Archive for January, 2017

Project failure? – what wait of find out, try a pre-mortem.

January 23rd, 2017

A recent survey by PwC showed that over 85% of Dynamics AX projects failed to achieve their core objectives.

Implementing Dynamics AX has been compared to performing open heart surgery on an organisation, where the stakes couldn’t be higher, and so the ‘physicians’ that are entrusted to give the ‘patient’ it’s new lease of life, need to be masters in their craft and highly experienced

the same is true of most erp systems, and indeed of most projects. There si always over optimism, and over confidence, and an assumptions of perfections, despite the copious evidence that other good companies made the same errors of judgement.

So before you start a project rather than wait to see how it pans out and then do a post mortem, instead do try holding a pre-mortem. Assume it did no go so well. Ask your project team/stakeholders to write down why.

In the re-project phase one a senior executive gives a green light to go ahead, dissenting voices tend to go quiet. Costs are negotiate down rather than risk management, contingency and quality built in.

A pre-mortem can help you find what people really think and inject a touch of realism, about challenges, realistic scope, time and resources needed. With concerns identified they can be addressed and the team who has to deliver will be much more committed with their concerns out in the open and a less rosy tinted outlook.

Staff hub walk through

January 21st, 2017

Why Staff hub?

Now lets see Microsoft StaffHub Engineer, Rich Halbert demonstrates the new StaffHub App for deskless workers. From how workers can gain access to their work schedule, communicate with others in their team and review important information; to how managers can easily create and manage schedules and share relevant information with their team, all the while ensuring IT manageability and control.
Learn more at staffhub.office.com

Staff Hub is a collaborative application that can for example aid hoteliers and their teams to manage their staff schedules completely on their mobile phones. It was developed using an agile method. A field study was also conducted in close collaboration with a hotel groups’ employees

It has application to many industries, particularly those with shifts and deskless employees, service engineers, warehouse and production workers, taxi drivers, airport staff, retail, amusement parks etc.

Artificial intelligence what does it mean for your company in Dubai?i

January 21st, 2017

At the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland on Tuesday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained that his company has designed its artificial intelligence (AI) solutions specifically to augment human workers, not replace them.

In a panel discussion with other tech leaders, Nadella said that AI, much like user experience, can be designed with a goal in mind. While some are designing AI systems to think like humans in order to replace them, he said, Microsoft is designing systems to assist humanity. Nadella said that Microsoft was utilizing “pragmatic principles that can guide AI creation.” He also mentioned that this isn’t a new strategy for Microsoft, as he pointed out this idea in his 10 rules for AI that he posted in June 2016.

Of the rules initially proposed by Nadella, the two most relevant are :

“A.I. must be designed to assist humanity,”
and
“A.I. must maximize efficiencies without destroying the dignity of people.”

In his original post he made on Slate, he wrote, “we want to build intelligence that augments human abilities and experiences. Ultimately, it’s not going to be about human vs. machine.”

Nadella also spoke on the mission of tech companies to democratize AI. “To me, the key right now in this next phase of AI is: How do we put tools so that others can create intelligence in every walk of life?,”

Brynjolfsson is an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-author of The Second Machine Age, a book that asks what jobs will be left once software has perfected the art of driving cars, translating speech and other tasks once considered the domain of humans.
Some fear a vision of a world where computers entrench the power of a wealthy elite and push the majority into poverty.

Brynjolfsson identifies various astonishing technologies lining up to encroach on human labour. Such as always been the case with new technologies. Taxis generally work better than rickshaws, and now we have self-driving cars.. Lifts work 24 hours a day 7 days a week with no holidays, pay rises or pensions.

The question is whether the rate and adoption of technological change is of a different order in the digital information age to the industrial revolution. Unlike much of the 20th century we’re now seeing a falling ratio of employment to population. Maybe with an aging population pretty much globally (except maybe Middle East and Nigeria) machines taking over work from human may prove to be a necessity.

There has been much discussion of a tipping point being reached with many technologies- growth is logarithmic rather than linear. For most of the second half of the twentieth century the economic value generated – a country’s productivity – grew hand-in-hand with the number of workers. Since 2000 the two measures began to diverge. From the turn of the century a gap has opened up between productivity and total employment. That gap has widened significantly, and reflects continued economic growth but no associated increase in job creation. Despite all of Trump’s electioneering claim about jobs, Obama actually increased jobs, but many jobs were lost not to Mexican nd Chinese workers but to automation Caiifornian orange orchard growers are not looking to switch orange picking jobs from Mexicans to Americans they are automating the job. A wide range of studies shows that simple algorithms generally provide better decision than expert intuition. The City of London financial sector and is not so much threatened by Brexit and loss of jobs to Frankfurt but that its bankers will be replaced by machines that calculate faster and more consistently with less risk.

