fail-fast - managed solution

Failing Fast: The Quickest Route to Digital Transformation

Speed, agility, and innovation—these are the hallmarks for success in the digital era. What’s less proven is the “fail fast” concept, which encourages exploration by floating trial balloons quickly, then allowing ideas to fail if they don’t help drive positive business outcomes. Using this approach, failure becomes a stepping-stone for success—allowing teams to iterate quickly, learn from mistakes, and triage ideas in rapid succession, much like a startup.
Not too long ago, a failed IT project could be catastrophic, resulting in missed delivery targets, productivity drop-offs, even lost revenue. It’s no wonder that IT teams remain a bit gun-shy about adopting a fail-fast approach to business given that their job stability likely depends on their success. The IDG Cloud Futurecast survey found that just 15% of IT directors believe risk-taking is critical to transforming products and services.
C-level executives, by comparison, are far more bullish on the advantages of fail-fast techniques, in part, no doubt, because their jobs don’t directly hang in the balance. According to the IDG survey, 29% recognize the ability to fail fast as a key enabler for revenue-driving strategies compared with only 17% of vice presidents and general managers.
These forward-thinking leaders understand that the cloud is the engine behind creating an iterative, agile mindset across the entire organization. The cloud allows teams to test-drive many small innovations without the traditional risk of a major setback. A cloud-based, fail-fast approach removes technology constraints and allows organizations to explore new ideas constantly, versus one or two ideas annually.

AI Increases The Pace

Advances in big data analytics and artificial intelligence promise to take fail-fast strategies to entirely new heights, delivering real-time monitoring and robust data access capabilities that can detect failure almost instantaneously.
The cloud’s ability to drive innovation and mitigate risk are also central to a fail-fast mentality. Twenty-eight percent of IDG survey respondents say the cloud is essential for reinventing their businesses. Perhaps more important, 25% of respondents say the cloud’s ability to support testing product concepts in early stages with greater accuracy is a key asset. Another 21% say exploratory, fail-fast methods can help minimize the risk associated with continuous innovation. These percentages, while relatively low, signal an important shift in thinking: The cloud is no longer just a cost-saver, but an innovation engine.
For many organizations, enhancing customer experience is the leading priority for success in the digital era. And applying a fail-fast methodology may be the secret sauce. Organizations emphasizing the cloud for customer engagement strategies are far more likely to embrace fail-fast capabilities—32% of survey respondents, compared with companies using cloud to optimize operations (19%), empower employees (17%), or transform products (15%). Experimenting with new products and services using the fail-fast method may give these leaders a leg up on their competitors.
For all the negative connotations, fast failure in the digital era may be just the right recipe for digital transformation success.

Outlook Customer Manager now rolling out worldwide with enhanced capabilities

As written on

The Outlook Customer Manager provides an easy way for small businesses to track and grow customer relationships from right within Outlook. Today, we are pleased to announce the Outlook Customer Manager is now rolling out to all Office 365 Business Premium subscribers worldwide, and is also now available for Outlook on the web and Outlook for iOS. In addition, we’ve enhanced the Outlook Customer Manager to help you manage customer relationships more effectively, including intelligent reminders and integration with Bing, Cortana and Microsoft Flow.

More ways to access Outlook Customer Manager

Last November, we released Outlook Customer Manager for Outlook for Windows desktops and since then we have been working to expand the service across platforms. Today, we’re excited to announce the availability of Outlook Customer Manager for Outlook for iOS and Outlook on the web.

We know that access to customer information is often useful when you’re on the go. The Outlook Customer Manager add-in—now available in Outlook for iOS—gives you a quick view of a customer’s information or a deal in progress. To get started, under Add-ins, next to your email in Outlook for iOS, just tap the Outlook Customer Manager add-in. The standalone mobile app for the Outlook Customer Manager will allow you to take a detailed look at all your customers and deals, and will be available in the iOS App Store in the coming weeks.

Quickly get to customer information with the Outlook Customer Manager add-in for Outlook for iOS.

In Outlook on the web, just click the Outlook Customer Manager icon to see a quick view of customer information, such as emails, meetings, calls, notes, files, tasks, deals and deadlines. Over time we will add more functionality, including a detailed view of all your customers and deals.

Now view customer information in Outlook on the web.

Additionally, Outlook Customer Manager is now available in 39 languages, so you stay on top of your customer information in many more ways.

Get automatic reminders for emails containing customer inquiries

Within the busy day of a business owner, it’s easy to miss important emails from customers—especially when you’re heads down attending to urgent tasks. Outlook Customer Manager helps you stay on top of customer inquiries by understanding requests made in email. When an email arrives, Outlook Customer Manager looks to see if it contains a request for a meeting, information or a file, and automatically creates a reminder for you on the Today page.

Get timely reminders on the Today page.

