Archive for May, 2016

Microsoft warns of new self propagating ransomware – Ransom:Win32/ZCryptor.A

May 31st, 2016

The new ransomware, which Microsoft has dubbed Ransom:Win32/ZCryptor.A, is distributed through spam emails. It can also infect a machine running Windows through a malware installer or fake installers like a Flash player setup file.
The ransomware would run at boot and drop :
• a file autorun.inf in removable drives,
• a zycrypt.lnk in the start-up folder,
• and a copy of itself as {Drive}:\system.exe and %APPDATA%\zcrypt.exe.
It will then change the file attributes to hide itself from the user in file explorer.
The Microsoft advisory said a file headlined “All your personal files are encrypted” would be displayed to the user and the ransomware would encrypt numerous files, changing their extensions to .zcrypt in the process. A total of 88 file-types would be encrypted and Microsoft said it was important to enable file history, or system protection so that restoring personal files from a backup was possible in some cases. However, it appears that Microsoft was also not fully aware of the actions of the ransomware because it offered the following advice: “Some ransomware will also encrypt or delete the backup versions and will not allow you to do the actions described before. If this is the case, you need to rely on backups in external drives (not affected by the ransomware) or OneDrive.”

Windows users take care.

Dynamics CRM – Sales, Service, and Marketing

May 25th, 2016

Customer relationship management (CRM) is the systematic oversight and maintenance of consumer relationships, and the data, sales, and engagements that go a long with it. CRM systems and applications help businesses easily organize and track customer information, all in one place.

The process of engaging customers can’t be one-size-fits-all. It needs to be adaptive across all touch points and within the context of who your customer is and what they are doing. Intelligent customer engagement enables your company to build customer trust, loyalty, and insight, while also enabling your sales, service, and marketing professionals to be as productive as possible.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps companies deliver exceptional customer experiences, creating long-term relationships based on knowledge and trust.

CRM tools centralize customer information, automate marketing interactions, provide business intelligence, and facilitate communications for increased productivity. A CRM product tracks opportunities your sales force is pursuing, analyzes data, and helps deliver superior customer service.

Customer relationship management solutions make the customer-facing functions of business easier. Running a successful business is no simple task. When marketing campaigns, data analysis, meetings, customer care, and more all happen simultaneously, you need something more powerful than a bevy of individual apps. A CRM solution brings all these functions together in one place.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a business app that helps you track all your customer interactions and data. With Dynamics CRM, you can easily share customer information with all your people, through multiple channels. Everyone in your company has the full picture of what your customers want and need.

Dynamics CRM easily works with programs you already know how to use. Simple integration with Outlook makes communication management a breeze. Email campaigns can be automated and Excel spreadsheets can be imported without losing formatting.

Dynamics CRM offers best-in-class features to grow your business’s efficiency and productivity. Manage calendars with your own Cortana personal assistant. Use customer data to gain the insights you need to qualify prospects. Learn what your customers really think with Microsoft Social Engagement. Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps improve the management of your business, so you can focus on the most important part- your customers.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online provide a powerful business application platform. Check out this video to see how you can find your way around the Sales, Service, and Marketing areas within Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Management Reporter 2012 CU15 RTM (version 2.12.15001.56) and CU15 Hotfix

May 23rd, 2016

Management Reporter 2012 CU15 RTM (version 2.12.15001.56) – the CU15 Hotfix is formally released and ready for customers.
3751976- CU15 Issue – Data is missing on reports when using wildcards or ranges
The hotfix will prompt for a reboot of the server during installation. The hotfix will not change the version number of Management Reporter Server or Client components.
Version History
Management Reporter CU15 RTM – 2.12.15001.56
Management Reporter CU15 Hotfix 3749486-3751976 – 2.12.15001.56
The hotfix has been posted to CustomerSource.

Dynamics AX 2012 R3, CU11 coming soon to Dubai ask Synergy Software Systems

May 23rd, 2016

The latest update to Dynamics AX 2012 R3, CU11, will be available in July 2016.

The CU11 update will include will include more than 50 new features and design changes covering 4 major areas: Retail, Supply Chain Management, Warehouse Management, and Regulatory updates.

Specifically, these include,
• Retail- Design changes and new features including updates to POS and MPOS.
• Supply Chain Management- Enhancements to master planning.
• Warehouse Management- Enhancements that cover the warehouse mobile device portal and more efficient picking and shipment operations.
• Regulatory updates – To provide compliance with local and regional legislation.

Windows 7 lives on a little longer

May 18th, 2016

Microsoft yesterday announced the release of the Windows 7 SP1 convenience rollup, a collection of security and other updates for the seven-year-old operating system. The release includes core Windows fixes, security fixes and hot fixes that have been issued since Service Pack 1 was released in 2011 and is designed to simplify the updating process.

