Archive for March, 2016

Dynamics CRM 2016 – What’s new? Lots!

March 24th, 2016

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 (Version 8.0) is an update for both CRM Online and On-Premise editions. The latter include improvements from the ‘cloud only‘ CRM Online 2015 Update 1 that was released earlier this year. CRM 2016 also gives on-premise customers access to the theme records, updated navigation menu, turbo forms and other ‘Carina’ features.

The following CRM Online 2015 Update 1 features are now included in CRM 2016 on-premises.

Get around and find the info you need, fast!

With the new navigation bar, it’s easier and faster to find the information you need. When you click the Main Menu from the nav bar, you can get to your work areas, records, or other items with less scrolling and fewer clicks than before.

Use the Recently Viewed Items button on the new navigation bar to get back to your most recently viewed and pinned items. With this global tool, you can access recently viewed records, views, and even dashboards. Pin the items you use all the time to move these to the top of the list.

If you’re working in a complex form with lots of fields, then the new form navigation drop-down list makes it easy to get to just the data you need. Click the drop-down list next to the form title, and then select the section of the form you want to go to.

Add a logo or change the color scheme using themes
Create a uniform look and feel across all your applications with themes. For example, add a company logo or change default colors for entities or links. Preview your custom theme, and then publish it for the whole team when you’re ready. No code required! You must be a CRM administrator to create a custom theme.

Track Exchange email activities automatically with folder tracking

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 provides a new and intuitive way to track incoming Exchange email activities. You can set up a tracking folder—use any Exchange folder in your Inbox—and then drag an incoming email message to that folder to track it. You can associate a tracked folder with a specific record, such as an account or opportunity, so when you move a message to that folder, it’s automatically linked to that specific record.

Tracked folders work with Exchange Inbox rules, which makes it even easier to manage and track incoming email. For example, you could set up an Exchange Inbox rule that automatically routes email from a Contoso contact to a tracked Contoso folder, linked to a specific opportunity. Tracked folders work on any device that supports Exchange, so you can track email from virtually any device.

To use tracked folders, your organization must use server-side synchronization as your email synchronization method. Tracked folders must also be enabled by a system administrator.

Export to Excel completely redesigned

CRM has redesigned exporting to Excel from the bottom up to provide for a much smoother experience. With a single click in the web client or in Dynamics CRM for Outlook,export your data as an Excel document, which can be opened anywhere, including the desktop version of Excel (2007 and later), Excel Online, and other Excel clients. When you export, all formatting is preserved, so you can do your calculations in Excel, and then reimport the data to CRM. You can export up to 100,000 records at a time (previous limit was 10,000).

Enjoy the same great mobile experience, whether you’re using a phone or tablet

The CRM for phones app now provides the same process-driven experience as CRM for tablets. Nurture your leads and opportunities through the sales process with the new intuitive interface. If you have a Windows Phone, then use Cortana voice commands to get to your CRM data hands-free.

The previous version of the CRM for phones app is still available in app stores, but it’s now called CRM for phones – Express.

Secure your mobile data with Microsoft Dynamics CRM
The Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Good app works with the Good Technology mobile security platform to protect your CRM data even if you lose or leave your tablet somewhere. For example, if you leave your tablet in a taxi cab and can’t get it back right away, your CRM data is protected by Good encryption. If you lose your tablet, then your admin can remotely wipe your CRM data from your tablet.

Speed up customer service with default entitlements
Customer service representatives use entitlements to verify the type of support a customer is eligible for and to provide the correct level of support. Now service managers or admins can set an entitlement as the default entitlement for a customer. When a rep creates a case, the default entitlement is automatically associated with the case, saving time for the rep.

For cases where service organizations do not want entitlement terms to be deducted (a faulty part is installed, for example), service reps can also credit back entitlement terms so the customer isn’t charged.

Define rules for creating or updating CRM records from incoming activities

In previous versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Service Managers could set up rules to automatically create cases from incoming email or social channels. Now sales, marketing, and service teams can use these same rules to automatically create or update one or more records from any single incoming activity, such as an email, social, or custom activity.

Continuing the recent release trend of a ‘cloud first’ release cycle several of the latest improvements leverage Office 365 and are exclusively for CRM Online. This release underlines Microsoft’s investment in mobile CRM with a series of enhancements to its already impressive phone and tablet apps.

Use pre-formatted Excel templates to create Excel documents directly from CRM
If you find that you frequently create the same Microsoft Office Excel documents in CRM, then use Excel templates to speed up document creation. For example, use a pre-formatted template to forecast sales, or to monitor sales and project cash flow (pipeline analysis). After a template is uploaded by a system administrator, it can be shared with team members.

Use Word templates to quickly create the documents your organization depends on
Standardized documents are a cornerstone for business dealings—from quotes and contracts to work orders and invoices. Now you can automatically generate standardized documents from CRM data using Microsoft Office Word templates. Use Word templates to enhance productivity, reduce human error, and ensure consistent communication across the company.

One Click Document Generation
Create documents such as sales orders, contracts and agreements in a single click using pre-determined Word and Excel templates. Whereas earlier Dynamics releases required users to follow a wizard driven mail-merge process, or enlist developer expertise to design custom reports, CRM 2016 introduces a simplified editor to build templates which can be launched from individual records with 1 click. In some instances this will avoid the need to manually extract CRM data into account summary reports, order forms and other documents. For the initial CRM 2016 release Dynamics uses XML mapping for related entities that are 1 level deep but future releases are expected to expand this to multiple levels

Voice of the customer
Dynamics CRM 2016 recently released it’s Voice of the Customer Survey solution. Explore the basics of VOC, such setup and configuration, fundamental components, and Survey Creation.

