Non-Profit Partners In Health: Saving time, saving money and saving lives with the cloud

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Powered by Microsoft Azure, Partners In Health saves money and fine-tunes its programming—creating additional resources to improve people’s health worldwide.
The international nonprofit Partners In Health (PIH) modernizes healthcare in the world’s most in-need populations. By deploying Microsoft cloud solutions across sites globally, PIH is streamlining operations, optimizing capacity and communication, and most importantly, saving lives.
Marc Julmisse, chief nursing officer at University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti says “we’re saving time and money, and every dollar we save is making it to the field to help those that need it.”
A nonprofit’s mission is focused on serving its people and can be even more empowered by the right IT. Non-Profits can now qualify for large discounts which accelerates their mission to do good.

How can the Microsoft cloud empower Non-Profits to achieve more?

Non-Profits are constantly pinching pennies and trying to make the most of their existing resources. To help them leverage their existing resources, including data, Partners In Health created a centralized, cloud-based clearinghouse for its offices, clinics and field employees to store, access and analyze data.
It's up to the staff to input patient details but because the files are hosted in the cloud, team members can upload information from any device, anywhere in the world. This optimizes their communication and collaboration and expedites decision-making.
Partners In Health also utilizes data stored safely in the cloud to better understand quality of care in its clinics, hospitals and home visits.  The insights gleaned from data uploaded in real time empowers the Non-Profit to share best practices from locations that are exceeding benchmarks, direct resources where they are most needed and demonstrate success to donors.

How can the Microsoft cloud leverage communication to connect multiple employees worldwide?

Non-Profit leaders know that communication is the key to innovation and problem-solving.  Because of that, Partners In Health standardized its communication systems with Microsoft and these improvements led the way for  non-profit’s directive to help people that need it most.
Take, for example, the recent Ebola outbreak. With Office 365, PIH sent an all-hands email to mobilize people—and start saving lives as quickly as possible. Such an efficient response to a health emergency would have been impossible in the nonprofit’s previous IT solution and employee’s reliance on personal email accounts.
And because Outlook is just one part of an entire cloud ecosystem, employees who are integrated into the email exchange can also collaborate on documents in SharePoint, access performance metrics in OneDrive and brainstorm solutions with colleagues half a world away on Skype for Business. What’s more, the Azure cloud identity solution provides a database of employees, their location and their work, which local technical leads can manage without relying on headquarters oversight. This solution ensures staff get the access and resources to do their jobs—quickly.

How does the Microsoft cloud protect Non-Profit’s sensitive data?

Partners In Health collects patients’ most sensitive information about their health status so PIH knew they had to show how safe and secure they were, and the cloud allows them to do just that.
Microsoft’s cloud encrypts email, allows custom security settings and protects data from threats with industry-leading firewalls and antimalware.

How does the Microsoft cloud help non-profits work in remote and challenging conditions?

Serving the world’s most at-risk populations where they work and live means that Non-Profits operate in unforgiving locations.
Thanks to cloud access, employees plow through what used to be daily IT headaches and even bigger IT disasters. By backing up the data to OneDrive, non-profits no longer worry about losing valuable or sensitive data.
Mobile access to documents, programs and storage allows employees to stay productive. The Microsoft cloud helps people stay connected and collaborate in real time, even to the most remote areas.
The Microsoft cloud empowers Partners In Health to do more with less. As a more efficient, collaborative and flexible nonprofit, PIH can respond to any health crisis—and ensure people across the globe get the life-saving care they need.