Microsoft’s decision to release the bundle is a departure from the firm’s stance earlier this year, when it said it had no news on the promised convenience rollup of fixes for Windows 7, stressing instead “the success our customers are experiencing upgrading to Windows 10″.

At the beginning of the year, Microsoft announced it would phase out support for Windows 7 and 8 on new PC hardware. The move seemed designed to encourage businesses not to downgrade new Windows 10 machines to an earlier OS, as has been common in the past in order to standardize corporate hardware. However, Microsoft later watered down the plans, pushing back the point at which it will end full extended support for Windows 7 and 8.1 machines running on Intel’s Skylake CPUs.

Many organizations are still in the early planning stage when it comes to Windows 10 and in a recession curtailing costs today may mean more than cutting costs over the next 12 month. Most of the PCs running Windows 10 today are in the consumer segment of the market, and tWindows 7 is probably running on 80 percent-plus business Windows PCs it is estimated.

“Microsoft has to find ways to please and delight enterprise customers, and ease the burden on IT departments. The Anniversary Edition update to Windows 10 will drive upgrades by early adopters, but mass adoption is still some way off, more like mid-2017 through to 2020. Unless organizations will have a clear insight into its business value e.g. to add key business features such as Enterprise Data Protection .

Gartner had predicted that adoption of Windows 10 by business would be “significantly more rapid” than that of Windows 7 but this year it was more cautious, claiming that flat IT budgets are pushing the start of enterprise migrations back to 2017.

IoT and Microsoft Dynamics

May 16th, 2016

Davos presentation: How is the internet of things transforming the global marketplace?

On the agenda:
- Designing smart consumer products
- Partnering to create inter-connected business models

Speakers:
· Michael Gregoire, Chief Executive Officer, CA Technologies, USA.
· T. K. Kurien, Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board, Wipro, India.
· Michael McNamara, Chief Executive Officer, Flex, USA.
· Andreas Raptopoulos, Chief Executive Officer, Matternet, USA.

IoT and Microsoft Dynamics

The Internet of Things (or what some prefer to call the Internet of Everything) is the connection of devices .
Standalone devices communicate within interconnected networks, to respond to each other. Today, there are twice as many connected devices than people, and the will rise. rapidly

In retail, and supply chains for example connected devices provide more data intelligence forgreater strategic insight and control e.g monitoring of cold store temperatures. Unified data will transform how retail industry participants are able to plan, market and engage with their customers. Many technologies make this possible and its all brought together and managed by the azure IoT technology stack
· Mobile integration – the interlinking of devices, smartphones, tablets and more conventional tech such as laptops and desktops.
· Cloud storage and services – relating to enhancements in storage capabilities and the increased accessibility of external connections.
· Hardware and software innovation – linking to continuous improvements in memory, processes, inter-device communication, and data transfer.
. Big data predictive analytics
. Machine learning

Microsoft Technical Architect Alex Anikiiev explains how companies can implement industry scenarios using Microsoft Dynamics AX, CRM, and a broad range of Microsoft IoT services. He provides many of examples and demos that include:
•Simulation of manufacturing equipment using Robotics with sensors/actuators,
•Connected devices/Data collection,
•Azure Cloud storage,
•Azure Mobile Services,
•Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 apps,
•Universal apps (HTML5/JS),
•Power View,
•Power BI,
•Big Data (Azure HDInsight),
•Azure Machine Learning,
•Microsoft Solver Foundation optimization,
•Project Siena apps connected to CRM/ERP, and
•Cutting edge Smart Glass technology

The azure IoT suite from a development perspective

Leaving the U.A.E.

May 16th, 2016

Message for those returning to U.K. but good advice for all ex-patriates.
From Consular. UAE@fco.gov.uk
Contact Numbers: British Embassy – Abu Dhabi Tel: 02 610 1100; Dubai Tel: 04 309 4444

Checking Out Campaign 2016
Many people need Consular assistance because they do not check out properly. Don’t let it be you! Remember, if you’re leaving the UAE soon you will need to appear in person to close down your accounts and dispose of personal assets, make sure to plan ahead.

Bank Accounts, Credit cards and loans
Remember to clear all your debts before you leave the UAE. Non-payment of a debt is a criminal offence and could result in arrest and a possible prison sentence. If you have outstanding debts you may not be able to leave the country or you may be stopped and arrested if you try to come back to, or even transit through the UAE. Keep copies of all documents relating to closed accounts.
• Cancel any credit cards, loans and overdrafts with the bank. It can take up to 2 months to complete all the paperwork.
• Close any bank accounts if no longer required.
• Request a bank clearance letter for your employer.
• Leave a forwarding address for any future correspondence.

