Archive for the ‘Corporate Perfomance Management’ category

Power BI wave 2 Oct 2019 – what’s new preview

August 18th, 2019

The 2019 release wave 2, 2019 release wave 2 -planned to release in the time frame October 2019-March 2020 – brings to market significant new capabilities to enable digital transformation for businesses. For Power BI, these new capabilities include:
Unified platform for enterprise BI
• Data Protection (Preview)
• Shared and Certified Datasets
• Data lineage capabilities (Preview)
• Open platform connectivity (XMLA Read/Write) (Preview)
• Datasets larger than 10GB in Power BI Premium (Preview)
• Admin usage metrics
• Unattended Power BI template app installation

Self-service analytics for everyone
• New experience for report consumption
• Home customization
• Mobile Home

Gartner recognized SnapLogic as a Visionary in its Data Integration Magic Quadrant

August 7th, 2019

Gartner recognized SnapLogic as a Visionary in its Data Integration Magic Quadrant! This comes on the heels of being recognized as a Leader in three top analyst reports for the best integration platform as a service (iPaaS) solutions – the Gartner Magic Quadrant, Forrester Wave, and G2 Crowd Grid.
We believe these collective recognitions testify to the fact that SnapLogic is unrivaled when it comes to integrating cloud applications and on-premises data in one unified platform.

Gartner commended SnapLogic for:
• Our powerful integration convergence and augmented data integration delivery
• Our easy accessibility to diverse user personas
• Our pricing model simplicity and trial version

Synergy Software Systems is a Middle East partner. . This solution speeds up deployment of complex solutions with multiple jntegrations and significantly improves and simplifies the management and maintenance of integrations.

Whether for EDi to Odette standards for the automotive sector, or for streaming high volumes of data, or for ETL processes to bring data from multiple, enterprise systems into a data lake or Enterprise BI or Corporate performance management system, Snap Logic provides a multitude of pre built “Snap integrations: for a low code, configuration approach to integration.

Synergy Software Systems has provided integrated solutions in the region. Digital revolution is proving new opportunities and challenges. Robotic Processes Automation, Predictive analytics, ML AI, IoT, RFID, cloud services, data lakes, and mobility are now standard components of any solution. However digital revolution also requires agility and rapid robust deployment and ease of update and maintenance. Integration ETL, and streaming data from multiple systems at enterprise scale needs a new ‘productized’ low code approach to integration.

Snaplogic is a key tool for successful agile deployment of Enterprise integration, Corporate Performance management, EDI, BI and RPA solutions.

There are already major clients deploying Snap Logic in the UAE.

To learn more . Call us on 00971 43365589

“Disbursements & Reimbursements’: U.A.E. – VAT clarification

July 31st, 2019

The Federal Tax Authority (‘FTA’) has released a Public Clarification on “Disbursements & Reimbursements” which addresses how to distinguish reimbursements and disbursements, and to clarify the applicable VAT treatment.

U.A.E. businesses incur expenses and subsequently recover such expenses from another party. The VAT treatment of the subsequent recovery of expenses depends on whether the recovery is a “disbursement” or a “reimbursement”.

The first step to determine whether a recovery is a disbursement or reimbursement is to establish whether you have acted as a principal or an agent in purchasing the goods or services

General principles to determine the VAT treatment of such recoveries:
Where a taxable person acts in the capacity of an agent, the recovery would generally amount to a disbursement.
A disbursement does not constitute a supply and is,therefore, not subject to VAT

Where a taxable person acts in the capacity of a principal, the recovery would generally amount to a reimbursement.
A reimbursement is part of consideration for the supply and follows the same VAT treatment as the main supply.

Principles

* The other party (from who you are recovering such expenses) should be the recipient of the goods or services;

* The other party should be responsible for making the payment to the supplier;

* The other party should have received an invoice or tax invoice in their own name from the supplier;

* The other party should have authorized you to make the payment on his behalf;

* The goods or services paid for should clearly be additional to the supplies you make to the other party;

* he payment should separately be shown on the invoice and you should recover the exact amount paid to the supplier, without a mark-up.

* You should have contracted for the supply of goods or services in your own name and capacity;

* You should have received the goods or services from the supplier;

* The supplier should have issued the invoice in your name;

* You have the legal obligation to make payment to the supplier;

* In case of goods, you should own the goods prior to making any onward supply.

