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Single Sign On – OneLogin

Home Page, O365, Uncategorized

Adoption Drivers

With a goal of becoming a billion dollar in revenue company by 2017, DISYS continues to grow rapidly and expand globally. After implementing several cloud-based enterprise applications such as SalesForce, Office 365 and BMC Remedyforce, the company was looking for an identity management solution that was scalable and could accommodate the addition of new systems.

“There was one that SalesForce offered, and some other pretty crude upload/download methods that were not automatic,” said Hachwi, the IT infrastructure manager responsible for desktop, network and voice services, as well as systems architecture. Hachwi’s team looked to Netflix for guidance. “We’re trying to really mirror how Netflix enterprise IT operates and push new applications and infrastructure to the cloud,” said Hachwi. “We don’t want to maintain a large internal infrastructure with a large team just to manage hardware. DISYS is continuing to grow, and we need to get the infrastructure in place to support that growth quickly. IT can’t waste time and valuable resources procuring, configuring and maintaining hardware and network infrastructure. ”

BYOD Policy for Dispersed Workforce a Must

With 650 employees and roughly 4,000 consultants working at client sites, it was important to provide access to corporate applications via the web. Additionally, as DISYS expands internationally, supporting consultants will require secure, reliable access to the corporate network and all necessary business applications, regardless of the user’s location or access device.

Having consultants spread out geographically presents a unique challenge, since deploying and managing laptops to all of them would be way too costly and time-consuming, let alone present a huge security risk. “Our focus should be maintaining our systems, the data, and access to the data, while our consultants manage the hardware,” said Hachwi.

Keeping Infrastructure Simple

DISYS already had a datacenter in place, with plenty of expansion capability and compute and storage resources. “We had the datacenter because we run PeopleSoft, and we want to keep that in-house,” said Hachwi. “But as we added more applications into the mix to resell as services to our clients, we wanted to keep the infrastructure simple and easy to scale quickly.”

Maintaining the infrastructure to support additional applications such as Office 365 and others would have been too big of a burden. “We would have had to spin up two or three more servers, maintain firewall rules, manage updates, and support everything internally.” said Hachwi.

Rapid, Secure Access, Without Rework

It was important to have access to the apps, because Hachwi’s team needed to show their clients they were using them and demonstrate best practices. “It’s our responsibility to provide access to the apps in a timely manner,” he said.

Although Hachwi’s team considered deploying Okta, the platform didn’t offer the integration capabilities that they found with OneLogin.

Why OneLogin?

SOLUTION

OneLogin provides the fastest path to identity management in the cloud with an on-demand solution consisting of single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, directory integration, user provisioning and a catalog with thousands of pre-integrated applications. !

Fast, Painless Deployment

Deploying OneLogin was quick and painless. “All the directory integration was already done,” said Hachwi. “I think it took us 30 minutes total. Using AD-FS would have had a much larger impact, and it would have affected our disaster recovery setup strategy, as well. We would have to set up and maintain those servers, as well as back them up. OneLogin eliminated all that hassle and made it really easy.” !

Rapid Integration with Web Apps

OneLogin provides access control by connecting to Active Directory or LDAP servers directly; no firewall changes are necessary. Up-front integration work already built-in to the platform provides near instant connectivity to business-critical cloud applications, without rework. Users enjoy one-click access to all web apps from a browser or mobile device. Additionally, strong authentication policies such as PKI certificates, OneLogin’s free Mobile OTP or third-party authentication vendors ensure secure access. !

“OneLogin fits really well into our infrastructure, with easy setup and configuration, and the ability to customize rules and user roles,” said Hachwi. “It makes application deployment simple and streamlined for our team to manage and gives our dispersed employees and contractors secure application access at the click of a mouse.”

RESULTS

Fast toolset integration helps DISYS stay on top of its projects. “When you start growing so quickly, things can start breaking, and you have to keep up,” he said. “OneLogin helps us because we don’t have to spend time and effort on application deployment.”

Hachwi said the Office 365 roll out is the best example. “Using ADFS integration would have taken us a minimum of a week getting everybody set up and tested, and then the maintenance to keep it going would have really taxed my team. OneLogin boiled all that down to 30 minutes. It can’t get any simpler than that.”

As Hachwi’s team adds new toolsets, OneLogin will be the enabling technology moving forward. For example, the team was able to get BMC RemedyForce up and running on top of SalesForce in just days, because the integration was already in place.

“Our goal is to enable our users and to deploy solutions as quick as possible,” he said. “When we consider adding another tool, we look at the integration into OneLogin as part of the decision process.”

DISYS Uses OneLogin to Give 4000+ Employees and Consultants Secure Access to Office 365 and other Web Apps on Any Device

DISYS Uses OneLogin to Give 4000+ Employees and Consultants Secure Access to Office 365 and other Web Apps on Any Device

Collin Hachwi, IT infrastructure manager at Digital Intelligence Systems (DISYS), supports the company’s team of more than 650 employees and 4,000 independent consultants around the globe—many of whom are remote workers who use their own desktops, laptops, tablets or smartphones to conduct business. DISYS, a global managed staffing and services company, utilizes cloud-based enterprise applications such as SalesForce to streamline many of its business processes, but when it came time to add new applications into the mix, Hachwi knew the company needed to consider a strong identity management solution that was scalable to accommodate the addition of new applications and users. “Using ADFS integration would have taken us a minimum of a week getting everybody set up and tested, and then the maintenance to keep it going would have really taxed my team. OneLogin boiled all that down to 30 minutes. It can’t get any simpler than that.”

Collin Hachwi

IT Infrastructure Manager

6 CRM predictions for 2016

CRM, Home Page, Strategy

So what will be the big trends in CRM in 2016? Here are six predictions.

CRM software will become even more social. “In 2016, we’ll see a lot more CRM providers adding new social media features, whether that be tracking customer interactions or suggesting new contacts,” says Marc Prosser, cofounder, Fit Small Business. “Nimble is out ahead on this, but expect others to add these features while their team (and others) devise new ways CRM can take advantage of social media.”

Mobile CRM will become a must-have. In 2016, “we’ll see CRM go mobile in a big way,” says Prosser. “So far, most mobile CRM apps have focused on providing a basic phone-ready version of the desktop version, usually without the full set of features.” Over the next 12 months, however, “expect to see CRM mobile apps adding features that interact with map and note-taking apps.” Also, “CRM will become less hierarchical and easier to use on the go.”

Sales reps will rely on “mobile CRM [to] keep connected and in touch with prospects and their sales manager,” adds Sean Alpert, senior director, Product Marketing, Sales Cloud, Salesforce. “Real-time data [will] keep reps in the know about everything from usage rates to open service tickets to breaking news about the prospect they’re about to visit. And, mobile CRM [will become a] powerful sales tool as more and more reps eschew traditional slides in favor of showing a demo on their phone or pulling up the latest analytics or dashboards on their [mobile] device.”

Integration will be the name of the game. “It’s increasingly important that your CRM be able to seamlessly integrate with your ecommerce platform, your marketing automation software, your analytics software, your accounting system… the list goes on and on,” says Katie Hollar, CRM expert at Capterra, an online tool for businesses to find the right software. “Rather than spending hours downloading and uploading CSVs of data from one system to another, CRM users will demand that their provider build these native integrations with other platforms to make them more efficient. And if CRM vendors can’t keep up with the demand, users will switch systems, finding one that works better with their existing infrastructure.”

“CRMs will evolve from sales-oriented tools to truly integrated marketing and sales platforms,” predicts Kathleen Booth, CEO, Quintain Marketing. “There has already been some movement in this direction, with many CRMs, such as Salesforce, offering integrations with marketing software. But in the future, integrations will be replaced by all-in-one software platforms that truly marry the needs of sales and marketing,” she says. “One example of a company that is doing this successfully right now is HubSpot, which added a free CRM to its marketing software last year. Expect more companies to enter this market in 2016.”

Vertical CRMs will give traditional CRM solutions some serious competition. “In 2016, the ‘verticalization’ of CRM solutions will be accelerated,” says Adam Honig, cofounder and CEO of Spiro, a personal sales app for salespeople. “A real estate salesperson has different needs than a medical device salesperson, and companies are increasingly realizing that they could benefit from using industry-specific CRM solutions like Veeva, Vlocity and OpenGov,” he says. “These vendors’ built-in best practices and processes provide a level of expertise that companies just don’t get with a generic CRM solution.”

As a result, “horizontal CRMs will start being replaced by industry-specific vertical CRMs that help you navigate the specific challenges of your industry,” says Anatoly Geyfman, CEO, Carevoyance. “Healthcare is a big example of this,” he says. “Veeva, a CRM for the pharma [and life sciences] industry, was in the first wave of these, but the wave is not over.” Now, as a result of an influx of industry-specific software solutions, “even Salesforce is releasing industry-specific features and brands for its CRM product.”

More CRM platforms will be equipped with predictive analytics capabilities. “In 2016, CRM systems will have analytics engines behind them that will enable the ability to provide real-time offers to customers based on predicting what they will want next or what kind of product or service they might buy next,” says Rebecca Sendel, senior director, Data Analytics and Customer Experience Management Programs, TM Forum, a global industry association for digital businesses.

“Predictive analytics combined with CRM data gives marketers and salespeople the chance to learn, at a deeper level, customers’ habits and then react to those in real time,” says Vicki Godfrey, CMO, Avention, a provider of data solutions. “This makes for more personalized interactions, which leads to increased sales, better customer relationships and reduced churn rates.”