Employment & Visas
If your contract is coming to an end, you will need to hand over your passport temporarily to your employer who will cancel your residence visa.
• Failure to do so could delay your departure or mean you are marked on the immigration system as an absconder.
• Request your gratuity payout statement and payment from your employer. The Embassy does not get involved in employment disputes. Please contact the Ministry of Labour and refer to the List of Lawyers.
• If you are terminating your employment then you will need to give the required period of notice.
• Return medical cards.

Accommodation
• Give notice to your landlord in accordance with your lease.
• Request and collect utilities clearance certificates
Abu Dhabi http://www.addc.ae/en/contact.html or Dubai https://www.dewa.gov.ae/default.aspx
• Collect any deposits outstanding from the utility or phone companies
• Cancel your contracts with your mobile phone, internet and TV providers.
• Cancel any newspapers or other services delivered to your door.
• Cancel your home contents insurance policy.
• Return the keys to your landlord and collect any outstanding deposits. You may need to have the original receipts to do this.

Property, Cars and possessions

• If you have a property you wish to sell or rent then you will need to engage the services of an agent if you are leaving the UAE.
• If you rent a property then make sure you give the required notice in your contract or you may be liable for a further payment.
• Sell your car before you leave or leave a Power of Attorney with a friend or colleague to sell it for you. If you do use a Power of Attorney, you will need a local lawyer to advise you on this. Please see List of Lawyers
• Check for any outstanding traffic fines:

• Remember to cancel your Salik tag if you have one
• Your insurance company may offer a rebate when the car is sold.
• Get quotes for removals. It can take 6 weeks or longer to ship your belongings to the UK.
• Remember to get your shipping insured and consider the cost of storage if required
• Decide what you are taking and organise a sale to dispose of the rest or contact one of the companies that will take your junk for you.

Journey back to the UK
• Book departure flights as far in advance as possible and make sure your passport is valid. Passport renewal
• Find out the charges for excess baggage as these can be expensive.
• If you have children in school here, ensure you give sufficient notice in accordance with the school’s admission policy for preparation of a transfer letter or certificate for your onward base.
• Remember to collect copies of your medical and dental records to take with you.
• Teachers and civil servants may require a Police clearance certificate if you are returning to the UK to work.
• For information on obtaining a Police Clearance Certificate / Certificate of Good Conduct, visit the UAE Embassy .

More information is also on the Abu Dhabi e-government website, Dubai Police and Sharjah Police websites.

• Pet owners should leave enough time to complete the necessary preparations and correct paperwork to take pets with you. For the UK, check out the documents required on the Gov.uk website

Remember, if you leave the UAE with unpaid debts you may be blacklisted by the authorities resulting in your detention and arrest in the future. If you visit or transit through the UAE, Immigration may be alerted and you will be brought to the attention of the authorities. In the first quarter of 2016 25 British nationals were arrested for Financial crimes.

(As an added thought: note that paying off your credit card, and emptying your bank account is not enough- if they are still open then minimum charge and other fees will accumulate and you will not be able to re-enter the U.A.E, ,or will be arrested, till those amounts are settled.)

SQL 2016 available from 1 June 2016

May 14th, 2016

Microsoft announced last week that SQL Server 2016 will be generally available on June 1 for purchase and installation.
Microsoft is moving forward with a cloud first release and the new terminology of SQL Server 2016 being “generally available” as opposed to RTM or released. I’m guessing this will be the new way we’ll get bits as sold and supported, when they ‘are generally available’.

The new Stretch Database function that allows users to store some of their data in a database on-premises and to send their infrequently used data to Microsoft’s Azure cloud. An application connected to a database using that feature can still see all the data from different sources.

Another key feature is the new Always Encrypted function, which makes it possible for users to encrypt data at the column level – both at rest ,and in memory.

That’s still only scratching the surface of the software, which also supports creating mobile business intelligence dashboards and new functionality for big data applications.

In addition to its on-premises release, Microsoft will also have a virtual machine available on June 1 through its Azure cloud platform that will make it easy for companies to deploy SQL Server 2016 in the cloud. Many of the new features in SQL Server 2016 like Always Encrypted and Stretch Database are already available in Microsoft’s Azure SQL Database managed service, but the virtual machine will be useful for companies that prefer to manage their own database infrastructure or that plan to roll out SQL Server 2016 on premises and want to test it in the cloud.