Another trend over the past quarter of a century the income gap between the richest and the poorest in OECD countries has continued to widen. Today the average income of the richest in these countries is nine times that of the poorest. . For the first time since the Great Depression, over half the total income in the United States went to the top 10 percent of Americans in 2012. Between 1973 and 2011 the median hourly wage in the US barely changed, growing by just 0.1 percent per year. This wealth gap isn’t restricted to America. In Sweden, Finland and Germany, income inequality has grown more quickly over the past 20 to 30 years than in the US.
The message again is be smarter than a machine, or cheaper.

Production in the second machine age depends less on physical equipment and structures and more on the four categories of intangible assets: intellectual property, organizational capital, user-generated content, and human capital,” the book states, and points out that in the US, the share of GDP that goes to labor has declined over the past decade, falling to its lowest point in the third quarter of 2010, 57.8 percent. Muhc more ahs gone to assets and to owners.

The Nobel Prize-winning economist Wassily Leontief stated as long back as 1983 that ‘the role of humans as the most important factor of production is bound to diminish in the same way that the role of horses in agricultural production was first diminished and then eliminated by the introduction of tractors’.”

John Maynard Keynes, forecast it as an inevitable outcome of society discovering ways to make labour more efficient more rapidly than finding new uses for labour. There’s no economic law that says ‘You will always create enough jobs or the balance will always be even’, it’s possible for a technology to dramatically favour one group and to hurt another group, and the that overall have fewer jobs.

A law firm may not hire as many researchers because a machine can scan through hundreds of thousands or millions of documents and find the relevant information for a case or a trial much more quickly and accurately than a human. Call centre operators gradually are gradually being replaced by question-answering, automated systems. Cortana on your pc shows the power of a digital assistant with voice recognition. Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne from Oxford Martin School & Faculty of Philosophy in the UK wrote “According to our estimate, 47 percent of total US employment is in the high risk category, meaning that associated occupations are potentially automatable over some unspecified number of years, perhaps a decade or two,” they predict in the report The Future of Employment. During the coming decades they forecast two “waves of computerisation” during which different categories of jobs will be washed away, with no field of employment left untouched.

“In the first wave, we find that most workers in transportation and logistics occupations, together with the bulk of office and administrative support workers, and labour in production occupations, are likely to be substituted by computer capital. As computerised cars are already being developed and the declining cost of sensors makes augmenting vehicles with advanced sensors increasingly cost-effective, the automation of transportation and logistics occupations is in line with the technological developments documented in the literature. Furthermore, algorithms for big data are already rapidly entering domains reliant upon storing or accessing information, making it equally intuitive that office and administrative support occupations will be subject to computerisation. The computerisation of production occupations simply suggests a continuation of a trend that has been observed over the past decades, with industrial robots taking on the routine tasks of most operatives in manufacturing. As industrial robots are becoming more advanced, with enhanced senses and dexterity, they will be able to perform a wider scope of non-routine manual tasks. From a technological capabilities point of view, the vast remainder of employment in production occupations is thus likely to diminish over the next decade.”

They also predict disruption to jobs in services industries from personal and household services robots, automation of more routine sales roles, such as cashier and telemarketers, and from prefabrication of buildings to construction jobs.

Digital technology drastically reduces the cost of technologies, as well as the infrastructure and people needed to support those industries that use the technology. Digital photography us an eample Brynjolfsson and McAfee point out, in an age where our photos sit on hard drives rather than in ring-bound albums, the need for a large number of workers disappears. “These photos are all digital, so hundreds of thousands of people who used to work making photography chemicals and paper are no longer needed. In a digital age, they need to find some other way to support themselves

Once an algorithm is digitised it can replicated and delivered to millions of users at almost zero cost.
Reducing the cost of using that technology to the point where it is accessible to much larger numbers of people, empowers them to build new businesses. The web led to an explosion in online companies. For example of courses taught by some of the world's most prestigious institutions are now freely available online. While the cost of taking photos may have plummeted the same cannot be said of many essentials people need to survive — food, drink and fuel. Companies like Instagram and Facebook employ a tiny fraction of the people that were needed at Kodak. Nonetheless, Facebook has a market value several times greater than Kodak ever did and has created at least seven billionaires and they employ a lot of people in hitherto unknown jobs.

So is all bad news? Some jobs remain exceptionally tricky for robots, even simple manual tasks like walking over uneven terrain are beyond the capabilities of most modern bots. The phenomenon is known as Moravec's Paradox, an observation by leading AI researchers in the 1980s that computers found hard the tasks we found easy and vice versa. While it might take a human seconds to fold a towel, a robot made to carry out the task in 2010 took nearly 25 minutes. Cooks, gardeners, repairmen, carpenters, dentists, and home health aides are not about to be replaced by machines in the short term. All of these professions involve a lot of sensorimotor work, and many of them also require the skills of ideation, large-frame pattern recognition, and complex communication. "Machines are still very clumsy they don't have the agility, and few if any robots can pick up a coin that's on a desk, even though a two or three-year-old person child could.

A calculator makes an accountant more efficient but does not replace the end for an accountant.
Digital technologies a in many ways similarly can complement, not substitute for, creativity.