Look for the CRM of Things. “We’ve seen the Internet of Things (IoT) make major headway this past year, and CRM will begin to reap the benefits in 2016,” says Dylan Steele, senior director, Product Marketing, App Cloud & IoT Cloud, Salesforce. “Companies today want a complete understanding of their customers, and with billions of connected devices generating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, it’s more important than ever to know how this data can create an even more personalized customer interaction.”

So expect to “see smart devices linked to CRM, enabling automated business notifications, follow-ups for sales support, and billing processes that will redefine immediacy for customer service,” says Kevin Roberts, director of Platform Technology at FinancialForce.com, a cloud ERP solution provider.

By Jennifer Lonoff Schiff CIO Nov 23, 2015 6:09 AM PT

True Cloud Architecture or just Cloud Hosted – Cirrus True Cloud

Home Page, Strategy

To take a single instance of a product, host it in a data centre and connect this up to your site or wide area network (WAN) you have simply changed the location of where your infrastructure sits. Yes a Telecity data centre in London will be far more secure than your own server room but the operating principles and single points of failure remain.
For most services that are not business critical or what are called “high availability” services, this works and is enough. For services that would have a serious business impact were they to go down for an afternoon as we saw yesterday – you need to look at True Cloud.

True Cloud is where you have multiple instances of your product in different locations, and services can be consumed from all the locations in real time. The key here is “real time”. It must be a live network, not a fail over plan of moving from one data centre to the other when something like yesterday occurs. This can take hours, plus the process of moving back at some point.

When looking at telephony, most would argue that standard office users whilst negatively impacted by an afternoon outage – could be managed via mobile devices and email communication. However, the contact centre is 100% business critical. To not serve or sell to your customers for an afternoon can have astronomical consequences.

Here is what a True Cloud network looks like:

  • 3 Data centres, located in different geographical locations. Manchester, Birmingham, London.
  • Any Cirrus end point (Cirrus desktop client (vDesk), mobile or landline DDI) can consume calls from all 3 data centres in real time.
  • All customers have an exact replication of their service on ALL 3 data centres. If a data centre goes down, your latest service settings are operated seamlessly from the remaining two data centres.
  • When breaking out the Cirrus network, we connect over 11 internet service providers (ISP’s) meaning your contact centre is not reliant on one single network to be operational. Public internet issues as seen yesterday can be managed and routed around in real time – not possible on a point to point SIP trunk set up over 1 network.
  • Cirrus talks to every end point in real time to check its connection, dynamically routing around issues and congestion to deliver our quality of service (QoS) guarantee.

No matter how large, how resilient or how many times the contract states “no single point of failure”. When paying a subscription cost model (effectively renting services), you should get access to a network, infrastructure & resilience that wouldn’t make financial sense to build yourself. With hosted contact centre you don’t, with Cirrus True Cloud you do. It really is that simple.

Cloud Applications – Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

CRM, Home Page, Strategy

Very interesting reminder….

I’m just completing a project where all the telephony for the client I am working for has moved to a cloud service provider – every part of the service from ACD, SIP Proxy, SBC and the associated reporting tools and user management all reside there.

It has been a very interesting project from both a technical and planning perspective, one of the biggest learns that I have taken away from it is the knowledge that even though a platform might sit in the cloud it is very important to consider the service that is being provided and what you, as the client needs to have in place to make it an overall success.

Of course it’s possible to have Cloud Storage as a Service or Telephony as a Service but before you look at taking on such a project have you thought of:

  • demarcation points
  • incident management ownership and accountabilities
  • operational resilience
  • how much your provider really knows your business

I would advocate a move to the cloud for many applications, however just because an application resides there it does not mean that it is ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

ITIL IT Service Management in 5 Minutes

Home Page, ITIL, Strategy

Organizations all over the world, from NASA to Disney, utilize ITIL to help improve their IT processes. But what is ITIL Service Management? Here’s what you need to know, and how you can use ITIL to benefit your own IT organization.

What Does ITIL Stand For?

ITIL is an acronym that stands for “IT Infrastructure Library”. It was originally developed in the UK as a series of books. These books explained procedures and best practices for the IT industry to follow. The goal was to standardize the management of IT, so everything wasn’t doing their own thing, but had a common set of IT standards to follow.

How Does it Work?

ITIL Service Management acts as a guideline for service delivery in the IT world. If you are committed to conducting best practices in the industry, ITIL is the way to go. As of today there are five different books, explained below.

ITIL Service Strategy

This portion of ITIL can be thought of as how an IT organization can best position itself for long-term success. Service Strategy discusses financial management and how to improve business relationships. It answers the question:

How can my IT department succeed over a long period of time?

ITIL Service Design

Designing IT systems should always involve a very important element: the user. Often times in when planning or designing a system, consideration is not made to specific intricacies of a business or its users. This section answers the question:

How can I plan my IT resources around my business?

ITIL Service Transition

When IT projects come to a completion phase, they transition to becoming an actual service that people in an organization will use. For example, when a project to migration to a new IT asset management system is complete, it is then “live” for users to begin working with. Service Transition works to answer the question:

How can I best transition an IT project over to a service for users?

ITIL Service Operation

Problems are a fact of life in IT. Without tech problems, most IT professionals would be out of a job! Service Operations is quite specific in helping provide service level agreement framework for your IT service desk. It’s where you go find the answer to:

How can my IT department meet SLAs?

ITIL Continual Service Improvement

No one wants to repeat mistakes. In IT, repeatable processes can be captured and used to improve efficiency and reduce the bottom line cost. Improvement is not always easy, however, and many IT departments need help with:

Written by Samanage

Microsoft Dynamics, the real ERP alternative to SAP

CRM, Home Page, Projects, Strategy

Last Thursday 19th of November, Microsoft gave at last more details about its new Microsoft Dynamics Ax and since them we can start giving more details about this new revolutionary ERP platform. Cloud based (but later alter mid 2016,  also On-Premise), modern HTML5 interface based on Office 365 look and feel, Power BI, Real Time Analytics with On Memory Database Technology, Office 365 & CRM Integration, Machine Learning and much more.

This new version present a huge leap in technology but maintaining the proven functionality that have helped thousand of companies along the world to optimise their processes and continue operating in a more challenging and more interconnected economic world.

The objective of this post is to focus how Microsoft Dynamics compares to SAP. The other big player on the  ERP market who is still dominant for implementations in big companies, specially in their homeland Germany where they have still about 50% market share and worldwide about 20%. That means a lot of new customers for Microsoft Dynamics when they get the opportunity to see that Microsoft Dynamics offers much more for their money.

Apart from other soft reports you would see out there, I can report from own experience. I work on the Microsoft Dynamics world since more than 8 years and I am actually based in Germany where I have contact with lots of companies that uses SAP but also I had an intensive experience with the new SAP version S/4 HANA with Fiori in the last 6 months.  Even I was in the SAP central in Walldorf to take part in an official SAP HANA course 🙂

I want to focus my comparation on several points. On the Cloud, the development experience, the BI platform, the On Memory database, the functionality, the availability of professionals and formation possibilities and last the qualitity of the IT partners.

Cloud platform

With the arrival of Satya Nadella, Microsoft took the courageous way of betting for the cloud, at that time Cloud was considered still a Hype and only companies like Salesforce and Amazon were at the forefront of innovation on the cloud. This all changed and since 2010 Microsoft is innovating on the Cloud building its Microsoft Azure with an extense geographical presence allowing customers to have their data near their operations. Even in countries like Germany it is provided a german only cloud with the colaboration of local partners like T-System.

Products like Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM are a huge success  and the pace of innovation it is quite impresive  but it doesnt mean that Microsoft presents a incoherent set of products because all of then are easily accesible from the main Microsoft Azure platform. Even casual developers can start playing developing web/mobile applications with technologies like Machine Learning and Big Data with only a single account and maybe not to expensive fees after the free account expires. This is specially important because you build a developer community that gives exponential innovation.

SAP cloud offer is based, mainly in the purchases of another companies like Ariba, Concur and Fieldglass. These are great products but it is absolutely not a homogeneous set of products giving confusion to the customer. SAP it is also building their datacenters and providing more an more their business solutions on the cloud which have damaged fees from products on premise but this year they are almost doubling the cloud business from the numbers of last year. As developer you can also start playing a little with HANA on the cloud developing web applications but it still languishes behing the developer community build by Microsoft.

Development experience

The development experience with SAP from the point of view of someone that comes from a world of modern programming languages is a horror story. With the new Microsoft Dynamics Ax you will develop your business code with X++ and some task with C#. Everything from a unique development platform,  Microsoft Visual Studio. Developing in Microsoft Visual Studio is just a pleasure because of the productivity of the tool, their options and the nice look and feel.

Instead developing business applications for the new SAP S/4 on HANA implies to learn ABAP, XSJS, Java, SQLScript HTML5, CSS and Javascript and to use  several development IDES like ABAP Workbench, ABAP Development Tools for Eclipse and SAP WEB IDE. Just learning ABAP is a nightmare and the language itself is a obsolete language that comes from the first versions of SAP. ABAP was at it early stages only a language used for reports and because of the back-compatibility it involved in a procedural language and last in a object oriented language in an artificial way. It first name was already “Allgemeiner Berichts-Aufbereitungs-Prozessor”, which means something like general report processor. There is always a rumour that SAP would like to kill ABAP but it is still there on the last version SAP S/4 because almost all the business logic is builded with ABAP. That forces the developer to learn how to develop with OData in order to build interfaces between the logic, the new database and the new HTML5 based interface. Obviously the developer have not very extra time left to think about developing business code when he has to spend too much time so much languages and interfaces.