Create a survey

Interactive Service hub
Reduce case call-handling time with rich knowledge management articles

With the new interactive service hub, you can also turn customer feedback and issues into rich knowledge articles that include embedded videos, images, and more. The rich text editor offers common word-processor features like advanced styling, linking, paste from Word, find and replace, and tables.

Make sure your articles are accurate by moving them through the review and approval process, and then use versions to track changes. You can work on multiple revisions while the currently-approved content stays published. When you’re ready, make the team-approved content available to all CRM users.

You can add the knowledge base search component to any entity to give salespeople, account managers, and customer service representatives access to a single source of product information, sales coaching documents, FAQs, troubleshooting steps, and solutions. When knowledge is shared with customers, it’s automatically recorded so you can see top content easily.

Enable service level agreements (SLAs) on demand

With new SLA enhancements, you can now apply SLAs to case records manually. You can also apply SLAs automatically to cases based on business logic by using workflows or plug-ins. For example, if your customers are spread across geographies, you may have multiple SLAs with different business hours and holiday schedules. Set up business logic to apply SLAs on case records based on customer region to make sure the SLA time calculation happens correctly for their region.

See your data in Outlook
A new app enables Dynamics CRM Online users to view information and track emails wherever Outlook is used. For the first time this includes Outlook for Mac and Outlook Web Access as well as Outlook 2016, Outlook Web Access on Edge, Firefox and IE 11 on PC. Included in the new Outlook connector interface is contextual CRM information about the associated individuals on each tracked email. For example, this may include upcoming activities, open opportunities or active cases. Another enhancement will enable CRM users to click to track Outlook emails before they are sent

Track email from anywhere with the , a lightweight email tracking app that surfaces contextual information from Microsoft Dynamics CRM right inside your Outlook Inbox.

Dynamics Summit 22 Mar 2016 – great success

March 22nd, 2016

Despite Heavy rain and a drive to the end of the Dubai Palm outer frond to get to the Waldorf Astoria venue, the summit had a packed attendance. It seemed that thunder and lighting had followed the attendees into the ballroom when a sound and laser show started the event.

The day started with presentations that highlighted the disruptive potential of technology, and how that can be leveraged through the scalable azure platform to brig together social listening, predictive analytics, Big data, Internet of Things, Cloud based multi platform any time anywhere Dynamics Ax Enterprise erp and CRM systems.

Key note speakers included:
Christian Pedersen, General Manger, Enterprise ERP, Microsoft
Siegfried Leiner Principal Program Manager, Dynamics CRM, Microsoft
Karim Talhouk Microsoft Business Solutions Director, Microsoft Gulf

Several videos featured other Microsoft speakers including Sathya Nadell as well as case studies of local implementations. This was followed by a panel discussion and a packed day of presentations.

Synergy Software Systems, a gold sponsor of the events, had a constant stream of visitors to their stand. Our rolling presentations showed Dynamics Ax and Dynamics CRM, and complementary solutions such as our incredible ACE construction BIM suite, Dox42 to enable end users to create richly formatted reports themselves in Microsoft Office rather than in their business systems for enhanced presentation without need for development cost, the BI4Dynamics pre-built report packs , and the Prophix produitised CPM solution.

At the end of a busy day Synergy Software Systems Director, Stephen Jones showed that despite the emphasis on the new html 5 user interface and technical architecture there are also quite a few functional tweaks to welcome in almost every module. To illustrate the general use of workspaces and the new UI he presented an end to end run through of Employee Lifecycle management in the HR module in the new release. He then showed some screens shots of Synergy’s localised Ax GCC Payroll and HR enhancements upgraded to the new release. He rounded off the packed 30 minutes with a look at the extensive capabilities of Power BI to analyse HR and Payroll data.

Microsoft Licensing changes in EA and Dynamics CRM

March 22nd, 2016

This blog post seems to have slipped past many Microsoft partners and customers.

“Beginning on July 1, 2016, the minimum Enterprise Agreement (EA) commitment for commercial customers signing new Enterprise Enrollments or Enterprise Subscription Enrollments will increase from 250 users or devices to 500. Along with this change, we are guiding new commercial customers within the 250 to 499 user or device range to our modern volume licensing solutions: the Microsoft Product and Services Agreement (MPSA) and the Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP)………….At the expiration of their current EA term, existing commercial customers with fewer than 500 users or devices can choose to transition to MPSA or CSP, or they can renew their EA by extending it for one additional 36-month period. The extension option is recommended for customers whose unique needs are not yet supported by MPSA or CSP, as well as for customers who simply prefer to continue with the EA. Please note that the change to the minimum commitment does not impact EA customers with greater than 500 users or devices, Public Sector customers, or the Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE).
Start preparing for the change today. While changes do not go into effect until July 1, 2016, customers can start planning ahead today. Commercial EA customers with fewer than 500 users or devices should contact their partner or sales executive to learn more, and visit our online resources for EA, MPSA, and CSP. For updates, real-time information and direct engagement, please follow us on Twitter”

However, as reported by Linda Rosencrance at MicrosoftDynamics.com, Microsoft is now offering customers more flexible licensing terms for such online services as: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online increased-capacity add-ons and Office 365 E1 and K1.