The stunted social skills of machines should mean that salespeople, managers and entrepreneurs have a reasonably bright future, as will nurses, kindergarten teachers and home help aids.

The career advice that Google chief economist Hal Varian frequently gives is: "Seek to be an indispensable complement to something that’s getting cheap and plentiful.”

Digital revolution – does it apply to me? ask Synergy Software Systems

January 19th, 2017

Digital transformation has been a hot topic for at least he last 5 years and is increasingly become reality. for those of us who lived through the re-engineering of the early 90s this seems to be another twist of a familiar tale. However there are major differences.Digital is no longer the shiny front end of the organization – it’s integrated into every aspect of today’s companies. As digital technologies continue to transform the economy, many leaders are struggling to set a digital strategy, shift organizational structures, and remove the barriers that are keeping them from maximizing the potential impact of new digital technologies.

A workable definition is that Digital disruption is the change that occurs when new digital technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing goods and services.

A current aphorism is that you either have to be smarter than a robot or cheaper.

Recent developments in robotics, artificial intelligence, IoT, digital printing, virtual reality, and machine learning have put us on the cusp of a new automation age. Robots and computers can perform a range of routine physical work activities better and cheaper than humans, and are now capable of using cognitive capabilities once considered too difficult to automate successfully, such as making tacit judgments, sensing emotion, or even driving. Automation is already changing the daily work activities of everyone, from retailers, miners and landscapers to commercial bankers, fashion designers, welders, DBAs and CEOs.

What will the impact be on productivity? previous technical revolutions such as the introduction of the steam engine, or personal computing, delivered annual productivity increases of less than 1%. The speculation now is that new changes will increase productivity by 1 to 1.5 % an unprecedented rate of change, with many economic, social and political implications.

Fifty-two percent of the Fortune 500 since 2000 have merged, been acquired, or gone bankrupt since 2000.
A study by Richard Foster from Yale, shows that in the the SMP 500, the average age of a company in 1959 was about 58 years. It’s now down to 15, and it’s going to be 12 by 2020. There’s no time to wait. Digital Darwinism is unkind to those who wait.

“We’re talking about a three to four-times compression in terms of age of a company since the 50s and 60s. So, if you’re not making the shift, if you’re not even moving in that direction, you’re probably going to be merged or acquired, or go bankrupt.”

According to the new MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte University Press report, “Aligning the Organization for Its Digital Focus”, nearly 90% of more than 3,700 business executives, managers and analysts from around the globe say that they anticipate that their industries will be moderately, or greatly disrupted by digital trends. Yet less than half (44%) currently believe their organization is adequately preparing for this digital disruption. Ray Wang

Also see this HBR post for similar survey results

The most disrupted industries typically suffer from a perfect storm of two forces. First, low barriers to entry into these sectors lead to more agile competition. Secondly, they have large legacy business models which often generate the majority of their revenue. These organizations, therefore, have embedded cultural and organizational challenges when it comes to changing at the pace required. Digital companies can reach new customers immediately and at virtually zero marginal cost. They can compete in new sectors by collaborating with peers and competitors.

In the first wave of the commercial Internet, the dot-com era, falling transaction costs altered the traditional trade-off between richness and reach> Rich information was suddenly communicated broadly and cheaply, and changed how products are made and sold. Strategists made hard choices about which pieces of their businesses to protect and which to abandon. The learned to repurpose some assets to attack previously unrelated businesses. Virtual companies relied on outsourcing and offshore and owned little and made nothing. Incumbent value chains were “deconstructed” by competitors focused on narrow slivers of added value. Traditional notions of who competes against whom were upended—Microsoft gave away Encarta on CDs to promote sales of PCs and incidentally destroyed the business model of the venerable Encyclopædia Britannica.

With Web 2.0, the economies of mass scale evaporated for many activities nd small became beautiful. It was the era of the “long tail” and of collaborative production on a massive scale. Minuscule enterprises and self-organizing communities of autonomous individuals surprised us by performing certain tasks better and more cheaply than large corporations. Hence Linux, hence Wikipedia and Open source. Those communities grow and collaborate without geographic constraint, and major work is done at significantly lower cost – and oftenat zero price.

Many strategists adopted and adapted to these new business architectures. IBM embraced Open Source to challenge Microsoft’s position in server software; Apple and Google curated communities of app developers so that they could compete in mobile; SAP recruited thousands of app developers from among its users; Facebook transformed marketing by turning a billion “friends” into advertisers, merchandisers, and customers.

Where are we now? Hyperscaling and connectivity. Big—really big—is now beautiful. The cloud, new databases, new processing power, new BI tools, predictive analytics, data from IoT correlated with contextual search, delivered anytime anywhere on any device. Social media and smart phones are ubiquitous and real time news and peer opinion is replacing traditional news channels, and marketing and government communications. At the extreme—where competitive mass is beyond the reach of the individual business unit or company—hyperscaling demands a bold, new architecture for businesses.