Conversations on AI

Conversations on AI

As written on news.microsoft.com
Microsoft has been investing in the promise of artificial intelligence for more than 25 years — and this vision is coming to life with new chatbot Zo, Cortana Devices SDK and Skills Kit, and expansion of intelligence tools.
“Across several industry benchmarks, our computer vision algorithms have surpassed others in the industry — even humans,” said Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Research group, at a small gathering on AI in San Francisco on Dec. 13.
“But what’s more exciting to me is that our vision progress is showing up in our products like HoloLens and with customers like Uber building apps to use these capabilities.”
When Bill Gates created Microsoft Research in 1991, he had a vision that computers would one day see, hear and understand human beings — and this notion attracted some of the best and brightest minds to the company’s labs.
Last month, Microsoft became the first in the industry to reach parity with humans in speech recognition. There’s also been groundbreaking work with Skype Translator — now available in 9 languages — an example of accelerating the pipeline from research to product. With Skype Translator Microsoft has enabled people to understand each other, in real time, while talking to others in all corners of the world. But what about the dream of face-to-face, real-time translation?
Using this new intelligent language and speech recognition capability, Microsoft Translator can now simultaneously translate between groups speaking multiple languages in-person, in real-time, connecting people and overcoming barriers.

Four Green Tech Predictions for 2017

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rob-bernard-four-green-tech-predictionsFour Green Tech Predictions for 2017

Written by Rob Bernard as seen on blogs.microsoft.com
The end of the calendar year is a traditional time of reflection, of the ups and downs of the past year, and to think about what to expect in 2017. As Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist, I am encouraged by the progress made on some environmental issues in the past year, but there is still much work to be done. Despite the increasing urgency around many environmental issues, I remain optimistic about the future.
Perhaps the most notable breakthrough this past year was that the Paris Agreement on climate change entered into force. Cities, countries and companies around the world are now focusing their efforts on how to set and execute their plans to reduce carbon emissions. We also saw growth in corporate procurement of renewable energy in 2016, both in the U.S. and around the globe, another encouraging sign. At Microsoft, we put forth our own goal to source 50% of our datacenter electricity from wind, solar and hydropower. At the end of this year, we’re happy to report that we are on pace to not only meet our goal, but also are creating new financial and technology models that can further accelerate the pace of the adoption of renewable energy.
As we look towards 2017, I expect that we will see both continued progress on energy and an increasing focus on non-energy areas. As we at Microsoft think about 2017, I think we expect to see some shifts in approaches and investments happening across the world.

1. IoT and Cloud Computing will begin to transform utility energy management:

Aging infrastructure is already under pressure and the addition of more renewable energy will only compound the stress on existing infrastructure. As more clean energy comes online, along with distributed resources like electric vehicles and rooftop solar, utilities are facing a big challenge – how to manage a more complex network of energy creating and energy storing devices.  2017 will see an increased investment by utilities in technology to leverage data, through IoT solutions and cloud computing, to make energy management more predictable, flexible and efficient.
In developing nations, we are seeing a different trend, but one that is also accelerated by IoT and cloud computing. In these markets, data is being used to accelerate distribution, sales and management of micro-solar grids to enable households to get both power and connectivity to the internet. 2017 should be an exciting year with even more growth as capital investments in these markets increase and solar and battery storage prices decline.

2. Water will begin to emerge as the next critical world-scale environmental challenge

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Water scarcity is increasing in many areas around the world. Our oceans are under threat from pollution, acidification and warming temperatures. We are already seeing the devastating effects on iconic landmarks like the Great Barrier Reef. And these trends are putting peoples’ food, water, and livelihoods at risk. In 2017, awareness on this challenge will increase. We will begin to better understand what is happening to our water through the use of sensors and cloud computing. Our ability to leverage technologies like advanced mapping technologies and sensors will increase and expand our understanding of what is driving the decline of many of our critical water systems.

3. Data will increasingly be used to try to better understand our planet

Data is essential for monitoring and managing the earth’s resources and fragile ecosystems. There is much we do not understand about the planet, but we see an increasing number of companies and investments flowing toward developing tools and platforms that enable better mapping and understanding of earth’s carbon storage and air borne gasses, and ecosystems and the associated value they provide. We expect to see data being applied more proactively to create a more actionable understanding of how we can better manage food, water, biodiversity and climate change.