Auto-fill customer business information with suggestions from Bing

Outlook Customer Manager lets you associate all the people you deal with from a company together, to give you one view of information coming from various sources. But spending time to set up up-to-date information on a company can keep you away from more important work. To save you time, Outlook Customer Manager now suggests company information surfaced from Bing. If you accept a suggestion, the business address, website and other information found online are automatically added to the company’s profile in Outlook Customer Manager. This feature is currently available to users who have chosen English-US language setting in Outlook.

See company information suggestions from Bing.

Let Cortana automatically schedule meetings with customers

Setting up a meeting with customers can be time-consuming—often taking more time than the duration of the meeting itself. Leveraging the new Microsoft incubation project, Outlook Customer Manager now offers you the option to let Cortana, your personal digital assistant, arrange meetings on your behalf, so you can focus on more productive work. The first time you try this feature, Outlook Customer Manager will walk you through the Preview sign-up steps. You’ll see this capability if you’re in the Office First Release program.

Delegate meeting scheduling to Cortana.

Add Outlook Customer Manager to your business workflows

Maintaining consistent customer information across the various apps your business uses can be a hassle. We made it easy to connect to Outlook Customer Manager using Microsoft Flow, so you can automate repetitive multi-step workflows needed to manage customer information. For example, with a few clicks, you can ensure that new subscribers who sign up for your newsletter in MailChimp are automatically added as business contacts in Outlook Customer Manager. To help you get started, we created a few templates.

Add Outlook Customer Manager to your workflows with Microsoft Flow.

Get started with one click

Getting started with Outlook Customer Manager is easy. We’re now rolling out to Office 365 Business Premium customers worldwide and expect to be fully rolled out in the next few weeks. You’ll know the service is available for your Office 365 account when you see the Outlook Customer Manager icon on the home tab in Outlook for Windows—just click the icon to get started.

Start with one click in Outlook—no download or installation needed.

Learn more

We put together the following resources if you need more information on Outlook Customer Manager:

  • Join us for an Ask Microsoft Anything (AMA) session, hosted by the Microsoft Tech Community on May 9, 2017 at 9 a.m. PDT (UTC-8). This live online event will give you the opportunity to connect with members of the product and engineering teams who will be on hand to answer your questions and listen to feedback. Add the event to your calendar and join us in the Outlook Customer Manager AMA group.
  • Read this support article.
  • Check out the video:

We are excited for you to begin using Outlook Customer Manager to stay on top of customer relationships and grow your business.


simplified provisioning - managed solution

Industry Leading System Center Engineering Talent

It’s time to think about your overall Identity & Access Management Strategy and we can help. Stay in control of your IT—across your environment and platforms. Simplify the deployment, configuration, management, and monitoring of your infrastructure and virtualized software-defined datacenter, while increasing agility and performance with System Center. With System Center Configuration Manager, data management becomes easy, reliable, and efficient.

Here's what we're loving about System Center 2016:

      • Reduce complexity with infrastructure provisioning

        • Seamlessly deploy, configure, and manage your software-defined datacenter infrastructure across compute, networking, storage, and security. Plus, take advantage of cloud-ready Windows Server 2016 capabilities—including Nano Servers, shielded virtual machines, and efficient, software-defined networking and storage solutions.
      • Increase efficiency with automated processes and self service

        • Automate any datacenter task to reduce errors and increase speed using built-in orchestration and IT Service Management. Offer self-service capabilities through an intuitive web portal and highly efficient service management.
      • Get the insights you need with workload and infrastructure monitoring

        • Monitor health, capacity, and usage to diagnose and troubleshoot issues across applications, workloads, and your infrastructure—before they result in costly downtime or slow performance. Access rich analytics and insights using native integration with Operations Management Suite.


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Contact Managed Solution to schedule a Network & System Assessment to build the most strategic architecture around your systems and networks. 858-429-3084



blended IT whitepaper header - managed solution

How A Blended IT Solution Cuts Waste

Modern businesses need top-of-the-line productivity tools mixed with the best IT professionals around mixed with low-cost tech solutions.  It sounds impossible, but it doesn't have to be. With a Blended IT solution, businesses can blend their IT workforce with our expert staff and tech solutions.


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Want to learn more about what Blended IT really means? Fill out the form to download the WhitePaper


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Office 365 Case Study

MIKE Program: Serving youth with a grown-up IT system

As seen on
MIKE Program, a small nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon, uses mentorships to empower youth to make better health choices, but its makeshift IT system took up scarce staff time and bogged down workflow.Office 365 has revolutionized the nonprofit’s day-to-day work. The free, cloud-based suite now enables them to
  • write more competitive grant applications,
  • streamline board relations,
  • work with more volunteers,
  • increase their productivity, and
  • communicate with stakeholders from anywhere.
“It would not be possible to operate as we do now without it,” says Sherry Harbert, MIKE Program’s communications director and de-facto IT help desk. The cloud's easy-to-use features help the health nonprofit MIKE Program better communicate with the board, volunteers and staff.


