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Hybrid Data Modeling: Capture A “Picture” Of Data That Speaks To Business Users

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Think in Systems

Q118 Feature3 img1 Jump Hybrid Data Modeling: Capture A “Picture” Of Data That Speaks To Business UsersA lot of businesspeople are used to seeing their organization as a series of loosely joined silos. But in the world of digital business, everything is part of a larger system.

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

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

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

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

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

2. Work in Diverse Teams

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

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

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

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

3. Become a Consultant

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

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

4. Learn Horizontal Leadership

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

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

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

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

Q118 Feature3 img3 rock Hybrid Data Modeling: Capture A “Picture” Of Data That Speaks To Business Users5. Understand Process Design

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

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

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

6. Learn to Keep Learning

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

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

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

7. Fail Smarter

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

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

Q118 Feature3 img4 fail Hybrid Data Modeling: Capture A “Picture” Of Data That Speaks To Business UsersTo learn how to do it better, take your lead from IT, where many people have already learned to work in small, innovative teams that use agile development principles, advises Ross.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Every CIO Is Ready

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Authors

Thomas Saueressig is Chief Information Officer at SAP.

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist at SAP.

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

Bennett Voyles is a Berlin-based business writer.


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Dynamics 365 User Adoption: End Users are the Most Important! (But Management is Important, too)

CRM Blog Dynamics 365 User Adoption: End Users are the Most Important! (But Management is Important, too)

End users of your CRM system (or any other system!) are the most important building blocks to a successful implementation. Why then are they so often overlooked? Why does management so often dictate requirements without a single consideration of how the end user will react?

“They need to learn how to use this to do their job; they will figure it out.” – Management

Picture this: An organization gathers all major decision makers and managers into a room for a requirements gathering session. The Project Manager says, “what metrics do you want to report on?” The Sales Manager wants 15 fields. The Customer Service Manager needs another 24 fields. The Operations Manager needs 12 different fields. The CEO is looking for roll-up metrics that require another 10 fields. All of a sudden, the Project Manager leaves requirements gathering meeting #1 with 61 new required fields to add to the solution.

I’m willing to bet that many readers have experienced a version of this picture I have painted for you.

How will adding 61 required fields to forms in CRM effect your salesperson? Your Customer Service reps? Do these configuration changes add value to the business goals? How much time does a salesperson lose selling by entering 61 required fields in CRM when they may only need 3?

Now, picture this second scenario: An organization gathers a sampling of end users into a room for a requirements gathering session. There are tenured sales reps, inside sales reps, customer service reps, marketing associates and others from across all areas of the organization. The Project Manager says, “how can this system help you to do your job more efficiently?” The sales reps talk about manual reporting they do weekly for the Sales Managers. Customer Service reps discuss how many screen pops, tabs and programs they go back and forth between on any given call. The Project Manager leaves the requirements gathering meeting #1 with a different to-do list. His/her challenge is now to leverage technology to alleviate pain points for these end users and optimize business processes.

Now, that’s not to say that management shouldn’t be involved! I would recommend having Business Requirements Meeting #1 play out as mentioned above, with the end users. THEN, the management meeting should occur.

Simply put, end users should be involved starting at the requirements gathering stage. Walk the fine line of customizing for your end users while meeting business requirements from management. Apart from involving them in requirements meetings, you can also do ride alongs, job shadowing – anything to better understand what they are doing and where technology can help improve the process.

Need help walking that fine line? We are User Adoption experts at Beringer Technology Group.  Let us help you make sure you don’t miss the mark when it comes to User Adoption.

This blog is the first in a series that will focus on a deep dive in User Adoption. User Adoption is so very important in a CRM implementation and often overlooked. So, what can you do to help encourage adoption for a system? Over the next several months, we will look at ten ways to help with User Adoption at your organization.

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

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Improve Your Relationship with Your Mobile Users

crm growth mobile Improve Your Relationship with Your Mobile Users

Making your customers a priority should be the main concern of all businesses, since they either succeed or thrive based on how the customers feel about the business. With all of the current advances in technology, from creating a social media presence to online reviews of businesses, knowing where your customers come from and how to best effectively reach them is of the utmost importance. In today’s age most users turn to devices to shop, communicate with others and even conduct business. Those devices can be their tablets and most commonly used, a smartphone.

