Tag Archives: service

How Remastering Data for GDPR Improves Customer Service

Editor’s note: This article on data bias written by Syncsort’s Harald Smith was originally published on Infoworld.

The recent Equifax breach left millions of consumers wondering not only if their personal data was at risk, but also what data Equifax had about them in the first place. In a world where commenting “And now for something completely different” on someone’s Facebook post triggers ads for Monty Python T-shirts, it’s natural that people want to know what your company knows about them, how you are using that data, and whom you are sharing it with.

Now that GDPR is here, if you’re doing business with anyone in Europe, you will have to respond to these questions in far greater volume and frequency. Are your employees prepared for this influx?

Business leaders worry about this because tracking requests, identifying data, and reporting the results back to consumers will be costly and challenging to organize. But rather than treating each request as an isolated compliance nuisance, try to see GDPR as an opportunity to reimagine how you interact with your customers and their digital identities. As GDPR and other data privacy initiatives expand, your ability to respond quickly and transparently to customer questions about their data will be a testament to how your organization values and treats its customers, and a factor in retaining customer loyalty.

The challenge of GDPR: It starts in the connections, lineage, and linkage

You collect customer data in myriad ways and that data proceeds through applications and systems, integration tools and other communications channels to end up in databases and other storage media. When customers ask what data you have about them, it’s hard to trace because it is in so many—frequently disjointed—locations. Most metadata systems, usually tied to ETL tools, only tell a fragment of the story, and can’t give you a complete picture of what happened to an individual’s specific data.

That said, the connections captured and represented as data lineage are an important component in tackling the challenge. Data lineage gives you a high-level map of routes through your data architecture, much as a map of eastern Massachusetts provides me with a view of how I can get from my home to my office. But just as that map will not show me how I got to the office today, your data lineage will not show you whether you received data about Jane Doe today and where it went.

To get insight into the specific individual, you need to create links or keys across those records. Where those links are already established (e.g., a customer number) and stored in known locations, queries can retrieve those sets of data. Where they are not known or not consistent, record linkage (or identity matching) techniques must be applied. If data is being added into existing systems where those data quality functions are available, that works fine. But usually those techniques are unavailable for database queries. Further, the distribution of saved reports and queried results (often in spreadsheets) containing an individual’s information is not typically captured or retained across your information landscape, leaving significant gaps in the customer view.

How Remastering Data for GDPR Improves Customer Service banner How Remastering Data for GDPR Improves Customer Service

Taking master data and metadata to the next level

The answer lies in thinking more broadly about the master data tools you have through the lens of GDPR compliance. For years, organizations have focused on MDM systems as a central point for customer information, but typically in the context of how they synchronize customer data in specific business systems (i.e., a golden record) or facilitate insight into their buying behavior in downstream reporting systems. But why not think about leveraging your MDM system as a hub for systemic information about a customer? After all, the customer information is already there, these systems are modeled to provide reference information, and they usually have user interfaces for information stewardship.

Extending master data models to include systemic information on a customer means you can build a reference hub from which you can respond to customer data queries. As new customer information is collected and passed through varying information supply chains, the points of storage, the metadata trails, and other matching and linkage data can be collected and brought into such a customer hub as new content. With that data associated to individuals, your data stewards can: (1) Respond rapidly to customers’ queries; (2) identify in which systems and through what process flows the data has passed; (3) provide reports quickly to the customer; and (4) identify where systemic corrections or possibly removal need to be made.

Options and next steps

Currently, no tool does all the above. For many organizations, customer information files or possibly data catalogs may provide points of storage for collecting and consolidating this data. Where you have not previously gathered this systemic information, you can look at existing data catalogs, metadata repositories and data lineage to trace likely storage points and data trails to build our inventory of a given customer’s systemic data.

Wherever you decide to collect the information, though, you must ask how you can help your employees better service your customers. Thinking about GDPR from a customer service outlook, you will ask the right questions and approach solutions from the right place, allowing you to get creative with tools you may already have and reimagine customer interactions from a support perspective.

If you want to learn more about GDPR, be sure to read our eBook on Data Quality-Driven GDPR.

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Syncsort Blog

Checkr and Uber built a service to monitor workers’ background records

 Checkr and Uber built a service to monitor workers’ background records

Companies that employ on-demand workers rely on checks of criminal records, employment verification, and driving records to spot red flags during the hiring process. The trouble is, those checks are a one-time deal — if a contract worker commits a crime a few weeks into a job, their employer usually remains none the wiser. Case in point? Last year in Massachusetts, more than 8,000 ridesharing drivers failed a state background check for infractions like license suspensions, sexual offenses, and violent crimes.