When you are a Microsoft Dynamics Ax developer you have inmediately access to all the info you need to be productive. All the database tables and business classes are pretty well documented. Just try to google CustTrans on Google and you will get access to the Microsoft Site on MSDN where the table is descripted. Just try to make the same with SAP, to find out, which table contains the customer transactions and maybe you will spend quite a lot of time just to try to find basic info.

Last about the development of user interfaces in the last version of Microsoft Dynamics you just have to know about one technology, HTML5. And everything could be made with only drag&drop and coding on the events and on the methods for the form object on Visual Studio. There is no need to be a WEB geek in order to develop business applications on the Cloud.

Meanwhile with SAP you still have to learn to develop with the old Dynpro, maybe Web Dynpro, maybe SAP PERSONAS, and last with FIORI. Setting FIORI to start working it is also not a work for novices and require a not so easy configuration. Last, developing for FIORI is it not the easy task that SAP tries to sell you. You will have to go much more on the HTML details but also build the interface with OData between the business code and the ABAP code. That in case the business code is in ABAP, because is the business code is in HANA nobody, even most of the SAP professionals, doesnt know still where the hell would be the business code.

BI platform

Microsoft BI offert for Microsoft Dynamics implies the cool new Microsoft Power BI and the new services from SQL SERVER 2016. That´s it! Just take a look at the new Power BI and you would be impresed. On behind will be powered with an On Memory database that will deviler results in light speed.

On the other side with SAP you will find a myriad of products and offers that makes not easy to understand which one do you have to use. Some of then are more apropiate for the managers, anothers for your department leaders and finally others would be more appropiate for the shop-floor. So you will have to choose between SAP Lumira, SAP BW, SAP Crystal Reports, SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards, ….

This is absolutely not easy but also not cheap!

On Memory database

In the field of On Memory database maybe SAP have the advantage with its HANA database. Now Microsoft with its SQL SERVER 2016 seems to be serious about On Memory and this is the main reason because Microsoft Dynamics Ax would be only available on Cloud until mid next year. Microsoft have to wait until the On Memory technology available on Azure it is available for On Premise systems. It that case I would recomend big companies with million of transactions per day to ask for a realistic perfomance test of both platforms in order to decide. If HANA copes better with such a huge amount of data it could still makes sense to spend so many money in a complicated platform like SAP. In another case, if you dont process millions of transactions per day you are trying to kill a flea with a sledgehammer.

Functionality

The new Microsoft Dynamics Ax comes with not to many changes on the functionality, that it is important because the functionality that comes from Microsoft Dynamics Ax 2012 R3 it is already proved and not too many changes are needed. That it is a little like SAP that maintain its functionality given in modules like MM, SD, FI, CO, MCM and develop industry solutions based on that.  Allmost all the functionality provided by SAP it is included in Microsoft Dynamics. I can also say that on german if that sounds more professional for you: Lieferbeleg erstellen, Materialen Kommissionieren, Warenausgang buchen, …. everything it is available in Microsoft Dynamics Ax to implement your processes in the most optimal way.

One curious thing about SAP implementations it is that your company it is supposed to work the way that SAP dictates in its implementations. Even on the analysis phases of a SAP project the users are simply presented some SAP powerpoints about the functionality and the users have to present their GAPs. That could be good in cases of companies that doesnt have clear how they have to work or optimize their processes but if you have a clear view of your company and you  want to be ahead of the competition you will need much more. An example of that company is Inditex in Spain (Zara stores). They have build their own system using no standard software because they are a step ahead of the rest and adapting to processes thought by others would make then slower. But that is a radical option that no everybody can implement. Microsoft Dynamics Ax presents a flexible solution that you can adapt and that will grown with you. Obviously making changes to the system without understanding the standard functionality is also not a very good idea.

Availability of professionals and Formation possibilities

It is report that SAP consultants in Germany could make almost 100.000 € and developers even reach the 80.000 € mark. That it is only a hint of how expensive would be your SAP project if you choose SAP. To become a SAP professional almost the only way is to take part on the expensive courses at SAP due to that the system and it myriad of options it is quite innacesible for the casual guy. Even if you work on a End User it would be not very easy for you to learn to use the system without some SAP support. There is some initiatives from SAP like OPEN SAP but most of the courses doenst offer more than just marketing of new technologies.

To become a Microsoft Dynamics Ax Developer you doesnt need too much requirements. It is enought to be a .NET developer with some SQL Skills to make the ladder. Once you have the option to play with a system at an End User or at a Microsoft Partner you can learn quite fast if you have the right colleagues with you. Microsoft provides also on its Customer Source and Partner Source plenty of formation documents and if you wish you can also attend some of the official Microsoft Courses which will speed up your skills on the products.

So I dont see any scarce of Microsoft Dynamics professionals, even SAP consultants could become Microsoft Dynamics consultants quite easily and on the way providing great ideas to their colleagues. In Germany I experience a quite incompetent recruiting process, where companies have some positions open for months of even for years because they look for someone which Microsoft Dynamics experience but also with fluent german, when in most of the cases that it is absolutely not needed.

IT Partners

Microsoft Dynamics Ax is on the market since more than a decade and there is plenty of Microsoft Partners in which you can confide, some of then are specialized specific sectors like retail or industry. Companies like my actual company Alfapeople, MODUS Consult, COSMO Consult, Avanade, HSO, Impuls and SPH are good examples of them, and in Spain Prodware, AxAzure, Iniker IFR and Quonext are examples of high productive spanish Microsoft Partners. Worldwide I can mention companies like Sunrise Technologies, HSO and K3 but also the network of Alfapeople 🙂

SAP Partners there is also a lot out there specialy here in Germany, some of them lying on offices that look like palaces that shows how much money was won with SAP in the last decades. Now it is time for them to prove if they are worth their money and for all the current SAP users to take a look at Microsoft Dynamics Ax. They would be surprised to see how much money they can save and but most important how they will be able to become more agile reacting more quick to the needs of their customers in a more interconnected, cloud oriented world.

Pedro Rodriguez Parra
Dynamics Ax Developer at AlfaPeople GmbH

Data insight becomes a key competitive weapon in 2016

Home Page, Uncategorized

Less than 30 percent of enterprise architects connect analytics to business outcomes well. Look for more firms to double down on insights in 2016.

Three of four enterprise architects strive to make their firms data driven. But well-meaning technology managers only deal with part of the problem: How to use technology to glean deeper, faster insight from more data — and more cheaply. But consider that only 29% of architects say their firms are good at connecting analytics results to business outcome. This is a huge gap! And the problem is the ‘data driven’ mentality that never fights its way out of technology and to what firms care about — outcomes.

In 2016, customer-obsessed leaders will leapfrog their competition, and we will see a shift as firms seek to grow revenue and transform customer experiences. Insight will become a key competitive weapon, as firms move beyond big data and solve problems with data driven thinking.

Shift #1 — Data and analytics energy will continue to drive incremental improvement

In 2016, the energy around data-driven investments will continue to elevate the importance of data and create incremental improvement in business performance. In 2016, Forrester predicts:

  • Chief data officers will gain power, prestige and presence…for now. But the long term viability of the role is unclear. Certain types of businesses, like digital natives, won’t benefit from appointing a CDO.
  • Machine learning will reduce the insight killer — time. Machine learning will replace manual data wrangling and data governance dirty work. The freeing up of time will accelerate data strategies.
  • Firms will try to sell their data; some will succeed, most will sputter. In 2016, an increasing number of firms will look to drive value and revenue from their data exhaust. Despite the promise, most companies will struggle to master the intricacies of protecting personal information and the appropriate business models.

Shift #2 — Data science and real-time analytics will collapse the insights time-to-market.

The trending of data science and real-time data capture and analytics will continue to close the gaps between data, insight and action. In 2016, Forrester predicts:

  • A third of firms will pursue data science through outsourcing and technology. Firms will turn to insights services, algorithm markets, and self-service advanced analytics tools, and cognitive computing capabilities to help fill data science gaps.
  • Streaming ingestion and analytics will become a must-have for digital winners. The window for turning data into action is narrowing. The next 12 months will be about distributed, open source streaming alternatives built on open source projects like Kafka and Spark.
  • Algorithm markets will start to get attention. Firms will recognize that many algorithms can be acquired rather than developed. Just add data. For example, services like Algorithmia, Algo Market, Data Xu, Precision Hawk, Alogrithms.org, Algorithms.io, Kaggle, and galleries from AzureML’s and Big ML will gain traction.

Shift #3 — Connecting insight to action will only be a little less difficult.

Closing the gap between insight and action is the big unfilled hole we found in 2015. In 2016, that gap will be hard to close for all but the most advanced leaders. However, by the end of 2016, energy around big data will be substantially redirected towards insights execution. In 2016, Forrester predicts:

  • Half of all IT-led big data hub investments will stagnate or be redirected. Business satisfaction with analytics output fell by 20% between 2014 and 2015. Next year, impatient business leaders will shut down or redirect big data investments that fail to deliver a measurable impact on winning, serving, and retaining customers.
  • Only a few elite teams will take the leap from BI to Systems of Insight. Only a few teams are taking baby steps toward agile BI, and Forrester expects that less than a third of these will be ready to take the next leap — Systems Of Insight.
  • Data brokers and insights innovators will collide in the insights services market. Technology vendors, data brokers, and marketing data management platforms (DMPs) all recognize the opportunity to sell insights, not data, as a service. But, they are rushing to meet the demand with entirely different strategies. Expect chaos in 2016.