That means that organizations can license Microsoft software for just portions of a year by taking advantage of new short-term options in Microsoft’s Products and Services Agreement (MPSA). This new capability gives customers a way to license short-term business scenarios not previously addressed by existing licensing options, company officials said in a statement.

Available as of March 1, these short-term options are aimed at companies that employ seasonal retail workers or organizations that have changing business demands and may not need full-year subscriptions, according to the statement. Companies can get short-term MPSA contacts to cover “one to 11 months” licensing periods and they can initiate these contracts at any time – something not previously addressed by existing full-year subscriptions. This option will be particularly helpful for customers who hire additional retail workers during holidays; manage fluctuating volumes from one season to the next; or initiate special projects that require additional capacity for less than a year.

Besides Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365, other services available for short-term subscriptions are:
•Enterprise Mobility Suite
•SharePoint Online Plan 1 and Plan 2
•Exchange Online Kiosk Plan 1 and Plan 2

In September, Microsoft also added multiple-year options under its MPSA contracts for its Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) licensing. ECS licenses combine Office 365 licenses, EMS Enterprise Mobility Suite licensing and the Windows Software Assurance annuity upgrade guarantee, officials said.

Brexit, parking, selfies, taxi CCTV and dashcams

March 16th, 2016

BREXIT referendum
British expats are eligible to vote in the EU referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union on 23 June 2016.
To register as an overseas elector you must have been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years. You will also need your National Insurance number, date of birth and your passport. If you were too young when you left the UK to register, then you can register as an overseas voter if your parents (or guardians) were registered in the UK in the last 15 years.
Register online to vote at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote you can choose to vote via one of three methods. Either by post; by proxy (you designate someone you trust to vote on your behalf in the UK); or in person at a polling station in your constituency.

Alcohol
Non-Muslim residents can get a liquor licence to drink alcohol at home. These licenses are valid only in the Emirate that issued the licence. Residents must get a permit to be able to drink in licensed venues and their personal residence. If you are sponsored by your spouse, you will need to apply for a supplementary card which will be linked to your spouse’s licence in respect of the total amount of alcohol that can be purchased on a monthly basis. All Abu Dhabi alcohol licenses must now be applied for online through the Special Licence Office website. All Dubai alcohol licenses must now be applied for on-line or at a local MMIor African & Eastern store. For other Emirates, contact the local authorities for more information. These licenses are valid only in the Emirate that issued the licence. It is a punishable offence to drink, or to be under the influence of alcohol, in public. Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested.

Overseas Birth registration for UK citizens
Once you have registered a birth in the UAE you can register an overseas birth with the UK authorities
UK registration is not mandatory but it means:
• the birth will be recorded with the General Register Offices or at the National Records Office of Scotland
• you can order a consular birth registration certificate
You can still apply for a UK passport for your child even if you don’t register the birth in the UK.
For more details please Here

Offensive behaviour in the UAE
Swearing and making rude gestures (including online) are considered obscene acts and offenders can be jailed or deported. Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials.

Dash cams
The legality is still under debate in the UAE. If you take any video footage then be careful about what you post to social media sites.

UAE getting tough on litter bugs.
Watch out: UAE inspectors in all Emirates threaten strict penalties for those caught littering.

CCTV in Dubai taxis
The Roads and Transport Authority has installed CCTV cameras in taxis as part of a pilot project to monitor the performance of drivers and for general security, Each taxi has been equipped with three tiny cameras, one installed near the centre mirror of the vehicle, covering only the driver, while the other two are set up at the front and rear of the taxi, externally.
The smart gadgets on taxis include Global Positioning System, LCD touch screens on select taxis, Nol and credit card payment system being installed in phases as well as airport check-in facilities on airport taxis.

Taking selfies in the car.
This is treated the same violation as using a hand-held mobile phone while driving; so the penalty for both is the same.You will be fined Dh200 and will earn four black points on your driving licence if you are caught taking a selfie while driving in Dubai. This, of course, is a rather a small price to pay for the offence because, in the worst case scenario, you could get hurt and injure others as your focus diverts from the road ahead to the tiny screen in your hand.

Please remember photography of certain government buildings and military installations is not allowed. Don’t photograph people without their permission. Men have been arrested for photographing women on beaches. Hobbies like bird watching and plane spotting may be misunderstood – particularly near military sites, government buildings and airports.

Self service fuel pumps in Abu Dhabi
From March 2016 self service petrol stations will be introduced in Abu Dhabi To fill up, customers activate a display at the pump, select the desired language and follow the instructions on screen. Adnoc staff will be on hand to help out.. To fill up, customers can activate a display on the screen, select the desired language and follow the instructions. ADNOC staff are on hand to help if needed. Click Here for more details.

Dubai parking charges restructured
Paid parking time will be 14 hours per day, starting at 8am until 10pm on weekdays
Dubai’s public parking spaces have been divided into two areas – the first includes spaces covered by the revised tariff, with the estimated number of these slots at about 30,000, or 23 per cent of the total parking slots in Dubai.

For those that are impacted, the new tariff for street side parking will be:

• Dh2 per 30 minutes
• Dh4 per hour
• Dh8 per two hours
• Dh12 per three hours
• Dh16 per four hours

For those that are impacted, the revised tariff for parking lots will be:

• Dh3 per hour
• Dh6 per two hours
• Dh8 per three hours
• Dh12 per four hours
• Dh15 per five hours
• Dh20 per 24 hours

The second category includes parking slots that fall under the old tariff, and these slots form the largest percentage of the total available public parking in Dubai, estimated at 77 per cent of the total.