The feature mix for each edition is available (Developer, Express, Standard, Enterprise),
Standard will has a core limit (24) and low memory (128GB), but does get two node Availability Groups (and FCIs). Stretch Databases, RLS, Dynamic Data Masking and more are also available. ‘It is disappointing that Always Encrypted isn’t allowed, – there is of course a wish to push companies with the need for more features to Enterprise but wish that wasn’t based on security, where we have enough problems.

The Developer Edition is free.

SQL Server 2014 added a lot of features but it was not worth most people upgrading from 2012.

SQL Server 2016 is a full new release. with many new improvements, and is worth considering as an upgrade.
If you just need the core T-SQL, database engine features, then you still run on older versions for a supported configuration, with HA capabilities and better performance, look at 2016. it just runs faster. (The CSS engineers have a whole series of posts on the various improvements made in SQL Server 2016 that make it faster)

For the fact sheet see http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/sql-server-2016/

I don’t think anyone should just upgrade your SQL Server 2008, R2, 2012, or 2014 instances just because there is a new version. Each upgrade should be considered on its own, weighing the pros and cons that against the resource costs (licensing, personnel cost, and development efforts). However, if you are looking to upgrade, and want newer features, I think this is a version that you could move to and run for the next decade easily. Many features have been improved, and the new enhancements give you room to grow.

I’m excited about the new version of SQL Server 2016, something I haven’t been able to say for a long time.

Synergy MMS – hotel facility mangement is now even better

May 5th, 2016

Available through our Partner, Deyafa Systems, Synergy MMS is a favourite of major global chains because of:
- its ease of use and wide user adoption
- the ease and speed of deployment on the cloud of a group’s core master build, which leaves little more than a few needed for loading assets and for training .
- the low cost no-nonsense unlimited user, transparent, room-based pricing.
- no server licences, no extra software enhancement fees – just a low cost annual fee per room
- the fact that is clearly designed by hoteliers for hoteliers and there is no distraction of trying to be all things to all men.
- Now even better

SynergyMMS Update Version 3.7 is Here!

The following features are updated or added from previous versions of SynergyMMS:
• Planning and Scheduling- An optional new SynergyMMS module to schedule your future work for all employees to maximize the efficiency of your operation.
o Supervisors view each of their employees WR for the day and add new WR and/or reorder existing WR based on their priority.
o The work display on the employee’s SynergyMMS Mobile App device as scheduled.
o Please contact us for more details of the cost.
• Password Recovery- Forgotten your password? No longer need to call support to get it reset. o There is a new link on the login screen to reset your password. Users need to have a valid email address on the General Tab of Employee Setup to allow users to reset their own passwords.
• New Dispatching Options- Choose what you would like to see in your dispatch. Options include:
 Priority (other than 1)
 Location
 Equipment
 WR#
 Guest
 Guest Name
 Guest Loyalty – The PMS Interface is required.
 WR Response Link (email)
• New Inspection Types- Do more inspections through SynergyMMS Mobile.
o Punch List/Snag: reate a cyclical checklist to help with inspecting new properties or renovations.
Subsequent checklists only include items not previously completed .
o Score: Each question/item scored. If it is marked green the points are added to the total, but if it is marked red then no points are added.
o Range: An acceptable range is setup for each question. If the actual reading comes in within that range, the question passes, and if not it fails and a WR is created.
o Stoplight: Similar to our current inspection form but with green, yellow, and red options. Good, Fair, Bad.
• PM on Demand- to set a default view option.
• PM Schedules- quickly see how many items are connected to each PM Schedule.

Technology trends for retail in 2016

May 5th, 2016

Last year was a banner year for mobile. Mobile search overtook desktop for the first time, heralding the smartphone as the connected digital device of choice. We also saw further market penetration for new mobile platforms such as wearables and mobile pay.

A study by MasterCard found that eight out of 10 consumers now use a computer, smartphone, tablet, or in-store technology while shopping.

Forrester also predicts that cross-channel retail sales with reach $1.8 trillion in the US by 2017.

The mobile device is increasingly becoming an essential part of the customer’s shopping journey. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons, NFC and QR codes are the latest proximity technologies on offer to retailers, providing an opportunity to engage with customers via their smartphone.

Retailers are increasingly experimenting with mobile to facilitate click-and-collect. Sam’s Club [Walmart], use mobiles to send notifications whenever an order is ready for in-store pickup. Nordstrom in May 2015, started testing a service that lets customers text or call their Nordstrom associate as they near the store. The store employee will head down and meet the customer outside, so they don’t even have to get out of their car.

We anticipate that more retailers will also adopt social selling solutions such as Soldsie (selling through comments) and Like2Buy (user generated content galleries). Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all released buy buttons in 2015, and while none of them gained widespread adoption, we can expect social networks to continue investing in social commerce.