We are only at the beginning of what the World Economic Forum calls the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” characterized not only by mass adoption of digital technologies but by innovations in everything from energy to biosciences. The digital consumer, who enjoys more interactive and personalized experiences thanks to SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) technologies; the digital enterprise, which leverages SMAC technologies to optimize the cost of corporate functions and to transform enterprise collaboration for greater productivity; and the emerging digital operations wave, where companies are revolutionizing business with the use of artificial intelligence, robotics, cognitive computing and the Industrial Internet of Things.

Speculation about the effects of technologies often suffer from extreme optimism or pessimism. In the 1930s, several countries were enthusiastically experimenting with using new rocket technology to deliver mail, and in 1959, the United States trialed mail delivery via cruise missile, a proposition that could now be regarded as comical yet it ahs surfaced again with drone deliveries.

Jo Caudron and Dado Van Peteghem in their book Digital Transformation highlight 10 business models behind digital disruption. Professor Michael Wade, co-director of the IMD Leading Digital Business Transformation course has highlighted 7 strategies to respond to disruptors.

10 Hyper-Disruptive Business Models
1.The Subscription Model (Netflix, Dollar Shave Club, Apple Music) Disrupts through “lock-in” by taking a product or service that is traditionally purchased on an ad hoc basis, and locking-in repeat custom by charging a subscription fee for continued access to the product/service
2.The Freemium Model (Spotify, LinkedIn, Dropbox) Disrupts through digital sampling, where users pay for a basic service or product with their data or ‘eyeballs’, rather than money, and then charging to upgrade to the full offer. Works where marginal cost for extra units and distribution are lower than advertising revenue or the sale of personal data
3.The Free Model (Google, Facebook) Disrupts with an ‘if-you’re-not-paying-for-the-product-you-are-the-product’ model that involves selling personal data or ‘advertising eyeballs’ harvested by offering consumers a ‘free’ product or service that captures their data/attention
4.The Marketplace Model (eBay, iTunes, App Store, Uber, AirBnB) Disrupts with the provision of a digital marketplace that brings together buyers and sellers directly, in return for a transaction or placement fee or commission
5.The Access-over-Ownership Model (Zipcar, Peerbuy, AirBnB) Disrupts by providing temporary access to goods and services traditionally only available through purchase. Includes ‘Sharing Economy’ disruptors, which takes a commission from people monetising their assets (home, car, capital) by lending them to ‘borrowers’
6.The Hypermarket Model (Amazon, Apple) Disrupts by ‘brand bombing’ using sheer market power and scale to crush competition, often by selling below cost price
7.The Experience Model (Tesla, Apple) Disrupts by providing a superior experience, for which people are prepared to pay
8.The Pyramid Model (Amazon, Microsoft, Dropbox) Disrupts by recruiting an army of resellers and affiliates who are often paid on a commission-only model
9.The On-Demand Model (Uber, Operator, Taskrabbit) Disrupts by monetising time and selling instant-access at a premium. Includes taking a commission from people with money but no time who pay for goods and services delivered or fulfilled by people with time but no money
10.The Ecosystem Model (Apple, Google) Disrupts by selling an interlocking and interdependent suite of products and services that increase in value as more are purchased. Creates consumer dependency.

Business leaders are now more intent on disrupting before they are disrupted. How can you drive value from data in new ways? How can you shorten product development cycles? How can you tap into predictive analytics and social media to determine the right strategy?. Success is not just changing strategies, increasingly the need is for agility to execute multiple strategies concurrently. Such success requires CEOs to develop new leadership capabilities, new workforce skills and new corporate cultures and processes to support digital transformation. Mobile, ‘work from home’, BYOD, self-service, collaboration tools like Yammer and Team and Skype Business, e-payments, digital signatures, are tools that offer new ways of working.

For society, the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are profound – from saving lives to creating jobs to better stewardship of the environment. For example our Healthcare solution built on Dynamics CRM, is providing guided pathways to the optimal route for treatment and is delivering huge cost savings and more effective care delivery by better targeting and use of resources.

Strategies to Respond to Digital Disruption
1.The Block Strategy. Using all means available to inhibit the disruptor. These means can include claiming patent or copyright infringement, erecting regulatory hurdles, and using other legal barriers.
2.The Milk Strategy. Extracting the most value possible from vulnerable businesses while preparing for the inevitable disruption
3.The Invest in Disruption Model. Actively investing in the disruptive threat, including disruptive technologies, human capabilities, digitized processes, or perhaps acquiring companies with these attributes
4.The Disrupt the Current Business Strategy. Launching a new product or service that competes directly with the disruptor, and leveraging inherent strengths such as size, market knowledge, brand, access to capital, and relationships to build the new business
5.The Retreat into a Strategic Niche Strategy. Focusing on a profitable niche segment of the core market where disruption is less likely to occur (e.g. travel agents focusing on corporate travel, and complex itineraries, book sellers and publishers focusing on academia niche)
6.The Redefine the Core Strategy. Building an entirely new business model, often in an adjacent industry where it is possible to leverage existing knowledge and capabilities (e.g. IBM to consulting, Fujifilm to cosmetics)
7.The Exit Strategy. Exiting the business entirely and returning capital to investors, ideally through a sale of the business while value still exists (e.g. MySpace selling itself to Newscorp)

As the world moves to amore digital future so the threats change. There is more data so there is more to steal and to corrupt. Security threats- phishing Trojans, malware, hacking of politicians email or government or company files or credit card details are now major challenges for all. As data grows-(how many hours of you tube video get uploaded each second) topics like high speed internet, and edge computing become more important.