The tariff for street-side parking for these slots remains the same:

• Dh2 per hour
• Dh5 per two hours
• Dh8 per three hours
• Dh11 per four hours

The tariff of parking lots in the unaffected areas remains:

• Dh2 per hour
• Dh4 per two hours
• Dh 5 per three hours
• Dh7 per four hours
• Dh10 per 24 hours.

In addition, the tariff in multi-storey parking buildings will become Dh5 per hour, in order to increase the turnover of the use of a single position in these multi-storey parking buildings.

The resolution also outlines changes in the tariff for seasonal parking cards. New seasonal permit rates for parking spaces on the side of the street are:

• Dh1,400 per quarter
• Dh2,500 per half-year
• Dh4,500 per year.

For parking lots, the new tariff for seasonal parking cards will be:

• Dh700 dirhams per quarter
• Dh1,300 dirhams per half-year
• Dh2,400 per year

The tariff for seasonal parking permits of multi-storey parking buildings will be:

• Dh2,000 per quarter
• Dh4,000 per half-year
• Dh8,000 per year

Tariff for student parking permits will be Dh300 per quarter.

Dynamics Ax for finance – what’s new

March 14th, 2016

A modern finance leader needs a holistic view of business and timely access to the right data. Microsoft Dynamics AX combined with Microsoft analytics tools provides the business insights finance professionals require to plan and anticipate customer needs.

Call us to request a copy of the finance fact sheet that reviews the many changes facing the CFO and also lists the new features for finance in the new release of Ax. 0097143365589

Register to attend our presentation at the Dynamics Summit at the Waldorf in Dubai on 22 March

Microsoft and Xamarin

March 13th, 2016

The growing importance of mobile devices and applications is cleary seen in Microsoft’s February announcement that it was acquiring Xamarin, a platform provider for mobile app development. Xamarin is used by more than 1.3 million developers, . Business Insider recently listed it among “The 9 startups that secretly run the Internet.”

Before the deal, Microsoft and Xamarin were already partners. Microsoft has incorporated Xamarin integration into Visual Studio, Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and the Enterprise Mobility Suite.

Business users’ preference for mobile apps over mobile-friendly web sites is pronounced and growing, says Weinstock. Apps are more targeted than websites and require fewer taps before the user is accessing the information he or she needs,

Supporting diverse client operating systems presented an obvious difficulty for Microsoft’s developer division, whose Visual Studio tools were all about Windows. When Microsoft first launched .NET in the early 2000s, it promised a cross-platform environment that could reach beyond Windows. The company did publish an early FreeBSD-compatible version of .NET named Rotor, and it produced versions of its Silverlight plugin for OS X, but functionally, .NET was a Windows-only affair, with the other platforms distant memories.

Windows 10 was meant to usher in the era of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), where developers can write one application and have it run on devices ranging from Raspberry Pi, smartphones and Xbox consoles, to tablets and PCs. Unfortunately, Microsoft lost the mobile OS wars to iOS and Android long ago. Xamarin adresses this problem, by providing compilers for Microsoft’s C# language to target iOS and Android.

Microsoft turns forty this April and is staring at a serious mid-life crisis. Of course, Microsoft is still the third-most valuable company on the planet, with a $90 billion cash pile. But there’s some serious clouds hang over Redmond’s future. Is was on a slow but steady path to irrelevance in a “consumer-first, cloud-first, mobile-first” world. PC sales are falling but smartphone sales are sky-rocketing, and Microsoft is shipping less than 3% of those smartphones. Certainly, the future isn’t what it used to be. People don’tpurchase a mobile phone for the hardware. We buy into the apps and ecosystem around the mobile platform and that’s a chicken-and-egg situation for Microsoft and its Windows Phone platform.

Less than 10% of app developers target Windows Phone as the primary platform. Understandably so, for they make next to nothing from developing for the Windows Phone platform. The multitude of traditional Microsoft developers can now potentially become mobile-app developers, without having to learn new programming languages. This could help alleviate the “app-gap” (i.e., the lack of apps and an anemic appstore) to some extent extent.

Following this acquisition, Microsoft will have a developer stack that targets all the important desktop and mobile platforms. It is an obvious move. Xamarin fills an important gap in .NET’s platform reach, and it’s is a first class peer to the Windows .NET stack. Microsoft’s purchase brings its original ambition for .NET full circle, opening the door to even greater unification of Xamarin and .NET. Going forward, this could lead to parts of the Universal Windows Platform becoming cross-platform,

According to Gartner, by 2016, 70 percent of the mobile workforce will have a smartphone, half of which will be purchased by the employee, and 90 percent of enterprises will have two or more platforms to support. Faced with high expectations for mobile user experiences and the pressures of BYOD, companies and developers alike are looking for scalable ways to migrate business practices and customer interactions to high-performance, native apps on multiple platforms.

To meet this need to support heterogeneous mobile environments, Microsoft and Xamarin are making it easy for developers to mobilize their existing skills and code. By standardizing mobile app development with Xamarin and C#, developers are able to share on average 75 percent of their source code across device platforms, while still delivering fully native apps. Xamarin supports 100 percent of both iOS and Android APIs—anything that can be done in Objective-C or Java can be done in C# with Xamarin.

