Archive for February, 2017

Teams soon to be released with Office 365

February 28th, 2017

Teams, is Microsoft’s contender in the enterprise chat arena which is currently dominated by millennial darling Slack.

At the New York launch event last November , Nadella advocated Teams as “a chat-based workspace where people can come together in a digital forum to have casual conversations, work on content, create work plans — integrated all within one unified experience.”

Microsoft now expects to make Teams generally available in the first quarter of this year to Business and Enterprise subscribers of Office 365. Microsoft is staking the success of Teams because of Teams’ deep integration with the wider Office 365 productivity suite, which Microsoft is steadily improving with investments in machine learning, intelligence, security and governance.

“Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI and Delve are all built into Microsoft Teams so people have all the information and tools they need at their fingertips. Backed by the Microsoft Graph, intelligent services are surfaced throughout the workspace to help with information relevancy, discovery and sharing. Microsoft Teams is also built on Office 365 Groups — our cross-application membership service that makes it easy for people to move naturally from one collaboration tool to another, preserve their sense of context and share with others,” said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for Microsoft Office.

Whether the Office 365 hook is enough to usurp Slack for enterprise users remains to be seen. (Slack took out a full-page ad in The New York Times on the same day as Microsoft’s launch event to both welcome its new competitor and assert that “Slack is here to stay.” )

Dynamics 365 will have an on-premise option in June 2017

February 28th, 2017

The future of Dynamics Ax seemed to take a big hit last year when the Dynamics 365 was launched. When Ax7 was launched for the cloud it was understood there would be an on premise version based on a private cloud which would run on the azure technology stack. That proved to be not so easy and a Microsoft Representative at a user group explained that there will be no on premise version and to get used to it.

The future, it seemed was that there will be some on premise components (manufacturing and retail) but on premise was dead.

Customers and partners immediately began shaking their heads in disapproval. We were particularly blunt in our views. The end message perceived by multiple people in the audience, was “to take it or leave it”. The fallout was instant and, a recent poll by Computer Futures showed that 40% of Microsoft Dynamics Operations customers stated they were going to leave if an on premise product wasn’t offered within the next 3 years.

Microsoft claims it listens and that it constantly seeks feedback. That after all is the basis of its agile development model. And it seems they really do with the recent announcement that an On-Premise version is coming in June.

The graphic below was published by Sri Srinivasan on the week of 2/20/2017. The expectation now is that Dynamics 365 for Operations will be generally available on premise in June 2017.

Dynamics 365 for Operations is already available in the cloud and offers added advantage of Microsoft’s intelligence capabilities of embedded analytics, machine learning, or working with the IoT stack.

However for many companies who have already heavily invested in infrastructure, or who unreliable internet connections, or who have business needs to hold data locally those benefits do not outweigh the need to store their company’s critical data locally. Consider a continuous process manufacturing facility, or a lean manufacturing automotive supplier with swinging penalties if the production line is stopped and where workers need to keep the production line humming 24 x7 and avoid production delays, especially. Industries rely on expensive machines to produce goods; these machines are highly automated, working on inputs from the ERP systems thye provide critical output signals that are used for overall management of the production facility. In such scenarios, it is desirable to run these processes locally while leveraging the power of the cloud to maximize efficiency. Also, some geographies require that transactions and personal information be captured and stored locally. other factors that may are apply are when :

• Your company’s leadership holds a non-discretionary attitude towards cloud computing
• Your business model needs control of your: data, data residency, and data isolation
• Your business information needs permanent connectivity
• The business processes require the ability to customize the service infrastructure of the ERP system to meet specific business needs such as scalability
• Your company has recently invested in data center resources
• Your industry’s regulations do not permit data be stored in the cloud
• Your country or geographic area has connectivity limitations

The on-premise deployment option is referred to by Microsoft as, “local business data.” Local business data will run your business processes on-premises, and will support local transactions and storage of business data, without replication of that business data to the cloud. The update of business data in the cloud is simply switched off.

For this “local business data” deployment scenario, the application servers and SQL database will run in the customer’s own data center ( or could be hosted in a private cloud).

Customers and partners will still be able manage the application lifecycle through Life Cycle Services (LCS) in the Microsoft Cloud, including designing the business processes, creating and deploying the software image to deploy onto the on-premises nodes, monitoring the on-premises nodes in a system health dashboard, and keeping up with innovation from Microsoft.

Should your views change and your company later wants to utilize Dynamics 365 for Operations cloud capabilities then you can turn ON data synchronization to the cloud. Please note: the on-premise data will not benefit from Microsoft’s intelligent cloud capabilities like Power BI, AI, or other capabilities available to cloud subscribers.

So :
• New and existing customers will be able to license both local business data, and cloud and edge deployments.
• Customers can license local business data deployments via a Dynamics 365 for Operations license with Software Assurance/Enhancement Plan or a subscription model
• Customers with active Microsoft Dynamics Enhancement Plans or Software Assurance, may upgrade to local business data and remain entitled to access new versions and updates
• Transitions to Dynamics 365 cloud subscriptions are available to customers with active Microsoft Dynamics Enhancement Plans or Software Assurance
• Cloud and edge software and services will be licensed under the existing Dynamics 365 cloud subscription licensing model

We like the cloud for first time ERP implementations that are small or ones that have just a few people using AX/Operations. Its also suitable for companies who have limited integrations/customisations.

If you are an enterprise system with multi geographical units then you will come under different statutory regimes for taxes and payroll and each country’s economic budget may requite you to make system updates that cannot wait 8 hours or more for Microsoft to move.

For complicated manufacturing implementations, major companies with lots of licenses, or rapidly growing companies that are increasing their market share the current Ax 2012 on premise, or the on premise hybrid when it comes out, is for now a more pragmatic option. Uptime, system tuning when slow or unresponsive, minimizing downtime and scheduling it at your own convenience, dedicated support. plus the need for faster code moves and fast support response times are critical factors that need rapid access to the production server not currently possible on the cloud.

Expect a lot more details to emerge on this topic at the D365 Technical Conference in Seattle next Month and at the AXUG meet in Amsterdam early April.