San Francisco-based Checkr, which counts Instacart, Grubhub, and Uber among its base of more than 10,000 customers, today rolled out a new product that seeks to address this problem. It’s called Continuous Check, and it dynamically spots potentially disqualifying records to ensure that problematic workers are quickly identified and flagged.

“With today’s on-demand workforce, there’s a need to move beyond static background reports to dynamic screenings,” Checkr cofounder and CEO Daniel Yanisse said in a statement. “Through Continuous Check, Checkr is creating a new standard of safety for the [gig economy], and beyond that will provide critical insight into changes in someone’s background that may affect their eligibility to work.”

When Continuous Check identifies that an employee was involved in criminal activity, like a new or pending charge for a DUI, it notifies the worker’s employer, who can investigate further. That’s heaps better than the current arrangement — as many gig economy employers only rerun background checks once a year.

Continuous Check was co-developed with Uber, Yanisse said, and the ridesharing company is the first to deploy it. It’ll roll out to the rest of Checkr’s clients later this year.

“Safety is essential to Uber, and we want to ensure drivers continue to meet our standards on an ongoing basis,” said Uber VP Gus Fuldner. “This new continuous checking technology will strengthen our screening process and improve safety.”

Checkr didn’t immediately respond to questions about the service’s pricing, but historically, Checkr has billed its clients per individual background check, which includes education verification, reference checks, and drug screening.

Checkr announced a $ 100 million funding round last year led by T. Rowe Price, Accel, and Y Combinator, bringing its total funding to about $ 150 million. The 180-person company says it runs more than a million background checks a month.

One thing’s for sure: Checkr is well-positioned for growth. The gig economy isn’t slowing down anytime soon — it accounts for almost 4 million workers, according to Intuit, a number that’s expected to grow to 7.7 million by 2020.

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Big Data – VentureBeat

Create a Web Service Documentation Workflow Like Amazon

iStock 925557862 e1531256786480 Create a Web Service Documentation Workflow Like Amazon


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The TIBCO Blog

Internet of Things (IoT) Device Considerations for Dynamics 365 and Connected Field Service

Biz Apps Azure loT 300x225 Internet of Things (IoT) Device Considerations for Dynamics 365 and Connected Field Service

Microsoft has enhanced Dynamics 365 for Field Service with the Connected Field Service Add-on, which can enable your organization to take advantage of proactive and predictive service scenarios. By leveraging an investment in IoT capable devices your organization can take more proactive steps to detect, diagnose, and correct problems before they arise.

The power of the Connected Field Service Add-on is its simplicity and how it can process messages from IoT devices using the Dynamics 365 workflow engine. Registered IoT devices can send messages to Dynamics 365 for Field Service, where workflows can determine how to respond to those messages by sending emails or creating new records such as work orders or even using IoT Device Commands to reboot a device.

Powerful IoT Capabilities

Connected Field Service is very powerful in allowing IoT scenarios that take full advantage of Microsoft Dynamics 365 capabilities while also being fully customizable and extensible. Microsoft has enabled any entity to be IoT-enabled for straightforward IoT integration by using the register custom entity action. The add-on also brings several new entities and custom actions specific to IoT. New custom actions allow device registration scenarios, the ability to parse incoming messages for String, Number, or Boolean data types, and capabilities to handle duplicate messages that may be received from an IoT device. You can also now use IoT device data in custom dashboards to display aggregates, determine trends, or other metrics.

New Service Capabilities

Your organization can now take advantage of new scenarios that allow the remote monitoring of customer assets using IoT devices with sensors. You can be notified of a potential trouble with your equipment and take corrective action by sending the IoT device a command. You can use predictive machine learning to measure sensors in the field, and know when a device may have the potential to fail soon. You also have access to details about deployed equipment and have parts and supplies on hand for the service technician to complete the call in one trip.

The World of Sensors for IoT Devices

There are many analog and digital sensor options available that you can use with your IoT devices.

Example list of sensors you can integrate with your IoT device
Accelerometer Force Resistive Resistor Liquid Level Pulse
Air Quality Gas Location (GPS) Radiation / Geiger Counter
Altitude Gesture Magnetic Contact Switch RGB color
Ammonia Gyro Magnetometer / Hall Effect Ribbon Touch Sensor
Barcode Hydrogen Magstripe Rotary Encoder
Barometric Pressure Humidity Methane/Propane/Iso-Butane Temperature
Button Infrared Sensor Microphone Tilt
Capacitive Touch IR Beam Break Motion Ultrasonic Rangefinder
Carbon Monoxide IR Distance Muscle Sensor Ultraviolet
Circular Touch Potentiometer Joystick Photo Capture Vibration
Coin Acceptor Keypad Piezo Wind Speed
Ethanol Laser Beam Break Potentiometer Knob
Fingerprint Light Sensor Pressure
Flex Sensor Liquid Flow Proximity

Getting started with the Azure IoT DevKit

The AZ3166 board contains a EMW3166 WiFi module with 256K SRAM plus OLED display, buttons, LEDs, headphone jack, microphone, sensors like temperature, humidity, pressure, motion, and more… all for a very affordable price.