We also expect that users will continue using social networks to discover and talk about products, so retailers should keep investing in their social media initiatives. Forty-three percent of social media users respond that they have purchased a product after sharing or favoriting it on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter.

42% of customers will conduct research in-store
When a customer starts looking at their phone in-store, studies have shown that 42% of customers of them may be doing in-store research, to help them find the perfect product. Using mobile to improve the in-store experience can help to convert these shoppers. Cosmetics brand Sephora’s app gives consumers easy access to product reviews and ratings, allowing in-store shoppers to access this information before deciding whether to buy. Similarly Macy’s mobile app also lets users scan product barcodes in-store, so that they can view online reviews, promotions, and more.

On lien stores can offer more choice of unlimited products but users tire of endless searching. Retailers that seem to be winning, whether on line or on premise are the ones that ‘curate assortments’ i.e. who carefully select the top styles, show the top models, or a showcase of ‘good, better, best’ instead of trying to stock every color, or every single SKU.”

71% of those shoppers who research in-store say it’s an important part of the experience
Retailers need to keep up with this trend and provide customers with the in-store mobile technology they need. More retailers are now able to appreciate the ROI of their mobile strategies , and the majority are looking to further their investment in mobile. Innovations include: beacons to send coupons, information and offers to customers’ smartphones, while they shop. According to a report published by Eagle Eye, beacons will be used to distribute around 1.6 billion coupons to smartphones annually by 2020.

Starbucks, recently streamlined this process by updating its app’s barcode screen to show available rewards, offers, and coupons. to ensure users won’t forget that they have a redeemable reward and they don’t have to pull up a separate screen to redeem the offer.

Omnichannel shoppers spend more money
The key focus for retailers in 2016 will be omnichannel. No matter what industry you’re in or how complicated your operations are, bringing online and offline together is important in every facet of your retail business.

To attract consumers who spend more, it turns out that an effective mobile strategy is key . In 2015, IDC research found that shoppers who buy on and offline have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who only shop via one channel.

Omnichannel strategies will also drive more retailers to adopt cloud-based apps, because these solutions enable them to scale quickly, work from anywhere, and get real-time insights into various aspects of their business. Maintaining an item file, accurate inventory levels, and managing a pricing system between channels is one of the foundational roadblocks for a lot of retailers who are not necessarily managing their stores and their online business with the same platform.

In 2016, we’ll see more small and medium retailers adopt single-view and cloud-based tools. Since these businesses are a lot more nimble and aren’t usually tied down to large, complicated legacy systems, they’re in a great position to switch to omnichannel technologies.

Omnichannel retailing introduces a lot of complexities, not just in terms of operations and order fulfillment, but also when it comes to fraud prevention.
65% of retailers believe they lack the tools to effectively manage omnichannel fraud.

By 2019, 9.1% of all retail sales will be made on mobile
The rise of mobile commerce isn’t set to slow down In their report, ‘The Future of M-Commerce’, Barclay’s predict that 9.1% of all retail sales will be made on mobile by 2019, in comparison to the 3% of retail sales that were made on mobile in 2014. This figure equates to sales of around £32bn. Retailers who don’t invest in mobile will miss out.

Nearly half of shoppers say they are more likely to visit mobile-orientated stores
It’s a common misconception that consumers will abandon bricks and mortar stores in favour of online shopping. However, a report by VoucherCodes.co.uk and Centre for Retail Research found that 44% of consumers would be more likely to visit mobile-orientated stores, making it clear that mobile commerce is actually driving shoppers back onto the high-street – and into your retail store.

40% of consumers feel that the mobile experience could be improved
The same report also found that 40% of consumers feel that the mobile experience could be improved, suggesting that retailers could be doing much more to cater for mobile shoppers. This echoes how many retailers feel about the importance of improving the mobile experience, with 66% saying that investment in mobile would help them to drive growth.

51% of consumers expect transactions to be easier on mobile

Shopping on mobile is about convenience. Consumers want to be make purchases on-the-go, without the hassle of switching to a laptop or computer – and this requirement raises the bar for retailers in terms of mobile usability. Ensure that your mobile website offers a seamless customer journey– particularly because 40% of people will switch to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience.

Frictionless shopping has always been an objective of omnichannel. In 2016, we anticipate companies will further explore ways to reduce friction in the shopping journey. We can already see signs of this happening. The Amazon Dash button, for instance, makes re-ordering possible with literally just a push of a button.

