Visio is coming to the web and iOS

By VisioTeam as written on blogs.office.com.  
Visio has been a trusted tool in diagramming for more than a decade. And we know its visual communication in the form of diagrams will become more powerful when anyone in the company can consume—regardless of their location or device. So, today we’re excited to announce Visio Viewer for iPad and Visio Online Preview, enabling users to share or access diagrams from nearly anywhere, gain operational insights and explore real-world diagrams easily.

Back to the basics—ubiquitous sharing and access with Visio Online and iPad app

As one of the most widely adopted process mapping tools, Visio helps thousands of organizations blueprint the business processes that drive their desired transformation. Using Visio Online Preview and Visio Viewer for iPad, you can securely store your diagrams in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online and easily share them with anyone as a link—allowing your colleagues to view and interact with diagrams effortlessly across devices.

Visio Online Preview—gain operational insights from anywhere

The Visio desktop has always been a powerful tool for creating network maps, organizational charts, business processes and more. Visio Online Preview amplifies the power of visual communication by helping teams glean real-time information from diagrams with just a browser—turning your data-linked diagrams into an operational dashboard that more employees can access.
Picture a network map that the IT department uses to manage the company’s global datacenters. As a static diagram, the map is perfect for understanding how different servers interact and show the location of those servers. Now, pairing that map with real-time data, IT admins can see things like server outages as they happen. You can use hyperlinks to bring in additional documentation, such as policy guidance created in Word. Or, moving from the network dashboard to the rack dashboard for a specific server performance, IT admins are able to drill down to the root cause of the outages and take the appropriate actions to keep the business up and running.
See the Visio Online Public Preview FAQs to learn how to access the preview.


Visio Viewer for iPad—explore real-world diagrams in high-fidelity on the go

Visio diagrams often comprise details that customers could miss on smaller screens. Built for iPad Retina display, Visio Viewer for iPad brings high-fidelity viewing of real-world processes and plans on the go. With the new exploration experience, plant managers can zoom in to production line issues from remote facilities, financial advisors can examine detailed workflows of a loan approval process while visiting clients around the world, retail district managers can conduct store management trainings with associates using detailed CAD-based store layouts and much more.
Using the Find pane, you can pinpoint all occurrences of a shape name, text or data—eliminating the need to sift through countless shapes. After you locate the shape with your desired metadata, smoothly navigate through your diagrams and zoom in and out with intuitive Pan and Zoom features. You can even reveal different visualizations of the same diagram by adjusting the visibility of certain layers. For example, an architect can share the same building layout with Facilities and HR, who can then visualize the respective layers which contain only the electrical map or personnel location for their own functional need. Operations managers can add an inventory visualization layer on top of a production line with throughput information to understand the root cause of a station breakdown.
You can download Visio Viewer for iPad today. We’ll bring Visio to the iPhone in the coming months.


Watch Satya unveil Microsoft Teams

By Office365 Team as written on blogs.office.net
Two days ago, we announced Microsoft Teams, the chat-based workspace in Office 365. It is a new experience that brings together people, conversations, content and the tools they need—all in one place and integrated with familiar Office applications.
As Satya says, “Every individual is different, and so is the case with every team.” We see great opportunity in helping them achieve more together—and Microsoft Teams is the open, digital environment we created to make that happen.
Watch Satya unveil Microsoft Teams in this video.

Microsoft's Cortana Technology Tickets

Paul Allen’s Portland Trail Blazers use Microsoft’s Cortana technology to sell tickets and engage fans

By Taylor Soper as written on geekwire.com

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen probably didn’t think that the company he co-founded would one day help his NBA team sell more tickets and engage with fans more effectively. But that’s exactly what the Portland Trail Blazers are doing with Microsoft’s Cortana Intelligence Suite.
The team, owned by Allen since 1988, is using Microsoft’s big data predictive analytics software to learn more about how fans might purchase season tickets, as the company details in this blog post. The Trail Blazers’ marketing team uses Cortana Intelligence to identify different purchasing and attendance patterns among fans to figure out who might be more likely to become a new season ticket holder.
We first learned of this pilot program last month at the Moda Center in Portland, where the Trail Blazers hosted reporters for a run-down of the technology that the front office uses to improve the fan experience, sell more tickets, and much more.