4. Organizations and policy makers will start leveraging cloud-based technologies

This area is perhaps the most difficult to try to predict. While countries will begin implementing their action plans under the Paris Agreement, it is not easy to predict the methods each country will use and prioritize to make progress against commitments under the Paris Agreement. And the changes will happen not just at the national level. Increasingly we will see cities and local governments moving ahead with technology implementation to drive efficiencies and accountability, along with policy changes as well. We’re already leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence to better model and understand the potential impact of legislative changes, in addition to offering our technologies to our public sector partners as they work towards their plans. While this will likely take several years to take hold, 2017 should see an increased awareness for the role of technology in environmental policy
While there are many challenges ahead across so many areas of sustainability, I remain optimistic.  The number of people and organizations that are focusing on these and many other areas of sustainability ensure that we will continue to make progress in 2017.  At Microsoft, we are committed to working with our customers and partners to help them achieve more through the use of our technologies. Everyone – companies, countries, individuals – have much work to do. We believe that by working together, we can help develop effective solutions to address environmental challenges that will benefit our business, our customers and the planet. And we are up to the challenge.

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Skype’s year of inspiration, celebration, translation and innovation

Skype’s year of inspiration, celebration, translation and innovation

As written on blogs.skype.com.
As 2016 comes to a close, we’re looking back at the moments that have marked our year here at Skype. With a mission of doing things together whenever you’re apart, we’ve developed more text, voice and video features to make it even easier for all of you to share experiences with the people that matter most.
Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of 2016:
Skype Bots: We released some intelligent little helpers to increase productivity and make planning tasks easier than ever. From finding gig tickets with StubHub, to planning flights to your perfect vacation with Hipmunk and Skyscanner, or simplifying shipping with UPS—you can achieve so much more, right from a chat window. We’re looking forward to taking the next steps in artificial intelligence and conversational computing in the upcoming year.
Hipmunk Skype bot
Skype Translator: Since 2014, Skype Translator has been breaking down language barriers, making it easier for you to connect with people around the world. This year we added Arabic and Russian to our seven existing spoken languages (English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese (Mandarin), Italian, and Portuguese). These languages have joined over 50 IM languages in text-to-text translation—bringing the world closer together.
This week we’ve started to roll out the next milestone for Skype Translator: voice translation for calls to mobiles and landlines for users on Skype Preview for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. This means you can use Skype to call people on their phones* and communicate across languages—even if they don’t have Skype. So now you can save time before you travel by calling a restaurant to book a table, or a hotel to make a reservation, without worrying about the language barrier. (*Requires Skype Credit or a subscription to use. To learn more, please visit Skype.com.)
As we mark the two-year anniversary of Skype Translator, we’ve seen people from all over the world using it to connect to friends, family and enable them in business. One of the stories we came across was that of New York fashion designer Bing Cai, founder of ‘Alouit New York’—a company that creates comfortable stilettos (yes you read correctly!) and uses Skype Translator to communicate with their factory in Italy.
See how Skype Translator helps inspire and encourage people to think beyond all limitations:
Skype Preview for Windows 10: We’ve been working closely with the Windows team to build a new Skype—redesigning the app to work seamlessly with Windows 10 and taking advantage of the Universal Windows Platform. This summer, we rolled out a faster and easier way for Windows 10 customers to use Skype which comes installed on the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
Skype Preview for Windows 10
Group video calling on mobile: Group video calling continued its evolution when we introduced the feature on mobile phones and tablets—enabling you to video call up to 25 people on the go, so nobody gets left out.
New personal expression content: We had fun teaming up with Marvel Studios, Coldplay, Monty Python, Angry Birds, Tangerine Band, The Late Late Show and Sir Paul McCartney to create original Mojis and emoticons to add to our collection.
Check out our new holiday themed emoticons and Mojis that will help spread the festive cheer. You can also record a personalized Skype holiday card video to share over Skype, or on social networks including Facebook and email!
Skype filters
#SkypeTogether: 2016 saw our partnerships with advocates and influencers come together to form #SkypeTogether—unique ways to access our social community, directly within Skype itself. We kicked it off with #SkypeFit, where we connected a community of health conscious people with influencers via YouTube videos, challenges and Skype group chats. #SkypeTogether also saw our first ever influencer-focused gaming collaboration: #GamingWithSkype. Over the summer, we partnered with ESL and 343 Studios (the makers of Halo) to engage gamers within Skype and via Twitch. At present, we’re excited, to be working with One Nation of Gamers (ONOG) on an exclusive Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft tournament.
Your stories: 2016 has seen lots of inspiring stories showcasing new and original ways that people use Skype. Here are a few highlights:
  • Dr. David Nott used Skype from the UK to oversee surgery in war-torn Aleppo, Syria.
  • Jenn Nicken, founder of The Chef & The Dish, offers cooking classes over Skype with chefs around the world.
  • The 2016 Skype-a-Thon which featured classrooms from 75 countries, travelling almost 10 million virtual miles over Skype, in 48 hours.
From Antarctica to the North Pole, and out of this world to the International Space Station—this year has been full of exiting Skype stories. And we can’t wait to see where you’ll take Skype next!
From the Skype & Managed Solution families to yours, we wish you happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!