Reaching your customers where they are opens a range of opportunities for businesses. So once you know where your customers go to either buy from your business or at least browse, it is time to start catering your business toward them. Read below to find out three ways to improve your relationship with mobile users.

Improvement #1: Mobile Responsive Site

Creating a mobile friendly site is the first step many businesses take before designing their own app. A mobile site is the same version of the website that adapts itself to the device that the site is being accessed on. A mobile responsive layout often times look slightly different depending on the device that is being used. Having a website designed to be mobile friendly shows your customers that you know many users prefer their cellphones to laptops or desk computers. Designing a site for mobile users also shows that you would like to make the site experience an easy one to navigate.

Improvement #2: Mobile Apps

The next step up from a mobile responsive site, is developing an app. Not only is it an easier solution than a mobile site, it is also a more up to date and trendy one.  Knowing that your customers took the time to download you app shows that they have an invested interest in purchases from you and visiting the app again, creating more opportunities for a transaction to be made.  A lot of the customer’s interactions will be made through the app, so developing it with the customers in mind will help to give them a satisfactory experience whenever they use it.

Improvement #3: Consistent Social Media Usage

Another forum that many customers use is social media. With social media, it is often times accessed through mobile devices which is another opportunity to reach your customer base. No matter the social media site, statistics have shown that many mobile users go to social media on their phone more than any other reason they use their phone for. Integrating social media into your marketing plan places you right into the heart of where your customers are.

Additional Improvement: Mobile CRM

Another great improvement that a business can utilize in an effort to best build their relationships with mobile users is mobile CRM software.  Workwise OnContact CRM software allows you to access your software from a laptop, tablet and of course your smartphone. This often times allows business employees to have access to the software no matter where they are so long as they have a Wi-Fi connection and their cellular device. Customer relationship management software allows for businesses to know their customer base better, with information about their shopping history and even ways to contact them. Having this information on the go allows for immediate assistance and updates, improving the customer service experience.

Paying attention to the latest trends, many of which are now becoming staples such as mobile usage allows for your business to make the necessary changes it needs to make in order to not only stay afloat, but to thrive in their respective industries. Consider the ways that your relationship will improve with your customers when you place a mobile minded thought process into play. Meeting your customers where they are shows that you are interested in them and want to make their experience with you a meaningful one.

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Geekbench: Apple should warn iPhone users about battery and performance tradeoffs

 Geekbench: Apple should warn iPhone users about battery and performance tradeoffs

After Geekbench’s John Poole published a data-driven report this week linking diminished iPhone processing performance to battery age and iOS updates, a new wrinkle emerged in a long-standing debate over whether Apple was deliberately slowing down old iPhones. What if Apple programmed iPhones to slow down as battery power waned, knowing battery degradation was inevitable after a year or two of normal use? Confronted with the Geekbench report, Apple admitted as much yesterday. Now, Poole is calling for the company to be more transparent with iPhone customers about expected performance over time.

For years, and despite plenty of anecdotal supporting evidence, Apple apologists aggressively downplayed the idea that the company would cripple aging iPhones, even as Apple remained mostly silent on the matter. Yet Poole’s data showed that as time passed and new iOS software was installed, certain iPhones began to score markedly lower in benchmark tests. For example, Poole explained that an iPhone 6s initially scoring 2,500 Geekbench points on iOS 10.2 might score only 1,000 by the time iOS 11.2 shipped a year later. But it could also score close to 2,500, based on how sparingly the battery was used during that time.

Apple claims that Poole’s results are attributable to a year-old feature that prevents certain iPhones from “unexpectedly shutting down” when their batteries aren’t supplying “peak current” — something that can happen “in cold conditions,” on “a low battery charge,” or “as they age over time.” The feature is said to “smooth out the instantaneous peaks” demanded by high-performance apps “only when needed.”