Examples

Company A procured group medical insurance from a local insurance company and received an invoice directly from the insurance company.

* Company A requested Company B to make the payment on its behalf.

* The subsequent recovery of the amount by Company B from Company A will amount to a disbursement, and would not be subject to VAT.

* Company A should ensure that the Tax Invoice is addressed to it from the insurance company and should recover the input tax through its UAE VAT return, subject to the normal input tax recovery rules.

Company A entered into a contract with Company B to provide marketing services.

* The contract stipulated that Company A would be eligible to reimburse the expenses from Company B.

* Company A incurred the expenses in its own name and subsequently recovered the amounts from Company B as per the terms of the contract.

* The recovery of expenses from Company B would follow the same VAT treatment as that of the main supply.

We recommend;

* Identify the nature of your contract and agent/principal relationships (if any) based on the above principles;
* Ensure that all disbursements have proper authorizations (contracts); and
* Re-view all inter-company disbursements/ reimbursements (cross-charges).

Power Bi new installers – be ready to change your upgrade scripts

July 20th, 2019

Currently, Microsoft builds and publish 84 different .msi files for installing Power BI – a 32-bit and a 64-bit one for each of the 42 languages it supports/

They have just completed work to wrap these into two installers (32- and 64-bit), which will give users the ability to change the language of the UI and model without having to install a new version.

An enterprise administrator who manages the rollout of Power BI Desktop to users in multiple languages will find this much easier.

You can get the new single installer at https://aka.ms/pbiSingleInstaller, and you still find the separate MSIs for each language at https://www.microsoft.com/download/details.aspx?id=45331.

The MSIs will continue to be available (and updated each month) until the September update, after which only the new single installer will be available.

If you have scripts that pull new versions of Power BI Desktop from the Microsoft Download Center, need to be update to point to the new location before October 1st

Integration as a Service – ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai about Snap Logic

July 2nd, 2019

Why do companies like Adobe, AstraZeneca, Box, GameStop, OSN, Verizon, and Wendy’s choose SnapLogic?

They have a problem that many other companies are facing today. On one side, business managers rely more and more on SaaS applications and big data for daily tasks yet IT is responsible for integrating the applications. These business managers need daily access to accurate information but can’t always wait for IT. On the other side, IT is managing multiple projects, including integration requests and is working with far fewer resources. Requests can take weeks or even months to complete and business leaders can’t wait that long, so end up making decisions based on less than perfect data.

The Snaplogic Enterprise Integration Cloud comes with Iris Artificial Intelligence built in. Take away he complexity of dealing with multiple applications, big data, complex APIs, and IoT and abstract it into drag and drop components, all in one platform. SnapLogic’s Iris AI further democratizes the use of data by empowering users from all departments and teams to make data-driven decisions quickly and easily with higher accuracy. Business manager can now do their own analysis with minimal support from IT and make informed, data-backed decisions quickly.

IT people can spend less time building routine integrations and more time helping the business grow. SnapLogic is already helping many businesses with these challenges. GameStop reduced the amount of time it took to build integrations by 83%. Business processes cut across functions and applications. Transform business processes faster and stay focused on managing your business with data-driven insights rather than spend time on writing and maintaining code.

General Electric’s (now Suez Water) employees are 4 times more productive when it came to onboarding partners through its multiple systems.

AstraZeneca has more than 500 users around the world who are performing self-service integrations.

Box has connected 40 applications and is processing more than 15M transactions daily with only 1.5 full-time developers needed to support this volume.

Corporate performance management or Big data analytics from multiple, disparate corporate erp and finance systems, hybrid cloud and on premise integration, migrating to the cloud or to new software versions, IoT, T@A, EAM systems, WMS systems, Payroll systems, there are many integration challenges.

To support your digital transformation call us on 0097143365589

Oman and VAT – Ask Synergy Software Systems to help prepare and update your systems

June 30th, 2019

Oman government representatives have said that the state is looking to implement a 5% VAT regime from 1 September 2019. In 2017,
it signed the Gulf Cooperation Council VAT Framework Agreement, which included: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait. Local media reports in March 2019 quoted a senior official from Oman’s Ministry of Finance as saying that the date of implementation of VAT in Oman is under review. The official reportedly indicated that the target date had been 1 September 2019 but that this is not confirmed, although the intention clearly remains to implement VAT as early as possible. Businesses should take this as a cue to continue their VAT implementation plans in Oman, or restart and reinvigorate those if the work has been put on hold.