Synergy will be at the AXpact CEO meeting the day before to meet with Chandru Shankar, Microsoft’s Manufacturing Industry Director, Sri Srinivasan, General Manager for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations in the Cloud and Enterprise Group, and Mike Ehrenberg, Microsoft Technical Fellow to get more insight.
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The cloud – just another tool set

February 23rd, 2017

The cloud is a term that has for long time been the subject full of hype.

Conferences, blogs, media outlets tell us the cloud is the answer, the cloud is cheaper, the cloud is the way of the future, the cloud handles your DR, the cloud manages BI, IoT, etc. Major vendors, none more than Microsoft, are pushing the message of SMAC : “social first”, “cloud-first” “analysis fist’ and “mobile first”.

For many of us reactions vary from confused, to concerned, or even angry. There are still many who dismiss the idea of ‘cloud anything’ when it comes to data.

The reality is that almost everyone uses the cloud daily, Google, Hotmail, GPS, Facebook, You tube etc.
The cloud is a tool, the can really enable you to solve issues, some unsolvable any other way, without getting caught up in the details of implementing every little part of the system. That’s a any idea most of us embrace, even if we never thought about it. How many of us deal with hardware? How many of you install or configure Windows? Who day to day worries about SQL backups, or has scripts/tools/products to auto implement the back up new databases?

The reality is that few of us have ever seen an email server, or an erp a production database server with their own eyes, despite connecting to many.

We all move at different paces. Some of us still deal with SQL Server 2008, 2005, 2000,. Some of us need to manage those platforms for years to come. Using one application on the cloud does mean now work for IT on premise. Helping to build applications on Azure SQL Database and deal with data integrity, quality, and security issues, through a remote connection. Device connectivity and internet connections, and printers still need managing.

The cloud gives us a new set of tools and services that take away some of the details and drudgery. Think electric saws and power drills instead of hand tools. Sometimes that’s fantastic, and it enables more rapid, more scalable deployment of resources. Sometimes it’s dangerous because the vendors haven’t completely thought through the process, or integration, or latency, or licensing and contractual term.

We shouldn’t be doing many tasks that can be easily automated and done better, faster, cheaper.
When we don’t need to manage day to day management of hardware, databases, and interfaces we can look upwards and outwards and consider to use the tools, to ensure our organizations continue to improve effectiveness and efficiency.

So what tools does Microsoft offer on azure?

Cortana Intelligence Suite is an example – Microsoft’s big data, machine learning, and analytics platform.
Whether you work with a company that buys “best of breed” solutions and you manually manage your data or you only have one system but you lack the ability or wherewithal to analyze it, CIS can help.

CIS has several components and each has an intended purpose, though you can do similar functions across several elements, and may only use a few of those for your business.

Microsoft Azure
Azure’s intent is to provide cloud hosted virtual servers, apps, and services to Microsoft’s customers.
Azure offers developers both Microsoft and third party tools to operate on the cloud and takes full advantage of the IoT. Microsoft is playing to win the internet. It already has more data centres than Google and Amazon combined. The rapid improvements of the platform are steadily winning over developers and IT professionals.

Azure Data Catalog
Use it to tie together different types of data together from many sources, when all the fields or tables may be labeled differently. The Azure Data Catalog allows a user the ability to look up a data source in a common place in the cloud. The future of data management will tie together those end users with business knowledge and allow them to identify data relevant to your IT team.

Azure Data Factory
Azure Data Factory provides tools to pull together all your data into one place, to transform it, and to distribute it! (Pelluru, 2016)

Azure Event Hub
The Azure event hub is used for truly Big Data and the IoT. It allows mass data to be brought in for analysis. and is the opening to funnel in large amounts of data, like: temperature monitoring on all your reactors or the status of sensitive product shipments. Consume the data e.g. for behavior analysis on a mobile device.

Azure Data Lake
If Azure Event Hub is the front door, then lake is the storage closet for large amounts of data.
Use the lake to store all your data in its original non-relatable format, and integrate with any data warehouse you already have. It differs from Blob storage solely mainly in the amount of data you’re collecting.

Azure SQL Database
The SQL database needs no introduction, but how do SQL databases relate to Azure? A SQL database is where your data resides in tables, with key identifiers, which makes it relatable to other sets of data. SQL is simply the coding language for this particular database. The Azure SQL database puts it in the cloud.
But I don’t want my data in the cloud! That’s not secure.” Really ? Do you even bother to look the door of your server room? Are you really up to date with all he security patches and hotfixes?. I challenge you to rethink your philosophy and do a little research on the matter. Storage in the cloud is generally more secure than an on-premises solution, depending on several factors.

Azure Machine Learning
AML is where you go to create your machine learning models and API’s. What is machine learning?: It’s an evolutionary self-learning and adapting process. A machine looks at the data and suggests something. If that something doesn’t make it better, then it will try something else. If that still doesn’t make it better, it will try something else. It will keep trying until it finds something that works. And then try to make it work better.
Deep Blue the IBM computer than won a chess match with Kasparov not only worked with brute force calculation but also developed its own heurstics to better evaluate which positions t analyse further.
Machine learning is also about predictive analysis based on data you feed the machine. One example is when you go to Amazon, or Google or Booking .com based on your past purchases/searches, they recommend items. That’s machine learning!

Correlation of data to establish possible relationships has many applications from advertising to analysing medical symptoms. How might one use machine learning in manufacturing? You could increase the yields of your finished goods when you have data based on a specific factor, what was done prior to the production (cleaning, maintenance, etc), which operator does the best job on a particular product, and even which raw materials to use. Based on how much data you put in on your raw materials, such as quality data, ML could help with product engineering.

The possibilities are nearly endless.
Azure HDInsight
HDInsight is Hadoop as a service. Hadoop is faster than moving those large files across your network. Hadoop is an open source, Java-based programming framework that supports the processing and storage of extremely large data sets in a distributed computing environment. It is part of the Apache project sponsored by the Apache Software Foundation. It allows for the distributed processing of large data sets across clusters of computers using simple programming models. It is designed to scale up from single servers to thousands of machines, each offering local computation and storage.