  • Order MXChip IoT DevKit here.
  • Get the software here.
  • Azure IoTHub examples for Raspberry Pi, Intel Edison, Adafruit Feather ESP8266, Adafruit Feather M0, and Sparkfun ESP8266 here.

Does Your IoT Business Case Make Sense?

Consider an IoT business case to track the environmental conditions for eggs from a farm to a grocery store. We might be considering sensors for temperature, humidity, and acceleration in case of drops. The use case would track eggs per flat, for which there would be many per pallet. Knowing a dozen eggs in our local grocery are often on sale for less than one US dollar, we may ask how could a client justify the cost of the IoT device for tracking these eggs? While IoT is a hot buzzword, there are many things to consider in your business case for using IoT devices.

Does your IoT Device Cost Exceed the Product, Service, or Reputation Costs?

Not all business cases are going to equate to a product cost. It may represent the value of service to that customer because IoT is going to give you a predictive edge to “Wow” the customer for a lifetime. Maybe your business case will establish your reputation as someone who created a game changer in the marketplace?

How will your device connect to Azure IoT Hub?

Your device will need some pathway to the Internet. Most examples provided will show the device itself having Internet connectivity either directly with an Ethernet port, or wirelessly with built in Wi-Fi. There is also Azure IoT Edge, which can act as a transparent proxy for other devices. It should also be possible to support other devices with Bluetooth or Radio using the building blocks Microsoft has provided. Each device will need to be registered separately with their own connection string, and any computer proxy supporting multiple devices will require sending the correct connection string for the correct device so Azure IoT Hub tracks appropriately.

Will your IoT device take a beating?

Will your device remain in conditions where it will take a physical beating? Will your device be exposed to extreme high or low temperatures? Will your device be exposed to conductive liquids? Should you consider rugged or replaceable sensors which can take a beating? Have you considered what type of enclosure and dimensions of that enclosure will be required?

How will your IoT device be powered?

Most devices are powered via micro USB or direct current jack on the board. For stationary devices, it may be possible to power those with normal wall adapters. In mobile scenarios, the device will need some type of external battery pack with removable batteries or rechargeability. In some mobile scenarios, it may make sense to power the device with a Lithium Ion battery pack which is rechargeable via solar.

Your costs don’t end with the device.

Devices will need to be repaired or replaced, will require new batteries and new sensors, or may need to be retired. Infrastructure may also be required for your devices to work. We have seen cases where there are dead spots in Wi-Fi even within the same building. Make sure to include the device replacement, device maintenance costs, and infrastructure in your business case.

Training costs

Don’t forget the people costs! Consider if your device requires human interaction or needs to be checked up on from time to time.

It’s a Long Way from Maker to Production Device.

Most of the development boards you will find are designed for the low quantity maker community who are building small quantities or prototypes. There are many printed circuit board layout programs and manufacturers who can take your printed circuit board designs and produce you a finished board in small or large quantities. Having production printed circuit boards is only half the issue, you are going to need to source enclosures, sensors, batteries, solar, connectors, and other components that make this a finished product. Having all the components, now requires assembly, and quality control. If you are considering a production roll out, you may want to consider a turn key IoT design firm who can produce you a custom device.

Want to learn more about IoT and Dynamics 365 for Field Service? Join PowerObjects, this year’s Platinum Sponsor, at the Microsoft Business Applications Summit on July 22-24 in Seattle. Register with code HCL100dc to receive a $ 100 discount.

Happy Dynamics 365’ing!

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PowerObjects- Bringing Focus to Dynamics CRM

New SVOD Service Titled BLK PRIME Announces A New Original Series: ‘hella-Oakland’

BLK PRIME, the Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) service available worldwide, has signed Kimberly Adair Clark, who is the voice of Honey in the Incredibles movie, and Joe Torry, (“HBO’s Def Comedy Jam 25”, “Poetic Justice”) as lead actors for a new on-demand web series sitcom, ‘hella-Oakland.