A key lesson from our experience of VAT implementation projects in UAE, KSA and Bahrain, across more than 100 companies is that companies that started their VAT planning and implementation projects early had a smoother transition to VAT, than those that waited for the final publication of the domestic law and regulations. A ‘wait and see’ approach backfired on many businesses in the UAE, KSA and Bahrain where there was minimal time between the release of the law and regulations and the go-live date for adequate training, data preparation and testing, and a shortage of resources in the market to cope with the backlog.

There are practical steps to take now. the first is to form an internal VAT working group of key stakeholders to monitor developments in VAT and ensure that VAT is on the Board agenda and is included in budget discussions. The working group will be best placed to negotiate professional services to support implementation, to train end users, and to define test scenarios, etc.

Next ensure there is VAT awareness is key – customers, vendors, and staff. Many in the region have never dealt with VAT, and a solid understanding of the mechanics, scope and terminology of the tax takes time, and that is a necessary foundation for the next steps.

Document your transaction flows . VAT is a transaction tax, with each transaction triggering a potential VAT consequence. This will help you to identify: software changes, processes to update, training needs, data collection needs, commercial document redesign, financial report redesign etc.

Review Contract to ensure they are ‘future proofed’ for the introduction of VAT. For example, to identify whether they include suitable clauses allowing VAT to be charged in addition to contractually agreed prices. The UAE VAT law clearly mandated that communication be sent to all customers within a specific timeline stipulating whether their contracts will be treated as exclusive of tax, failing which customers can dispute the tax being charged in the contract. Therefore, revisiting contractual obligations for both customers and vendors and determining cutover dates, incorporating tax clauses and revising prices and quotations will play a pivotal role to safeguard the business interests of all parties to a contract.

There will be transactions which are closed before the go-live date, and there will be instances where payment is received post the go-live date or where the supply is scheduled post the go-live date, but where the relevant invoices are paid prior to it. Failure to assess and communicate/agree on the VAT impact between all parties to the transaction on such spillover transactions might increase the cost of such transactions and either of the parties may be out of pocket in such scenarios, and there may be unwelcome friction with trading partners, if not managed.

IT infrastructure will be the ‘backbone’ of the VAT compliance function from issuing VAT compliant invoices to producing the VAT return.

Identify VAT resource requirements, particularly external consultants and auditors. Skilled VAT resources are drawn from a diminishing pool of individuals. Take advantage of the experience gained by service providers implementing in Dubai, KSA and Bahrain. There are many wrinkles, not immediately obvious.

Industry associations can raise common issues and concerns with the Ministry of Finance, particularly in advance of the formal publication of the VAT law.

While you can choose to defer VAT implementation be ready to demonstrate to your owners/investors/respective boards and shareholders, that you have done so only after undertaking an appropriate level of due diligence of the likely preparation of the VAT environment. Some key areas include:

Upgrades to ERP systems and user acceptance testing Reporting
Timely VAT registration, (company by company or at Group level?)
Timely Collection of Tax registration numbers for Trading partners
Timely returns, accrual and and payment of taxes
Scoping the need for professional service and selection/references, time for reaching agreement with partners.
Unforeseen penalties
Cash flow management – how will this change? the delayed inflow on account of receipts from customers; outflow after the discharge of tax liabilities on supplies without consideration/deemed supplies (if any); outflow on account of payment to vendors; and additional outflow due to the payment of taxes (net of input tax recoverable) to tax authorities.

Tracking changes in law/ public clarifications

Some businesses in the UAE and Saudi Arabia faced challenges when ERP systems were not implemented in time to capture VAT on transactions or to generate customised VAT payable or receivable reports. The first quarter of the respective VAT regimes required substantial manual effort to properly account for transactions.

Another hurdle was training staff on the upgraded ERP software as well as new reporting standards

In a test system for financial or erp system, for training and requirement scope you could get early familiarity with the Dubai or KSA framework – there are unlikely to be major changes in the Oman framework.

If you current system is largely manual, or has significant limitations then now be the time to plan for upgrade, or reimplementation or a new system. The UAE VAT law has a penalty provision whereby every incorrect invoice can trigger an AED 5,000 fine (approx. OMR 500), irrespective of the value of the invoice. Exposure to these fines can be significant in industries where high volumes of transactions are made per day, for example the retail, utilities and banking industries. Compliance depends on a robust system and operations preparedness. The audit trail of the process, and other documents, help to ensure correct and timely filing of the returns as well as avoiding any unwarranted penalties.