Microsoft organisational changes from 1 February 2017.

January 11th, 2017

Microsoft is combining its Small and Mid-Market Solutions & Partners (SMS&P) and Enterprise Partner Group (EPG) business units in an attempt to streamline business processes. The changes, which will take effect from February 1, will affect its sales, partner, and services teams, and will see both units come together as one under its Worldwide Commercial Business, led by executive vice-president, Judson Althoff. Corporate vice-president of mid-market solutions and partners, Chris Weber, will lead the combined business.

This seems to echo former CEO Steve Ballmer’s 2013 One Microsoft plan. No layoffs are expected

In Australia, Mark Leigh runs the SMS&P business after David Gage resigned from the role. As for its local EPG business, the head of the unit is yet to be filled as Steven Worrall was given the managing director title after Pip Marlow left the company. However, how these changes will affect Microsoft Australia and New Zealand are yet to be determined.

This move follows the recent departure of then Microsoft chief operating officer, Kevin Turner, whose role was not replaced and was split amongst five senior executives including Althof. As part of that restructure, Althoff was handed the Worldwide Commercial Business, focusing on the Enterprise and Partner Group, Public Sector, Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners, the Developer Experience team, and services.

The company restructure also sees the creation of a new One Commercial Partner business, which combines various partner teams within Microsoft; a unit called Microsoft Digital, which is expected to grow Microsoft’s cloud division; and the merger of its Worldwide Public Sector and Industry businesses. it will be led by former Salesforce vice president and Microsoft’s current Corporate Vice President of Enterprise Partner Ecosystem, Ron Huddleston. The new group called Microsoft Digital will push Microsoft’s current customers and partners to use the company’s cloud programs. Anand Eswaran, corporate vice president of Microsoft Services, will lead that group.

Corporate Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector Toni Townes-Whitley will lead a combined group comprising Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector and Industry Businesses

Jeff Teper, who was Microsoft’s corporate vice president of corporate strategy, announced on Twitter last week he now leads the company’s OneDrive and SharePoint teams. It’s a familiar role, as Teper led the group that first built SharePoint for its 2001 launch. The move seems to be the latest to make room for Kurt DelBene, who was brought back to the executive team after retiring in 2013 to help the U.S. government fix the healthcare.gov website. DelBene assumed a new title as executive vice president of corporate strategy and planning in April. (Soon after, Eric Rudder, executive vice president of advanced strategy, and Mark Penn, executive vice president of advertising and strategy, announced they would be leaving Microsoft.)

David Treadwell, a longtime Microsoft executive who oversaw the Windows engineering team, is also on the move. He’s taking an unidentified role in the Cloud and Enterprise group. Treadwell told staff he was reluctant to leave the Windows team, but “when the CEO calls, well, you take that call.”

According to Microsoft’s announcement, Kim Akers and the ISV team, Victor Morales and the Enterprise Partner team, and Gavriella Schuster and the WPG team will all be moving into One Commercial Partner.

Last Microsoft Security Bulletins – ends after January 2017

January 11th, 2017

Microsoft has a long tradition of publishing Security Bulletins to share information about patches and security fixes that it releases. But starting next year this is going to change. As of February 2017, Microsoft will make use of the newly launched Security Updates Guide database.

it was a little afterthought tacked on the end of a short blog post: “Security update information will be published as bulletins and on the Security Updates Guide until January 2017. After the January 2017 Update Tuesday release, we will only publish update information to the Security Updates Guide”.

The main point of the blog point was to point out the existence of the new database, of which Microsoft says:
“This month we released a preview of our new single destination for security vulnerability information, the Security Updates Guide. Instead of publishing bulletins to describe related vulnerabilities, the new portal lets our customers view and search security vulnerability information in a single online database.”

Meanwhile Microsoft’s January 2017 Patch Tuesday Comes with 4 Security Updates and two of the four Microsoft security bulletins are rated as critical, the highest severity rating a bulletin can receive. Because of this, users should make sure they install this month’s updates as soon as possible.

The Patch Tuesday update fixes 15 unique vulnerabilities, among which 12 are inherited from Adobe Flash, and only three affect Microsoft native products. In fact, this month’s security updates are one of the smallest security bulletin Microsoft has released to date. Besides the security updates, Microsoft also released new Windows 10 cumulative updates KB3213986, KB3210720, and KB3210721, for which there are no changelogs available at the time of writing

Project Neon, Acrylic and the next release of Windows 10

January 11th, 2017

It seems that the next release of Windows 10 features the outcome of Project NEON’ - a user interface upgrade. It seems that it will be a lot like Windows 7 Aero with a dash of Windows Phone and Android’s Material Design mixed in.