Millennials are the most coveted audience among brand advertisers and retailers, and this year they grew to be larger than even the baby boomers. They are also the demographic most driving wearable device adoption, owning 50 percent of that market. Other industries have developed wearable interactions that bring utility, convenience and delight to customers – from ordering Ubers to updates on changing airport gates. Retailers have only scratched the surface to this point

Awareness of mobile payment has risen 10 percent in the last year but adoption has only gained one percent. Even with the slow growth, we are starting to see the category give rise to payment agnosticism. Retailers understand that they need to accommodate the transaction any way their customers want to pay, and that the walled garden may ultimately not work for them in future. This trend will only continue in the coming year as the benefits of mobile pay are more fully realized.

PayPal, recently rolled out the PayPal Here Chip Card reader. PayPal’s device is compatible with iOS and Android devices, and is built to accept both EMV and magnetic stripe cards, as well as NFC payments such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay.

Similarly, Mercury, is a payment solution that equips retailers with the hardware they need to accept EMV cards as well as mobile payments. There’s also Poynt, a smart terminal that supports several payment technologies including magnetic cards, EMV, NFC, and QR codes.

As retailers increasingly adopt these payment solutions, expect more stores to start accepting additional payment types, most notably EMV cards and mobile payments.

Loyalty and promotions?
According to a study by MasterCard, only 18% of respondents considered promotions as important. The study also found that “in choosing a retailer, omnishoppers prioritize value, track record and convenience, over loyalty rewards.”

3% of people expect to do more mobile shopping in future

It’s simple: the ability to easily shop on mobile is what consumers want. A worldwide study by Latitude found that 63% of people expect to do more mobile shopping over the next few years, with 77% of smartphone users shopping regularly on their mobile, even when they’re at home.

Retailers will use mobile devices
In 2016, we anticipate the continued adoption of mobile devices such as mPOS systems and in-store tablet. A merchant using mobile technology well is cookware retailer Borough Kitchen, which runs Vend on their iPads.A tablet-based POS system improves the customer experience and speeds up. During their peak hours and the holiday season add new tills by switching on additional iPads to reduce queues and ring up sales much faster.

Mobile devices are just the beginning. In addition to using mPOS systems and in-store tablets, some retailers (particularly larger merchants) will likely look into ways they can leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) in their locations.

A study by McKinsey found that the uses of IoT in retail could have an economic impact of $410 billion to $1.2 trillion per year in 2025. That may be a long way off go, but what are your competitors doing now?

Big data and video analytics will clarify and add value to the personal shopping conversation.

Ask us about TCPOS, and Microsoft Dynamics Retail.

Entity Store for Dynamics Ax – what is it?

May 5th, 2016

So, what is an Entity store?
Entity store is a feature that will enable an Administrator or a Power user to create a data store dedicated for Reporting and Analytics. The database is called an “Entity store” and it’s a database optimized for Reporting purposes.

An existing customer of AX, can create an Entity Store in Azure or within a data center using a SQL Server 2016 or SQL Server 2014.

An Entity store can be (and should be) hosted on a separate database server than the one that hosts the transactional database. Therefore, you do not need to upgrade the transactional database to the latest versions of SQL server in order to deploy Entity store.

An Entity store enables a user to choose “Entities” (that are built on top of AX tables) to be moved into the Entity store.

An Entity store enables scheduling incremental refresh jobs with the use of AX batch framework. This makes it possible to feed data from AX database to the entity store on a small batch basis in the background.

An Entity store uses In-memory, Clustered Column-store Index (CCI) functionality built into SQL server to optimize reporting and queries. Customers have the ability to use Power BI direct query models along with Entity store to enable high volume, near-real time analytical reporting over large volumes of data as shown below.

Cortana Intelligence Suite (CIS) is a collection of tools and services offered by Microsoft that transforms data into intelligent actions. CIS offers predictive capabilities and a set of tools focused towards business users and developers that enables learning from data.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/cortana-intelligence-suite

CIS works on data in:
• Azure stores such as: Azure DB, Azure DW or Azure Data Lake
• as well as on-premise data sources such: as SQL Server.

An Entity store enables AX customers to use their data effectively with CIS capabilities by removing the drudgery of developing ETL scripts, transforming and (re)staging data. The Entity Store, together with CIS tools enable customers to complement AX data with data from devices (ie. MES, Sensors) as well as other systems (ex. CRM).

An Entity store also benefits ISVs and partners who specialize in vertical solutions built on AX – as opposed to investing in ETL capabilities to map and move data out of AX, they have the ability to focus on building vertical solutions.

Entity store functionality is released as a hot fix immediately, it will be available with the next cumulative update for Dynamics AX2012 R3.