Businesses across the globe tend to see a fall in demand where the display prices on products do not include VAT, specifically in the case of products which are price sensitive. The implementation of a new indirect tax law will have an impact on turnover and consumer preferences. Some prices ma need to be rounded up or down. You may need to show VAT separately, item by item on a receipt or invoice – is your software able to do that?

Given that the potential VAT rate in Oman may vary between 5 per cent, exempted, non-taxable and zero-rated, businesses should ascertain the price impact of VAT on imports which are recoverable and non-recoverable, final product pricing and alternative sourcing if imports are expensive, and vice versa.

Electronic health data originating in the UAE – Federal Law No. 2 of 2019 (the Law)

June 26th, 2019

Important changes for anyone who collects, processes or transfers electronic health data originating in the UAE.

Besides a host of new data protection measures and new rules around use of a centralized database managed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Health, a general prohibition on transferring health data outside the UAE has a significant impact on healthcare service providers and life sciences companies operating locally.

Cloud based health solutions which involve collection, storage and processing of health data, such as wearables and health monitoring apps, may be particularly affected. It is imperative for companies operating in the sector to carefully monitor developments.

On 6 February 2019, the President of the UAE issued Federal Law No. 2 of 2019 (the Law) which regulates the use of information technology and communications (ITC) in the healthcare sector. This Law:
• aims to raise the minimum bar for protection of health data and to introduce certain concepts which are on a par with best international practice in information law;
• supports the legislative trend towards localization of sensitive categories of data;
• paves the way for centralized health data capture and analysis to support public health initiatives conducted by the UAE Ministry of Health.

The Law was published in the Federal Gazette on 14 February 2019 and will come into force three months from publication. (May2019). The implementing regulations which will provide further details on its application are to be issued within six months from the date of publication.

The law is the first Federal data/privacy law of its kind in the United Arab Emirates albeit limited to healthcare data.

The law prescribes 31 articles and its application is wide both in terms of geographical spread and industry sectors. The law covers the entire United Arab Emirates (UAE) including its Free Zones and will impact on many sectors including local healthcare regulators in the different Emirates as well as all sectors dealing with healthcare data/information.

The health authorities in each local emirate are empowered to establish the rules, standards and controls for their own electronic data and health information systems, such as the methods of operation, exchange of data and information and their protection, as well as access to and copying of data and information

The Law applies to all entities operating in the UAE, whether onshore or from one of its free zones (including Dubai Healthcare City), which provide:
• healthcare services;
• health insurance services (including insurance brokers or providers of related administrative services);
• healthcare IT services; or
• any other services, directly or indirectly, related to the healthcare sector, or engaged in activities that involve handling of electronic health data.

1. Regulation of health data

The scope of the Law is broad – it regulates the processing of all electronic health data regardless of its form, including names of patients, information collected during consultation, diagnosis and treatment, alpha-numerical patient identifiers, common procedural technology (CPT) codes, images produced by medical imaging technology, and lab results among other types of data.

2. Prohibition on storage of health data outside of the UAE

The Law formalizes the longtime informal regulatory policy that health data must be processed and stored inside the UAE. Critically it provides that such data may not be transferred outside of the UAE, except where an exception is issued by the relevant heath authority. The Law also prohibits the creation of health data outside of the UAE which relates to health services provided inside the UAE. Accordingly, cloud solutions hosted out of country, outsourcing of IT services to overseas locations, remote IT support from other departments within multi-national Healthcare Service Providers and remote collection and monitoring of patient information within the UAE, such as heart rate, sleep patterns, or steps walked, from outside the UAE through apps and wearables may be significantly impacted.

The Law envisages certain exceptions to the default data localization requirements. These will be set out in subsequent ministerial resolutions or the implementing regulations.

3. Minimum standards for processing of health data

In addition to reinforcing the duty of Healthcare Service Providers to maintain the confidentiality of health data, the Law introduces a number of concepts similar to overseas data protection frameworks. For example:
• Purpose limitation: Patient information must not be used other than for the purpose of the provision of health services, except with the prior consent of the patient;
• Accuracy: Healthcare Service Providers must ensure that the health data processed is accurate and reliable;
• Security measures: Healthcare Service Providers must put in place measures to protect health data and to prevent its unauthorized processing, damage, alteration, deletion or amendment; and
• Non-disclosure/patient consent: The Law reiterates existing obligations not to disclose patient data to any third party without the prior consent of the patient.