New Education Category in Visio Pro for Office 365

New Education Category in Visio Pro for Office 365

As written on blogs.technet.microsoft.com.
Years of research suggest students learn best when presented new material in diverse and interactive ways. Gone are the days of lecture-only classrooms; today, educators incorporate a variety of methods to boost learning outcomes. One of those methods, of course, is visual. We’re excited to announce new Microsoft and third-party templates for Visio Pro for Office 365 to help educators present information in highly visual and exciting ways, while helping students better engage across subjects.

New Education templates

Visio Pro for Office 365 is adding more than 20 education templates and sample diagrams that span core subjects, including algebra, trigonometry, chemistry, and physics. These tools bring subjects to life and boost comprehension. For example, in algebra, students can move pre-built shapes to better understand the Pythagorean theorem. Additionally, Visio’s latest offerings include templates and diagrams for curriculum planning, games, sports, hobbies, and music, giving institutions a breadth of solutions for driving a well-rounded education.
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Interactive Learning

Visio shapes have customizable options that enable visuals to respond intelligently to changes in size and context. For example, teachers can use Visio’s smart shapes to illustrate trigonometry concepts by interacting with diagrams to change the underlying information in real time.
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Here is another interactive way to learn about the Pythagorean theorem:
pythagorean

Powerful ecosystem

Now you can access third-party content directly from within Visio Pro for Office 365 for your specialized diagramming needs. For the initial launch, we will deliver access to eight templates and five sample diagrams from our trusted content partners. We’re also enabling even greater interactive learning with partner solutions for OneNote. Companies like GeoGebraDesmos, and Quizlet now enable ready-made content that integrates with OneNote, helping students learn through hands-on visuals in the virtual notebooks they use every day.
geogebra

NGA Human Resources builds a more engaging employee experience with move to Office 365

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NGA Human Resources builds a more engaging employee experience with move to Office 365