Microsoft's Cortana Technology Tickets Image 1

Speaking of season tickets, the Blazers recently allowed season-ticket holders to use the team’s mobile app to renew their contracts for next season, becoming the first franchise in professional sports to do so. Vincent Ircandia, senior vice president of business operations, noted that if the Blazers tried something similar even three years ago, “we would have gotten incredible pushback.”
But now fans are more comfortable using their phones as a remote control for their lives, and the Blazers are responding. It took a lot of horsepower to activate this feature, with a mobile app partner, the renewal site developer, and Ticketmaster all participating, but the team is happy with the investment.

Microsoft's Cortana Technology Tickets Image 2

“We had 95 percent of season ticket holders renew, and 5 percent did so in the app,” Ircandia said. “We think that is significant. That is a lot of money.”
The team is partnering with a handful of local tech companies to test everything from proximity beacons inside the Moda Center to a parking app to barcode-scanning technology. You can read more about that here.
After losing four starters and entering the season with the league’s lowest payroll, the Blazers are perhaps the biggest surprise of the NBA in 2016. They crushed expectations and won 44 regular season games before again trumping critics with a playoff series win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The team is down 2-1 to the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the second round. Game 4 is Monday night in Portland.


Welcome to the Invisible Revolution




As written on blogs.microsoft.com

Think of your favorite pieces of technology. These are the things that you use every day for work and play, and pretty much can’t live without.

Chances are, at least one of them is a gadget – your phone, maybe, or your gaming console.

But if you really think about it, chances also are good that many of your most beloved technologies are no longer made of plastic, metal and glass.

Maybe it’s a streaming video service you use to binge watch “Game of Thrones” on or an app that lets you track your steps and calories so you can fit into those jeans you wore back in high school. Maybe it’s a virtual assistant that helps you remember where your meetings are and when you need to take your medicine, or an e-reader that lets you get lost in your favorite book via your phone, tablet or even car speakers.

Perhaps, quietly and without even realizing it, your most beloved technologies have gone from being things you hold to services you rely on, and that exist everywhere and nowhere. Instead of the gadgets themselves, they are tools that you expect to be able to use on any type of gadget: Your phone, your PC, maybe even your TV.

They are part of what Harry Shum, executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Technology and Research division, refers to as an “invisible revolution.”

“We are on the cusp of creating a world in which technology is increasingly pervasive but is also increasingly invisible,” Shum said.

Read the full story here.

We are excited to announce the start of the Skype for Business Mac Public Preview. Commercial customers can request an invite to test the Mac client at www.SkypePreview.com. We’ll start by issuing invites to IT administrators to download the client and gradually expand the preview to everyone in the coming weeks.
The preview will release in three cumulative stages leading to public availability, planned for the third quarter of 2016. Today’s initial release lets you see and join your meetings. Let’s take a look at the functionality rolling out today and what’s coming in the future.
Preview phase one—Once you sign in, you’ll see your meetings for today and tomorrow, based on your Outlook calendar, displayed in the Skype for Business client.
View your meetings schedule.
Join any meeting with just one click and enjoy full screen video, content viewing, in-meeting chat and the ability to invite others to the meeting.


View your video meeting in full screen.
Preview phase two—We’ll be adding instant messaging, presence and contacts in the next preview release coming in early summer. You can continue to use Lync for Mac 2011 side-by-side with Skype for Mac Preview, giving you continued access to messaging and voice features.
Preview phase three—We will add telephony and related features later in the summer.

What to expect at the Skype for Business Preview site

To get started, IT administrators can sign up their organization by visiting the Skype for Business Preview site. Each day, we will issue invitations to IT administrators, with the goal of extending invitations to everyone in the coming weeks. Once an IT administrator downloads the preview client, they can manage its distribution to end users within their organization.
To learn more and see the new experiences in action, watch this demonstration of the Skype for Business Mac Public Preview.

Article Link: https://blogs.office.com/2016/04/26/skype-for-business-mac-preview-is-here/

real time enterprise messaging comparison data 2 - managed solution

Real-Time Messaging: Data Unearths Surprising Findings on Usage, Distraction, and Organizational Impact

By Scott Solomon as written on blog.bettercloud.com

For more than four years, BetterCloud has bi-annually surveyed thousands of IT professionals, producing some of cloud IT’s richest data. Our goal is to help you make more intelligent business decisions and better understand the landscape of business technology.