4. Retention period

Health data must be retained for a minimum period of 25 years from the date on which the last procedure on the patient was conducted, or as long as is necessary if longer.

5. Centralized data management system

A new centralized data management system (DMS) will be established and operated by the UAE Ministry of Health to facilitate access to, storage and exchange of health data. Healthcare Service Providers are required to register to access the DMS and identify all members of personnel who are authorized to access it.

6. Website blocking for advertisement or licensing violations

The UAE Ministry of Health is entitled to instruct the relevant local or federal health authorities to block any website, whether inside or outside of the UAE that does not comply with the regulations applicable to healthcare advertising or which provides healthcare information without a license or permission from the UAE Ministry of Health.

The only circumstances in which a patient’s information may be used or disclosed without the patient’s consent are:
• to allow insurance companies and other entities funding the medical services to verify financial entitlement;
• for scientific research (provided that the identity of the patient is not disclosed and applicable scientific research standards and guidelines are complied with);
• for public health preventive and treatment measures, for example. in the case of a public health crisis;
• at the request of a competent judicial authority; or
• at the request of the relevant health authority for public health purposes including inspections.

There is a delicate balance to be struck between the potential benefits of this practice and the protection of each individual’s right of privacy. Where to draw the line in this assessment remains a topic of discussion between industry stakeholders and regulators, particularly in light of high profile breaches in recent years such as the collaboration between the Royal Free London NHS Trust and Google Deep Mind to identify patients at risk of kidney disease, or in the context of using health data for secondary research purposes. In January 2019 the European Data Protection Board issued its opinion on the European Commission’s draft Q&A on the interplay between data protection under the EU General Data Protection Regulation and clinical trials regulation. Wewait for the Law’s implementing regulations to see what position the UAE authorities will take on this sensitive issue.

As well as certain penal sanctions for breach of key requirements, such as the data localization obligations, the Law sets out a number of overarching disciplinary sanctions for breach of its provisions. These sanctions range from warnings to fines of AED 1 million and/or cancelling the breaching company’s permit to use the DMS.

Typically, access to centralised systems – such as the planned healthcare system – is facilitated by open APIs (application programme interfaces) made available to third party suppliers of IT systems which access the system. Where those IT systems already exist and are in use (under contracts between healthcare providers and the suppliers), technical changes to the systems will be required.

Some businesses will need to revisit their business procedures to comply with the Law. We recommend that companies affected by the Law:
• Keep up to date with the executive regulations setting out further details
• Ensure IT systems are capable of interacting with the central IT system
• Complete necessary administrative steps to obtain access to the central IT system, such as registration / licensing requirements
• Have technical and organisational processes in place to ensure that all patient data is treated confidentiality, kept secure, kept accurate and uncorrupted, not used for other purposes and retained as required
• Not transfer or store any patient data outside the UAE unless authorised to do so by a resolution issued by the local health authority
• Conduct a data mapping exercise to identify what type of health data is held, where it is processed and with which third parties it is shared.
• Where such third parties are based overseas, take steps to cease the transfer of health data to them, or to anonymize / denonymize the health data transferred;
• for any health data which cannot be anonymized / denonymized due to the nature of the processing activities, source alternative third party service providers to conduct the processing of that data within the borders of the UAE
• review contracts with third party service providers which process personal data and ensure that the contractual obligations for data processing and information security are sufficient to meet the new requirements of the law
• consider contracting obligations on service providers to support compliance with the law, such as annual rights of audit;
• add a step to the existing compliance sign-off process prior to adoption of new operational processes and business lines to ensure that no health data leaves the UAE and that the minimum statutory compliance standards are met.

UAE and AI

June 20th, 2019

A report commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by EY says the UAE has seen the second highest AI investment over the past decade, more than USD $2.15 billion
• One in five companies in the country consider AI as their top digital priority
• 94% of C-suite leadership consider ‘AI strategy’ as an important topic and 35% of non-managerial staff are actively having AI discussions

New research shows the state of AI within businesses across the UAE is expected to improve dramatically over the next three years,as a growing number of executives look to AI to drive their digital agendas. Already, 18% of businesses in the country consider AI their most important digital priority. (AI Maturity Report in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Click here – a new study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by EY.)