A soft way of interpreting Apple’s explanation is that the iPhone’s processor won’t hit peak performance unless the battery is working at peak performance.

“I’m pleased that Apple’s made a statement regarding this issue,” Poole told VentureBeat. “I understand the tradeoffs made in the fix for this issue — I think they’re completely reasonable. I just wish Apple had been more transparent from the start. In particular, I wish Apple would provide a notification to affected users so they understood what was going on with their phones.”

Poole’s call for greater transparency from Apple asks for two stages of battery-CPU performance disclosure: when a brand new iPhone is initially marketed and purchased, and on screen when the iPhone begins to degrade in performance. That’s entirely fair.

Right now, it appears that Apple is sneaking its “fix” in after each device’s release. Its statement notes that it has “extended that feature to [2016’s] iPhone 7 with [2017’s] iOS 11.2,” and “plan[s] to add support for other products in the future.” Though some aging iPhones may display a notification that battery replacement is advised, Apple doesn’t mention that processing performance will suffer — or that it can be addressed by swapping the battery.

There is another, less charitable way of understanding what’s going on with the affected iPhones. It appears that some of the company’s self-designed processors are, at peak, demanding more power than their batteries may be capable of providing — arguably an engineering problem. Unless the processors are capped with software that ties CPU performance to current (and over time, necessarily declining) battery conditions, the entire phone will shut down when that happens.

“While Apple can’t ‘fix’ existing hardware, I hope future iPhones are designed in such a way that this sort of software fix that limits processor performance isn’t necessary,” Poole notes.

Customers could reasonably shun devices — particularly ones fetching $ 1,000 — purporting to offer desktop-class processing performance, but only achieving those levels for a year or two before repair is required.

Is this an issue with non-Apple phones? It’s hard to say; there are so many Android phone models running so many buggy and possibly-since-patched versions of Android that app and device crashes aren’t exactly unheard of. But when asked, Poole said he’s “not aware of similar issues affecting Android phones (e.g., based on customer complaints) but we haven’t done an in-depth analysis yet.”

There’s certainly more to come on this story, particularly when users begin asking tougher questions about whether Apple’s marketed benchmarks are creating performance warranties that its batteries are subsequently undermining.

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Incredible offer for Dynamics SharePoint Organizer (SPO) users

With Dynamics SharePoint Organizer (SPO) each CRM entity is configured how the entity integrates with the corresponding SharePoint Document Library. Naturally, each CRM entity has different type of documents and different tags (metadata) that describes the type and content of the document, what the document is about, and how it relates to other documents and other related parties in and outside the organization. When document is generated in CRM entity, it is linked to a record as attachment to Notes, and as attachment to Email activity. The record has attributes / fields to describe the record and documents related to it. A record of an Invoice entity has the Invoice document attached to Notes or attached to incoming Email sent from the accounting department. The record has fields that describe the Invoice document such as invoice number, total amount, due date, invoice description, and the Account that was issued with this invoice. When invoice document is uploaded to SharePoint, the SharePoint columns are updated with these fields, which are called metadata. Metadata is crucial to filter documents in a Document Library View, and improve the relevance of SharePoint search results.

One entity may have many documents, and the documents can be grouped into Document Types. As an example, an organization managing projects with customised entity Projects, may have documents of the types: Project SOW, Project Milestones, Invoices, and Payments. SharePoint document library is configured to accept these four types of documents, created in the Project Entity in CRM. Dynamics SPO can be configured, for the Project Entity, to match the document in CRM with the corresponding Document Type in SharePoint. Categorizing documents by their types enhance SharePoint navigation. The corresponding projects document library stores all project’s documents in one library, and displays the list of documents based on selected document type.

Dynamics SPO can configure the SharePoint folder structure where documents are uploaded. There are 3 different approaches to SharePoint folders structure:

Single Folder Structure – in this configuration all documents related to an entity are uploaded into a selected folder. Each entity can be configured to upload to a related folder in SharePoint, Orders are uploaded to a folder called Orders, Invoices to Invoice Folder, and Payments to the Payments folder.