As the World Wide Web grew in the late 1900s and early 2000s, search engines and indexes were created to help locate relevant information amid the text-based content. In the early years, search results were returned by humans. But as the web grew from dozens to millions of pages, automation was needed. Web crawlers were created. An open-source web search engine called Nutch evolved – the brainchild of Doug Cutting and Mike Cafarella who wanted to return web search results faster by distributing data and calculations across different computers so multiple tasks could be accomplished simultaneously. During this time, another search engine project “Google” was in progress based on the same concept – storing and processing data in a distributed, automated way so that relevant web search results could be returned faster.

In 2006, Cutting joined Yahoo and took with him the Nutch project as well as ideas based on Google’s early work with automating distributed data storage and processing. The Nutch project was divided – the web crawler portion remained as Nutch and the distributed computing and processing portion became Hadoop (named after Cutting’s son’s toy elephant). In 2008, Yahoo released Hadoop as an open-source project. Today, Hadoop’s framework and ecosystem of technologies are managed and maintained by the non-profit Apache Software Foundation (ASF), a global community of software developers and contributors.

Azure Steam Analytics (ASA)
, Stream Analytics streams data over the cloud and uses it for near real time analysis. ASA compares new data coming in (by using the Data Factory “Move it!” to periodically move data copies from SQL DB to blobs for consumption) against historical data to simplify analysis and to identify outliers. Stream Analytics is easy use and offers many possibilities. Less than 15 minutes to set up a data connection for temperature and throw together a graph for visual consumption.

Power BI
Power BI brings visualization to your analysis through interactive reports within a browser, tablet, or mobile device. If you are a fan of PowerPivot or the eye-pleasing graphs out of Excel, you’ll enjoy the capabilities of Power BI. Show the C_Suite KPIs, top customers, and gross margins by product – all on one page.

Cortana
Speech is not the only way that you can interact with Cortana. Cortana can analyze visually as well audibly.
How about an app that can predict your age based on a picture of your face using Cortana?
What about QA tests based on comparing current images to approved sample images?.

Machine learning and telemetry. Microsoft itself collects data on what functions you use in their software and how you use it to better optimize the software and the use interface. . It does not collect data on personal use.

Mobile warehouse operations offline with Dynamics Ax – ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

February 22nd, 2017

For customers with zero tolerance for errors who depend on timely, accurate information, mobile applications enables them to optimize work, and to minimize errors.
– Minimum training time.
– Rapid deployment.
- Rapid ROI.
- Save money and increase productivity.

Tasklet Factory’s Mobile WMS solution is used in: hospitals, food and beverage, oil and lubricants, industrial goods, cosmetics, furniture, retail, printing and transport to manufacturing.

If you are a Dynamics Ax or Dynamics NAV customer seeking to rapidly and cost effectively and automate your warehouse operations, then to learn more. Contact: Synergy Software Systems 00971 43365589

Security – Verizon Data Breach insights

February 18th, 2017

The 2017 Verizon Data Breach Digest, published Tuesday, found that the effects of a breach are spreading to even more parts of an enterprise, increasingly causing problems outside of IT.

They examined 16 different scenarios examined in the 2017 Digest drawn from Verizon’s Research, Investigations, Solutions and Knowledge (RISK) Team’s investigation of 1,400 breach cases over the past three years. The scenarios were broken up into the following four breach types:

1. The human element.
Those breaches in which humans:
- had been compromised,
- or simply made a mistake,
- or intentionally acted maliciously.

Two of the scenarios—hactivist attack and partner misuse—were labeled as “lethal.”

The hacktivist attack occurs when a hacker targets a company in response to a perceived injustice committed by the firm.
Partner misuse refers to an attack when an indignant stakeholder attacks the firm from the inside. Another example of this kind of breach is a disgruntled ex-employee.

2. Conduit devices

Conduit devices are points of entry by which an attacker gains access to an organization’s network. Mobile assault and IoT calamity were the names given to the lethal scenarios of this breach type.

- A mobile assault occurred refers to a business traveler who uses an unsecure Wi-Fi connection, which leads to his phone being compromised.

- An example of an IoT calamity is a major university that was breached through its connected vending machines and smart light bulbs.

3. Configuration exploitation

“From a system standpoint, misconfigured devices are the vectors of compromise; from a network standpoint, misconfigurations allow for easy lateral movement and avenues for data exfiltration.”

Lethal scenarios of this type are a DDoS Attack. and an ICS onslaught.

- An One example of a major DDoS attack is the Mirai botnet that took down the DNS provider Dyn, and almost took down an entire country.
- An ICS onslaught occurs when an industrial control system is compromised, and may lead toboth massive physical damage and data leaks.

4. Malicious software

In the Verizon report, none were labeled as lethal. Examples are traditional malware, RAM scraping, spyware, and keylogger software. The Digest lists the three primary purposes of malware as meant to “establish a beachhead, collect data, and exfiltrate data.”

To respond to a breach, the Verizon Data Breach Digest recommends taking the following five actions:
1.”Preserve evidence; consider consequences of every action taken.”
2.”Be flexible; adapt to evolving situations.”
3.”Establish consistent methods for communication.”
4.”Know your limitations; collaborate with other key stakeholders.”
5.”Document actions and findings; be prepared to explain them
.”

Email Insights – easy index and search for your emails.

February 18th, 2017

Email may have been a convenience 15 years ago, but now it’s a hassle most of us want to ignore whenever possible. To Search through a full email inbox in Outlook or Gmail is frustrating. There are numerous variables that you may want to use: sender, send date, topic, recipients, spelling variations, file size, with or without attachment, etc.

Even the search engine masters at Google, have not managed to come up with a way to fully address the shortcomings of email searches. Microsoft Garage, is Microsoft’s website for experimental projects> It maybe has solved the problem with Email Insights, an app for Windows 10 Anniversary Edition that indexes emails from both Outlook and Gmail and tries to make searching these simple.

Microsoft senior research director Suresh Parthasarathy summed up the team’s strategy : It wants to duplicate the reliability of a search engine. “It is not just about the algorithms, but about the user experience. We present a novel browser-like email experience that feels lightweight and works just like web search.” The web search backbone is even more apparent with the inclusion of: auto complete, spell checking, and even the inclusion of an “intent pane” that looks a lot like a Google featured snippet.