In just two years, Xamarin has amassed a community of over 440,000 developers in 70 countries

SQL Server 2005 extended support will end on April 12, 2016.

March 13th, 2016

Reminder that SQL Server 2005 extended support will end on April 12, 2016.
After this date, no security updates, hotfixes, or Microsoft professional support will be available for SQL Server 2005. Continuing to run the product after the end of support may expose your business to security risks, increased maintenance and operations costs, as well as compliance violations and possibly a fine.

To avoid the risks of running unsupported software, Microsoft recommends that you migrate to SQL Server 2014 or Azure SQL Database prior to April 12, 2016. You can find more information on how to plan your SQL Server 2005 migration at http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserverupgrade.

Dynamics Ax RTW 2016

March 12th, 2016

Microsoft’s Dynamics AX product is a full-fledged Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering on the Azure public cloud.
The newest version of Dynamics AX (as a perpetually updated cloud solution, the product’s name no longer has a year designation) has been available from the Azure Marketplace since late February in 40 languages and 137 regions. It had global “launch events” on Tuesday and Wednesday. @It’s now possible for organizations to run their entire business in the cloud with Microsoft, from productivity with Office 365, to business analytics with Power BI and Cortana Analytics Suite, customer engagement with Dynamics CRM and business operations with Dynamics AX,” Scott Guthrie, EVP for Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise group, said in a press release.

The new Dynamics AX service is touch-enabled, which means it’s compatible with the popular 2-in-1 notebooks of today, such as Microsoft’s own Surface device. In addition, the service is said to be written for HTML 5, which means it can cope with the latest, modern browsers.


Dynamics AX comes with all the features one might expect in a comprehensive business suite, including new ones like: Workspaces, which delivers collaborative reports on KPIs, business intelligence, views of critical data and other determinants for power business user productivity.

The service is available on a pay-as-you-go model, with three packages available for “self-serve”, “task”, and “enterprise” users, the company said. As with Microsoft’s other offerings, its subscription plans are scalable so more users can be added at any time.

Christian Pedersen, general manager of enterprise ERP at Microsoft, said:”It really rounds off what we refer to as our business cloud and brings together a lot of our individual cloud assets into a single offering for our customers,” he said. Those assets include Azure Machine Learning, Azure Internet of Things (IoT), Cortana Analytics and Power BI. Customer billing for Dynamics AX will operate under a per-user/per-month model and will include the cost of tapping those cloud services, in addition to the ERP solution itself@,

New features in Dynamics AX include integration with Cortana, a new HTML5 user experience, integration with Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio, in-memory analytics, and elastic scaling. Microsoft is not taking away the option to run it on-premises. According to Microsoft Technical Fellow Mike Ehrenberg, “We are going to enable…on-premise deployments with three core Microsoft technologies: Windows Server 2016, SQL Server 2016 and Azure Stack.” Microsoft envisions this capability as revolving around a single Dynamics AX code base that can be extended to support public cloud, private cloud or hybrid cloud deployments. Microsoft expects to unveil this capability for Dynamics AX “later this year,”

Windows Server 2016, SQL Server 2016 and Azure Stack are currently in varying stages of development, with general availability for each expected sometime this year. The newest of these — and the most critical for running Dynamics AX in an on-premises cloud — is Azure Stack, to enable users to easily run Azure cloud services in their own on-premises datacenters.

“The whole concept of Azure Stack is the thing that allows us to get to a world where we can build one product and not have to have a second thing for on-prem,” Ehrenberg said.

Microsoft is also developing a third deployment flavor for Dynamics AX that is purely for private cloud. It will be “slightly” different, than the version of Dynamics AX that’s currently available on Azure PaaS and the forthcoming version that will be powered by Azure Stack to run in on-premises clouds. to give people an extra level of isolation.

Since the community previews the navigation has been streamlined and the graphics dumped for a cleaner interface aand the Area page is back .Power BI is embedded directly into the software. Users have the option to explore data in Power BI, create visualizations, then transfer data to Dynamics AX to power the dashboard

Ax for 2016 – why does Azure and LCS matter?

March 6th, 2016

At the Dynamics Technical Conference 2016, conference general sessions presented by Microsoft’s AX leaders Dan Brown and Sri Srinivasan, the focus was on business process transformation and how the new Dynamics AX places emphasis on the overall user experience. This includes enhanced integration capabilities that will make work easier, no matter the location from which the user is accessing the solution. Improvements are coming not only to AX but also to Power BI , with real time analytical data. According to Brown, AX :

– Has An Intelligent user interface
– Proven business logic
– Gives Continuous life to your system
– Supports Business anytime, anywhere

Additional new capabilities for data entry, globalization, agility and lifecycle management are likely game changers.