By Russell Sheldon, chief information officer, senior vice president for HR consulting, application services and global technology, as written on blogs.office.com.
At NGA Human Resources (NGA HR), the way we engage with our employees—and what we believe it takes to be a great employer—centers around building a positive employee experience. This is what we do on a daily basis for our customers, and it’s equally true for our internal operations.
When new employees join the business, regardless of location or job function, it is vital that they feel part of our global organization. (We operate in more than 35 countries, serving customers in more than 145 countries in 25 languages.) All employees need to be connected, engaging in the company culture that drives our success as a business.
In the digital economy, technology, location and time zones should not be a barrier to productivity. Given our global presence, using technology that promotes worldwide collaboration is critical. In turn, collaboration and the sharing of ideas are paramount to fostering talent. We enact our belief that employees everywhere should feel connected to their organization and that they should be able to work as easily together as they do individually.
Our corporate objective is to make HR work better for businesses. To do this, we have to make the workplace a great place for people to work. For example, we rely on the same HR and payroll platform internally that we use to empower millions of our customers’ employees around the world.
As a business and a services provider, NGA HR has a policy of investing in innovative technologies that drive business efficiencies and improve the employee experience, while continuing to adhere to the strictest compliance requirements.
That is why, when our G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work) contract came up for renewal, we took the time to evaluate what we require as a global organization. We reviewed the market for cloud-based business tools that would help us achieve the scope of global collaboration and individual productivity that we want for our employees, yet still maintain the highest level of data security.
We selected Microsoft Office 365 and migrated our back-office applications and internal collaboration platform from Google to Office 365. We believe that Office 365 presents more aligned business services that will make it easier for us to grow, develop, and most importantly, retain our talent. Employees want to work for an organization that uses technology to improve their work experience so they can collaborate and innovate more effectively to contribute to its growth. This is the inherent value of effective business productivity tools.
A perfect example comes from our chief executive officer, Adel Al-Saleh. Today, he uses Skype for Business Online to host video calls with our 300 global leaders, something that was not possible before. Now the leadership team meets more frequently, using interactive virtual discussions to speed decision making on a global scale. I run a team of approximately 2,000 people around the world. I use Skype for Business Online to connect in real time with 30 of my senior managers, dramatically reducing the time and cost of business travel and freeing up my time and budget for allocation to more strategic requirements. Also, now that we can rely on the de facto industry standard for office collaboration, our commercial teams are responding to RFPs and collaborating on documents more efficiently than ever.
Because Microsoft includes intuitive collaborative capabilities throughout Office 365, it’s easy to be productive. You can kick off a Skype for Business Online call from your inbox and access all Office documents from any device. Now mobile employees stay in touch with work using minimal effort.
The fact that we had more than 8,000 employees regularly active on our Yammer enterprise social network just four weeks after we went live demonstrates that Google was not addressing the need we had for companywide collaboration. Today, we have listened to our employees, and we are providing them with the same ease of communication and access to data that they are used to at home.
Also, with Office 365, we can maintain a hybrid environment. This is hugely advantageous to us when working with customers whose data cannot leave their geographic borders. NGA HR manages the payroll data of millions of employees around the world every year, so we take data security very seriously. We can assure all customers that Office 365 meets our internal compliance mandate and European data privacy standards. It adheres to the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (A29WP) opinion on cloud computing around basic principles of transparency, purpose limitation, data retention, access and disclosure restriction. We also took into consideration the positive opinion of A29WP on the Microsoft Cloud business solution, in line with European data transfer and protection clauses.
Our relationship with Microsoft got off to an incredible start with the highly successful implementation of Office 365. Thanks to the close collaboration among NGA HR, the Microsoft FastTrack team and Microsoft partner Content and Code, we migrated 8,000 employees across the globe, with all their data, in just 12 weeks.
The deployment and change management expertise of the FastTrack team helped us meet our strict deadline, imposed by the expiration of the Google contract, with comfortable breathing space. With a minimal learning curve, everyone in the organization is more mobile, connected and agile. The feedback from employees is positive, and we are already seeing great results. Today, NGA HR is looking forward to even greater collaboration and localization of our global business.

New features arrive in Microsoft Photos on Windows 10

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New features arrive in Microsoft Photos on Windows 10