Email Insights is programmed with “fuzzy” name recognition, to suggest appropriate spellings based on your email history and the contents of your inbox. It can also reportedly abstract more than just name. According to Parthasarathy. “A user need not remember all the exact keywords or spellings for their queries,” he said. “The idea is to remove the cognitive load of a user while searching,” essentially fulfilling the same role as a traditional search engine.

The app provides an optional taskbar-pinnable search field, to further separate it from the typical email client.

Email Insights is designed to separate the user from the email inbox. Email Insights isn’t yet a full-featured email client replacement for Outlook or Gmail: It’s designed as a companion app to make using both of those simpler. If Email Insights’ new search algorithm lives up to the developers claims, then it willprobaly be included into future versions of Outlook. For now it’s a separate app with one specific purpose: Indexing and simplifying email searches.

Email Insights is currently a Windows 10 Anniversary Edition exclusive, and it only supports Gmail and Outlook accounts. If you meet those criteria then you can download it here.

• Light-weight email application focused on search.
• Mix of Relevance and Recency based results.
• Guided search through Email Autocomplete, Fuzzy person name search.
• Commands for quick action.
• Tabbed UI for convenience.

KSA new taxes 2017

February 14th, 2017

In addition to support for the introduction of VAT at 5% in January 2018, Saudi Arabia announced at the end of 2016 a timeline for implementation of a tax on harmful products. The Fiscal Balance Program 2020 report, published by the Saudi government , said the kingdom would impose a 50 percent tax on soft drinks and a 100 percent tax on tobacco and energy drinks from the second quarter of 2017.

The taxes were proposed by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in December 2015, but Saudi Arabia’s Finance Ministry only signed the agreement this month, the report said.

No other Gulf country has yet announced a date for implementation of such taxes, although they have been mulling them since 2012. Studies in the GCC have found regional beverage prices to be the lowest when compared to the rest of the world and a key factor behind high rates of childhood obesity and diabetes. For example, soft drinks are priced at around AED1 (US0.27) in the UAE.

In November, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested retail prices of sugar-sweetened drinks be increased by 20 percent through taxation, to bring about a proportional decline in consumption. The Saudi government’s Program 2020 document revealed that the country was working on plans to include “sugary snacks and drinks” in the tax segment, to fight obesity and diabetes among its population, especially children, and that this tax would be introduced from the second quarter of 2017. “The excise tax is a special tax that will be implemented on specific products with harmful health effects to disincentivise consumption of such products,” it said.

The document also said the kingdom would increase the “expat levy” payable by sponsors from the third quarter of 2017, with the fee rising every year to up to $213.30 (SR800) per worker by 2020. At present, companies pay a levy of $53.33 (SR200) per month per expat in cases where expat employees exceed the number of Saudi employees.

A new fee on expat workers’ dependents will come into effect from July 2017, the document said.

U.A.E. VAT registration – from October 2017

February 14th, 2017

Business in the UAE will be able to register online for value-added tax (VAT) from October.
On Sunday, Younis Al Khouri, under-secretary, Ministry of Finance, said the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council is aiming to introduce a 5 percent VAT from January 2018.

In an update on its website, the ministry said that registration for VAT is “expected to be made available to businesses that meet the requirements criteria three months before the launch of VAT” with companies able to register online.

With regards to filing of VAT returns, the ministry said registered businesses will be expected to submit VAT returns on a regular basis online, with the default period for filing VAT returns at three months for the majority of businesses.

Businesses will be required to keep records that will allow authorities to identify the details of the business activities and to review relevant transactions. Specifics regarding the documents required, reports to be submitted, and the time period for retaining records haven’t been revealed.

Once the, UAE VAT law is finalised, and approved it will be published.

Now is a good time to review the possible impacts on your business for example on: cash flows, margins, pricing, contractual terms etc. Contractual terms may need careful review both for your customers and your suppliers. A tax on profits should not be affected by contractual terms but not everyone will want to see it that way.

This change will impact some verticals much more than others. There is often an initial drop in sales. It may also create opportunity for pre-VAT sales, or to reconsider the mix of products and services offered.

Asked whether some sectors in the UAE might be exempt from the tax to reduce the drag on the economy, Al Khouri said the government was aiming for a 5 per cent rate across the board but parts of seven sectors – education, healthcare, renewable energy, water, space, transport and technology – might get special treatment.

For other industries re-investment of the tax revenue by government may significantly boost new projects -as much as $20bn is estimated as the tax take..

It is prudent to review your financial systems, and whether those need upgrade, additional configuration, report modification (e.g. Invoices, POs), whether interfaces are likely to be affected, whether staff need retraining, whether new reports are needed.

If as expected this happens in January then that is also a time when many companies are either busy with a financial year end, financial audit, or software go live. For the same reason its also a time when consultants are busy. National and seasonal holidays also eat into management time.

The window – if VAT is introduced as intended on 1, January 2018 – is indeed short and demands that businesses urgently take action. raise awareness within the organisation. Carefully review supply chains and internal processes to fully understand the impact of VAT on the overall business model. Determine what needs to be done to be fully compliant with the new system.

Clear communication within organisations is critical, all employees need be aware of how the business model might have to change. All functions across the business – including finance, legal, IT and sales but also marketing and human resources – must understand the impact of VAT, including additional costs – which could be actual or related to compliance or cash flow – on their operations. It is critical to evaluate contracts that go beyond January 2018 regarding the ramifications of VAT – and who pays.

Compliance requires maintaining appropriate books of account to support VAT refunds and to avoid penalties for non-compliance.
- Accounting systems must be able to identify and record VAT – payable and receivable – across the entire supply chain.
- Businesses must be able to identify andto record rebates, exemptions or other special VAT treatments on particular transactions.

Start preparations early. Put some contingency budget away for consulting resources.
Paying VAT is one challenge, being fined for not doing it on time is a problem best avoided.

Summary:
Assess capability of existing systems
• Identify VAT implementation strategy
• Identify contracts that need a VAT action
• Identify intercompany transactions
• Undertake training / awareness

VAT implementation will have immediate effects on consumer behavior, which gives both challenges and
opportunities for companies to assess their business direction and to review their: strategies, budgets, cash flow forecasts, manning.