So what are the key features?
1. AX7 is a true Saas/Paas platform that leverages the Azure platform natively
In the literal words of Mike Ehrenberg, AX is not a ‘lift-and-shift’ of AX2012R3CU9: simply shifting the on premise platform to the cloud, as many competitors have done. Microsoft has separated the AX7 application layer and the platform layer – So what? this allows AX7 to run on native Azure technology. So the many future Azure enhancements ahead will directly impact AX positively. For SQL Server, only from CTP6 Microsoft was able to run SQL Server natively on an Azure VM.
2. AX is a Microsoft-wide achievement
AX, is built on the Microsoft technology stack, ranging from SQL Server technology to Azure to BI technology. Each has its own big team of experts. It’s amazing how Microsoft has managed to blend all these broad specialisms into the AX product.
3. The new AX release is not incorporating new technology but is driving new technology.
With AX being a cloud-first platform fully in line with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s focus for service orientation, The new Dynamics is now fully in the spotlights within Microsoft AX is on a path where it drives the other Microsoft teams to enhance, instead of ‘just’ incorporating existing technologies in new releases.
A good example is real time analytics. With the market demand for real-time analytics, AX had to move away from non-real time data warehousing and SSAS technologies in favor of the new read-only secondary database (replicated in seconds) and AX entity database (replicated in minutes). Instead, AX required new technology to allow true real-time analytics. This technology was found in new SQL Server 2016 in-memory technology, leveraging indexing on columns instead of the conventional row-based indexing.
4. Enriching AX functionality exactly according to market demand
AX is developed with more customer, partner and ISV involvement. That’s something that could have been done 10 years ago. The difference is that telemetry data is collected from actual AX usage data. Based on already available data up to the recent RTW release, Microsoft is able to identify exactly which areas of AX are used most and which areas have been customized most. This enables focused targeting of all available development capacity . Imagine what will happen if Ax is enrolled to thousands of customers worldwide? On Azure Microsoft analytics can analyse how Ax is used by all customers. An ABC Analysis of use for example.
5. With the release of AX7, the production environment will no longer be accessible by customers or partners.
Microsoft ‘frees’ the customers and partners from the responsibility to maintain this environment, to apply patches and – again in the words of Mike Ehrenberg – to allow the partners and customers to focus more on unleashing the potential of the software for their respective business instead of being bothered by ‘low-value’ activities.
6. AX7 resolves many implementation pain points
With AX7 Microsoft truly expresses an ongoing focus for shortening the AX implementation cycle. Many pain points are now solved by Microsoft:
• Fast code deployment: the application code base has now been split up in multiple models. Code can now be compiled and deployed in smaller chunks and in a much faster way.
• Easier code upgrades: the conventional ‘layering’ option is still there, but custom code can now be implemented as an extension (applicable to not all but many AOT elements). As such, the extension is completely segregated from the out-of-the-box code base, which makes customizations much more flexible, especially regarding future upgrade scenarios.
• Shipping of configuration data among environments: with so called data packages (a collection of data entities which are an aggregated collection of tables and views), sets of data can easily be shipped across different environments.
• Optionally the data in the data package can be edited in Excel prior to deployment as the data package is physically nothing more than a zipped collection of Excel files added up with a header and manifest XML. So called ‘process data packages’ can even associate a data package with a specific process in the LCS process library. You can have a new sales order posted in a brand new originally empty environment in minutes.
• Multi-purpose task recorder: the new task recorder can record tasks in AX not only to train people on any task in the software (including interactive guided clicking), but can also be used to automate testing. The recorded tasks (including the data captured) can be made part of new software builds to automatically regression test the build before deployment.
• Retail: activation of a cloud-POS or mPOS device can now be done through an easy-to-use wizard. As there’s only 1 channel database for all your channels in the new cloud topology, the wizard pre-populates the channel database URL and also the stores the device can be associated for (based on the Azure AAD user > worker > store address book > store association).
7. Life Cycle Services (LCS) is a requirement and can no longer be avoided.:
• AX no longer provides access to production environments, so the telemetry LCS offers is crucial in identifying issues. LCS is leveraged to quickly deploy a representative environment, load relevant reference test data and to simulate the issue with a task recording.
• Data packages and other assets are all stored in the LCS Asset Library. LCS is the central repository for storage and deployment across the various environments. LCS has a hierarchical structure: a ‘corporate’ section which allows re-using ‘assets’ among different projects.
8. Support 2.0
AX now re-defines the way you can support your users. Users record the issue they face through the task recorder and create a ticket from AX which is directly converted into a Visual Studio work item for the support engineer. The major impact here is the available telemetry for the support engineer: AX continuously logs system performance and system activity along the way, the work item is automatically enriched with a ‘snapshot’ of the state of the system at the time the issue occurred: what browser did the user utilize, what batch jobs were running, what was the user doing exactly etc.
9. Business process orientation
The new AX UI offers a better way to expose application functionality to the business users: workspaces. Workspaces are reminiscent of role centers: tiles are the new cues, tabbed lists are the old enterprise portal enabled list pages (although the new ‘tab’ structure is very handy) and charts and links can be embedded as role center offered (although far more sophisticated now). However, a user is now offered numerous workspaces, all supporting a specific set of tasks related to a process with which the user is affiliated. The set of workspaces together forms the user’s dashboard.
10. New features
There are fewer because of the other technical topics mentioned, but AX still offers some great new features – a glimpse of the less prominent features:
• Finance: cross company general journal entry: creating and posting journals without having to switch companies.
• Retail: download updates to mPOS from the device form directly (self-service installer). Process: a new update is made available by IT and a store manager can download and run the update package locally in the store.
• Enterprise search and ribbon search: Use ALT+G to open enterprise search and then type “U C” and AX7 will open“Unit Conversion” immediately – one click and you’re in the form. Navigate to other pages by changing the URL. Type ALT+Q and to search for a specific function in the ribbon, regardless of the tab group tow which the function belongs.
• Invenotry cost analysis
11. The cloud: a new way of thinking.
With the AX cloud release some basic on-premise functions have suddenly become a challenge. Some examples and how Microsoft will tackle these:
• Accessing on-premise files and folders is not possible from the cloud: AX can no longer poll on-premise folders and pull-in files for processing. For example in recurring integration scenarios. Microsoft has exposed an API for a source system to push a file into Azure blob storage accompanied by an enqueuing message which flags a recurring AX batch job that there’s a file to be processed. Microsoft will ship an application to do the enqueuing (and similar dequeuing for exports) on behalf of the source (or target) application. This application will be able to work with processing folders (IN, ERROR, COMPLETED etc.) as many customers were used to with the DIXF batch job .
•(Printing on local network printers is not possible from the cloud. We need an on-premise pull mechanism. Microsoft will ship a ‘document routing agent’ which will query an Azure queue for messages which contain meta data for new documents to be printed (stored in Azure blob storage). Network printers can be configured on a specific form in AX7 which will allow the Azure queue message to contain meta data about to which printer the ‘document routing agent should send the document
• Hot keys: the different browsers have different reserved hot keys. To stay as much in line as possible with current hot keys users are familiar with, Microsoft has been creative. For example, the ‘new record’ hot key CTRL+N has been replaced by ALT+N, which is still pretty familiar for hot key addicts.
12. Relatively low threshold for adopting AX.
It’s a challenge to develop and release a new product which involves so many paradigm shifts. So why will the AX adoption to be relatively easy?:
• Developers will embrace Visual Studio, the AOT is re-arranged a bit and developers have to get used to work with the extensions and file based code and packages. X++ is largely untouched (only enriched at some points) and for those who have some Visual Studio experience, a lot of ‘new’ things are common to .NET/Visual Studio in general.
• The cloud environment requires a new way of thinking, but most things will be managed by Microsoft ‘under the water’. As always, understanding the concept is much easier than having to become a specialist in an area.
• With the earlier CTPs operating the new AX7 UI is a bit different than the familiar AX2012 navigation. But with RTW the similarities are very clear. The area pages are back, form dyna-linking (selecting a different record in the list page is reflected in a details form) is working flawlessly and the old ribbon and favorites are still there.