Alternatively, two or more entities are configured to upload to one selected folder, let’s say “Commercial” folder. In this case Orders, Invoices, and Payments documents are all uploaded to “Commercial” folder. Note that in addition to selecting the folder to upload the documents, tagging them with Document Types like Orders, Invoices, and payments, will filter the required documents, although all documents are in one single folder.

Child / Parent Folder structure – When two CRM entities are related to each other, like Invoices are related to Accounts, Dynamics SPO will create new folder when an invoice is uploaded for an Account folder not yet created in SharePoint. In this structure it firstly lists all Accounts as folder names, the Parent Folder and when a folder of an Account is opened, the documents of this account are listed in the Child Folder.

CRM Out Of Box Structure –   The third option in Dynamics SPO is for customers already using CRM out-of-box (OOB) integration with SharePoint, and wishing to keep the existing folder structure which already is in use to upload documents to SharePoint. While Dynamics SPO will follow the CRM OOB integration with SharePoint, other features like Document types and metadata are available even for those existing folders.

No doubt that using SPO functionality to upload documents to SharePoint is far more efficient and time saving than the one offered with CRM OOB integration with SharePoint.

  1. Users can automatically upload documents with Workflow
  2. User can upload multiple selected documents directly from Notes and from Emails in one go. With the OOB integration you can upload one document at a time, and only after it is saved to hard disk
  3. Upload file Zipped with many documents or unzip on the fly when zip file is selected to upload to SharePoint.

Incredible offer for Dynamics SharePoint Organizer (SPO) users

For limited time only, customers purchasing Dynamics SPO will receive FREE online hand on training configuring any 2 CRM entities to upload documents to SharePoint. Dynamics SPO is available to download as trial version. We provide unlimited 30 day extended trial periods, and FREE email support and advice on best practises configuring Dynamics SPO for your organization.

Click here to Download Trial Version

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Power BI expands access to intelligence for external guest users

Power BI was first introduced with a simple commitment: Empower people and organizations with access to critical intelligence. The recent general availability of Power BI Premium in June broadened the service’s reach, allowing organizations to distribute BI content broadly without requiring recipients to be licensed individually.

Today I am happy to announce that Power BI users can seamlessly distribute Power BI apps and dashboards to guest users outside of their organization – recipients are able to securely sign into the service using their own organization’s security credentials or personal email address, while the content owner is able to maintain control over the internal data.

This new feature is the result of Power BI integration with Azure Active Directory (AD) business-to-business (B2B) collaboration.

For example, consider a scenario where an automotive manufacturer working with many diverse suppliers wants to streamline its supply chain logistics – all the components, materials and services necessary to run its manufacturing operations. The organization plans to use Power BI to monitor key supply chain performance metrics by building a BI portal its employees and partners can access.

Previously the automaker would have needed to create duplicate identities for users belonging to partner organizations, requiring those users to remember multiple sets of credentials, and creating challenges for governance enforcement and identity management. Alternatively, the automaker could have invested the time and cost of building an app with Power BI Embedded that employs custom authentication.

In this instance Power BI’s integration with Azure AD B2B enables seamless, secure access for guest users from partner organizations – the automaker can create a Power BI app in the service, invite guest users, and distribute the BI content to them to access by authenticating via their organization’s Azure AD credentials.

External users can be licensed to receive BI content in two ways – either the content is allocated to Power BI Premium capacity, or the external user is assigned a Power BI Pro license. And in the instance of the external user being assigned a Power BI Pro license, this can be done by either the external user’s administrator or, as a new capability, by the sharing organization’s administrator.

Power BI integration with Azure AD B2B provides the peace of mind organizations can employ trusted Azure AD authorization policies to protect their data, including conditional access policies and risk-based authentication. Admins are also able to set policies for external B2B invites, such as the ability to turn off or restrict the ability for users to send invitations.

Next steps:

  • AAD B2B with Power BI is available starting today.  Read the documentation and try inviting an external user now!
  • For more information and a step-by-step guide to distributing BI content with Power BI and Azure AD B2B read this whitepaper. Also visit Azure documentation for more information on Azure AD B2B.