If you need to implement a new financial system, or to enable VAT in your current systems then contact us on 00091713365589

Dynamics 365 Operations – Power BI content packs

February 13th, 2017

Dynamics 365 Operations no longer offers role based portals instead there are content packs provided for Power BI e.g.:
- The Financial Performance content pack, is designed specifically for CFOs, and provides access to insights about your organization’s financial performance.
- The Retail Channel Performance content pack is targeted for channel managers focuses on sales performance to predict trends and uncover insights by drawing directly from Retail & Commerce data.
- The Cost Management is designed for COOs and CFOs and provides details on operation performance.

More are on the road map e.g. for: assets, purchases, credit control, expenses

Here are some samples for Inventory/WMS

Inbound – Measure vendor delivery precision. Measure put-away average times for products, and vendors, and be able to measure how fast your workers are processing put-away work.

Outbound – Measure how many of the shipments were sent in full and on time. Measure early, late and on time shipments in order to monitor outbound performance and endure high customer service levels.

Inventory accuracy – Measure inventory accuracy for locations and items based on inventory counting with full visibility into discrepancies in quantity and percentage

( The data may take some time to load depending on the size of your instance. If you’re seeing empty reports within Power BI, then confirm you have access to the OData tables required for the reports.

Moving CRM to Dynamics 365 – ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

February 11th, 2017

Why bother?

More Data Storage
For Dynamics 365 default cloud storage is doubled to 10 GB compared to Dynamics CRM Online.
its easier to accrue additional storage. Extra storage capacity increases at a higher rate of 5 GB x 20 full users compared to just 2.5 GB with Dynamics CRM. With no maximum of free storage, Dynamics 365 provides more generous data storage for every subscription with additional storage costs now priced at a lower rate compared to Dynamics CRM Online.

Includes Non-Production Instance

Only larger sites had free access to a Dynamics CRM sandbox. By default, every Microsoft Dynamics 365 subscriber will now have access to their own non-production instance at no additional cost in which to carry out development work and test new features in a safe environment away their live instance of Dynamics.

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Team Member licence
A new low cost option to enable more people to be connected to your sales, marketing, service and more processes who perhaps haven’t previously had access to Dynamics CRM. Team Member licences provide light touch access across all connected Dynamics 365 apps.

Users manage activities, update contacts and accounts, track Outlook emails, connect with Office 365 apps, create knowledge articles and update custom entities in addition to read only access across all other record types and processes. This to reading and interacting with PowerBI dashboards, mobile access to PowerApps and even using Microsoft Flow templates to automate processes.

Choose a Plan or an App

Only pay for what you need. Licence Dynamics 365 by one of the role specific Apps including: sales, customer service and project service.

Each App also includes Team Member capabilities to consume and to share content across all Dynamics 365 Apps. For user requirements that span several Apps, a Plan is always be the best value – an incremental cost compared to individual apps for everything that Dynamics 365 has to offer.

Organisations can mix and match these options to have a combination of Plans, Apps and Team Member licenses which reflect the roles and usage requirements of each individual.
(At least one App or Plan is required to configure and administer Team licenses. You can’t deploy Dynamics 365 with all users on a Team license, at least one App/Plan is required per agreement).

Web Portal
In addition to full access across Dynamics 365 apps, the Plan 1 licence includes access to an integrated web portal to extend self-service capabilities. Create extra capacity, foster greater engagement with customers, partners, employees or communities, and increase satisfaction by deploying a web portal that fully connects with your business processes. By default, the web portal provides capacity for up to 1 million page views per month. Additional capacity can be purchased in 500k page view increments.

Voice of the Customer Surveys

Dynamics 365 plans and apps include the integrated Voice of the Customer survey solution to create and send personalised surveys from Microsoft Dynamics to gain feedback. Design bespoke surveys using numerous question types including smileys, star ratings and ranked lists and personalize landing pages. When a survey is completed, you can use rules to trigger automated follow-up actions. For example, create a lead or add a new service case and route this to the correct queue for prompt handling. Surveys can be delivered automatically each time a service case closes to track customer satisfaction.

Survey analytics and Power BI integration
Use customer feedback to identify service gaps, run targeted marketing campaigns, or send offers to increase sales.

7. Tiered Pricing

Buy more licences and save more! As the Dynamics 365 user count increases beyond 100 licences on Team Member and Enterprise Plan 1 licences, the cost per user decreases.

Full Social Engagement

Fully integrated Microsoft Social Engagement is available for all Dynamics 365 Plans and Apps putting powerful social tools in the hands of sales, marketing and service teams. Gain insight into how people feel about your business and empowering teams to proactively connect on social media with customers, fans, and critics.
With access to full Social Engagement capabilities, users can now add unlimited social streams and trigger automated Cases and Leads from social events.

By default, Social Engagement will track up to 20,000 social posts per month. Additional capacity can be purchased for an additional cost.

Built in Artificial Intelligence

One example of newly embedded AI capabilities is Relationship Insights. This includes helping sales people understand the health of each relationship, and how likely each deal will proceed. Signals from tracked Exchange emails and CRM entries determines the status of each relationship and any trends based on these interactions and their frequency. Sales teams can better assess the risks and focus efforts on the right opportunities and activities.

Tips for Dynamics CRM 2016 to Dynamics 365 On-Premise Upgrades

Colin Maitland, 03 February 2017

You can also upgrade your on-premises deployment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015/2016 to Microsoft Dynamics 365 y downloading and installing the December 2016 Update for Dynamics 365. If your current version is Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 then you first need to upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 .

The following TechNet articles provide detailed technical information:
- Install or upgrade Microsoft Dynamics 365 Server, Plan your upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Server (this applies to Dynamics 365 (on-premises) as well, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Server Installation,
- Configure IFD for Microsoft Dynamics 365,
- Troubleshooting installation and upgrade

You can upgrade using one of the following methods:

Migrate by using anew instance of Microsoft SQL Server

This is the safest and recommended approach. This approach requires a different computer for the new version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server and a different instance of SQL Server.

Migrate by using the same instance of SQL Server

This method requires a different computer for the new version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server but upgrades the existing configuration and default organisation database on your existing SQL Server.

In-place upgrade

This is the riskiest approach. This approach upgrades your existing CRM Server and existing configuration and default organisation database on your existing SQL Server.