Download the hotfix via the following link: https://mbs2.microsoft.com/Knowledgebase/KBDisplay.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;3147499 (requires access to partner source). You can download and install the hot fix using the steps described here: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh335183.aspx

A Quick overview of functionality
Access the Entity store functionality using The Data Import Export framework area page in AX2012 R3 client.

Use the “Define entity stores” option, to define one or more Entity stores in AX2012R3.
The Administrator needs to create a destination database and to provide the Data Source Name (DSN) definition in the form – this option will not create a new database.

At present the following types of Data bases are supported as destinations for Entity store.
– Azure SQL DB
– SQL Server 2016
– SQL Server 2014

Entity Store functionality leverages SQL Server Column store Index (CCI) technology which is intended for Data warehouse scenarios. Currently CCI is supported only in Premium editions of Azure SQL DB and BI editions or above of SQL Server versions.

AX2012R3 ships over 450 entity definitions in CU10. Any of these entities as well as entities created by partners and users can be staged in an Entity store.
.
Entity store provides the ability to publish and to map entities defined in AX2012 into the store. Once defined, the user has the ability to make changes to mapping where applicable.

The Ax system enables the administrator to create and to manage refresh schedules to keep the data in sync with the AX operational database. At the time of creation of refresh schedules, user can choose whether to refresh data incrementally (ie. add/update only the records that got modified in AX) or to refresh in full. Data refresh schedule is triggered by the AX batch framework and the system provides options to review upcoming refresh jobs or to see the historical execution of jobs.

Power Bi- Quick Insights gets better – ask Synergy Software Systems

May 5th, 2016

A few months ago, Microsoft released its Quick Insight feature in Power BI to automatically search datasets uploaded to Power BI for hidden insights. Now Microsoft has released an easier way to access these advanced analytics by targeting specific dashboard tiles for discovering (as the name suggests) quick insights.

You need only view a dashboard tile in Focus mode, click “Get Insights,” and Power BI searches the tile and its related data for: correlations, outliers, trends, seasonality, change points in trends, and major factors automatically,
• These are the types of hidden insights that a user typically wants but, may lack the time or know-how to query.
• Or, they answer useful questions that (as often happens with BI) a user has simply not thought to ask.
The Quick Insights feature is built on a growing set of advanced analytical algorithms
To try out the scoped Quick Insights capability:
• Go to In Focus mode on a dashboard tile for data loaded into Power BI and select “Get Insights.” Power BI Quick Insights will then scan the data related to the tile and display a list of potential insights for you to explore further.
• To get more information about a specific data point, you can select data in the visual and Quick Insights will focus on that data point when it searches for insights,

The visualizations display in a special Quick Insights canvas with up to 32 separate Insight Cards. Each card has a chart or graph plus a short description.

Some of the insights you can uncover include:
• Major factor(s)-Finds cases where a majority of a total value can be attributed to a single factor when broken down by another dimension (see graphic).
• Category outliers (top/bottom)-Highlights cases where, for a measure in the model, one or two members of a dimension have much larger values than other members of the dimension.
• Time series outliers-For data across a time series, detects when there are specific dates or times with values significantly different than the other date/time values.
• Seasonality in time series-Finds periodic patterns in time series data, such as weekly, monthly, or yearly seasonality.

Microsoft Face api

May 5th, 2016

The recent Connexions 2016 event showed the Microsoft Face API. Face API is a cloud-based API that provides the most advanced algorithms for face detection and recognition. During the demo, simply through standing in front of a camera, the API was able to detect and project an image and then suggest attributes to the persons face from their pose, gender and age.

In general, face recognition provides the functionalities of automatically identifying or verifying a person from a selection of detected faces. The Face API provides four recognition functionalities: face verification, similar face searching, automatic face grouping and person identification. Face recognition is widely used in security systems, celebrity recognition and photo tagging applications

What are the opportunities for using it with Ax retail and Dynamics CRM?

Technology trends

May 4th, 2016

We are at a tipping point in many areas of technology these are some fast emerging trends in hardware to be aware for your future plans. Innovations in storage, devices, chips, and other hardware will revolutionize IT.

1: Mobile devices with hardened security
Security is a major challenge with mobile devices.Intel’s Software Guard Extension (SGX) technology, will support the use of secure encrypted memory spaces on commodity CPUs. The goal is to provide applications with an area of secure and protected memory and execution. This could be a boon for mobile devices, a leading source of security breaches that corporate IT must contend with. “We will see the start of a new generation of systems solutions that guarantee security even if the operating system or other infrastructure gets compromised by hackers,” said Sriram Rajamani, Microsoft Research India’s assistant managing director, in an eWeek piece on tech predictions.