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How Microsoft’s Acquisition of LinkedIn is Revolutionizing the Sales Game for Dynamics 365 Users

LinkedIn Plus D365 300x225 How Microsoft’s Acquisition of LinkedIn is Revolutionizing the Sales Game for Dynamics 365 Users

As Microsoft continues to reinvent itself and forge ahead as THE leader in the business apps ecosystem, one of the developments that stands out as a source of great excitement for all Dynamics users is the new integration with LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Today’s blog will outline a few of the benefits that we are most excited about!

Identify Higher Quality Leads/Build Better Pipeline

The Dynamics 365 and LinkedIn integration brings troves of valuable information found within LinkedIn profiles, right into Dynamics 365. Now, salespeople can tap into their professional networks and relationships to create a pipeline that they have better insight into than ever before possible.

Icebreakers: By viewing a person’s LinkedIn highlights, activities, and more, salespeople will be able to come up with more relevant icebreakers to get the conversation going and go into meetings with more confidence.

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Get Introduced: By viewing LinkedIn connections, salespeople will be able to find the best channel for an introduction.

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Related Leads: This integration will also give salespeople suggestions for potential leads, by highlighting leads with similar profiles.

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Stay on top of Activities

inMail and regular messages exchanged through LinkedIn can be selectively synchronized to Dynamics as specialized LinkedIn activities. LinkedIn notes can also be selectively synchronized to their corresponding Contact and Account entities on Dynamics.

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Exciting stuff right?! And this is only the beginning. Microsoft is heavily investing on continuing to enhance the innovation to this exciting integration. To get the connector for Dynamics 365 and LinkedIn on AppSource, click here.

Happy Dynamics 365’ing!

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PowerObjects- Bringing Focus to Dynamics CRM

PayPal Lets Messenger Users Send Money to Buddies

PayPal on Friday announced the immediate availability of its peer-to-peer payment service on Facebook Messenger, making it easy to exchange money between friends and family.

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PayPal also introduced its first-ever customer service bot, which gives Messenger customers payment and account support right in the app.

An agreement struck last year with Facebook allowed 2.5 million PayPal customers in the U.S. to connect their accounts with Messenger and use PayPal to shop on Messenger, as well as to communicate with other PayPal users, noted COO Bill Ready.

PayPal is the leader in P2P payments, he pointed out, with US$ 24 billion in volume during the third-quarter of 2017, up 47 percent year-over-year.

“We’ve seen interest from the 2.5 million people who have connected their PayPal accounts to Facebook Messenger that they would like to use this as a way to communicate with us,” said PayPal spokesperson Juliet Niczewicz.

Further, “the new PayPal bot for Messenger will enable people to have meaningful customer service interactions,” she told the E-Commerce Times, “such as resetting passwords, handling account inquiries, and helping with refunds or payment issues so they can handle their business in the context they are in.”

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PayPal previously entered deals with Apple’s Siri to do transactions with voice commands, Niczewicz noted. It also partnered with Microsoft to allow money to be sent using Skype’s chat function.

PayPal earlier this year launched a bot on Slack that allows users to send payments while inside a Slack conversation, she added.

Payments can be made in Messenger by pressing the blue plus icon when composing a message and then tapping the green payments button.

To use the bot, customers can look for PayPal in the search field, type a message to PayPal, and the bot will appear inside the Messenger app. Customers needing further help can choose to connect to live PayPal customer service.

Expanding Messenger

Facebook originally enabled the sending of payments through Messenger more than two years ago, according to spokesperson Jennifer Hakes. That functionality required customers to enter a Visa or Mastercard debit number issued by a U.S. bank into Messenger, and it offered the option of adding a PIN for greater security.

Facebook has adopted a strategy of creating a broad consumer technology platform and working to keep users within it by offering services through Messenger, observed Jack Kent, director for operators and mobile media at IHS Markit.

“Making Messenger more of a platform for commerce and transactions also serves Facebook’s wider ambitions to drive platform monetization,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “Bringing payments and advertising closer together can help drive up the value of ads and promotions inside the app.”