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CRM activity Records

CRM, Home Page

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has different Activity entities, showing actions from the CRM users.  ActivityPointer records are automatically created when an Activity record is created, enabling developer to retrieve different Activity types with one request.

Activities are the actions users do in CRM, often tracking the interaction between users and customers.

CRM has lots of different activities

  • PhoneCall
  • Task
  • Letter
  • Email
  • Appointment
  • Fax
  • Custom Activities

Tracking the activity of users/customers, records the time spent on CRM records. For cases, you can see activities associated with the case.   Tracking activities allows different people to work a record with a full knowledge of the status of the case.

Activity facts

  1. Activity is an entity in CRM, you can look at it in the custom solution
  2. The activity entity is non-editable.
  3. Activity schema name is ActivityPointer e.g ActivityPointer = Activity
  4. ActivityPointer is not the same as Activity Party

Microsoft ActivityPointer description

“Task performed, or to be performed, by a user. An activity is any action for which an entry can be made on a calendar.”

What’s the purpose of the Activity Entity?

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

Albert Einstein

To understand a CRM functionality, you need to understand its purpose.   Once you understand what it’s used for, how it works and why it works in that way.

The purpose of the Activity entity is in the schema name – ActivityPointer.  Developers can retrieve all activities with one request, instead of multiple retrieves using the different activity types.

The activity views allow you to show all activities for a record, despite the activities being different types (e.g. Email, PhoneCall, Task)

The CRM SDK has a great page on Activity entities.

The diagram shows why understanding Activities is important, Activities are linked to the primary entities in CRM.  Activity entity acts like an interface between primary entities and individual activities.

ActivityId’s are the same because an Activity record is created by CRM when an activity record (Task/PhoneCall/Email/etc) is created.

Activity Types

Doing an advanced find, you can use the Activity Type field on the ActivityPointer entity to see what Activites types can be ActivityPointer records.  The Activity Type is a Global option set

activity type

 

from the CRMHosk Blog

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Microsoft to open UK datacentre

CRM, Home Page, O365, SharePoint, Strategy

The new UK-based datacentre is said to be opening from late 2016, though it sounds like the MoD will begin using it sooner than that.

O365 and Azuze UK data centre coming 2016

At his keynote speech at the Future Decoded event in London yesterday, CEO Satya Nadella stated that  customers in the UK would at last be able to store data within the country, allaying fears (even I not actual legal impediments) around governance and data protection.

In addition to Microsoft Azure and Office 365, the UK datacentre will support Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online sometime afterwards. Microsoft will also offer Azure ExpressRoute to provide customers with the option of a private connection to the cloud.
“At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more,” says Nadella. “By expanding our datacentre regions in the UK, Netherlands and Ireland we aim to give local businesses and organisations of all sizes the transformative technology they need to seize new global growth.”

He added that the new local Microsoft cloud regions will enable data residency for customers in the UK, allowing data to be replicated within the UK for backup and recovery, reduced network distance and lower latency.

Nov 11, 2015

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How to Make Microsoft Office Desktop Software Work Seamlessly With Google Drive

Google Apps for work, Home Page

drive-devices


Last December, we shared how Google was making its productivity suite, Google Apps for Work, work “friendlier” with Microsoft Office files. Earlier this week, Google announced what seems a surprising next step in its Microsoft Office embrace: a new plugin for Google Chrome (Windows version only) that enables Google Drive to work seamlessly with Microsoft Office software. Using the new Google Drive Chrome plug-in, people using Office for Windows are able to open their Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents stored in Drive, then save any changes back to Drive once they are done. The move supports Google’s focus on making Google Drive more competitive to Cloud storage leaders like DropBox at the price of weakening its head-to-head competition with Microsoft Office.


How it works

If you’re working on a Word document, Excel spreadsheet or Power Point Presentation that’s on your computer, you can also save that file to Google Drive, directly from the Office apps. This is especially useful for sharing files with teams, or for accessing your files across devices running Windows.

Yet another Cloud option

Box and Dropbox have taken similar approaches to support Microsoft’s commanding lead in office productivity software. Box lets you create and edit Office Online files, while Dropbox has brought collaboration features right into Microsoft Office for Windows and Mac. And, of course, there is Microsoft’s own OneDrive.

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Data Loader Service: How to Use (Part 2 of 2)

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Data Loader Service: How to Use (Part 2 of 2)

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This blog post is the second in a two-part post about the Data Loader Service.  The first post can be found here.  

This post details a quick walk-through of how to use the service and various features.

Configuring Data Loader Service

There are 2 steps that need to be completed before this service can be used.

Step 1: Deploy the Data Loader runtime for a specific CRM organization

Data Loader for every CRM organization needs to deploy a new runtime module to ensure data isolation across organizations and to stay closer to the data center of the specified CRM organization.

1. Click on “Deploy runtimes” tile

2.  Click on the “+” button and fill in the data in the pop up screen. Select the CRM organization that you would like to import data to and click “Deploy“ button on the page.


3.  Deploy will take approximately between 15-30 minutes.

4.  Your deploy is ready when the grid reflects “Running” status as below

Step 2. Configure the flat file format.

1.  On the main dashboard click on “Configure file format” tile.

2.  In the “Configure file format” page, click on “+” and enter the necessary information pertaining the flat file format. Here is the example of the standard CSV format.

3.  Click save.

Now you are ready to start importing data into CRM organization.

Importing data

1.  Click on the “Import” tile on the dashboard

2.  This will start a wizard, follow the steps. Here you can upload data for more multiple entities as needed.

3.  On the “3. Map fields” step, the service will do the best effort matching, of the source file columns to the target entity. For the unmapped fields you could choose to complete that mapping or ignore.

Another key point to note is, the drop down for target fields also displays any alternate keys that were defined on the lookup entities. So you can map the alternate keys for your lookup columns.

4.  At the end of the wizard, give a name to the project and click on “Start data job”. This will start processing the uploaded files and import them to the cloud staging environment.

This is not starting the “Import to CRM” yet.

Viewing the Job execution details

1.  Click on the specific job’s card view on the dashboard.

2.  This will open the Job Details page, which is divided into 3 tabs:

  • Source tab.  This will display the success or error encountered while processing the files into staging table. If there are any records which the service was not able to import into staging, it will display it as an error with details.
  • Staging tab.  This is one of the important part of this service. This reflects all the records that were successfully imported in the cloud staging, in CRM, in errored etc. In this view user can run data quality validations and fix errors.
  • “Import to CRM” tab.  This tab displays the progress status after import to CRM has started.

Run data quality services

1.  On the Jobs details page, click on “Staging” tab

2.  To run DQS, click on “Validate” as shown below. This will validate two things, metadata validation and look up validation. Depending upon the number of records this might take a few minutes, and you could start validate on all the entities parallel if needed.

3.  At the end of validate, it will change certain records into “Not Valid” status – see the pic below.

Fix errors in Excel

1.  User can fix the errors in Excel, by clicking on “Download to excel” button. This button is in the staging tab as shown below.

2.  This will open excel. Click “Sign in” and enter the CRM credentials. Once authenticated, this will load all the errored records.

3.  Review the error message and fix the records. After the records are fixed, click on “Publish”. This will publish the fixed records back to staging. You would need to refresh the data in the staging grid to see the changes.

Start Import to CRM

After the data has been validated and fixed in staging, you are ready to start the import to CRM action. This will basically start import for all the entities in the current data job.

1.  Click on “Import to CRM” – as seen below.

2.  Once the import to CRM has started, the progress of the import can be viewed in “Import to CRM” tab

Any records that did not make it in CRM will remain in the staging grid in “Errored” status with detail error message that was received from CRM web service. The user can review the error messages and fix the records again in Excel and retry import. This service enables iterative import of data until all the records that are required are imported.

Refresh CRM Metadata in Data Loader

Once the Data Loader runtime is deployed, and thereafter if there are metadata changes or customization added on CRM side, then you would need to follow the steps below to refresh the metadata in Data Loader.

1.  Click on “Deployed runtimes” on the main dashboard

2.  Select the CRM organization in the grid and click on the refresh icon over the grid.

This will start refreshing the metadata. It might take several minutes before the refreshed metadata is reflected.

Cheers,

CRM Product Team

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Data Loader Service: Preview Feature for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (Part 1 of 2)

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Data Loader Service: Preview Feature for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (Part 1 of 2)

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Customers are facing challenges with data migration scenario, where each customer/partner has to write custom code or use 3rd party tools to import large volume of data. To help alleviate this pain point, Microsoft Dynamics team has developed a cloud Data Loader service for Dynamics CRM Online. The key benefit of this service is the ability to move your data between flat files and CRM Online, and cut down on implementation costs. We’re pleased to announce preview of this service that will empower organizations to better manage their data import/export processes. The preview supports only import operation, and the export will come in the next update of the feature.

This new Data Loader is available as a preview to North American based Dynamics CRM Online organizations. It supports CRM 2015 Online Update1 and the upcoming release.

Important

Microsoft doesn’t provide support for this preview feature. A preview feature is a feature that is not complete, but is made available before it’s officially in a release so customers can get early access and provide feedback. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Technical support won’t be able to help you with issues or questions. Preview features aren’t meant for production use and are subject to a separate supplemental terms of use for preview features.