Kimberly Adair Clark’s fans will have an opportunity to see her for the first time on blkprime.com.  BLK PRIME’S COO, LaLene Shepherd, says Clark is the perfect addition to the BLK talent list, “We are thrilled to work with Kimberly Adair Clark. She aligns with our mission of presenting diverse talent, programming, content, and partnerships.” Joe Torry’s dedicated fans have been following him for decades. Now they will get to see his authentic comedic views on the BLK PRIME network.  

Long associated with the Bay Area, the name hella-Oakland is authentic to the community of Oakland.

‘hella-Oakland is a quick-witted, half-hour ensemble comedy that takes a satirical look at relationships, family, race, gender and gentrification in modern America. After 35 years together, Kim Barnes, (Kimberly Adair Clark), and Harry Barnes, (Joe Torry), find their marriage staring down the barrel of divorce. Like their marriage, the Oakland community that they’ve known all of their lives is at risk of disappearing, the victim of gentrification. Kim and Harry must navigate history, hurt, real love and disappointment to figure out what the future holds. They join friends and family in an attempt to keep it real and hold their own, while integrating with outsiders who are unfamiliar with the ways of Oakland. Barbecue Becky anyone?

Production starts July, 2018.

BLK PRIME is available on Roku, and Apple TV streaming services.  The video Over the Top, (OTT) subscription service is a metric and analytical driven business.  The (SVoD) service is providing entertainment in a variety of genres to viewers worldwide, filling a void in offering diverse entertainment to viewers around the world 24 hours a day.  

BLK PRIME is currently working on providing even more entertainment options and has been purchasing content to give their domestic and international audiences thousands of hours of diverse content.   

“I could not be more excited with where the company is today. We have connected with incredible directors, writers and influencers to expand our content and to reach people who are looking for more colorful content,” says Shepherd.  

WATCH: New Trailer For "Creed 2" Released!

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The Humor Mill

Monitoring Dynamics 365 CE service health and messages using the Microsoft Office 365 Service Communications API

Hi Everyone!

Recently I had a conversation with a customer regarding options to monitor Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE service health. In their particular case they needed greater visibility than the Office 365 Admin Center or Office 365 Mobile application provided. I find great value in both of these and as a Dynamics 365 Service Administrator they are very useful. However in some cases users may not have the appropriate role within Office 365 to access these messages and become dependent on someone who does.

Doing a bit of research I stumbled upon the Office 365 Service Communications API. Reviewing this I found that there are two separate endpoints with their own authorization mechanisms, service contracts, etc. resulting in the Office 365 Service Communications API and the preview version of the Office 365 Service Communications API.

The major thing I’ve seen through my work consuming both of the APIs is one requires an Office 365 Service Administrator or a partner role acting on behalf of (AOBO) for authentication while the other uses OAuth. This means one will use a username and password similar to logging into Office 365 while the other will use a client id and client secret. Discuss this with your application security team to determine what options you have here but I’d suggest the preview endpoint with OAuth per the recommendation given on the original API reference. This article does a good job detailing the steps needed to register your application with Azure Active Directory. In terms of data and events available I have not seen any big difference in the two versions of the API so from here on I will explain the preview API but if you are still interested in the original API I’d suggest reviewing this sample MVC application.

Once you have your authorization token you can now append to any request to the Office 365 Service Communications API. The API is formatted to take a tenant identifier (tenant GUID or tenant name e.g. contoso.onmicrosoft.com) and the operation desired:


Here’s a sample request for my sandbox tenant:


GET https://manage.office.com/api/v1.0/contoso.onmicrosoft.com/ServiceComms/Services

Authorization: Bearer <authorization bearer token>

Host: manage.office.com

As you can see your request can be as simple as a GET with the authorization header provided and correct URL. The Services response gives you the current services of all of the Office 365 Applications in the tenant that we can query for additional information. Since this post is focused on Dynamics 365 let’s add a filter to the CurrentStatus API call for only Dynamics 365 status:


GET https://manage.office.com/api/v1.0/contoso.onmicrosoft.com/ServiceComms/CurrentStatus?$ filter=Workload%20eq%20’DynamicsCRM’

Authorization: Bearer <authorization bearer token>

Host: manage.office.com

Response Body:


“@odata.context”:”https://office365servicecomms-prod.cloudapp.net/api/v1.0/contoso.onmicrosoft.com/$ metadata#CurrentStatus”,”value”:[




“FeatureDisplayName”:”Sign In”,”FeatureName”:”signin”,”FeatureServiceStatus”:”ServiceOperational”,”FeatureServiceStatusDisplayName”:”Normal service”