The following are some tips for completing a successful upgrade:

Licencing

There is single edition of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Server (On-Premises). The Client Access Licences, i.e. Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, include the rights to use the Server. You need to obtain the product key prior to upgrading. This is available as a benefit of Software Assurance or can be purchased. FYI: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 365 On-Premises Licensing Guide.

Upgrade Plan

- Who will perform your upgrade?
- Who will test your upgrade?
- When will these be done?
- What other systems need to be upgraded or tested in conjunction with your Microsoft Dynamics 365 upgrade?
- Identify all high-level steps that need to be completed to perform a successful upgrade. Who performs each step and how long does each step require?

Plan the steps required to upgrade your client software as well as your server software.
- How will you continue business as normal using your existing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015/2016 deployment if the upgrade fails?
- An upgrade plan should include a pre-production upgrade test plan, post-production upgrade test plan and an upgrade failure recovery plan.
- What training needs to be provided to your users as a part of the upgrade and how will this be delivered, by whom and when?

Consult with us as your Dynamics CRM Business Partner .to advise you on the safest and most appropriate method for completing a successful upgrade. review planning, technical, training and support for performing your upgrade and for clarifying the licencing requirements, and to identify potential issues to be addressed, that could cause the upgrade to fail, such as the presence of unsupported customisations or incompatible third-party solution, and to confirm that Microsoft Dynamics CRM 365 is compatible with your current software and hardware.

Test Plan
Identify areas of functionality that need to be tested to prove that you can continue business as normal as a result of upgrading.
- custom solutions developed by yourself, or Microsoft Dynamics CRM Business Partner or other parties.
- custom solutions downloaded and installed from the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace.
- integrations with other systems such as: Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SharePoint Server, your Company Web Site and other systems such as third-party applications and websites.

Develop a test plan that ensures all identified areas, processes and integrations will be tested. Plan to test as each of your organisation’s User Roles. Avoid testing as the System Administrator User. Test using specific User Roles such as Sales Person and Sales Manager etc.Test your core end-to-end processes from start to finish. Any given end to end business process may include testing the User Interface, Workflow Processes, Reports and any custom functionality.

Third Party Solutions

If you are using third-party solutions, you may need to obtain updated versions of those solutions that are compatible with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 365 or consult with the third party solution provides to confirm whether or not the current versions of those solutions are compatible.

Consider whether or not there are any opportunities to upgrade your system in such a way that:
- existing functionality that is no longer used is retired
- existing functionality that can be enhanced is enhanced
- whether or not any new functionality available in Microsoft Dynamics 365 is that if used will improve your business efficiency, operations and effectiveness are evaluated and included where suitable
- whether or not any new custom functionality that does not currently exist could be developed and deployed as a part of the upgrade

Test Environment
Create and configure your test environment to be a replica of your production environment.
If the production environment integrates with other systems, such as Microsoft Exchange Server or your Web Site then ensure that the test environment is reconfigured to integrate with test versions of those systems rather than with the live versions of those systems.

Consider whether to update or to remove all of the email addresses for Leads, Customers and Users in your test environment so that any functionality to be tested, such as Workflow Processes that may send email communications do not send any communications generated as a result of testing to your production environment Leads, Customers and Users.

Consider also whether or not you need to do this with phone numbers if you have processes that any processes that send SMS messages.

Use the test environment to perform technical and user testing prior to upgrading your production environment.

Technical Testing
Plan to test and formally signoff the upgrade at a technical level. This confirms that the upgrade process works without issue and results in a successfully upgraded system that technically works and can be logged into by System Administrators and Users. Technical issues can be caused by incorrect software and hardware, incorrect/missed configurations, incorrect/missed upgrade steps and incompatible third-party solutions.

User Testing
Your test users should follow the test plan you have developed to prove that there are no functional issues as a result of your upgrade.

Backups
Before upgrading your production environments, ensure you have backups that are suitable for restoring your production environment to its previous state in the event that the upgrade fails. Also backup your test environment so that should your test upgrade fails you can restore your test environment without needing to reinstall it.

Training
Train your users as a part of the upgrade process especially with regard to new features, and areas of the User interface that have changed. This is also a good opportunity to provide general refresher training and to update training on best practices for using Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Dynamics 365 CRM (CRM 2017) – Synergy Software Systems update

February 11th, 2017

Microsoft released Dynamics CRM 2017 this month as the Dynamics 365 Enterprise customer engagement apps.

Significant new features include:
– customer Insights generated from Azure machine learning,
– a new visual workflow design tool,
- improved enterprise business intelligence capabilities,
– more telemetry for health and performance monitoring, inline editable grids.

Dynamics 365 for Customer and Relationship Insights are services to aggregate customer data both from the CRM software and form external sources such as social media, in order to draw inferences which influence relationship health scores. These apps use connectors social media data streams,and integration with other apps such as: Exchange and ERP systems, algorithms from the Cortana Intelligence suite, Azure machine learning and Power BI to harvest, correlate and display analytics and KPIs.

Relative sized and color coded circles show the health of customer relationships based on: the volume, recency and interaction of email exchanges

Insights are extensible to deliver more customer-specific guidance, suggestions or next best actions. For example, when an email from a customer mentions a competitor name, the system may trigger an alert, create an activity, or modify the sale opportunity.

The new visual workflow design tool replaces a table and the row workflow interface which worked okay, but often confused business analysts and administrators. The new tool uses a drag and drop designer on a visual canvas. This tool was previously part of Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (MDM) and is extended to the CRM suite. (Interestingly, Microsoft recently discontinued Microsoft Dynamics Marketing)

The workflow designer is extensible using Portable Business Logic (PBL) and includes some new, in-line, contextual user tips, and also process measurements such as elapsed time between steps. The new workflow tool however, still does not accommodate the need for routing and approval processing.

Data warehousing and enterprise Business Intelligence (BI) capabilities. Data can be more easily replicated to external data stores – be it on-premise or to an Azure SQL data warehouse – for online analytical processing or Power BI viewing. This approach incurs some minimal latency, but protects the CRM system runtime performance and scalability.