In this post, I will be sharing the following high level topics for the Data Loader.

Key Benefits

Getting Started

Preview features

Known Limitations

Send us feedback

Key Benefits

  • Quick and easy to configure import of data
  • Eliminate writing custom code against CRM SDK for importing data and thus cutting down on the implementation time and cost
  • Supports bulk loading of data
  • It’s available at no cost

Getting started

The Data Loader preview is enabled by default for all CRM administrators. Use the following steps to access the service:

  1. Navigate to link https://lcs.dynamics.com/DataLoader/Index.
  2. Click on Sign in and enter your CRM administrator credentials.

NOTE: This CRM admin also needs to be a Service or Global admin in AAD (Azure active directory).

This will log you in the service, and you are ready to use.

For detailed walk through of how to use this service – refer to the blog post Data Loader Service: How to Use (Part 2 of 2).

Preview features

  • All data uploaded is encrypted
  • Support for update and creates
  • Support for flat files with any delimiter
  • Edit and re-use data mappings
  • Excel app for fixing invalid data in the staging db and iterate over the data
  • Parallel processing to support bulk loads
  • Import of multiple entities in one data project
  • Handles auto detection of insert order and relationships
  • Imports historical data like closed activities, older Created date
  • Achieve high throughput

Preview limitations

  • Only supported for North America geography
  • No support for email attachments
  • No Web API support for accessing the tool
  • Limited to flats files as source data format
  • Scheduling Jobs not supported
  • Dynamics CRM On-Premises is not supported

Send us your feedback

We are making this preview available so that you can try it and let us know what you think. Your feedback will help us prioritize work to include the capabilities you need most. We ask that you give us your questions, suggestions and report problems from right inside of the Data Loader user experience, it’s the Smiley feature as shown below.

Cheers,

CRM Product Team

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Why companies are switching from Google Apps to Office 365

Google Apps for work, Home Page, O365

Microsoft’s increasingly strong Office 365 performance is coming partly at the expense of Google Apps. Motorola’s recent decision to move from an elderly version of Office to Google’s cloud service bucks the more common trend of companies who have been using Google Apps switching to Office 365.

It’s not just Microsoft saying that Office 365 is growing (COO Kevin Turner claims that four out of five Fortune 500 companies use the service). Last year, cloud security company Bitglass said traffic analysis gave Google twice the market share of Office 365 among its customers, with 16.3 percent of the market; that went up to 22.8 percent this year as more companies switched to cloud services. However, over the same year, Office 365 grew far faster, from 7.7 percent to 25.2 percent. Google has a slight advantage with small businesses (22.8 percent to Microsoft’s 21.4 percent) but in large, regulated businesses (over 1,000 employees), Microsoft’s 30 percent share is twice that of Google and growing fast.

Office 365 is even more popular with the 21 million customers of Skyhigh Network’s cloud security services, where 87.3 percent are using Office 365 services, with each organization uploading an average 1.37 terabytes of data to the service each month.



Okta

There are some geographical differences in the popularity of Office 365 and Google Apps in Okta’s customer base, with APAC currently a Google stronghold.

That fits what identity management company Okta is seeing. Office 365 is the most commonly deployed application among its customers (beating even Salesforce) and adoption is growing faster than any other cloud applications. It’s also the cloud service customers use the most, probably because that usage includes all the email users send and receive.

Okta CEO Todd McKinnon does note that the picture is a little different in different parts of the world and across different industries. Google Apps is stronger in APAC, although that may change as Microsoft builds out new data centers in the region (that’s already making a difference in Australia and Japan). The only industry segments where Google Apps has more share than Office 365 are in technology; media, Internet and software companies. The smaller the company, the more share Google Apps has among Okta’s customers; but even in the smallest companies Office 365 is still in the lead.

“There are different dynamics that matter based on the company size,” McKinnon points out. “Large companies need manageability, security, reliability. You wouldn’t see this acceleration of Office 365 in large companies without Microsoft doing a lot of work [in those areas].”



Okta

Google Apps is more popular with smaller businesses in Okta’s figures.

[Related: How Office 365 balances IT control with user satisfaction]

The majority of new Office 365 customers are moving from on-premises, but even companies that have already adopted Google Apps for Business are switching to Office. Microsoft claimed they won back 440 customers in 2013, including big names like Burger King and Campbell’s, and the trend is continuing. Some of that may be the halo effect of the Office 365 growth making companies that picked Google Apps question whether they made the right decision. But often, it’s because of dissatisfaction with Google Apps itself.

The simplicity of Gmail and Google Docs clearly appeals to some users, but as one of the most widely used applications in the world, the Office software is familiar to many. “When you put these products into companies, the user interface really matters,” McKinnon says. “For email, the user interface really matters. Google Apps is dramatically different from Office and that’s pretty jarring for people who’ve been using Outlook for a long time. It’s like it beamed in from outer space; you have to use a browser, the way it does conversations and threading with labels versus folders, it’s pretty jarring.”



Okta

Cloud security identity and security services find that Office 365 is gaining popularity with their customers; this shows the growth in Office 365 adoption among Okta’s users.

And it’s hard to use Outlook with Google, many customers report. “Some companies, they go to Google and they think they are going to make it work with Outlook; what they find out when they start using the calendar is that it just doesn’t work as well with the Google Apps backend as it does when you’re using Office 365. The user interface is so important that it pulls them back in. Even if you like the Google backend better, you have thousands of users saying ‘what happened to my folders?’”

Buying Office 365 for Office

That’s what Glenn Jimerson, currently CTO of fintech startup Loanatik found with an earlier startup. “I’ve deployed Google Apps in three different startup and I personally like it for many reasons, including the price; it’s great bang for the buck.” But while young founders and employees, especially Mac users, were happy with Google Apps for the basic document tasks they were doing, other, older workers found they weren’t as productive without Office. “I got a lot of backlash; they weren’t happy that it wasn’t Outlook. They were saying ‘I really want PowerPoint to do my presentations.’”

The tipping point was a new CEO who insisted on working in Outlook. When Jimerson looked at the options, Office 365 made more financial sense than just buying the Office software. “We would pay Google Apps $5 a month and then we’d have to buy the Office suite for each computer. If you’re pushing somebody who’s used to an Office environment into a Google cloud, they’re going to feel this vacuum because they no longer have the programs they’re familiar with. It represents a huge investment in time that people aren’t going to be receptive to. And you have Microsoft saying ‘for just $3 a month more you could have all these great programs you’re used to. Now they’ve got the pricing so you get more than you get on Google, what Microsoft is offering is fantastic, and for $3 more it’s a premium worth paying. Microsoft is still the king of hill for a reason.”

The cloud aspect of Google Apps hadn’t proved important to the startup (and it wasn’t why they switched to Office 365). “Everybody was fine with the idea of the cloud but it wasn’t the primary reason; the cloud was nice to have but they didn’t necessarily see it as a productivity boost.” In fact, more employees were concerned about working offline. “What happens if there’s no Internet, if I’m in a plane with no Wi-Fi, can I still work? Their first reaction is ‘I want Office for that’.”

His current company has used Office 365 from the start (“I brought up Google apps but nobody was willing to be that cheap about $3 a user,” he notes) and OneDrive is one of the most popular features “People like it; it’s taken over from sneakernet and emailing back and forth. If they need to work together, people just toss it up on OneDrive”.

Outlook and Excel features come up again and again as advantages for the companies who had made the move away from Google Apps. Erik Jewett of Skykick, who provides a service partners use to migrate customers to Office 365, hears that particularly from power users. “In Excel, there are rich capabilities that aren’t matched by Google apps.” In Outlook, calendar sharing is important, as is delegation. “Administrative assistants can manage their manager’s calendar; they don’t have that type of delegation with Google apps.”

Nick Espinosa, the CIO at IT consultancy BSSSi2, has helped several businesses move from Google Apps to Office 365. “Quite frankly, Google is completely outclassed by Office 365 in this arena and despite the price difference corporations who made the switch to Google Apps to save money usually end up coming back within a year. The primary driver of this appears to be Outlook integration over everything else, followed by the inability to do some advanced things that Microsoft Office excels at.”

[Related: Google for Work vs. Microsoft Office 365: A comparison of cloud tools]

For larger companies, this goes beyond the familiarity of Outlook into advanced features. “You can integrate Skype into Outlook, you can integrate OneDrive for Business into Outlook. It becomes essentially like a command center, and there is nothing Google gives you that does that.”

“The reason people have been moving to Google is cost,” Espinosa says. “Most companies we’ve seen that have decided to move to Google, it was primarily for cost savings. The say ‘we get email, we have all these things and it’s significantly less expensive than having to buy a copy of Office for everyone and hook up a mail server. But a lot of people don’t find the usability and collaboration nearly as effective as Office 365.”

Enterprise advantage

Not all companies who switch to Office 365 are using it as a cheap licencing deal for the Office applications. They also value Microsoft’s enterprise know-how.