"Office 365 allowed a central collaboration point for documents and tasks assigned to committee meetings, and it allowed everyone to see the calendar and updates in real time"-Dave Chapman, MIKE Program Board Member
Making a difference with better technology:
  • Grant writing in the cloud
    Like most nonprofits, MIKE Program’s budget relies heavily on winning private grants. Collaborating on applications saved in the cloud helps them write stronger submissions, Harbert says.
    With Office 365’s secure file sharing, edits made to documents are saved in real time, eliminating the confusion of emailing different versions back and forth—and the frustration of bounced attachment-heavy messages.
  • Communicating 24/7
    “Like most nonprofits, we operate 24 hours a day because people expect communication in the evenings, mornings and weekends,” Harbert says. Office 365’s tools allow staff and volunteers to seamlessly stay in touch from a computer, tablet or mobile phone.
    “If we’re out of the office or something is wrong with the IT host, we still have access to everything. We’re never shut down.”
  • Managing volunteers
    Volunteers aren’t based at the nonprofit’s central office; more than 20 MIKE Program mentors travel city-wide as they lead health education programs and shepherd students to job shadow opportunities across Portland.
    Office 365 emailing and cloud document sharing connects on-the-go volunteers to staff, regardless of what mobile device they use: They can view updates of schedules, participant rosters and curricula that can change at the drop of a hat—anywhere.
  • Bringing on the board
    The board’s ability to work efficiently, make quick decisions and communicate is central to running a nonprofit, and MIKE Program streamlined its board work with Office 365. Instead of sending email after email of agendas, meeting notes, tasks and updates, board members use SharePoint, one of the suite’s most popular features, to sync projects.
    “Office 365 allowed a central collaboration point for documents and tasks assigned to committee meetings, and it allowed everyone to see the calendar and updates as we go,” explains board member Dave Chapman. “It’s real time collaboration.”
  • Maximizing resources
    Volunteer, time and financial resources are always tight at nonprofits, and the tools within Office 365 allowed MIKE Program to do more with less. “Switching to Office 365 freed up my time so I’m not struggling to do basic operations,” Harbert says. “I can now focus more on deliverables, the program itself, our mission, communications and getting the word out on our program.”
    Becoming more efficient helped the staff nearly double its pool of volunteers, who logged 760 more hours per year after the transition to Office 365.
  • Building organizational capacity
    “This technology’s help is both immediate for what we need day to day but also in the long term,” Harbert says. Because it allows staff to direct their energy to helping more students lead healthy lives—instead of wrestling with makeshift IT systems—the cloud-based suite sets up MIKE Program for a robust future.
    “Office 365 is instrumental for our survival.”


Alberto Cairo, Power BI & the rise of data journalism

From the election of Pope Francis to the passing of Nelson Mandela to Miley Cyrus’ MTV #twerk heard ’round the world, 2013 was full of big headlines and viral hits. Yet The New York Times’ top story of the year was the humble result of a vocabulary survey of 350,000 randomly selected Americans conducted by a then-intern at the paper.
Instead of presenting these findings in a written article, “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk” achieved breakout success as an interactive data visualization. It asked readers 25 questions such as “How would you address a group of two or more people?” or “How do you pronounce ‘aunt’?” and then heat-mapped their responses to the most similar regional dialect in the U.S. The interactivity and colorful visuals transmuted survey data into a fun, insightful tour through the contours of contemporary American English.
Visualization no longer just complements a written story. It is the story. In our increasingly data-driven world, visualization is becoming an essential tool for journalists from national papers to blogs with a staff of one.
I recently spent two days discussing the state of data journalism with Alberto Cairo, the Knight Chair of Visual Journalism at the School of Communication at the University of Miami. While he stressed the importance of data visualization for efficient communication and audience engagement, Cairo argued that “Above all else, visualizations — when done right — are a vehicle of clarification and truth.”




Happy Star Wars Day!

Although your workplace may not be fully equipped with lightsabers or a backup army of Stormtroopers, there is still a way to defend your galaxy: Office365.
In celebration of May 4th, here are four ways that Office365 can be the force of your business:
  1. Out-of-this-world mobile experience:
    Edit and view your Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files on any mobile device with Office 365 mobile apps.
  2. First Order worthy Business-class email and calendaring:
    Stay in sync and on schedule while avoiding any communication glitches with business-class email and shared calendars.
  3. File sharing even Yoda would approve of:
    Securely share files with co-workers, customers, and partners. Then work together on documents, accessible from anywhere, and editable in real-time.
  4. Security, compliance, and privacy fit for the Star Destroyer:
    With up to date industry standards and regulations, built-in security features, and settings to let you choose who controls your data - you can put trust in the Cloud.
“A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.” - Yoda



Technical diagrams for Skype for Business Server 2015

Topic Last Modified: 2016-02-18
Summary: Review these posters as needed while planning, implementing, or managing Skype for Business Server 2015.
These resources are available in Visio (.vsdx) format (Visio 2015) and PDF format. For information about how to print documents, see Tips for printing posters.
You might need additional software to view these files. See the following table for more information.

Download technical diagrams for Skype for Business Server 2015 on TechNet:

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