Chatbots help customers deal with straightforward transactions like reorders, sending gift cards or paying bills, said Cindy Zhou, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Promoting commerce inside a messaging app has been a standard tool in Asia for years — for example, with WeChat in China, she told the E-Commerce Times.

It has started to take hold in the U.S., she noted, with rival social media platforms embracing in-app commerce. Pinterest has introduced buyable pins, for example, and users can shop on Instagram.

While there appears to be a heightened in interest in automating these transactions, customers may rebel against having to interact with intelligent bots instead of live customer service agents, suggested Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at
RSR Research.

“Have customers embraced outsourced, scripted customer service reps who know nothing about the country or the products they’re supporting? No they have not,” she told the E-Commerce Times.

The best customer service often results form shaming companies over social media, Rosenblum said, based on her experience.

“Otherwise I end up with one of those scripted reps,” she said, “and it drives me nuts.”
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David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.

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CRM Buyer

​Plume​ ​Labs​ ​launches​ ​Flow,​ ​an AI-powered​ ​air quality​ ​tracker​ to help users avoid pollution

 ​Plume​ ​Labs​ ​launches​ ​Flow,​ ​an AI powered​ ​air quality​ ​tracker​ to help users avoid pollution

Expanding beyond apps into hardware for the first time, Plume Labs today unveiled a personal air quality monitor that taps into the company’s artificial intelligence system.

Dubbed Flow, the device will cost $ 199 but is now available for preorders at a reduced price of $ 139. Flow​ ​extends Plume’s original AI-powered app that delivers real-time information about pollution levels to help users avoid the health hazards associated with fluctuating particulate levels.

In addition, data collected from Flow feeds back into Plume’s larger dataset, which is drawing information from government pollution sensors around the world.

“At a time of crisis, when the environmental agenda is under question, Flow can help citizens take their environmental health into their own hands,” said Plume CEO and cofounder Romain Lacombe in a statement. “With personal sensors, actionable advice, and crowdsourced data, we can arm people and communities with the tools to tackle the dramatic urban air pollution crisis — and help all of us find clean air, together.”

Do you have an AI strategy — or hoping to get one? Check out VB Summit on Oct 23-24 in Berkeley, a high-level, invite-only AI event for business leaders.

Read more: With air pollution app, Plume Labs wants to prove that big data and open government can save lives

Plume, originally based in Paris, was founded in 2014 by Lacombe and David Lissmyr. Last December, the company raised $ 4.5 million in venture capital. It also recently launched its API Plume.io to let third parties tap into its pollution forecasting system. Plume is now based in San Francisco after participating in the Stanford University startup accelerator program StartX over the summer.

While the company has been known for its app and AI work, it has been working on Flow for almost three years, in partnership with the Imperial College London. Flow was also created with the help of noted design firm Frog. Over the past three months, a prototype has been tested by volunteers in London to map that city’s pollution issues.

“Over the past three years, we have been perfecting Flow’s custom sensing technologies and environmental AI in partnership with renowned environmental researchers from institutions such as Imperial College London and France’s CNRS-LISA, to build the most comprehensive personal air quality tracking technology on the market,” said Lissmyr, in a statement.

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Big Data – VentureBeat

China Telecom Reaches Over 161 Million 4G Users

China Telecom added 2.66 million new mobile users in August, reaching a total of 235.49 million users.

China Telecom added 4.71 million new 4G users, accumulating a total of 161.76 million 4G users by the end of the reporting period, according to the company’s recently published its operating statistics for August 2017.

China Telecom’s fixed-line phone users decreased by 370,000 to 123.6 million in August 2017; while its fixed-line broadband service gained 800,000 new users to 129.77 million.

By the end of June 2017, China Telecom’s FTTH users reached about 117.23 million, representing a net increase of about 11.24 million users during the first half of 2017.

According to China Telecom’s latest financial statistics, the company realized operating revenue of CNY184.118 billion in the first half of 2017, a year-on-year increase of 4.1%. Of the total operating revenue, service revenue was CNY165.847 billion, a year-on-year increase of 6.8%. The company’s net profit attributable to shareholders was CNY12.537 billion, a year-on-year increase of 7.4%.

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