“As a CIO, the goal is to run a balance between keeping all the employees happy and keeping the IT staff from pulling out their hair trying to centrally administer everything,” Espinosa says. “Most IT staff are very familiar with Microsoft infrastructure already. The Office 365 platform is essentially built on Active Directory (AD) and that’s integrated into most networks. Anyone that has had an Exchange server knows how to create routing, groups, calendars, collaboration…”

For many customers, Office 365 also copes better with the scale and complexity of a multinational enterprise than Google Apps. The global scale of Office 365 is an advantage to customers in government, education and regulated businesses care about where their data is and who can access it; Dr Mary Davis, the CIO of Macquarie University in Australia explains the reason for their recent switch from Google Apps to Office 365 “following a decision made by Google to move our stored data from Europe to the United States.” Microsoft’s data centers in Victoria and New South Wales fit their security and privacy concerns better, Davis says, and they’re getting faster access because the services are closer to them. She also notes that the majority of other Australian universities use Office 365 or Exchange and “many plan to ultimately move to Office 365,” which makes collaboration easier.

Google Apps didn’t cope well with scale at one large business Espinosa helped to migrate to Office 365, where they had been using Google Hangouts for online meetings. “Someone created a hangout for their meeting and they were hosting the meeting, and then another person tried to create a hangout with the same name – and they ended up being merged into the meeting. That doesn’t happen in Skype for Business.”

In that case, the mix-up was only confusing, but if confidential information was being discussed, it could have caused serious problems. “You should be able to create containers that are properly structured and secured,” says Espinosa, putting the difference down to Microsoft’s years of experience with enterprise systems. “There’s just a lot of detail in Office 365 that Google is just learning.”

Okta’s McKinnon says that goes beyond features to the whole way Google deals with businesses. “When they built Google Apps it was for consumers; the email had advertising in it. To be successful in enterprise takes a very different culture. You have to market it differently, you have to have a sales distribution organization, a support organization, different legal contracts for customers that you’re able to customize. It’s not that Google’s not capable of doing that, but it’s a different culture.”

Google’s approach to support can be frustrating, agrees Jewett. “Microsoft has been able to provide higher level of support, certainly for enterprise customers who are able to pay for dedicated customer account managers, and we hear that as a top reason to switch from customers.”

“The cut-off is if you’re if under 1,500 users they won’t talk to you,” Espinosa complains. “Google should have a paid support line. We can get Microsoft 24 hours a day; in an emergency, they will get back to us in an hour. In an emergency, they’re there with us from midnight to 3 a.m., if we need them.”

The Google dead end

Reaching partners like Espinosa that many businesses turn to for IT help is critical, especially for small and medium businesses. “That’s an area where Google has been cutting back on partners,” says Jewett. “I definitely hear partners saying they used to sell Google and Microsoft has done a very effective job of flipping them from being large Google resellers to large Microsoft resellers. “

The success of Office 365 is even attracting partners who have previously specialized in Google Apps. Maarten van Dijk, owner of Dutch consultancy Digitalent, moved his company from Google Apps to Office 365 this summer, partly because of the number of consulting requests and job opportunities they were getting from customers that involved Office 365. But as an early adopter of Google apps – van Dijk had been using the service for ten years – he was also disappointed with the lack of new features. “It just didn’t improve much in the last few years; I felt their development was on a dead end.”

The 1TB of storage in Office 365 was appealing. The storage in Google Apps was much smaller and the company found buying more was unnecessarily complicated. And the migration has made van Dijk interested in other Microsoft cloud services that work with Office 365; he’s also considering moving their on premise virtual machines to Azure and investigating syncing their Active Directory with Azure AD.

Espinosa sees that hybrid option as a definite advantage for Microsoft. “You can add Office 365 into your local solution. You can have AD, security, everything on premise and move elements like email to Office 365.” Google offers some AD integration, he notes; “you can filter and block across a domain, you can even push Windows group policy to Chrome. But Microsoft absolutely has the advantage for running AD and replicating that into the cloud.”

Van Dijk isn’t the only customer switching away from Google Apps because of the lack of development. Google showed early promise but they didn’t invest while Microsoft improved and that’s disappointed the early adopters, suggests McKinnon. “When we started seven years ago, Google Apps was pretty nascent but it was pretty good. I would have predicted that Google would have run away with email and collaboration, but over the last two or three years, Microsoft has essentially caught up and passed Google Apps.”

Skyick’s Jewett hears the same thing from customers. “Google started off as the leader; they were the first to have completely web-based productivity tools. It was a very effective way for Google to get the perception that they were being more innovative. And many people made a strong bet on Google having a strong future plan.”

That spurred Microsoft to catch up, and Google hasn’t kept up, says Jewett. “Microsoft started from behind but they made the large investments [required]. It’s more than just vaporware; they have built out greater capabilities where Google has been standing still. Microsoft has gone from behind to being the leader. They have a roadmap of new features and products continuing to come out in productivity.”

“It was early adopters who moved to Google; when they made that decision Google was the clear leader and now they see Google hasn’t invested to build on the expectation that was set. Given the sophistication of Google as a company, we’ve found it surprising that they haven’t built out more enterprise capabilities around Google Apps – and customers are noticing.”

Jewett notes that even a year ago Skykick had frequent requests to provide a migration service to Google Apps; “we don’t really hear that any more.”

Email, file sharing and unified communications may be enough of a commodity to move to the cloud (rather than keeping in-house infrastructure and expertise), but businesses don’t see them as legacy systems that don’t need to improve. They’re looking for innovation in these areas, and they’re betting on Microsoft rather than Google to deliver that.

“What Microsoft has over its competitors is a comprehensive understanding of what matters to business,” says Espinosa. “Microsoft is much better positioned than Google to be the dominant force in providing cloud for business, and it has overtaken Google because businesses have realized they should never switched from Microsoft in the first place.”

 

This article was written by Mary Branscombe from CIO and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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Google Apps for Work. Powertools, Advanced Document Management

Google Apps for work, Home Page

November 03, 2015 10:30 ET

Powertools, Advanced Document Management Integrated With Google Drive, Is Now ‘Recommended for Google Apps for Work’
Millions of Google Apps for Work Users Now Have Access to an Easy-to-Use Document Management System, Fully Integrated With Google Drive, That Delivers Powerful Features That Boost Productivity and Require Zero IT Expertise to Configure and Manage

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwired – Nov 3, 2015) – Designed4Work, innovator of advanced productivity tools for Google Apps for Work, announced that Powertools, the document management and workflow technology for Google Drive™, has been inducted into the ‘Recommended for Google Apps for Work’ program that showcases innovative technologies for users of Google Apps for Work. The announcement was made today by Amit Singh, president of Google for Work, at the Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland.

As part of the agreement, Designed4Work has been selected by Google as an ISV partner and joined the Google for Work Partner Program. The companies plan to engage in joint marketing and sales programs to foster adoption of Powertools and its document management benefits by the millions of enterprise users of Google Drive and Google’s cloud-based productivity applications.

“As they look for solutions that work best with Google Apps for Work, our customers value security, quality and integration,” said Rahul Sood, managing director, Google Apps for Work. “We were impressed by the simplicity and richness of the features that Powertools adds to Google Drive and we want to encourage our customers to adopt third-party apps, like Powertools, that they can trust.”

“We are really pleased to team up with Google to introduce Powertools to business users, because we feel certain that the combination of Powertools and Google Drive will revolutionize collaboration in the enterprise,” said Philippe Bonnemains, CEO of Designed4Work. “Google Apps for Work users can now gain more productivity benefits from Google Drive thanks to the advanced document management features offered by Powertools.”

Powertools enhances Google Drive for enterprise users
Powertools extends Google Drive into a powerful, business-focused document management system that expands the feature set of Google Drive by adding workflows, advanced labelling, and versioning. Powertools also enables businesses to easily create customized content portals that leverage Google Drive to provide company-wide access to key content from a secure, cloud-based repository. See how it works here.

“At Zodiac we have a large amount of product-related digital information that is scattered across many systems, making it challenging to manage, retrieve and share this information throughout our organization,” commented Joseph Bejjani, Group CIO at Zodiac Pool Systems Inc., a leading manufacturer of differentiated pool and spa products. “Powertools enables us to regain control over our key digital assets, and to easily build and share a common branded digital library. The ease of use of Powertools and tight integration with Google Drive drove rapid user adoption across the organization.”

“Powertools has improved the synergy between our stores and corporate office by enhancing how we share and access information. We used to struggle to relay messages in a format that was easily accessible by employees. Now, by adding structure to Google Drive using Powertools, information is flowing much better and our teams are more efficient,” said Patrick Barrabé, project manager at Jardiland, a leading European big-box garden supplies chain. “Deploying Powertools has led to a boost in productivity and employee learning.”

Enterprise-grade features boost productivity of users and workgroups
Since it was released as a beta version, Powertools has been adopted by thousands of Apps for Work users, who have already managed more than one million documents and experienced significant productivity benefits:

  • Enhances and adds structure to Google Drive. Powertools transforms Google Drive into an enterprise-capable storage solution by adding document management features such as workflows, metadata, tags, and versioning to corporate documents — all from within Google Drive.
  • Puts business users in the control. Powertools enables non-technical users to drive the entire document management and collaboration process — eliminating the need for IT implementation and support.
  • Expands Google Drive capabilities. Powertools delivers company-wide access to key assets through customized (and, optionally, branded) content portals linked to Google Drive; seamless integration with MS Office enables users to open, edit, save and share MS Office documents without the need to download, upload, or convert them.
  • Supports in-house security and workflow procedures. Reinforces document security with detailed reporting, providing business managers an overview of user activity and content sharing; encourages adherence to company validation processes through mandatory workflows.

Powertools for Google Drive: pricing and availability
Powertools is available on the Google Apps Marketplace and www.designedforwork.com, with a free, 30-day trial offered to evaluate all its features. Thereafter, Powertools costs $2 per user per month.