The UAE’s progress in elevating the AI agenda is a direct result of leaders across the country recognising that the technology is a key differentiator across all sectors. 94% of companies in the UAE report involvement in AI at executive management level – the highest percentage of any surveyed country in MEA.

“When we examine companies with high AI maturity, it’s clear that the technology is driven directly by the CEOs themselves. This high level of involvement typically results in greater investment in AI, broader adopti on and a greater number of successful implementations,” says Sayed Hashish, regional general manager at Microsoft Gulf.

Leadership capability in the UAE is also rated high when compared with other countries in MEA. While 64% of respondents believe they have moderate, little or no AI leadership competency, 24% of executives in the UAE rated themselves as highly competent, with another 46 percent indicating they are either competent or very competent. Most companies still consider themselves to be in the planned phase of AI maturity, meaning AI has not yet been put to active use. On the opposite end of the spectrum, just 8% of businesses perceive themselves as advanced in their application of AI.

It’s not surprising that the UAE is the second highest regional investor in AI over the past ten years, investing $2.15 billion in total. The bulk of this investment went towards social media and Internet of Things (IoT) transactions. This was followed by notable spend across a further eight technologies, including smart mobile, gamification, and machine learning.

Machine learning is ranked as the most useful AI technology, with primary emphasis placed on decision support solutions, then smart robotics and text analysis, where customer interactions are the key focus.

The UAE’s open culture around AI is a highly positive indicator of the health of the technology within the country. 94% of UAE companies have ‘AI Strategy’ as an important topic at C-suite level and a significant 35% of companies say AI discussions are filtering down from top management right the way through to non-managerial levels. As a result, employees in the UAE embrace opportunities to participate in skills training and pilot programmes.

UAE companies are, in general, heavily focused on customer engagement when it comes to AI. The use of chatbots in the marketing space has become common, largely because they enhance the customer experience, ultimately demonstrating obvious value to management. UAE respondents expect AI to deliver greater operational efficiencies, drive down costs and, most importantly, enable them to be more competitive. Companies within the Emirates view prediction (76%) and automation (76%) as the most relevant applications of AI for their businesses.

65% of UAE companies rate themselves as highly to very competent when it comes to drawing on external alliances to strengthen their AI capabilities.

Synergy Software Systems offers Integration as a service, Robotic Process Automation, Machine learning, and Advanced analytics solutions

Power BI advanced analytics and AI

June 19th, 2019

There is a huge demand to get more insight from the data using AI and advanced analytics.
See how to use visuals in Power BI to get more insight from your data and how to use embedded AI features in Power BI.

Power BI is about helping our customers embrace a data culture, where every employee can make better decisions based on data. The growth of Power BI has been staggering – customers ingest more than 20PB of data to Power BI every month, lighting up over 30M reports and dashboards, and the Power BI service processes over 12M queries per hour.

Gartner named Microsoft a Leader in the Magic Quadrant for Analytics and BI Platforms for 12 consecutive years.
Power BI has led the way in infusing AI with BI through capabilities like Quick Insights which help unearth trends in data and Q&A which enable business users to get answers by simply asking questions.

Microsoft recently announced the general availability of Azure Cognitive Services and Azure ML dataflows integration, to provide analysts with a toolkit of powerful AI functions:

● Azure Cognitive Services are sophisticated pre-trained machine learning models for intelligent applications. Analysts can use these models to extract insights from images by detecting objects. Text fields like customer feedback can be analyzed for positive and negative sentiment as well as have key phrases extracted. All these AI enrichments can be easily consumed by end users through interactive Power BI reports.

● Azure Machine Learning is a powerful platform where data scientists can develop machine learning models. These models can now easily be shared and used by analysts. Power BI automatically discovers which models an analyst has permissions to and provides an intuitive point and click user interface to invoke them. Analysts can now easily collaborate with data scientists as well as visualize and use insights from the model in their reports.

Learn more about the general availability for cognitive services, Azure ML and the AI workload in Power BI Premium.

Some exciting new capabilities that will be available soon:

● Two new AI visuals—Distribution Changes analyzes what makes a distribution look different, and the Decomposition Tree enables users to drill into any dimension to understand what is driving a key metric.