“FeatureDisplayName”:”Sign up and administration”,”FeatureName”:”admin”,”FeatureServiceStatus”:”ServiceOperational”,”FeatureServiceStatusDisplayName”:”Normal service”


“FeatureDisplayName”:”Organization access”,”FeatureName”:”orgaccess”,”FeatureServiceStatus”:”ServiceOperational”,”FeatureServiceStatusDisplayName”:”Normal service”


“FeatureDisplayName”:”Organization performance”,”FeatureName”:”orgperf”,”FeatureServiceStatus”:”ServiceOperational”,”FeatureServiceStatusDisplayName”:”Normal service”


“FeatureDisplayName”:”Components/Features”,”FeatureName”:”crmcomponents”,”FeatureServiceStatus”:”ServiceRestored”,”FeatureServiceStatusDisplayName”:”Service restored”




],”Status”:”ServiceRestored”,”StatusDisplayName”:”Service restored”,”StatusTime”:”2018-04-26T19:09:29.3038421Z”,”Workload”:”DynamicsCRM”,”WorkloadDisplayName”:”Dynamics 365″




Reviewing this response object I can see the current status of Dynamics 365 and features such as Sign In, Organization Access, Components/Features, etc. by referencing the FeatureServiceStatusDisplayName property. In this response we can see that the current status of Dynamics 365 is ‘Service Restored’ and the specific feature affected is ‘Component / Features’.

If we want to gain some historical perspective on how long this feature may have been affected we can use the HistoricalStatus as shown:


GET https://manage.office.com/api/v1.0/contoso.onmicrosoft.com/ServiceComms/HistoricalStatus?$ filter=Workload%20eq%20’DynamicsCRM’

Authorization: Bearer <authorization bearer token>

For the sake of the length of this article I’ll exclude the response but within the response you’ll see a smiliar contract as the CurrentStatus response showing the status of the Dynamics 365 features over a period of time including a Message Center identifier which can be used for our final method call today, GetMessages. GetMessages returns the title, description, message text, impact date, affected tenants, message id, etc. This method is highly beneficial in many ways: I can review messages for current outages, I can review messages for planned maintenance, I can filter messages based on a combination of message identifiers, features, area of interest, time frame, etc.

Here’s a reference of sample requests to help you filter by specific criteria:


Filter by Id:

https://manage.office.com/api/v1.0/contoso.onmicrosoft.com/ServiceComms/Messages?$ filter=Id%20eq%20’CR133521′

Filter by Message Center:

https://manage.office.com/api/v1.0/contoso.onmicrosoft.com/ServiceComms/Messages?$ filter=MessageType%20eq%20Microsoft.Office365ServiceComms.ExposedContracts.MessageType’MessageCenter’


https://manage.office.com/api/v1.0/contoso.onmicrosoft.com/ServiceComms/Messages?$ filter=MessageType%20eq%20Microsoft.Office365ServiceComms.ExposedContracts.MessageType’Incident’

Planned Maintenance:

https://manage.office.com/api/v1.0/contoso.onmicrosoft.com/ServiceComms/Messages?$ filter=MessageType%20eq%20Microsoft.Office365ServiceComms.ExposedContracts.MessageType’PlannedMaintenance’

Filter By Start Time and End Time:

https://manage.office.com/api/v1.0/contoso.onmicrosoft.com/ServiceComms/Messages?$ filter=StartTime%20ge%202018-04-23T00:00:00Z&EndTime%20le%202018-04-28T00:00:00Z

Filter by Workload:

https://manage.office.com/api/v1.0/contoso.onmicrosoft.com/ServiceComms/Messages?$ filter=Workload%20eq%20’DynamicsCRM’

At this point you have an API to give you the current status of Dynamics 365 and its features, information on how long a potential degradation may have impacted your tenant and the ability to plan for planned updates and maintenance performed on the application. Look ahead for my next blog post detailing how to schedule a workflow to consume the API and send an email reporting current status and messages to a single user or a distribution list using Microsoft Flow!


Get started with Office 365 Management APIs

About Office 365 Admin Roles

Office 365 Service Communications API Overview

Office 365 Service Communications API Sample Code

Office 365 Service Communications API Overview (preview)

Thanks and happy coding!