Now, we’ve decided to bring our research efforts further into focus by launching an ambitious and ongoing data project. Last month, more than 800 IT professionals and end users participated in the first-ever Trends in Cloud IT Monthly Poll. The following data is a result of that poll and has helped us explore one of the hottest topics in tech: real-time messaging.

real time enterprise messaging comparison data - managed solution

Everyone remembers the days of AOL Instant Messenger (affectionately called AIM). In 1997, the simple text-based chat service brought real-time messaging mainstream. Fast-forward nearly 20 years and real-time messaging stands as one of the most powerful tools in business.

Real-Time Messaging Application: A unified communication tool designed to enable high volume and rapid response text-based conversation, while also encouraging enterprise collaboration through file sharing and even video conferencing.

Key Takeaways

  • The majority of organizations (57%) use two or more real-time messaging applications.
  • Nearly a quarter of respondents (22%) admit they either don’t know or don’t care whether IT has approved their real-time messaging application.
  • 80% of Skype for Business users, 84% of Google Hangouts users, and 95% of Slack users say communication has improved because of real-time messaging.
  • 56% of respondents believe that real-time messaging will displace email as their organization’s primary workplace communication and collaboration tool.
  • 27% of end users and 23% of IT professionals say some employees are less productive because of real-time messaging.
  • 71% of small-to-medium sized businesses (1-1,000 employees) will not invest in another phone system at all or will not increase their investment.


real time enterprise messaging comparison data 3 - managed solution

In the modern workplace, real-time messaging has become an expectation. Just 13% of our surveyed audience are not using real-time messaging for work purposes.

Contrary to what you might expect, organizations aren’t just using one application. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The majority of organizations we surveyed use two or more real-time messaging applications–regardless of employee count.

Why would an organization need to use multiple real-time messaging applications?

There are several likely reasons, the most obvious being that departments have different needs. Sales teams may need to easily chat and video conference their prospects, which makes Google Hangouts and Skype for Business quality candidates. Engineering teams may need to configure integrations and Slack bots to receive timely information in a group channel rather than clogging inboxes.

Shadow IT (where users use devices and software outside IT’s control) is another reason organizations may have multiple applications, despite each serving similar functions. End users may decide to use an unauthorized application, and over time, as more users begin adopting the application, IT may choose to embrace it instead of stomping out its organic growth.

As we uncovered in our research for our recent 2016 State of Cloud IT Report, organizations are building what we call “heterogeneous environments,” where best-in-breed cloud applications (sometimes with significant overlap) are stitched together regardless of vendor. Organizations may use Slack, Google Hangouts, and Skype for Business, all for unique and necessary purposes. It’s not uncommon (though perhaps not ideal) to pay for two similar services even if only a small minority of users (e.g., your marketing team) uses one of them.

More than 20% of large enterprises (5,001+ employees) use five or more real-time messaging applications.

As your company grows, expect the number of real-time messaging applications in your environment to grow too. This isn’t a phenomenon reserved only for real-time messaging either. We’re seeing this trend unfold in many cloud application categories, from storage and collaboration to project management.

Does an organization really need five real-time messaging applications? In some cases, yes. But no matter what, you need to find a balance between your employees’ productivity and your organization’s security–much easier said than done.

Shadow IT

real time enterprise messaging comparison data 4 - managed solution

IT professionals are essentially just as likely as end users to knowingly use unapproved real-time messaging applications. Roughly one in every six people we surveyed uses a real-time messaging application outside of IT’s control. And if you consider that people tend to be less forthcoming when it comes to breaking rules, shadow IT is likely more rampant than our data suggests. In fact, 7% of respondents aren’t even sure if they’re communicating outside of IT’s control. That shows a small, but apparent disconnect between IT and end users.

Just 11% of respondents who call Google Hangouts their organization’s primary real-time messaging application admit to using other unsanctioned real-time messaging applications. Slack and Skype for Business saw higher levels of shadow IT. 23% of Slack users and 24% of Skype for Business users use a secondary real-time messaging application that is unsanctioned by IT.

As an IT professional, you’re more of a target than the majority of end users–leading by example whenever possible is always a best practice.


real time enterprise messaging comparison data 5 - managed solution

Clearly, real-time messaging improves communication for the majority of companies that use it.

What’s most interesting here is how opinions differ between end users and IT professionals. IT professionals are nearly 12% more likely than end users to believe that real-time messaging has improved communication. This suggests that end users either lack training and are not using applications to their full potential, or IT professionals simply overestimate how effective real-time messaging is in their organization.