The first alterations will appear in the (horribly named) ‘Creators Update’, which follows last year’s (equally horribly named) ‘Anniversary Update’. (Why not Windows 10.1 and 10.2? )

The Creators Update will appear in April with a full rollout of Project Neon not due until ‘Redstone 3’ (which Microsoft will not call Windows 10.3) in the latter half of 2017. The Creators preview build includes a ‘green screen of death’ to help find bugs in the updated software. Microsoft changed things to green in an effort to more easily distinguish Windows Insider reports vs the reports of those on production builds. however, “Released versions of Windows 10 will continue to have the classic blue colour, including the final release of the Windows 10 Creators Update.”

Windows 10 went too far for some with its minimalism and the new focus on animations, depth and consistency is a return to a more intuitive interface. A new component called ‘Acrylic’, adds blur to the background, sidebar and navigation within an app. Acrylic is combined with what Microsoft calls the ‘Conscious UI’ and ‘Connected Animations’ where the former reacts to whatever is behind the current app or window and the latter is much like Material Design where the UI animates to show a transition between actions. For example the shrinking of a musician’s image when your start scrolling down their discography in Groove Music.

The changes in Project Neon will be seen throughout Windows 10, e.g. in Outlook Mail, Calendar. There is now more response to simple actions like a mouse pointer passing over different elements of the UI. The taskbar will also change in future.

Other new features that appear in this build include:

Tile Folders in Start: To converge experiences across devices, this build will be able to group Start tiles into folders. Tile folders are a way to organize and personalize tiles in Start, and in Windows 10 PCs. To get started, drag and drop a tile on top of another tile in Start to create a folder.

Updated Windows Share experience: Microsoft has redesigned the Windows sharing experience to be more app-focused and integrated with from wherever you are sharing . The new Windows Share experience will pop-up the new share flyout within the app you are sharing from and give you a list of applications to which you can share. This list changes based on your usage.

This coming build of Microsoft’s Windows 10 shows adverts sneaking in to more spaces than ever before, meaning users could soon be overloaded. The adverts will primarily be seen in the updated version of the Windows 10 Share tool. This makes it easy to share photos and the like with friends and followers using Mail, Messenger, OneDrive, Twitter and more. Share will also soon offer links to other services for you to download (which I see as an advert).

Microsoft is also now displaying pop-up adverts to users of the Chrome or Firefox internet browser that show the benefits of its own Microsoft Edge browser. Edge improvements include:

Tab preview bar: Tab preview bar allows you to easily glance at a visual preview of every tab you have open without leaving your page. You can scroll through the list with touch,

Flash Click-to-Run: Microsoft Edge will now block untrusted Flash content by default until the user explicitly chooses to play it.
This means better security, stability, and performance for you, while preserving the option to run Flash when you choose.

Web Payments: Microsoft Edge now has preview support for the new Payment Request API, which allows sites to make checkout easier using the payment and shipping preferences stored in your Microsoft Wallet.

Ransomware was on the rise throughout 2016.

January 10th, 2017

49% of businesses fell victim to cyber ransom attacks in 2016

Ransom is the top motivation behind cyberattacks, – Radware’s Global Application and Network Security Report 2016-2017
The report listed five cybersecurity predictions for 2017:
1. IoT will become an even larger risk. The Mirai IoT Botnet code is available to the public, making it more likely that cyber criminals of all experience levels are already strengthening their capabilities. In 2017, exponentially more devices are expected to become targeted and enslaved into IoT botnets. IoT device manufacturers will have to face the issue of securing their devices before they are brought to market, as botnet attacks from these devices can generate large-scale attacks that easily exceed 1 Tbps.
2. Ransomware attacks will continue to grow. These attacks will target phones, laptops, and company computers, and will likely take aim at healthcare devices such as defibrillators in the future, the press release stated.
3. Permanent Denial of Service (PDoS) attacks on data centers and IoT operations will rise. PDoS attacks, sometimes called “phlashing,” damage a system to the degree that it requires hardware replacement or reinstallation. These attacks are not new, but Radware predicts they are likely to become more pervasive in 2017 with the plethora of personal devices on the market.
4. Telephony DoS (TDoS) will become more sophisticated. These attacks, which cut off communications in a crisis, could impede first responders’ situational awareness, exacerbate suffering and pain, and potentially increase loss of life.
5. Public transportation system attacks will rise. As cars, trains, and planes become more automated, they also become more vulnerable to hackers, Radware stated.