BI4Dynamics AX – new release V4.2.1. -contact Synergy Software Systems Dubai

March 3rd, 2016

Powerful out of the box analysis -pre-built data warehouse and report packs and now even better.

NEW CUBE AND CUBE RELATED FEATURES
• added Virtual Cubes
• added Support for cube Roles and Permission
• added Cube for Performance Measurement – Profiler
NEW DIMENSIONS
Global Document No,
Multi-Measure Tool,
Document Sales Quotation,
Document Sales Order,
Document Sales Line,
Charges, Document
Purchase Order Line, etc.
IMPROVED EXISTING DIMENSIONS
100+ dimension attributes added to :
Customer (44),
Item (12),
Document Sales Quotation (19),
Document Sales Order (10),
Contact Person (3),
Document Sales (2)
Posting Type dimension (1)
Date dimension (6).
NEW MEASURES
30+ new measures were added
Sales Line (4),
Purchase Line (6)
Last Sales Transaction (2),
Last Purchase Transaction (2),
Sales Benefits (5),
Sales Forecast Variances (6).

BI4Dynamics supports all NAV and AX versions and business areas out-of-the box. Flexibility is provided by Customization wizard. BI4Dynamics is developed on Microsoft technologies and has editable SQL code for further development. BI4Dynamics supports international projects with 23 languages, multi-database, multi-company and multi-currency.

Don’t take any risk! BI4Dynamics is a productised solution that is installed and customized with a couple of clicks.

Financial consolidation with Prophix – 2 minute overview

March 2nd, 2016

GESS Exhibition ( Global Educational Supplies & Solutions ) 2016

March 2nd, 2016

Gulf Educational Supplies and Solutions (GESS) opened yesterday and is being held under the patronage of his Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, GESS and Global Education Forum (GEF). In its 9th edition, GESS provides the ideal platform for education professional worldwide to meet, find new products and services, and discuss a range of topics about education and its future.

H.E. Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of UAE Ministry of Education, UAE and Synergy Software Systems Account Manager Sudhakar Raman at yesterday’s exhibition in Dubai. The event continues today and tomorrow.

H.E. Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi was appointed Minister of Education in 2014 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. He is also CEO of the Emirates Advanced Investments Group of companies.

Synergy Software Systems is a Microsoft President’s Club member and implements solutions for the Education sector, such as: specialised Admissions and Billing in Dynamics Ax, library system, classroom scheduling, as well as traditional enterprise solutions for finance, HR, payroll, CRM , T@A and the Office 365 suite of applications.

Voice of the Customer (VoC), a new feature for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

March 1st, 2016

On Feb 19, 2016,the General Availability of Voice of the Customer (VoC), a new feature for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, was announced. VoC empowers organizations through feedback and survey tools that provide general sentiment, contextual insights and transactional understanding throughout the customer journey. The survey analytics included with the Voice of the Customer solution help you use customer feedback to identify gaps in service, run targeted marketing campaigns, and send offers to increase sales.
This robust solution will help businesses win more deals faster, particularly when there is an identified need to better understand individual customers, or to programmatically respond to market demands.