Surveying your end users will help you find out where they stand and how useful the tools you give them are. Do they need more training? Are they actually using real-time messaging? Is it distracting? With hard data, you can take meaningful actions to improve the end-user experience for your user population.


real time enterprise messaging comparison data 6 - managed solution

The slight majority (56%) of respondents believe that at some point, real-time messaging will overtake email as their organization’s primary workplace communication and collaboration tool. Interestingly, 5% of respondents already say their real-time messaging application has displaced email.

Still, almost half (44%) of our poll respondents believe that real-time messaging will never displace email.

Email isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, regardless of whether or not it’s your organization’s primary means of communication and collaboration. At this point, real-time messaging is an enhancement to email, not a replacement.


real time enterprise messaging comparison data 7 - managed solution

The benefits of real-time messaging are hard to overlook, but some not-so-positive areas need addressing–primarily distraction. Slack users most commonly spot decreased productivity, but only slightly. The advanced functionality of the Slack platform may be contributing to the loss of productivity. Users can do more like quickly send GIFs or create channels dedicated to non-work related topics, meaning there are more avenues for distraction.

But do the benefits outweigh the loss of productivity? Most likely–95% of Slack users say it has improved communication in their organization.

If real-time messaging has become a distraction, take action before things get out of hand. It may be necessary to roll out company-wide “dark” hours, meaning real-time internal communication is halted completely or restricted to only urgent messages. If the problem is less widespread, simply communicating with your users from time to time may do the trick.


real time enterprise messaging comparison data 8 - managed solution

The growing use of real-time messaging is one of the most significant factors contributing to the trend seen above. Companies are reigning in their phone system investments. If you plan on investing in a new phone system at some point in the future, you’re in the minority.

Real-time messaging, the rise of mobile devices, and the “bring your own device” explosion are all reducing the need for a traditional phone system. A significant portion of IT admins (68%) will either keep their phone system investment the same or will not invest in another phone system at all.

In many modern workplaces, the desk phone is dying. If you’re one of the 32% of respondents who will be rolling out another phone system at some point, don’t be surprised if it’s your company’s last.


real time enterprise messaging comparison data 9 - managed solution

Though we can’t say for sure which of the three real-time messaging applications is gaining the most customers and growing fastest, we can tell you the percentage of new customers for each application among our audience.

The majority of Slack users began using the application within the last year. However, of the three real-time messaging applications we studied, Slack had the smallest number of respondents in our audience.

The vast majority of Google Hangouts and Skype for Business users have been using the application for more than a year. Will Slack continue its apparent rapid growth in the enterprise? Will Google Hangouts and Skype for Business retain users who move to Google Apps and Office 365, or will customers look outside their cloud office system for their real-time messaging needs?


real time enterprise messaging comparison data 10 - managed solution

Hangouts and Skype for Business are nearly identical regarding their customer base distribution. The majority of their customers are small and medium-sized businesses (1-1,000 employees), with the rest split almost evenly between mid-market organizations (1,001-5,000 employees) and large enterprises (5,001+ employees).

The overwhelming majority of Slack’s customers are small and medium-sized businesses. That’s in line with the public perception of Slack. Many view Slack as the agile entrepreneur’s dream and the perfect communication tool for a young startup. However, according to our research, Slack is being used by some large enterprises.

Real-time messaging isn’t just for startups. Mid-market and large enterprises are actually more likely to use a real-time messaging application than small and medium-sized organizations.

Take The Next Trends in Cloud IT Monthly Poll

Trends in Cloud IT is a long-term research project devoted to uncovering accurate and useful information for IT professionals, CIOs, CEOs, and any professional interested in the intersection of business and technology. We promise to provide deep, unbiased analysis, while covering more topics, more often.

Take the Next Trends in IT Poll Today!

Bridge the gap between your physical world and your BI using QR codes managed solution

The Power BI Team recently introduced– QR codes in Power BI.
Microsoft Power BI mobile applications aim to bridge the gap between the physical and virtual worlds by leveraging the unique properties of the mobile device, a device that is physically with you everywhere, all the time, always on, has a variety of sensors and is connected to the Internet.
The new QR codes in Power BI provide the ability to consume information & insights in the physical environment and context.
Possibilities are endless! Attach QR codes to:
  • The car you are selling in your leasing company to get the car’s history.
  • A machine on your factory to get real performance data reflected in a Power BI dashboard.
  • Any PowerPoint presentation, so others can scan and grab a live reference the information presented
You can easily generate QR codes in the Power BI service for any tile that you have access to. Once generated, you and your colleagues can scan them from your mobile device using the QR code scanner in the Power BI app, or any external scanner, for instant access to the relevant tile.
See step-by-step instructions on how to start using QR codes in Power BI.