To avoid ransomware attacks and other cyber threats: keep software up to date, back up all information every day to a secure, offsite location (e.g. Azure cloud back up), segment your network, performing penetration testing, train staff on cyber security practices.
Ensure passwords are strong and are regularly updated
Ensure you have deployed appropriate anti virus / anti-malware tools.
Test your back up and restore periodically.
Ensure your support contracts are up to date.
Don’t forget your hardware e.g. out of date protocols on routers may be targets for hackers.
If you have large complex networks and critical data and up-time requirements, then consider ethical-hacking penetration testing.
Managed services solutions can monitor your networks and services to ensure critical hardware and services are functioning.

Azure – what is it exactly?

January 8th, 2017

You may have recently seen a television commercial for “The Microsoft Cloud,” which featured Healthcare, Cancer Research, and Cybercrime. So, what does this have to do with Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure is the Microsoft product name for the Microsoft Cloud. The names are used synonymously in the technical industry.

The Cloud digital transformational shift, question remains, “What is Azure, and for whom is it meant?”

Azure was announced in October 2008 and released on February 2010 as Windows Azure, and was then renamed to Microsoft Azure in March 2014.

Azure is a cloud computing platform plus, the underlying infrastructure and management services created by Microsoft to build, deploy, and manage applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers.

What Microsoft Azure Data Centers?

There are 34 interconnected Microsoft Data Regions around the world with more planned.

Microsoft describes Azure as a “growing collection of integrated cloud services, including analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage, and web.” Azure’s integrated tools, pre-built templates and managed services simplify the task of building and managing enterprise applications (apps).

Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella calls Azure, “the industry’s most complete cloud — for every business, every industry and every geography.”

The Complete Cloud

For many businesses, their first foray into leveraging cloud software as a service (SaaS) is with Microsoft Office 365, Exchange online for hosted email, or CRM online for managing business and customer relationships. However, the Azure platform is much more than just an online business software delivery platform.

Here are just a few of the things that you can do with Azure:
• Build and deploy modern, cross platform web and mobile applications.
• Store, backup and recover your data in the cloud with Azure-based disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS).
• Run your Line of Business applications on Azure.
• Run large scale compute jobs and perform powerful predictive analytics.
• Encode, store and stream audio and video at scale.
• Build intelligent products and services leveraging Internet of Things services.

Use Azure, and your partner, to rapidly build, deploy, and host solutions across a worldwide network and to create hybrid solutions which seamlessly integrate on premise existing IT with Azure.

Many leverage Azure to protect data and meet privacy standards like the new international cloud privacy standard, ISO 27018, or HIPAA.

Azure customers can quickly scale up infrastructure, just importantly, scale it down, while only paying for what they use.

Azure also supports a broad selection of operating systems, programming languages, frameworks, tools, databases and devices.

Contrary to the perception that Azure is for Windows only, nearly 1 in three Azure virtual machines are Linux.3

Widespread Adoption

More than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies rely on Azure, which offers enterprise grade SLAs on services. In addition, Microsoft is the only vendor positioned as a Leader across Gartner’s Magic Quadrants for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Application Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Cloud Storage Services for the second consecutive year.1

What is Microsoft Azure IOT

Microsoft’s powerful Azure Internet of Things Hub and tool suite has also been widely adopted for use in commercial and scientific applications to securely connect and manage Internet of Things (IoT) assets. The service processes more than two trillion IoT messages weekly.4

From broadcasting the Olympics to building massively multiplayer online games, Azure customers are doing some amazing things, and in increasing numbers. Microsoft recently revealed that the rate of Azure customer growth has accelerated to more than 120k new Azure customer subscriptions per month.4 In line with the accelerated adoption, the company is projecting an annualized commercial cloud revenue run rate of $20 Billion in 2018.3

Cloud Leadership

With Azure, Microsoft has made a huge commitment to cloud computing. Since opening its first datacenter, Microsoft has invested more than $15 billion in building its global cloud infrastructure.5 In addition, the company recently announced it would build its first Azure data center in France this year as part of a $3 billion investment to build its cloud services in Europe.6

Microsoft is quickly closing the gap in market share with IaaS provider Amazon Web Services, (AWS). While 37.1% of IT professionals surveyed indicated that Amazon AWS is their primary IaaS platform, Microsoft Azure is a close second at 28.4%, followed by Google Cloud Platform at 16.5%.7

and hot off the press…….
Microsoft isn’t building its own connected car — but it is launching a new Azure-based cloud platform for car manufacturers to use the cloud to power their own connected-car services.

The new Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform will go live as a public preview later this year.
“This is not an in-car operating system or a ‘finished product’,” Microsoft’s EVP for business development Peggy Johnson writes in this week’s announcement. “It’s a living, agile platform that starts with the cloud as the foundation and aims to address five core scenarios that our partners have told us are key priorities: predictive maintenance, improved in-car productivity, advanced navigation, customer insights and help building autonomous driving capabilities.”

Microsoft also announced that it is partnering with the Renault-Nissan Alliance to bring the new connected-car services to Renault-Nissan’s next-gen connected vehicles. The two companies were already working together on other projects before this, so it’s maybe no surprise that Renault-Nissan is Microsoft’s first partner.
Microsoft is also working with BMW to develop that company’s BMW Connected platform on top of Azure. BMW and Nissan also showed in-car integrations with Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant at CES this year, so your future car could potentially use Cortana to power its voice-enabled services. For the time being, though, it looks like these are still experiments.