Ali Youssefi

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Dynamics CRM in the Field

Power BI Service and Mobile May Feature Summary

We’re almost halfway through the year and what a great start it’s been to 2018! The Power BI team has worked in full force over the last few months to deliver the features that you’ve identified to be critical for your organization; and the month May was no exception. Here’s a rundown of what we released:

Last month, we announced the availability of dashboard theming in the Power BI Service. With this feature, authors now customize the look and feel their dashboards to match their corporate branding or just give them a little more personality! By default, all dashboards have three built-in themes (Light, Dark, Color-blind friendly) and a Custom option to quickly toggle between. For those accustomed to report theming in Desktop, there is also an option to leverage the same JSON theme file structure to style all the chart colors within a dashboard. Lastly, to ensure consumers have a consistent experience across platforms, we have now added support to render themed dashboards on mobile! Learn more

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We have added another super power to Power BI Premium with the support for incremental refresh (preview)! That’s right, organizations now have more control over the refresh policy of their large datasets and can determine how data is incrementally refreshed in the Power BI Service. With this feature, refreshes are faster, more efficient and more reliable because only the data that has changed gets refreshed. Learn more on how to enable this for you reports.

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We have now made it easier for users to get access to the Apps they need by allowing them to request access to an App. Often, users share links to each other about interesting Apps or deep links to reports or dashboards contained within Apps. Until now users would receive a message saying the content is not available. However, they are now prompted to request access to the App.

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When users accept and press OK, they are given the option to send the request and provide a justification for it. The request is sent via email to the Office 365 Group for the App workspace.

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The access requests can be viewed on the Access page of the App. Pressing Grant access in the email takes you directly there. You can use the new Pending requests lists to easily Approve or Delete the pending requests. Once you Approve requests, the users immediately get access to the App, so they can follow the App link to view the App contents. However, the app is not automatically installed for the user(s) until you press the Update app button.

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Finding Apps in Power BI just got a whole lot easier easier! We have now brought in all the App discovery experiences directly into the Get Data screen. This enables users to quickly find and install organizational and service Apps through the workflow they’re accustomed to use to discover data they have access to in Power BI.

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That said, users can still choose to use the organizational and service content packs capabilities. The buttons moved to the bottom of the page as shown in the image above. However, we recommend Apps to be your go-to when distributing content to large audiences in Power BI instead of organizational content packs or read-only workspaces. Learn more about apps.

We also made it easier for authors to enable or disable the persistent filters for reports in the Service. You no longer need to republish from Desktop – instead you can quickly control the feature in the report Settings pane. The pane can be found under the quick actions of your report content list in your workspace.

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We have seen increasing usage of our Azure B2B external user sharing features that help you collaborate securely across organizations. However, the invite acceptance workflow has been complicated because the user needs first to accept the Azure B2B invite, and then click the link to the Power BI content in a separate email.

Moving forward, we have simplified the workflow for reports so that invited external users get a single email to the report in Power BI. When they click the link, they accept the invite and can immediately access the content. It’s a simple way we’re trying to smooth out the wrinkles to make it easier to collaborate across organizations.

We also released an updated version of Power BI On-premises data gateway for the month of May. The latest version (14.16.6697.1) includes a limited preview of Impala SSO support using Kerberos, improved support for Kerberos SSO for SAP HANA, and an updated mashup engine. Try it out for yourself by installing the new gateway or learn more about the new capabilities here.

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You asked, we delivered! We are excited to announce that drill through is now supported on all Power BI mobile apps. While you can navigate one level down in hierarchy on a selected data point with the existing drill down feature, drill through allows you to navigate another report page that would have more insights on that selected data point. Here’s how it would work:

When a drill through is defined in your report (visit here to learn how to add drill through to your report), tapping on a data point will bring up the drill through option in the tooltip.

Tip: You might have multiple drill through options, each taking you to a different page. In that case you will need to choose which one you want to drill through.

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Lastly, we added a new capability in iOS devices for IT administrators to remotely configure employees’ apps on their mobile phone with Report Server details using their preferred MDM tool such as Intune. Once this is done, all users have to do is to accept the configuration and sign in with their password to complete the connection to the server.

IT administrator can create “app configuration policy” as described in this article, and choose the set of users the policy will apply on. Once the configuration is published, Power BI Mobile app will prompt the users with a sign-in message that will configure the policy on their device.

The phone optimized report view, when authored in Power BI Desktop and published to the Service, gives mobile users a tailored portrait view experience on their mobile devices. The feedback that we go from many authors is that the length of the phone report canvas is not enough. We heard you loud and clear and that why we have doubled it! You now have more flexibility to accommodate more visuals in each page of a report on you phone.


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Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

Alexa, what will customer service look like in 2025?

robot wear headset Alexa, what will customer service look like in 2025?

Good morning, this lovely Tuesday wherever you are. Once again, I have the distinct honor to introduce Brent Leary, CRM, conversational interface, social thought leader. His diverse interests are legion and he articulately writes about all of them and has become a recognized expert in multiple domains. Here is the second of his “Voices Carry” column on conversational interfaces. You’ll being seeing this most every Tuesday until he decides he doesn’t want to do it here anymore.