Business Analytics

Wednesdays With Will: Analyzing Business Analytics

By William Marchesano, Technology Advisor & Evangelist
As a Business Owner, Director, or Manager, you know that having insight into your business allows you to make the right decisions for it. Not many people realize that the use of analytics has been a part of business for over 100 years. Henry Ford is probably one of the best known of the early adopters. Even though the concept of business analytics has been around in one form or another over the past century there have been some challenges with its use. The most common stumbling block has been gathering and maintaining the integrity of data. By definition, analytics is the information that you are able to pull from data. If you are trying to build a house (analytics) you must make sure the building blocks (data) are not of poor quality or you will not achieve the desired result. Typically the other challenges are pulling meaningful information from the analytics as well as sharing that inform between separate departments. This week we’ll discuss how to overcome some of these obstacles in your business.
Over the last couple of months, we discussed how you can effectively enhance the capabilities of your Sales, Marketing, and Services teams by leveraging a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. There are many CRM systems out there but my posts were mainly focused on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. I have used a few other CRM systems over the years such as ACT!, SalesLogix, and of course SalesForce. In the past few years, my preference has leaned towards Dynamics CRM because of its improved ease of use, functionality, and cost. Its tight integration with Office 365 and other Microsoft products doesn’t hurt either. For the sake of this article and to tie everything back to my previous articles Dynamics CRM will be our point of reference once again.
Of the myriad types of widely used systems in businesses today, a CRM is probably the most common technology used to gather customer information for analytics. Yes, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can fall under this category as well but that is a different story for a different day. A CRM system such as Dynamics CRM gives you a place to input pertinent information about your customers and prospective clients. This information is then easily searchable and accessible by your Marketing, Sales, and Services teams. Each team will have a slightly different use of the information. Let’s touch on some basic scenarios for each.
From a marketing perspective, analytics provide insight to the effectiveness of different types of communications. There is huge value in understanding how campaigns perform so that budget and time can be best spent. Dynamics CRM powered by Power BI also provides you a visualization of how campaigns are reacting as well as sentiment from a geographical standpoint. Knowing and understanding where potential or existing clients are can help you when crafting your messaging. Being aware of when a prospect has reached a certain level of engagement is key as well. There is a certain level of timing involved when Marketing hands a lead over to Sales for contact. Too early can scare the prospect away and too late may mean the lead is cold again and has to be sent through the nurture process once more.
Once the Sales Team starts their engagement with the client it’s important to understand the journey the lead went through to reach them. The reason this is essential is because it allows you to have greater insight to their need and urgency. This in turn leads to a higher success rate of providing a solution and gaining a new client. The analytics produced by Marketing can provide the Sales Team this information. Throughout the sales process the Sales Team can leverage the analytics in Dynamics CRM to track touch point to conversation rates, pipeline and opportunity stages, and wins/loses over designated periods of time. It basically helps you become a smarter salesperson. Even better, management now has a better understanding of what is working and what is not so they can provide assistance in making you more successful.
The final example I would like to discuss is for the Services Team. With all the time, effort, and money required to gain a new client your number one priority should be to retain them. This is where a high level of customer service becomes crucial. By leveraging analytics through Dynamics CRM, you are able to recognize trends from similar support case instances. This allows you the opportunity to devise a resolution that will prevent similar cases from occurring. The goal is to increase customer satisfaction so they not only remain your client but become your advocate.
Trends are showing there will be a sharp increase in business intelligence usage over the next few years and a CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM is going to be a big part of that. As always, I encourage you to reach out to me to discuss these topics in deeper detail. I hope you enjoyed and found this week’s article informative. If you’re interested in some how-to related CRM material, check out blogs by my colleague Ben Ward here. Till next time…

About the author:

Will has over 16 years of experience in business development, team management, and project management. Will has worked at Managed Solution for over four years and is currently advising businesses on best CRM practices and implementations. Will’s focus is on process improvement and analytics specializing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Will is a Microsoft Certified Professional, with certifications in Presales Technical Specialist – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Sales Specialist- Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Application, Sales Specialist- Office 365, Sales Specialist- SMB Infrastructure and Sales Specialist- Datacenter.
Other articles by Will Marchesano:
For information on deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM in your organization, please call us at 800-257-0691.

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