2: New chip architectures that improve machine learning performance

As more IoT and machine-based applications enter the IT mainstream, new chip architectures will improve performance over what is presently available with graphical processing units (GPUs). These performance improvements will dramatically improve data transfers and the execution of machine-based learning and analytics. Microsoft is already embedding telemetrics into its applications on the azure platform.

3: Drones
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) wcontinue to push themselves into commercial applications, delivering packages, taking photographic images, or surveying physical terrain that is difficult to access. They will be able to collect IoT data through sensors and channel it into central communications e.g.the height of water in a remote reservoir

Innovation Must-Reads
Snakes, cheetahs, and monsters: Some of the craziest robot tech in the world
DARPA Robotics Challenge unleashes the next wave of humanoid robots
Why you shouldn’t worry about a robot stealing your job

4: Unmanned robots
Robots can carry out simple medical procedures, clean facilities, and pick and pack items in warehouses. The intelligence in these automated machines will be further increased as new technologies come onboard to collect everything that has been learned by all machines into a central data bank that any machine can access.

5: More user-friendly virtual reality gear
Bulky headsets have encumbered VR users and made them dizzy or seasick, prompting companies to avoid VR applications. That’s about to change. For example, Google cardboard provides a small holder for your smart phone and delivers a full-bodied video experience that rivals those produced through older headgear. More comfortable VR headgear will pave the way for greater corporate adoption of VR.

6: New storage technology for greener power grids

Data centers will continue to go green as power companies find better ways to seamlessly blend diverse energy sources, such as solar, wind, and traditional fossil fuel, into a seamless and uninterrupted supply of energy. Today, the use of hybrid energy is difficult because sources like wind and solar can be variable. But better storage can solve this and usher in a new green era that could save data centers and other energy users an estimated $3.4 billion per year.

7: More on-the-job wearables

Jupiter research predicts that smart glasses, smart watches, and a range of motion-sensing devices could improve productivity by 30%. Gartner predicts that by 2018, two million employees, such as law enforcement officers and paramedics, will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices.

8: Local energy harvesting for Internet access

With automation and a plethora of IoT devices being added to the internet’s workload, new technology is needed to add to bandwidth and ready access. University of Washington researchers have developed technology that enables internet-connected temperature and motion sensors, cameras, etc., to communicate by using only energy harvested from nearby TV, radio, cellphone, and Wi-Fi signals. A principle known as backscattering allows IoT devices to absorb energy emitted by other electronics, enabling them to reduce their internet bandwidth demands. This localized Wi-Fi consumes just 1/10,000th as much power as existing Wi-Fi chipsets.

9: More compact flash memory

3D NAND technology continues to move forward, delivering smaller and more lightweight laptops, tablets, and other devices. Much of this progress is due to the ability of companies like Intel and Micron to stack flash memory cells vertically, which conserves space and enables devices to be smaller and thinner.

10: Nonvolatile memory

With nonvolatile memory, computers can retrieve information even after being turned off and back on. Going forward, we will see new forms of nonvolatile memory that will enable data to be stored at less cost and less power. This will enable smaller devices to store even more data.

Microsoft announces docs.microsoft .com for Enterprise Mobility access to Technet MSDN Etc

May 4th, 2016

Today Microsoft announced the preview release of our new documentation service https://docs.microsoft.com, showcasing content supporting for Enterprise Mobility products.

Why docs.microsoft.com?

In short, content matters. A modern web experience for content.
TechNet and MSDN. are sites are built on a 10-15 year-old brittle codebase with an archaic publishing and deployment system that was never designed to run on the cloud.

So to get the overall experience right Microsoft started from scratch and this preview release is a new hope for documentation at Microsoft.

Note: This preview release of the website includes content *only* for Enterprise Mobility Documentation (which consists of Advanced Threat Analytics, Azure Active Directory, Azure Remote App, Multi-factor Authentication, Azure Rights Management, Intune, and Microsoft Identity Manager). In the future, as the platform matures with Microsoft will migrate more documentation.

To improve content readability, the site has a set content width. Eye tracking studies show that you can improve comprehension and reading speed with a set content width because it’s difficult for the eye to follow long passages when it has to also move left-to-right. The basis of newspaper columns. In response to user feedback Microsoft ahs also increased the font size to aid readability.

Another simple feature is to show the expected time to read an article.

Date stamps will help indicate how current is the material.

Content is refactored into logical groupings around: evaluating, getting started, planning, deploying, managing, or troubleshooting products or services.

Many longer articles are broken up into smaller logical steps with Previous and Next buttons at the bottom of articles to navigate between steps in a multi-part tutorial. For those who want to print off all the multi step information as one pdf its not available yet but is expected at a future release.

A new responsive layout is added for mobiles