About Designed4Work
Designed4Work is a software development company focused on empowering business users of Google Apps for Work. Its leading solution, Powertools, transforms Google Drive into a powerful, business-focused document management system that is fully integrated with Google Drive. Designed4Work provides its customers — startups to Fortune 500 companies using Google Apps for Work — with turnkey solutions that boost productivity and adoption. Designed4Work takes the risks out of deploying cloud solutions by offering its customers secured, flexible and user centric solutions. www.designedforwork.com.

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Microsoft empowers business transformation

CRM, Home Page, O365, SharePoint, Strategy

“Businesses are hungry to seize new opportunities using technologies like machine learning and predictive analytics,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft. “Only when businesses create a culture that empowers everyone to have access to data and insight that drive action will they be positioned to truly transform.”

Nadella demonstrated products and services built by Microsoft to empower industries, organizations and individuals to drive insight and action from their data.

“Microsoft Azure IoT services combined with Windows 10 IoT for devices and Power BI is fueling a degree of collaboration, visibility and insight from data unheard of in the oil and gas industry — from the oil field and operations center all the way to the boardroom,” said Gary Pearsons, vice president and general manager, Customer Support and Maintenance at Rockwell Automation.

There were several components of today’s announcements:

Tools for industries

  • Microsoft Azure IoT Suite. Microsoft Azure IoT Suite is an integrated offering that takes advantage of all the relevant Azure capabilities, simplified billing and easy provisioning to help businesses connect, manage and analyze all of their “things.” Available in preview later this year, this new offering will provide businesses with finished applications targeting common Internet of Things (IoT) scenarios — such as remote monitoring, asset management and predictive maintenance — to simplify deployment and provide the ability to scale their solution to millions of “things” over time. Azure Stream Analytics will be generally available next month as part of Azure IoT or as a standalone service. Currently in preview, Azure Stream Analytics helps customers process massive amounts of real-time, incoming data from “things” and services so customers can predict trends and automate service and responses.
  • Windows 10 for Internet of Things. Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will provide versions of Windows for a diverse set of IoT devices, under the Windows 10 IoT moniker. Windows 10 IoT will offer one Windows platform with universal applications and driver models that will span a wide range of devices, from low-footprint controllers such as IoT gateways to powerful devices such as ATMs and industrial robotics. Windows 10 IoT will also bring enterprise-grade security from the device to the cloud and native connectivity for machine-to-machine and machine-to-cloud scenarios with Azure IoT services.

Tools for organizations

  • Power BI is a service, now available in the U.S. and more than 140 markets around the world, that helps customers take the pulse of their business via live market operational dashboards, explore data through interactive visual reports, and easily share new insights with colleagues and customers. New Power BI connectors, dashboards and reports for some of the industry’s most popular data sources — including Google Analytics, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, Zuora, Acumatica and Twilio — will be available soon.
  • The Spring ’15 release for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, expected by the end of the second quarter of 2015, will deliver significant performance enhancements, deepen interoperability with Office 365, and with new knowledge management enhancements, improve efficiency and collaboration between workers and businesses. The release also introduces Microsoft Social Engagement, the latest update to Microsoft’s social monitoring tool designed to enable people to monitor and engage in the context of their Dynamics CRM and/or Office application. The intelligence gained from this new solution will enable businesses to be better informed about what customers are saying across all social channels.

Tools for individuals

  • Office Delve, now globally available, uses sophisticated machine learning techniques to help people discover relevant documents, conversations and connections from across Office 365. In addition, Exchange Online and Yammer content is now accessible via the Delve experience.
  • The company announced the IT Professional and Developer Preview of Office 2016, a key milestone for the next version of Office on the Windows desktop. Office 2016 is expected to be generally available in the second half of this year. Microsoft encourages IT pros and developers from its enterprise customers to join the preview to prepare, begin testing and help shape the future of the product.
  • Skype for Business (previously Microsoft Lync) technical preview starts Monday, and the new Skype for Business client, server and service within Office 365 will be available starting in April. Skype for Business delivers an enterprise-ready voice and video collaboration experience based on the familiar Skype user interface, including the ability for Skype for Business customers to connect with anyone in the Skype network.

Customers and partners also highlighted the benefits of these products and solutions and demonstrated how they are taking the next steps to use systems of intelligence to transform their businesses.

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Office 365 E5 enterprise plan – December 1

Home Page, O365

Microsoft’s high-end Office 365 E5 SKU for enterprise users — which company officials are expecting to grow significantly Microsoft’s subscription business — will be available starting December 1, 2015

The Office 365 E5 plan, which Microsoft announced in July, will be available to customers starting December 1.

office365e5.jpg

The E5 SKU is listed on the Volume Licensing price list preview which Microsoft published on November 1. The Office 365 E5 SKU will be replacing the current E4 version.

The Office 365 E5 SKU will include Skype for Business (Lync) with support for features including Cloud PBX and Meeting Broadcast; new analytics features, like Power BI Pro and Delve Organizational Analytics; and new advanced security features, such as eDiscovery, Customer Lockbox, Data Loss Protection and Safe Attachments.

“With E5, we have expanded our market opportunity for Office 365 by more than $50 billion. This new E5 SKU and the launch of Office 2016 will drive one of the biggest new businesses for us,” claimed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella during Microsoft’s July earnings call.

Microsoft isn’t yet releasing the per-user price of Office 365 E5, a spokesperson told me when I asked. The plan is for Microsoft to make that price available on December 1.

Office 365 E4 sells for $22 per user per month, or $264 per user, per year. E4 includes Skype for Business with Enterprise Voice and unified messaging; the full suite of locally downloadable Office apps; and Power BI for Office 365 (which is being superseded by Power BI pro).

One of my contacts with licensing expertise speculated that E5 could go for $20 to $40 per user per year more than Office 365 E4.

According to information Microsoft officials shared in July, E4 will be retired when E5 becomes available.

Net new customers will be able to purchase E5 or any combination of E1 and E3 with available upgrades to obtain Cloud PBX and PSTN capabilities. Existing E4 customers will have step up options to either E5 or E3 plus Cloud PBX. Customers who wish to maintain their licensing position, will be able to renew into E3 and Skype for Business Plus client-access license (CAL).

Existing Office 365 customers will be able to upgrade to E5 via step-up SKUs that charge the difference between what the customer currently has and E5 as the step-up price to E5. Add-on SKUs will also be available with customers who are maintaining on-premises licenses with Software Assurance.

In July, Microsoft announced previews of three new Skype for Business services that will be part of Office 365 E5: Skype Meeting Broadcast; PSTN Conferencing and Calling; and Cloud PBX. In October, Microsoft broadened availability of all three previews.

Skype Meeting Broadcast enables users to broadcast of a Skype for Business meeting on the Internet to up to 10,000 people, who can attend in a browser.The Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling service provides users with the ability to make and receive traditional phone calls in their Skype for Business client, and to manage these calls using hold, resume, forward and transfer.

Microsoft officials said Cloud PBX will be generally available worldwide before the end of this year. PSTN Calling and PSTN Conferencing will be available in the pre-release markets where they’re being tested before the end of this year.

Microsoft has more than 60 million active monthly users of Office 365 commercial(meaning business) users as of October 2015, officials said. Last quarter, that number was 50 million, according to Microsoft.

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MS Word 2016 real-time co-authoring

Home Page, O365

Now that Office 2016 is officially here, we are giving a special nod to one of our coolest features within the suite—real-time co-authoring. The Word team is honored to debut this new capability in Office 2016 for Windows.

We work and live in a world where collaboration can’t always happen in person and sharing ideas and information can’t always wait. In fact, a lot of real-time collaboration went into delivering this very blog post—weaving comments and content together between engineering and marketing teams located in different buildings. At times, multiple people were in the document making changes at the same time.

Real-time co-authoring in Word 2016 allows for this and, in fact, has been available since 2013, when we introduced real-time collaboration in Office Online. But with Office 2016, we take real-time collaboration to the next level by offering it within the client, delivering a ton of flexibility. In the client, users don’t need to go back and forth between experiences, collaborating outside of the client and then integrating those changes and conversations back to finalize their documents—allowing them to take advantage of the full feature set Office has to offer while they collaborate. Real-time co-authoring delivers instant engagement within the application, making it more like an in-person work session. Collaborators can align and finalize details of a document more efficiently and quickly in Office for Windows or Office Online.

Start using real-time co-authoring

To get started using real-time co-authoring, save your Word 2016 document to OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online. Next, click the Share button, located in the upper right of the window.

word co authoring 1

The Share pane is displayed, allowing you to invite your colleagues or friends to the document.

word co authoring 2

When you click the Share button, your colleague or friend receives an invitation email with a link to the document. They have the option to edit or view in Word 2016 or Word Online (if they don’t have Word 2016 installed). If you are in the document at the same time as others, you will see a flag representing each person and where they are located.

word co authoring 3

Set up real-time co-authoring

If this is not your first time using real-time co-authoring in Word 2016 for the desktop, you will need to first enable automatic sharing of changes. When your colleague or friend first joins the document, you’ll see a notification in the upper-right corner of the screen that lets you turn this feature on—just press Yes and your user account is enabled to share automatically. You can revert back to not sharing at any time by going to the Share pane or the General tab in options.

Watch this video to see a demonstration of real-time co-authoring in Word 2016 for the desktop:

Real-time co-authoring was born out of our need to provide users a more cohesive experience when it comes to collaboration across the desktop, online and mobile scenarios. Even though real-time co-authoring is debuting on Word 2016 for the desktop, you can expect to see this feature come to life in other Office apps like Excel and PowerPoint in the near future.