● Expanding Power BI’s vision and text analytics capabilities and adding entity detection and text and handwriting recognition, enabling one-click transformations for insights on unstructured data.

● For enterprises that need custom lifecycle management or further tuning, models created in Power BI can be exported to Azure ML

● Extending Power BI’s natural language capabilities. The new updates include the ability to train Q&A so it understands and adapts to company-specific language like synonyms, phrasings, or specific domains, and the ability for report authors to see every natural-language question asked so they can adjust how Power BI responds.

Template apps are integrated packages of pre-built Power BI dashboards and reports, configured to connect to specific data sources. With them, Microsoft partners can quickly provide analytics for the apps and services they provide. Partners can also manage the Template Apps development lifecycle, from dev to marketplace to updates. With template apps, users can immediately begin exploring, learning, and acting on key data with off-the-shelf apps. Today, Template Apps become generally available. Users can find and install template apps on AppSource.

Embedded analytics keeps evolving

With Power BI embedded analytics, you can extend the value of Power BI Premium and Power BI Pro. Embed analytics in internal websites, applications, and portals to empower your organization to make data-driven decisions. Here is some of the exciting news we are sharing today:

● Service principals with Power BI are now generally available. With service principal, application developers can authenticate an external application to embed Power BI content or manage and automate Power BI operations with Power BI using an app-only token. Read the full article.

● Use the AI-based ‘Key Influencers’ visualization in your application to allow end users to see which factors affect the metric being analyzed and contrast the relative importance of these factors.

Databases breaches

June 18th, 2019

Verizon has published a Data Breach Investigations Report annually and the latest report is the 11th edition, and all are extremely well detailed. Not all data breaches are discovered, and those that are discovered aren’t necessarily reported. The 2018 report covers 53,000 incidents, defined as: A security event that compromises the integrity, confidentiality or availability of an information asset. . It also covers 2,216 breaches, which are defined as: An incident that results in the confirmed disclosure — not just potential exposure — of data to an unauthorized party.

These numbers ), do NOT include breaches involving botnets. The additional 43,000 successful accesses via stolen credentials associated with botnets are handled in a special insights section of the report.

Those are scary numbers.

The Verizon report show s 73% perpetuated by outsiders, 28% involving internal actors, 2% involving partners, 2% featuring multiple parties, 50% carried out by organized criminal groups, 12% involved actors identified as nation-state or state-affiliated. These figures are regarding those confirmed data breaches, not all security incidents. While 28% involve internal users, the bulk of data breaches were caused by from people outside the organization, using malware or social attacks, or exploiting vulnerabilities created due to errors.

While the exact internal actors weren’t found for all of the reported data breaches, analysis was done for 277 data breaches and a screen shows: 72 system admin, 62 end user, 62 other, 32 doctor or nurse, 15 developer, 9 manager, 8 executives

Database administrators may focus on denying permissions to developers for production, but developers proved much less likely to be involved in data breaches than system admins …which includes … the DBAs.

You don’t need production system access to cause a data breach. It’s common practice in an enterprise to make copies of production data for use by analysts, developers, product managers, marketing professionals, and others.

Privacy law compliance makes this all the more concerning.

Biometrics – privacy and security concerns

June 18th, 2019

On Monday last week a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) subcontractor suffered a data breach that exposed the photos of tens of thousands of travelers coming in and out of the United States, through specific lanes at a single Port of Entry over a one and a half months period, in what was described as a “malicious cyber-attack.”

The database of traveler photos and license plate images was transferred to a CBP subcontractor’s network without the federal agency’s authorization or knowledge, the CBP explained. The subcontractor’s network was then hacked. BP said its own systems had not been compromised. Fortunately no other identifying information was included with the photos, and no passport or other travel document photos were compromised.

Images of airline passengers from the air entry and exit process were also not involved.

CBP’s “biometric entry-exit system,”is the government initiative to biometrically verify the identities of all travelers crossing US borders. which it is racing to implement so as to use facial recognition technology on “100 percent of all international passengers,” including American citizens, in the top 20 US airports by 2021.

The concern is whether that is urgency is ignoring vetting, and regulatory safeguards, and privacy legislation. Only last month, Perceptics, the maker of vehicle license plate readers used by the US government and cities to identify and track citizens, was hacked, and its files were dumped online. It is not clear whether the attacks were connected.

Major SQL updates don’t skip – SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU7 and SQL Server 2017 CU 15

May 26th, 2019

This week, Microsoft released two major updates.

SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU7 has multiple fixes including:

• Filtered index corruption
• Access violations in sys.dm_exec_query_statistics_xml, sys.dm_hadr_availability_replica_states, sys.availability_replicas, sys.dm_db_xtp_hash_index_stats, sys.fn_dump_dblog, sys.dm_db_xtp_checkpoint_files
(I.e. if you monitor your servers, which you should, then you should apply this CU to avoid problems caused by the monitoring tool’s queries)
• AG failover fails
• Incorrect query results on columnstore indexes, and also this

SQL Server 2017 CU 15 has even MORE fixes, read the full list. https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4498951/cumulative-update-15-for-sql-server-2017

Note also, that from SQL Server 2017, the Analysis Services build version number and SQL Server Database Engine build version number do not match

There are some CUs you might be tempted to skip because they don’t affect you. These releases will affect a wide range of features and you should plan to apply these sooner than later.

Power BI updates April 2019 – ask Synergy Software Systems

April 10th, 2019

We have delivered many Power BI models, reports and training sessions over the last two years, and it has been enthusiastically adopted by customers. Microsoft is continually adding new features.

– Power BI Report Builder, is the latest companion application for Power BI that lets you author Paginated Reports is a free, standalone Windows Desktop application that can now be downloaded from the Power BI website. As the name suggests, paginated reports can run to many pages. They’re laid out in a fixed format and offer precise customization. Paginated reports are .rdl files. You can store and manage paginated reports in the Power BI Report Server web portal, just as you can in the SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) web portal. You create and edit them in Report Builder or Report Designer in SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), then publish those to a web portal. Report readers in your organization can then view the reports in a browser or in a Power BI mobile app on their mobile device.

Power BI Report Builder enables you to:
•Use the Report Builder ribbon to quickly add items your reports, launch table, chart, and map wizards, and format your report data.
•Add data from built-in data providers.
•Create and use report parameters and other interactive features.
•Preview reports in HTML or print format.
•Export reports to file formats such as Microsoft Excel or PDF.
•Save your report locally
•In a future update, you’ll be able to both open and publish from/to the Power BI Service

To download and install Power BI Report Builder, you can click on the COG icon in the title bar of Power BI site and select the Report Builder option.

The March 2019 release of Power BI Desktop has brought us keyboard accessible visual interactions. One of Power BI’s natural strengths is that you can click on a data point within a visual and have it cross-highlight or cross-filter the other visuals on a page. Keyboard-only users weren’t able to use this feature until now. Interact with a visual using keyboard commands. Notice you can select specific data points within the line chart, and the other charts on the page filter based upon the selection.

Power BI update March – April 2019

March 21st, 2019

Microsoft launched the public preview of new Power BI workspace experiences in August 2018 to enable Power BI workspace admins:
• to use security groups to manage access to workspaces,
• to enable BI teams to create workspaces without needing to create an Office 365 Group,
• to provide granular workspace roles to make giving access to workspaces easier.

At the beginning of April 2019, the new workspace experiences. will reach General Availability (GA)

Usage metrics for new workspaces are rolling out this week
This capability is much requested by customers and works the same as it did for classic workspaces based on Office 365 Groups. It may take until late this week or next week to reach all commercial cloud customers.

https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/update-on-the-new-workspace-experiences-preview-including-ga-timeline/

The March update for the On-premises data gateway (version 3000.2.47) includes an updated version of the Mashup Engine, which matches the one released as part of the Power BI Desktop March update.

This will ensure that the reports that you publish to the Power BI Service and refresh via the Gateway will go through the same query execution logic/runtime as in the latest Power BI Desktop version.

Happiness Day, Loneliness and Power BI

March 21st, 2019

At the annual Gartner BI Bake Off session at the Gartner Data and Analytics Summit in Orlando, Florida the Power BI team featured this report which you can explore here:

Here are some insights and highlights from the report:
• The employment groups with the most happiness are employed and retired people followed closely by stay at home parents and students.
• The highest ratio of lonely to non-lonely people by age group is between 35 and 44 years old.
• For the countries in the dataset, the UK and the US have higher loneliness ratios (0.30 and 0.29 respectively) than Japan (0.10).

if you think Power BI might provide insights into your business, and need training or assistance with report modelling, or need to understand the different licence types, then contact us – 009714 3365589