What will customer service look like in 2025?

I was asked this question as part of a great panel taking place at PegaWorld in Las Vegas. I was honored to join the following group of experts for this cool session:

  • Mike Asebrook – Director Product Marketing, Pegasystems
  • Ben Barton – Team Lead, Expert Customer Service Consultant, Pegasystems
  • Leslie Dickens – Vice President, Corporate & Product Strategy, NASCO

And if that weren’t cool enough, the moderator was the guy that’s sharing his blog with me to write this stuff. Although, if past panels with him are any indicator, if there’s a Yankees game going on at the same time, those sudden outbursts from him had nothing to do with the subject matter at hand…

TechRepublic: 6 strategies to reduce customer frustration with IoT devices

In preparation for the panel I decided to put some thoughts together, so why not do it here? And yeah, I could talk about chatbots and automation/AI, or what percentage of the contact center will be taken over by robots running the show. Or how real time support with IoT and connected devices are going to impact customer service’s relationship to other areas of the business. Or where blockchain will fit in with all of this. Rather, I guess I’ll do what I’ve been doing more and more since 2014, and ask Alexa. Because I think voice assistants will play a major role in shaping customer engagement in the not too distant future, and that includes customer service from both a reactive and predictive perspective, in some pretty fundamentally basic ways.

Typing is for algorithms, talking is for assistance — from assistants

One of the more interesting developments is the rather stealthy way one of the foundational aspects of what we do on the web is quickly transitioning and transforming our behavior. We’ve been searching for information and answers to problems forever, and for more than two decades the web has been the place we’ve turned to when we need answers and info. And that has traditionally meant typing into a box a few words we hope will help the algorithms running in the background find the best answer for us. So we’ve had to adjust our communication efforts away from our natural speech patterns to fit computer processes and procedures that quite honestly have been foreign to the vast majority of us. Let’s face it, writing for algorithms was forced on us and we had to fall in line to get what we wanted.

But over the past couple of years, with Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities really hitting their stride we’ve been able to use our voices instead of just our fingers to request the information we’ve been looking for. So much so that by 2020, according to a Comscore survey, 50 percent of all searches will be done by voice. To me that’s an astonishing statistic that really drives home just how quickly voice technology can disrupt a fundamental activity like search is today. But the reason why people are turning to voice search makes all the sense in the world. When asked for the main reason, the respondents said:

  1. It’s easier – 32.6 percent
  2. I can do it when I can’t type – 26.2 percent
  3. It’s faster – 25.7 percent
  4. It’s fun – 15.1 percent

So it’s easier, it’s accessible, it’s faster and it’s fun… and whatever that last .4 percent said. That all adds up to an accelerated transformation of a fundamental activity because we’re able to go back to using our natural way of communicating to get what we need and want. Which seems like a possible propellant to changes in consumer behaviors and expectations in other important areas, like customer service and experiences. And what customer wouldn’t want their experiences to be easier, more accessible, faster and fun…and more natural to boot. With more interactions taking place each day through digital assistants, the transformation is already happening, and it may happen faster and more vociferously with Alexa leading the way.

Why isn’t getting assistance whenever you need as easy as asking Alexa or Siri or Google Assistant?

Picking up on that easier theme from above: About five years ago I had the opportunity to interview Travelocity founder Terry Jones for my conversation series over at Small Business Trends. And of all the interesting things he said that day, one thing has lasted with me the most:

Constantly innovating is so important to keeping up with today’s customers. We expect from every website what we get from the very, very best website. Customers will ask why isn’t Larry’s Insurance Company website as good as Amazon? We get frustrated when it isn’t.

It’s easy to see now that Terry Jones was right, Amazon raised expectations for everyone who’s looking to do business online with customers, and it’s not just about the look, feel and ease of use of the website. It was also because of the processes and experiences they introduced that are also now expected by customers of just about every company on the web today. Not only free shipping, but free expedited shipping is pretty much a must have now. And relatively free and easy return policies have also been adopted out of necessity due to the Amazon effect (although return policies are not as free-wheeling as they used to be with Amazon…).

Also: AI and jobs: Where humans are better than algorithms, and vice versa

I think history has a pretty good chance to repeat itself, but instead of asking for your website to “be like Jeff’s”, this time by 2025 people may be asking you why your customer service isn’t as easy as asking Alexa…or Siri or GA (Google Assistant — man they need to come up with a better name than that). Because all of these assistants and the technologies that complement them (AI, NLP, IoT, etc) will constantly get better, and the data that will be available to make them smarter will get more vast, varied and voluminous. This will mean if companies like Amazon are able to leverage Alexa to provide more and better service experience to its customers, Larry (and the rest of us) is going to have to do the same thing, or else customers might get frustrated all over again. And chances are the frustration will come faster and be more catastrophic.