Additional Dynamics CRM features include the following:
•Process Guides have a new designer and permit improved child branching, embedded tasks and workflow automation.
•The Field Service software includes a Connected Field Services function (with Internet of Things integration), Resource Scheduling Optimization (for mass scheduling using an algorithm), map updates and a Field Service Mobile app (however this app doesn’t support offline operation as does the rest of the CRM software.)
•The Project Service Automation now integrates with MS Project and Dynamics 365 for Operations (previously Dynamics AX).
•Social engagement has been extended to include automatic tags, sentiment analysis for Chinese and Japanese languages, and social listening for Instagram.
•Mobile CRM has a stepped-up user interface that now includes stacked components (for tablets) and more native device support. An offline data API offers access to the mobile offline database.
•Power BI (finally) works within CRM and supports drill-through to forms and grids. It also includes some new content packs and multi-language packs.
•Gamification has an upgraded user interface, Azure AD identity integration and new mobile support. To date, gamification has not gained much traction and I don’t suspect these new features are significant enough to change that.
•A new generic scheduling engine can consider any concept of demand, such as work orders (with SLAs), cases and sales activities, and apply a scheduling algorithm to improve resource capacity. This provides a central view for project, field and internal bookings, and is extensible to include objects from any CRM entities and custom entities.
•A Relationship Assistant offers proactive insights such as news and what’s going on with a customer. Like the Customer Insights and Relationship Insights services, the Assistant is built on machine learning and Cortana intelligence algorithms.
•There is a new email context extraction function. This is essentially a bridge between the users’ email productivity world (where they spend their time and interact with customers) and the core customer system of record.
•Search has been improved. It now uses Azure Search, examines any field or entity, searches documents stored in CRM and displays a single comprehensive list along with facets (which are search results segmented by entity, such as accounts, opportunities and cases).
•The Learning Path tool now supports editing help content. This can deliver contextual instruction using sidebars, guided tasks and videos.
• A new backup and restore function allows the online database to be copied to Azure storage, and downloaded to an on-premise location. Prior to this function, customers had to call Microsoft and request this service. This could be helpful for data analysis, or to apply a database profiler for testing or performance analysis.
•New inline grid editing of records is now available in the web client and mobile app for both home grids and sub-grids.
• This new version includes more telemetry. Microsoft has instrumented more of the code for online system health and performance monitoring. This also aids error resolution as users just need to report the time of the error, and no longer need to describe how to reproduce the error.
• There are three new platform tools designed to work with CRM.
- Flow
(a business process engine),
PowerApps (a visual mobile app builder intended to be used by BA’s and power users)
– Common Data Model (intended for shared services among multiple applications)

These apps are still in early stages but have huge potential.

With this Microsoft CRM software release, the company has achieved 48 quarters of consecutive double digit growth and 2X year over year growth for CRM Online seats. 80 percent of new CRM buyers now choose CRM Online. The CRM software growth strategy appears to be two-fold – offer a strong CRM suite which continues the existing growth momentum and better embed CRM with ERP as part of Dynamics 365 for a tighter enterprise-wide business software solution.

There’s more…… Microsoft Dynamics 365 portal is getting a huge facelift this year, which include new entity filters to the portal’s global search box and a new navigation-friendly feature to result in pages.

In addition to the expanded search functionality, Microsoft has also announced that it will be expanding its roster of languages supported by the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portal to 43 languages, allowing multinational organizations to reach more of their employees.

This capability will allow IT people to use the company’s translation technologies to create copies of their content in the desired language. It will also allow organizations to deliver business information across several languages while only having to maintain a single content hierarchy.

Microsoft is adding the Learning Path feature, a new Microsoft Azure Cloud platform service that delivers contextually-rich walkthrough, training, and videos.

Microsoft Social Engagement 2017 Update 1.1 – find out what’s new

February 11th, 2017

New features introduced in Microsoft Social Engagement 2017 Update 1.1

Social Selling Assistant

Microsoft Social Engagement introduces Social Selling Assistant, to empower your salespeople to sell more by leveraging social media. Salespeople get personalized and smart recommendations to share on their social networks to enable them increase their social presence, gain trust from their followers, and generate more leads.

Access Social Selling Assistant from within Microsoft Social Engagement and install it from the Microsoft AppSource into your Dynamics 365 for Sales application. The AppSource app adds a new dashboard that contains Social Selling Assistant. Salespeopleaccess this dashboardboth from the Dynamics 365 web client, and from Dynamics 365 for tablets. (Dynamics 365 for phones is currently not supported.)

Share a post to LinkedIn
Add your personal LinkedIn account as a social profile. Share any public post in Microsoft Social Engagement to your professional network on LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn social profile is available for the post action “Post Link“. When you share to LinkedIn, choose between two visibility options:
- show the post to everyone on LinkedIn
- or to your network only.
This post action is available across all Microsoft Social Engagement services, including the newly released Social Selling Assistant. Go to Settings> Social Profiles, click the Add Profile button, select LinkedIn Profile, and follow the steps.

Japanese & Chinese (traditional) User interface

Microsoft Social Engagement introduces the user interface in Japanese and Chinese (traditional) languages. Users can change the language of the user interface under Settings > Personal Settings > Your Preferences. The localization of the user interface also includes the respective calendars for Japanese and Chinese (traditional) languages.

Issues resolved in Microsoft Social Engagement 2017 Update 1.1

In addition to the new features, Update 1.1 addresses the following issues and improvements:
•Fixed an issue where RSS feeds based on a keyword search topic were only acquiring data when at least one full feed custom source search topic was set up.
•Fixed an issue where we were unable to process a high number of RSS feeds added to Microsoft Social Engagement.
•Fixed an issue with the description of the Facebook User account type.
•Fixed an issue to improve readability of posts with multiple sentences and paragraphs.
•Fixed an issue where content from Blogs was displayed in JSON format.
•Fixed an issue with truncated tool tips for domains and custom tag names in the Allowed Domains and Custom Tags settings pages. The full label is now shown in the corresponding tool tips.
•Fixed several issues to reduce execution errors and the resulting number of e-mail notifications for Automation Rules.
•Data exported to Excel from our app will now use Excel’s date format. This means you will see dates according to the localization settings of your operating system and can change them easily.
•Data exported from the widget “Sources history” now labels all sources as expected.