Microsoft has talked about its aim to bring “intelligence” to as many of its services as possible. It has also recently opened up Cortana to third-party developers, so bringing it to its connected car platform is a logical next step (and we’re also seeing Amazon doing the same thing with Alexa, ).

Johnson also used today’s announcement to take a thinly veiled swipe at Google/Alphabet, which spun out its self-driving car unit a few weeks ago. “As you may have gathered, Microsoft is not building its own connected car,” she writes. “Instead, we want to help automakers create connected car solutions that fit seamlessly with their brands, address their customers’ unique needs, competitively differentiate their products and generate new and sustainable revenue streams.”

Find documents and data fast in Dynamics 365.

January 8th, 2017

Learn 3 ways to find documents and data faster in Microsoft Dynamics 365.

The new Office Delve dashboard component learns about on what you’re working, and with whom you’re working, to automatically surface documents that are relevant to you.

When you’re working on a document that you’re not ready to share, store it and any other private documents in OneDrive for Business.

Learn how to quickly view and present data with Export to Excel and Excel templates.

Dynamics 365 personalisations

January 8th, 2017

Dynamics Ax has always had powerful user personalisation features. See how this is done in Dynamics 365 Operations. Watch this video to learn six easy ways to customize Microsoft Dynamics 365 without writing any code.
You’ll learn how to:
- add a logo or color theme to your forms;
- get rid of fields you don’t use;
- change the business process bar to match the way your organization works;
- create custom dashboards;
- take advantage of customization packages (solutions) from third-parties.

P.S. to find a partner for further customisations, no need to look at another website just call us 0097143365589

Discontinuation of Dynamics Online Payment Services

January 8th, 2017

A notice was recently released on the discontinuation of Dynamics Online Payment Services.
CustomerSource

https://mbs.microsoft.com/customersource/northamerica/news-events/news-events/news/onlinepaymentservdisnotice

This was not available in the U.A.E. but may be of interest to those with a global deployment.

Discontinuation verbatim:
Effective January 1, 2018, Payments Services for Microsoft Dynamics ERP (Payment Services), available with any versions of Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics RMS, Microsoft Dynamics POS 2009, and Microsoft Office Accounting, will be discontinued. Customers of the Payment Services will not be able to process credit or debit card transactions after December 31, 2017.

To mitigate the potential business impact of the Payment Services being discontinued, customers should consider payment solutions provided by Dynamics Independent Solution Providers (ISVs) by searching by searching Microsoft’s AppSource or Solution Finder, or work with their Dynamics implementation partner to determine options.

Customers who have not cancelled their subscription to the Payment Services and whose subscription is due for renewal before January 1, 2018 will receive the annual, automatically generated, 12-month subscription renewal notice for this service. Subscriptions to the Payment Services will be renewed only for the period beginning on the date specified in the renewal notice and ending on January 1, 2018. A customer’s subscription to the Payment Services may not be renewed for 12 months depending on the date it expires. The notice supersedes any subscription renewal a customer receives. If you have any questions, please email dops@microsoft.com.

Common Reporting Standard – CRS is effective in UAE from 1 January 2017.

January 2nd, 2017

The CRS is a global standard for the automatic exchange of financial information between jurisdictions that have agreed to adopt it. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) introduced CRS as a means to combat tax evasion and to improve cross-border tax compliance.

The CRS came into effect in early adopter jurisdictions from 01 January 2016 and will take effect from 01 January 2017 in late adopter jurisdictions including the U.A.E.

Why is this important?

In countries where CRS requirements have been enacted into local law, compliance with CRS is mandatory.
The Banks must comply with the CRS requirements in accordance with country specific legislation.

Under the CRS, the Bank must collect certain information to establish the country (or countries) of tax residence of each of its clients. The Bank may further be obliged to report certain financial information regarding the financial accounts held by its clients to the tax authority where the account is maintained. This local tax authority may exchange this information with the tax authority of another country, subject to the information exchange agreements that are in place.

In readiness for meeting the CRS requirements as those come into force, your Bank may contact you to collect certain tax-related information and/or documents.

The financial information to be reported with respect to reportable accounts includes all types of
investment income (including interest, dividends, income from certain insurance contracts and
other similar types of income) but also account balances and sales proceeds from financial assets.

- The financial institutions that are required to report under the CRS do not only include banks and
custodians but also other financial institutions such as brokers, certain collective investment
vehicles and certain insurance companies.
- Reportable accounts include accounts held by individuals and entities (which includes trusts and
foundations), and the standard includes a requirement to look through passive entities to report on
the individuals that ultimately control these entities.

Offshore accounts will be disclosed to the taxman and you may lose your privacy. This year, many account holders may opt to close overseas accounts to avoid being reported to tax authorities. This amy result in the financial death of many offshore financial institutions and banks.