Primed for an explosion of interactions

Right now, every minute, there are billions of searches taking place and probably even more service requests being initiated and handled. But what will happen when it becomes easier and quicker to ask for something? The numbers we see today are going to pale in comparison to what we’ll see in the future. The types of issues that will crop up will grow as sensors in devices will interact with service processes (and other devices) in realtime to provide insights that can help keep customers happier and on board longer. So the scale we’ll be operating on will be tremendous, and customer expectations will continue to rise. And a more natural way of communicating with customers will help deliver better experiences and provide a better pathway to grow healthy, long lasting relationships over time. And, according to a Google study:

  1. 72 percent of voice activate speaker owners say that using their speakers have become a part of their daily routine
  2. 41 percent of voice speaker owners say talking to their speaker is like talking to a friend or another person

Now, of course, these folks are a part of the early adopter crowd. But these numbers point back to some of the numbers mentioned earlier. When technology can be used to allow us to communicate in a more natural fashion — and make fundamental, daily things easier and quicker to do — we tend to gravitate towards them at scale. And we’re beginning to see it happen with voice-first technology. Are we there yet? No. On we on the road to getting there? I think so. Will we get there by 2025? I’m not sure. But I’m guessing I’ll be able to ask Alexa when the time comes.

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There's a New AI-Based Data Service on the CRM Block

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Cien this week released its AI-based Data Enhancement Services to help companies manage CRM records in Salesforce Sales Cloud implementations. Data Enhancement Services “is an optional standalone Cien offering for companies that aren’t ready to start tackling their sales productivity traps and feel a more urgent need to augment their CRM data,” noted Cien CEO Rob Käll.
CRM Buyer

Dynamics 365 Spring 2018 Update: Common Data Service

Spring Updates 06 300x225 Dynamics 365 Spring 2018 Update: Common Data Service

The Dynamics 365 Spring 2018 release coincides with the new release of Power Apps and the Common Data Service. This release brought about a significant change to the Common Data Service – dividing them into two different areas. Common Data Service for Apps and Common Data Service for Analytics. Our upcoming webinar Spring Release: The Common Data Service and Dynamics 365 will go through all of the changes and enhancements in this new release and how the new Common Data Service for Apps interacts with the Dynamics 365 application platform.

In this blog, we will touch on some of the enhancements that will be discussed in the webinar. Be sure to register to learn about all the new features!

Integrations – Field Service

There is now data integration support between Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations and Dynamics 365 for Field Service. This new functionality includes:

  • Enabling invoicing of Dynamics 365 for Field Service work orders and agreements in Finance and Operations.
  • Integration of warehouse information with on-hand inventory, item reservations, usage, adjustments, and transfers.
  • Support for purchase order integration with synchronization of vendors, purchase orders, and receipts.

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Integrations – Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation

An integration solution using the Common Data Service enables synchronized data between Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations and Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation. The solution enables the flow of data for several scenarios including the following:

  • Maintain project contracts in Project Service Automation and synchronize them directly from Project Service Automation to Finance and Operations.
  • Create projects in Project Service Automation and synchronize them directly from Project Service Automation to Finance and Operations.
  • Maintain project contract lines in Project Service Automation and synchronize them directly from Project Service Automation to Finance and Operations.

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Server-Side Logic for Validation

The addition of Business Rules on the Common Data Service for Apps entities now enables you to build business logic for Apps. You can use the Business Rules to:

  • Set default values for fields based on specific parameters.
  • Create validation logic for any entity field or a combination of fields.
  • Trigger workflows and processes from Business Rule logic.

Additional Sorting Release highlights include:

  • 27 new connectors for PowerApps – connectors for Excel Online, Microsoft To-Do, ServiceNow, Workday and Azure SQL Data Warehouse, along with many more
  • Import data into Common Data Service for Apps with Power Query. Now you can use Power Query on the web to directly import data into the Common Data Service for Apps from different data sources
  • Support for additional data types. Additional data types support more complex entity definitions. New types include Multi Select Option Sets

Want to learn more about this subject and more? The Spring 2018 Update Webinar Series is an excellent resource for staying up to date on the latest CRM and ERP changes for Dynamics 365. Plus, it’s all FREE! Register for one or more sessions now.

Happy Dynamics 365’ing!

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PowerObjects- Bringing Focus to Dynamics CRM