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MS OneNote and Office Mix integrate with all major Learning Management Systems

Home Page, O365, Uncategorized

Today, OneNote and Office Mix team up to talk about the work we are doing to integrate with all major Learning Management Systems (LMS) and the benefits this brings educators.

We have three key announcements:

  • OneNote and Office Mix are both officially certified to the IMS Global Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard.
  • OneNote Class Notebook LTI is now in General Availability release.
  • OneNote now automatically adds all students enrolled in the LMS course to the course’s OneNote Class Notebook.

LMS integration with LTI

In June, both Office Mix and OneNote Class Notebook announced LTI support. This means that both apps are easily integrated with all major LMS—including Canvas, Engrade, Blackboard, Haiku, Moodle, Brightspace, EDUonGo, edX, EdCast and Schoology.

OneNote Class Notebook allows teachers to launch the OneNote Class Notebook app from their LMS course page, walk through the notebook creation process, and add the created notebook to their course—all without leaving their learning environment. We’ve seen OneNote Class Notebooks created with many LMS systems, including Canvas, Schoology, Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Haiku and Moodle. Our customers have also been excited about the new integration.

Here’s what a customer who has been using Canvas with OneNote Class Notebooks had to say:

“OneNote Class Notebooks are one of the few tools that have had a substantial impact on the way we teach. One of the others was Canvas. To have these working seamlessly together is outstanding. It is an order of magnitude easier to build a OneNote Class Notebook through Canvas than it was a year ago. We have teachers spinning up a canvas course and building notebooks for clubs, advisory, athletic teams and a variety of scenarios we didn’t anticipate.”
 —Jonathan Briggs, director of technology at the Eastside Preparatory School.

Office Mix adds functionality to PowerPoint that enables educators and students to record audio or video of themselves presenting, ink on their slides as they present them, insert quizzes, polls, online videos and more. Office Mix also enables users to do full screen capture and record anything on their PCs. Via the LTI connection, educators can embed interactive mixes created by themselves or by the community within their LMS as content or assignments. Office Mix seamlessly authenticates students, and their grades are automatically passed back to the LMS grade book.

IMS certification

We are also delighted to announce that both apps are officially IMS Global Certified. OneNote Class Notebook is compliant to version 1.0 of the standard, and Office Mix complies to version 1.1. Microsoft is a member of IMS Global Learning Consortium and we are committed to supporting open standards and interoperability.

OneNote Class Notebook LTI now in General Availability release

The OneNote team would also like to share that the OneNote Class Notebook LTI app is now in General Availability release. All of our existing Preview customers will be able to continue using OneNote Class Notebook LTI as normal. All app configurations will remain in place, and course notebooks will be linked as before.

Enrolled students are automatically added to the OneNote Class Notebook

Along with our general release, OneNote is now able to provide a new feature that will save teachers valuable time and effort. LMS integration allows students who are enrolled in a course to add themselves to the OneNote Class Notebook simply by clicking the LTI link. Teachers no longer have to type the names of all of their students during notebook creation. By simply leaving the default option to “Automatically add my students when they access this notebook from the LMS link,” they can be confident that all enrolled students (and only enrolled students) are able to access the notebook. As well as saving time and hassle, this gives teachers much more flexibility—if a student is added to the LMS course roster later in the semester, the teacher does not have to add them separately to the notebook too.

“Our teachers were hoping to be able to create Class Notebooks without typing in student names and keep the Notebooks tightly integrated with our LMS. By combining the power of Class Notebooks with the robust LMS features they are accustomed to using, our students are given one access point for all of their work. This is exactly the integration we have been hoping to achieve!”
—Rebecca Keene, One-to-One program specialist for the Kent school district

To learn more about OneNote Class Notebook and Office Mix LTI, please visit www.onenote.com/lti and mix.office.com/lti.

—The OneNote and Office Mix teams

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VMware hails hybrid cloud as answer to enterprise Safe Harbour

Home Page, Strategy

VMware chief claims the roll-out of its hybrid cloud network should help ease enterprise concerns about off-premise data protection
VMware claims the outcome of the EU Safe Harbour ruling will cause minimal disruption to its operations and should serve to reinforce its hybrid cloud strategy.

The virtualisation giant was among the first to predict that the hybrid cloud model would emerge as the enterprise’s preferred model of consuming IT some years ago, while others backed the public or private cloud. In keeping with this, VMware rolled out its vCloud Air platform in 2013, which is designed to make it easier for users to move workloads between their on-premise and off-premise environments, and the firm has opened numerous datacentres worldwide to support it.

Users also have the alternative option to procure cloud services through service providers signed up to the vCloud Air Network programme, rather than from VMware directly.

Speaking at the VMworld Europe User conference in Barcelona, the company said this setup should enable the company to sidestep some of the challenges the disappearance of the Safe Harbour agreement could throw up.

This is because the firm’s vCloud Air Network of partners means European users of its cloud platform may not have to send data back to the US as there are already providers local to them that can meet their needs.

During a press Q&A at the event, Bill Fathers, executive vice-president and general manager of cloud services at VMware, said the firm has taken steps to adjust the wording of its contracts in the wake of the Safe Harbour ruling on 6 October 2015.

“We are modifying the language we’re using with our suppliers so we can give our clients more assurances around where their data will reside,” he said.

In the longer term, having the vCloud Air Network already in place should stand it in good stead, as the rest of the US cloud supplier community works out how best to respond to the news.

“Having a network of service providers in all of the geographies we operate is likely to be the winning strategy,” said Fathers.

“Rather than be a single, homogenous US entity that tries to provide that service across a region such as Europe, we think having hundreds of thousands of services providers who can provide absolute assurances [to customers about where their data resides] makes sense.”

The Safe Harbour fallout

As previously reported by Computer Weekly, the European Court of Justice ruled on 6 October 2015 that the Safe Harbour data-sharing agreement should be considered invalid because it fails to “adequately” protect European users’ data during its transit to the US.

With more than 3,000 companies signed up to the agreement, concerns about the disruption this will cause to the way US firms operate have been aired by technology suppliers and the legal community.

VMware is not the only cloud company to react bullishly to the Safe Harbour announcement. Andy Jassy, senior vice-president of Amazon Web Services (AWS), has been equally quick to shoot down suggestions about the ruling’s impact on its European operations.

During a press Q&A at the 2015 AWS Re:Invent user conference in Las Vegas, he said: “We have a number of ways for our customers to move their data outside of the EU to AWS beyond Safe Harbour.

“As the European data protection agency has approved the AWS data protection agreement via the Article 29 Working Party, it really has no impact on our customers.”

However, Richard Munro, chief technology officer of vCloud Air for Europe, the Middle-East and Africa at VMware, told Computer Weekly at VMworld that US cloud firms should be wary of rushing to make declarations about their Safe Harbour stance without doing some deep due diligence first.

“With our service, your data will not move outside a country’s borders unless you want it to, which is part of our differentiation,” he said.

With the final draft of the EU General Data Protection Regulations due to drop before the end of 2015, and the uncertainty over the UK’s future in the European Union (EU), Munro said both these factors could compel more users to consider going down the hybrid cloud route over time.

“We see people use public cloud services and I think they’re acknowledging they’ve lost quite a degree of control to take up those services,” he said.

“When you get something such as Safe Harbour or the EU Data Protection changes coming from nowhere, it’s difficult for a company to assess what they should do as a business entity if they’re not in control of where their data is residing or what controls are around it.

“As more of these things crop up, we’ll see more businesses wish they had control of where there data is – even when it’s in the public cloud,” he said.

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Three Ways You Can Recover From an ERP/CRM Failure

CRM, Home Page, Projects

Recovering from a failing  project is an incredibly difficult process. It can require a change in project scope, a hard look at requirements, an introduction of new methodologies and clear project controls. In some extreme situations, the project team and consultants may need to be replaced.

After a sobering, no holds barred assessment; the following actions must be taken.

  1. Re-examine the ERP Software. Determining if the ERP/CRM software was originally a good fit for the organization is the first step to recovery. The recovery team must determine if the project team evaluated the ERP/CRM options appropriately or chose specific software based on invalid assumptions. While the software is often the immediate culprit, often times it is merely a symptom of the real failure issues: failure to provide adequate change management and/or clinging to outdated processes.
  2. Reorganise the ERP Project with the Experts. A failing ERP/CRM implementation shares many characteristics of bankruptcy. Reorganisation, refocus and accountability are necessary actions to begin the road to recovery. An independent set of eyes can avoid the blamestorming game, move the project into results-oriented brainstorming and ultimately get back on track.
  3. Identify, Educate and Provide the Resources to Move Forward. While it is tempting to throw the failure out the back window, walking away does not solve issues that required an ERP/CRM implementation in the first place. In fact, simply trying to erase the ERP/CRM system will do nothing but derail future effectiveness, agility and return on investment (ROI). The right resources are likely inside the organization and can be refocused on the revived ERP/CRM implementation with the right mix of leadership, change management and backing.

One thing seems abundantly clear: there are still a great deal of ERP/CRM and other software projects running off the rails. Blaming and rebooting ERP/CRM vendors is only one fix in a broader ecosystem that includes the government customers and the system integrators. Solving this problem requires close coordination and an independent catalyst to keep them on track, on time and on budget.

Written by Rich Farrell, Senior Manager of Client Services at Panorama Consulting Solutions.