operations that happen in the moment. Other traditional back-office systems also are much closer to the front office today, with companies like Xactly leveraging HR data to motivate sales people and other employees.

The Demands of Innovation

Innovation continues to move ahead briskly, but I see two kinds of innovators out there. The first batch is trying to re-invent CRM by doing something the majors don’t do — or more realistically, they’re trying to do it better, faster and cheaper. The second group is innovating exotic solutions for business processes that only a few people so far have identified as important.

The second group often does not reach the market, though. Instead, members of that group are being bought for huge sums and being folded into larger CRM vendors’ expanding solution sets. In the last few weeks, I’ve been briefed under nondisclosure agreements about several amazing such solutions, and I’ll be writing about them in the new year.

As for the first group, there’s a lesson for entrepreneurs in this, and it’s the same as its always been: Make sure you have a real need to fill before you invest your time and money. Doing something a few percentage points faster than a leading company can do it is not a sustainable situation — but doing something never before contemplated might be. It’s scary to be on the bleeding edge, but that’s where the big bucks are.

The March of Automation

There’s been a great deal of talk, most of it pessimistic, about automation taking over blue and white collar jobs, leaving many of us jobless and potentially homeless — a downer of Dickensian proportions.

As I have written many times this year, this pessimism seems to run in 50- to 60-year economic cycles, called “K-waves” after the Russian economist Nicolai Kondratiev, whose job was to explain capitalism to communists early in the revolution. It turned out that the communists didn’t really want to know, and Kondratiev ultimately was shot for his troubles.

My point is that trends don’t run in straight lines. If you see a straight-line trend, you need to back away from your object and gain perspective. One soul who’s done this is my pal Vinnie Mirchandani, author of Silicon Collar: an optimistic perspective on humans, machines and jobs.

Mirchandani went to the trouble of surveying more than 50 companies to get an understanding of where the new jobs will come from, and he hit pay dirt.

Certainly automation is eliminating some jobs — but as Mirchandani says, they’re best described by the “3Ds.” That is, they’re dull, dirty and dangerous. What’s coming are jobs that tap more of our creative and intuitive skills, which can be scary for someone accustomed to something else. It creates uncertainty — and in uncertain times, humans look for cover both metaphorical and physical.

The Next New CRM

Maybe that’s why I still see “new” CRM that’s promised to be a Salesforce killer and the like. The fact is that you can’t go back, and while the path forward is uncertain, it also is where opportunity is — mixed with myriad possibilities.

I can’t wait until next year in CRM. I am not going to hazard a guess in this piece about what’s in store — that’ll be next time — but I am sure it will be interesting. Some new ideas will fall flat, but others will make perfect sense and will drive the next cycle of this adventure we’re on together. end enn 2016: The Year in Review

Denis%20Pombriant 2016: The Year in ReviewDenis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. He can be reached at denis.pombriant@beagleresearch.com.

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The complete review of data warehousing and big data content from Oracle OpenWorld 2016

The COMPLETE REVIEW of OpenWorld covers all the most important sessions and related content from this year’s conference, including Oracle’s key data warehouse and big technologies: Oracle Database 12c Release 2, Oracle Cloud, engineered systems, partitioning, parallel execution, Oracle Optimizer, analytic SQL, analytic views, in-memory, spatial, graph, data mining, multitenant, Big Data SQL, NoSQL Database and industry data models.

The COMPLETEreview covers the following areas:

  • On-demand videos of the most important keynotes

  • Overviews of key data warehouse and big data sessions and links to download each presentation

  • List of data warehouse and big data presenters who were at #oow16

  • Overview of Oracle Cloud services for data warehousing and big data

  • Details of OpenWorld 2017 and details of how to justify your trip to San Francisco

  • Links to the data warehouse and big data product web pages, blogs, social media sites

This review is available in Apple iBooks for people who are living in the 21st Century and for those of you stuck in early 1900’s there is the fall-back option of a PDF version. Of course the iBook version offers a complete, exciting and immersive multi-media experience whilst the PDF version is a simply and quite literally just a PDF.

Hope this review is useful. Let me know if you have any questions and/or comments. Enjoy!

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The Data Warehouse Insider