Most companies want to know what their customers’ want—but often than they have an incomplete view. The disconnect degrades product R&D, marketing communications, sales effectiveness, services delivery and customer experience (CX) objectives. The negative financial impact incurred in any one of these areas is a significant hidden loss than goes unrecognized by most business leaders.

Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs are a strategic tool for forward thinking customer-centric CEOs, CMOs and customer experience leaders. These programs improve the customer dialogue and tabulate what customers most want from their suppliers.

VoC program.

1. Assess your culture. Everyone claims to be customer focused -so why are there so many unhappy customers? In practice many companies are product-centric, not customer-centric. Its not enough to write a vision or a goal or even to listen – what you do is what matters. So the foundation of a VoC program has to be there already in the corporate culture. As a simple test email your own sales team, contact your own support centre, and review the QA complaints, be your won mystery shopper, try using your own products at home.

2. Assign a champion. Just as with an erp implementation, strategic business initiatives require executive sponsorship. Additionally, a designated resource must be tasked to design the VoC methods, data schema and use cases if its going to have any substance and be delivered in a reasonable time frame. Your customer data resides in multiple systems, a VOC business analyst has to understand business processes and build relationships that cut across functional departmental boundaries. .

3. Set measurable objectives, owners and time frames. VoC will capture, categorize and prioritize customer expectations and preferences (by customer segment, ) so that the company can orchestrate the right mix of culture, people, processes and technology in a coordinated effort to consistently satisfy their customers. It may be helpful to organize preferences in a hierarchy with related preferences linked together.

4. Business processes. VoC is not about technology, but its a lot easier with the right tools. Manual methods include: focus groups, customer interviews, mystery shoppers, or referral programs. Such methods deliver qualitative analysis, but are not so easy to scale across a group, nor are the outcomes easy to analyse. VoC automation can continuously gathers customer input so that it can be easily analyzed and acted upon and even predict future trends.

5. Segment your customers. Customers are seldom homogeneous. The dame customer may interact differently with different lines of business so VoC programs should define customer attributes and segmentation. B2B companies might segment customers using both explicit data e.g. demographics , and implicit data e.g.. transactions and complaints . B2C customers might include key performance indicators such as RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary), loyalty program activities and social media behaviors. Solutions like Dynamics Ax Retail and Dynamics CRM Social monitoring incorporate such features..

Customer segmentation should also have categories both for target prospects, and lapsed customers. The lapsed group may be a company’s single biggest customer segment and can offer some valuable insight; and a reactivation strategy can bring big addtional revenues.

6. Maser Data management. Leverage as much customer data as possible that si key to a VOC programme . Is yoru data split between many applications: ERP, CRM, billing, marketing, service management, email apps, survey tools, Excel , shadow systems and many more. Disparate data siloes need to be bridged to make sense of the customer relationships.
Consolidate, standardize, persist and distribute customer data throughout the business that is accurate, complete and consistent. Understand the data requirements and challenges. before you begin a VoC program.

7. VoC Tools. VOC Hubs are often differentiated by their preference for inbound or outbound methods, i.e. the ability to capture data either directly, or through third party systems, and integration capabilities. VoC applications use many techniques such as email or online surveys, web self-service, website analytics, chat, Quality Monitoring, EFM (Enterprise Feedback Management), text mining, speech analytics, case management insights and NLP (Natural Language Processing) Knowledge Management.

8. Integrate to CRM. Voice of the Customer software should integrates with your customer system of record, i.e. your CRM system which is now available with Dynamics CRM. Send VoC questionnaires or surveys from CRM and receive returns to the CRM application. Automate the process and personalise the correspondence based on the customer data (i.e. products purchased, prior VoC input, etc.)

More personalized surveys improve response rates and make the feedback actionable. CRM applications cantabulate VoC data from multiple data sources, append customer feedback directly to the company or contact record, update the account’s activity feed (i.e. Yammer), distribute notifications when customer problems or exceptions are identified, create and assign tasks for follow-up, roll the data up into KPIs and reports, and expose patterns and correlations among customer feedback and company attributes (people, products, departments, locations, day of the week, etc.)

9. Engage your customers. Whatever engagement method you use, use closed questions to confirm facts, and open ended questions designed to understand the customer’s vision, objectives, partnership preferences, frustrations and measures of success. Research shows that how you ask the question will affect the result. Askign which product do like most? and “Which product do you dislike most?’ may get the same answer. Ask “Which one would you buy? and the focus is on reasons to buy. Ask “Which would you not buy?” and the focus is on reasons not to buy and again the same answer may be given to both questions. So test.

What customer touch points (email correspondence, call center recordings, social media comments, marketing conversions, sales win/loss analysis, customer on-boarding, user group interactions) can contribute to a holistic view.

10. Measure the results. How will you know that your VOC programme delivers a payrback? . Customer satisfaction measures such as NPS, CSAT or customer loyalty, should translate into hard bottom line performance metrics sales revenues and ROI — that come from customer up-sell/cross-sell, customer retention, customer referral, reduced complaints, better product design, and enahnced Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

Time stamp and baseline your key metrics so . Customers evolve, the get older- change jobs, move house, get ill, get married, and that affects their needs and preferences and income .

An accurate, complete and continuous Voice of the Customer may never be attainable but getting close supports strategic customer strategies rather than tactical ones. When you really know what your customers, your business strategy, messaging and products and services resonate with customers and increase marketing effectiveness, sales conversions, satisfied customers and ultimately Customer Lifetime Value.

What’s not to like about that?