Written by Chris Pratley as seen on blogs.windows.com
Focusing on the Creators in all of Us
Since I was a kid, I have been drawn to computers because of what they enable each of us to make, to create. Recently Microsoft announced new hardware such as the Surface Studio and Dial, the Windows 10 Creators update, and new software such as Paint 3D, all focused on creators. Creation is a theme that extends across our suite of experiences, including the Photos app that comes with Windows 10.
We have now made available the next step in this creator’s journey with an update to Microsoft Photos. We’re making it fun to view all your digital memories in photo or video form, with a refreshed user experience that makes it pleasant to browse your collection. We’ve updated the way you edit photos and apply filters to simplify the most common actions. To celebrate the new hardware and the creator in all of us, we’ve added the ability to draw on your photos and videos and even play back the ink with animation!
We have ambitious plans with much more to come as we think about creators, digital memories, and storytelling. Stay tuned.
The updated Photos app: Now in dark or light
One of the first things you’ll notice in the updated Photos app is that things got a little lighter. We heard your feedback that for some people (most people!) a dark theme can be overwhelming or intimidating. We’ve got a new, light theme for browsing your pics! Let your memories shine through with the new light theme, or you can always go back to the dark theme in Settings. The single photo view still uses a black ‘lightbox’ feel to let your media show most effectively when it is the center of attention.
Plus, Photos also now has a horizontal navigation bar, making it easier than ever to view your memories in different ways: your whole collection chronologically, or by Albums or Folders. We’ve also taken the time to add subtle animations throughout the experience to make your memories come alive.
New features arrive in Microsoft Photos on Windows 10
Draw on your memories
We each use photos and videos to capture some of the most important moments in our lives. But sometimes, there is more to the story than what our pictures and videos can convey on their own, or you’d just like to personalize a message. Now you can use your stylus (or your finger if you have a touch screen device, or your mouse!) to draw on your memories directly.
New features arrive in Microsoft Photos on Windows 10
Choose from three pen types (I like calligraphic!), pick a color to draw with, and use the eraser to fine-tune your work. Once the ink dries, you can share a still of your new image. But even cooler, allow your message to come to life by sharing an animation of your drawing with friends and family as a video. Share it on Facebook, send over email.
You can also draw on videos, and the ink will play back at the right places when others view it. Use the pen to mark up the peewee league football video just like the pros. Or give stage direction for the school play. Or just add funny comments, thought bubbles and moustaches to lighten up a goofy video.
Windows Ink with Photos
Editing made simple
The photo editor now has a new, easy-to-use interface. The commands have been rearranged to emphasize the most common user needs, such as easy cropping and adjusting. All the other capabilities are still there under Enhance and Adjust. We’ve added a whole new set of filters too. Get creative with filters such as Zeke or Denim, then check out the other adjustable enhancements you can make to your photos, like tweaking the lighting or warmth.
New features arrive in Microsoft Photos on Windows 10
Photos now on Xbox
As a Universal Windows application, Microsoft Photos is showing up throughout the Windows ecosystem. We’re also releasing Photos for the Xbox, which allows you to browse media you have stored on OneDrive for access on all your devices. Use your controller to navigate your memories just as you would expect with our Xbox optimized user interface.
New features arrive in Microsoft Photos on Windows 10
We’d love to hear from you!
We’re making a big investment in Photos these days and we want your feedback on how to make it better. You are a key part of all the changes we make to the Photos experience. Try out the latest update, edit some photos, draw on some videos, and continue to share your feedback with us through the built-in feedback tool. You can find “Send Feedback” under the “…” menu.
New features arrive in Microsoft Photos on Windows 10
Chris Pratley
Studio Manager

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Announcing the Sales Management Solution Template for Dynamics 365 with Data Export

sales-management-solution-template-dynamics-365-managed-solution

Announcing the Sales Management Solution Template for Dynamics 365 with Data Export

Written by Richard Tkachuk as seen on Microsoft Corporation
Back in May, we announced the sales management solution template that simplified and accelerated building powerful and compelling Power BI solutions on Dynamics CRM (now Dynamics 365). The sales management solution template offered a very fast guided experience to create compelling reports on an extensible, scalable, and secure architecture that could be customized however one needed. This meant that instead of spending one’s time on plumbing, one could instead spend it on extending and customizing the solution template to meet your organization’s needs. Today, I’m pleased to announce the integration of Dynamics CRM Data Export with the sales management solution template for Dynamics 365.
Data Export is a free add-on service made available as a Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution that adds the ability to replicate Dynamics 365 online data to a Microsoft Azure SQL Database store in a customer-owned Microsoft Azure subscription.
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There’s no more scheduling – your data is automatically replicated from Dynamics 365 as soon as it changes.
With this new capability, customers can use the sales management solution template create an enterprise-ready Power BI analytics solution on data that is replicated to their Azure SQL database in a fast, robust, and scalable manner.
Provisioning the solution template is just as simple as before, but now it’s much, much faster with Data Export. You don’t need to do anything new – if you’re a Dynamics 365 administrator, just run through a couple of pages to let us know about your instance and we do everything. Once you’re done, all changes in your Dynamics 365 records are automatically updated in the Azure SQL database and available to your Power BI reports.
And while we were at it, we rejuvenated the Power BI reports to give them a clean new look – here’s what the new first page looks like:
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I hope you can check it out – we’re very happy with the changes and hope you are as well.