Windows as a Service – ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

February 6th, 2017

Windows as a service is a new concept, introduced with the release of Windows 10 which applies to:
• Windows 10
• Windows 10 Mobile
• Windows 10 IoT Mobile

Not sure what Windows as a service is? With Windows 10, Microsoft moved to deliver Windows as a service which introduces a new way for how it’s built, deployed and serviced. View this 5-minute video demo where Microsoft demystify the core components of the Windows as a service model will demystify the core components of the Windows as a service model , including the build release process and update cadence as well as rupcoming enhancements that further streamline the model.

Terminology you should know:
•Feature updates add new features to Windows 10, delivered in an agile manner
•Quality updates are released monthly and are cumulative.
•Servicing branches allow organizations to choose when to deploy new features.
•Deployment rings are groups of devices used to initially pilot, and then to broadly deploy, each feature update in an organization.

New feature update releases are initially considered Current Branch (CB) releases; organizations will use these for pilot deployments to ensure compatibility with existing apps and infrastructure. After about four months, the feature update will be declared as Current Branch for Business (CBB), indicating that it is ready for broad deployment.

Each Windows 10 feature update (which initially begins as CB and then is declared as CBB) will be serviced with quality updates for a minimum of 18 months after it is released. The total length of time can be longer, as there will be two CBB releases serviced at all times. There will be a minimum of 60 days advanced notice (a grace period) after a CBB declaration occurs before an older feature update is no longer serviced.

Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB is a separate Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) version. Each release is supported for a total of 10 years (five years standard support, five years extended support). New releases are expected about every three years.

Staying up to date

The process for keeping Windows 10 up to date involves deploying a feature update, at an appropriate time after its release. A variety of tools management and patching tools such as Windows Update, Windows Update for Business, Windows Server Update Services, System Center Configuration Manager, and third-party products) can be used to help with this process. Windows Upgrade Analytics, a free tool to streamline Windows upgrade projects, is another important tool to help.

Because app compatibility, both for desktop apps and web apps, is outstanding with Windows 10, extensive advanced testing isn’t required. Instead, only business-critical apps need to be tested, with the remaining apps validated through a series of pilot deployment rings. Once these pilot deployments have validated most apps and CBB has been declared, broad deployment can begin.

This process repeats with each new feature update, two to three times per year. These are small deployment projects, compared to the big projects that were necessary with the old three-to-five-year Windows release cycles.

Additional technologies such as BranchCache and Delivery Optimization, both peer-to-peer distribution tools, can help with the distribution of the feature update installation files.

Dynamics 365 launch event Microsoft Gulf

February 5th, 2017

Last week Synergy staff attended the Dynamics 365 regional launch day. This gave insights into the Microsoft Dynamics solution portfolio. Siegfried Leiner the Principal Program Manager, Dynamics CRM Microsoft gave a ‘deep dive’ key note speech.

The event was kicked off by Samer Abu Ltaif Regional General Manager, Microsoft Gulf and Karim Talhouk
Regional Director, Microsoft Business Solutions, Microsoft Gulf who presented how digital transformation is happening in the Gulf. Steve Plimsoll Chief Digital and Data Officer, PWC, and Harris Mygdalis Deputy CIO, Commercial Bank of Dubai gave further insights.

This well attended event attracted customers with a wide range of requirements. Mobility, analytics, and integration were common themes.

Healthcare Decisions – now available for the U.A.E. built on Dynamics CRM

February 4th, 2017

We offer a powerful patient relationship management solution, built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM/xRM that utilises accredited clinical content to facilitate best clinical practice, record keeping and auditing. It assists in decision making, for improved efficiency and safe, appropriate outcomes for patients.

- Connect people, information and systems.
- Enable your healthcare institutions to move away from isolated legacy applications and paper-based processes.
- Aid physicians, nurses and administrators to work as a single integrated team to improve clinical decision making and to co-ordinate the delivery of patient care.

Our clinical content suite is a proven set of symptom-based, algorithms developed by clinicians to support healthcare decisions. In the NHS, in the U.K., the NHS Direct software has benefited over 50 million people in England, Wales and Scotland as the largest, telephone-based, triage system in the world.

Accurate and up to date clinical information is the bedrock of safe healthcare applications. Our clinical content is well established and is constantly updated. Our content suite guides the user through questions and rationales to assess the severity of the situation. This ensures both an evidence based outcome, and an efficient and timely referral to appropriate care for the patient.

– Proven safety record in over 80 million patient encounters,
- Certified accreditations.
URAC Accredited
ISO Accredited
IS Accredited

Use structured clinical assessments both to promote best practice within staff groups, and to provide reassurance to patients, and thereby consistency and quality in assessment and outcomes.

Our customisable interface allows for adaptation of the content to meet local needs, from: Malaria, to Sickle Cell Anaemia, trauma, or snake bites.

Trusted, evidence-based, content minimises clinical risk, The content can be enhanced with user feedback, The content can be used within many applications, such as:
teletriage
contact centres,
web and mobile applications,
face to face assessment
self assessment

Our supporting Decision Management System is an authoring and presentation software application that enables you easily: to write, to view and to publish clinical content, business processes and workflows.

Update your content in real time. The open API allows you to publish across multi-channels, multi-devices and to integrate with the HIS software solutions you use.

Multi-Lingual requirement? No problem – DMS can support any language.

Our system guides users through questions, to gather pertinent information, and provides reasoning, to quickly and efficiently reach an ‘outcome’. The system can be paused and resumed, at any time during this process. A user can break from one workflow, to enter another workflow, at any time during the assessment process.

On completion an electronic transcript of the complete transaction is stored for audit purposes.

Our Decision Management System supports decision making in multiple health environments.

Where DMS can help:
Nurse led contact centre environments – enable consistent, safe, assessment of a patient’s symptoms, and rapidly provide direction to the appropriate care.
Pandemic situations - rapidly guide concerned callers to the right level of care, and when appropriate, give directions for self care.
- Social care – help decision makers on the eligibility and level of support required for a patient or service user.
- On-line intelligent forms automate long and difficult paper based assessments.
- SMS assessment triage patients via SMS.
- Healthcare apps deliver health advice and information for patients via apps.


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