Tag Archives: days

For Sale – 4TB Red Pro | SOLD: 2 x 2TB WD Red HDDs, 8TB Red

Are you putting up any more of these reds in the coming days?

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For Sale – 4TB Red Pro | 2 x 2TB WD Red HDDs | SOLD: 8TB Red

Are you putting up any more of these reds in the coming days?

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Xbox Sessions: Travis Kelce and Richard Sherman Go Head to Head in Madden NFL 20 on Xbox One Before Next Sunday’s Super Showdown – Xbox Wire

One of the biggest days in American sports is almost here. Practically a national holiday, all eyes will be on the upcoming showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers on February 2 in Miami, Florida. To celebrate the championship, we’re giving you a preview of the big game on Xbox One as Travis Kelce and Richard Sherman join the annual Game Before the Game episode of Xbox Sessions on Tuesday, January 28, sponsored by our friends at TurboTax.

Kelce and Sherman will put their skills and talent to the test and go head to head in EA Sports Madden NFL 20 with the winner receiving 50 Xbox One consoles and a copy of Madden NFL 20 for their charity of choice. Kelce will be playing for his organization, Eighty-Seven & Running, while Sherman will represent for Blanket Coverage, the Richard Sherman Family Foundation. Just a few days before the big game itself, the two superstars will play Tuesday, January 28, at 3:30 p.m. PT / 6:30 p.m. ET in Miami and will be joined by our very own Rukari Austin as host, sideline reporter, and referee.

What’s more, this episode of Xbox Sessions will be live streamed on Xbox Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Mixer and Twitch channels so fans can tune in to watch the two players battle on the proverbial gridiron and cheer on their favorite team, while listening to color-commentary and play-by-plays throughout the competition.

Will the Madden NFL 20 showdown on Xbox One predict the real turnout on February 2? Be sure to tune in to see who comes out on top. If you miss tomorrow’s preview of the big game, you can catch the action later on the Xbox YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Mixer and Twitch channels! And don’t forget to grab a copy of Madden NFL 20, Madden NFL 20: Superstar Edition, or Madden NFL: Ultimate Superstar Edition at 50% off their original price between January 28 and February 3.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Procrastinators, rejoice! Last minute US holiday deals available now at Microsoft Store | Windows Experience Blog

As we shift into the final days of the holiday shopping season, it’s not too late to find great deals on your favorite Surface devices, Xbox games and consoles, accessories and more. In fact, “Super Saturday,” the Saturday before Christmas which this year falls on Dec. 21, has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year. This year, 62% of U.S. shoppers plan to shop on Super Saturday, according to the NRF. The good news for all you last minute shoppers: it’s not too late to find great savings at Microsoft Store and microsoft.com.

If you waited a little longer than planned to buy your holiday gifts, Microsoft Store makes it easier than ever to score a last minute deal with free 2-3-day shipping and options to buy online and pick up in store. When orders are placed during the store hours, most pickups are available within two hours. If you’d rather have your gift sent to your front door, to guarantee your order arrives in time for Christmas, make sure to order by Dec. 20 at 10 a.m. PT. Read on for the U.S. Super Saturday offers that will make your last minute shopping a breeze and the in-Store experiences available now.

Surface

Surface Pro X

Xbox

Xbox One S console and controller

PC

Lenovo Flex 14

Connected Life

BOSE QuietComfort 35 II Headphones and Bose SoundLink Micro Speaker

And if you’re cutting it a little too close, it’s never too late to score a digital gift. Skip the holiday lines and give select Xbox One games, PC games and apps right from the Microsoft Store. Or send a digital gift card to give your loved one the freedom to choose the gift they want, from devices to games, apps to movies and more. There are no fees or expiration dates, and the digital gift code is good for purchases at Microsoft Store online, on Windows and Xbox.

Whether you have a long list of gifts to buy, or are just missing one special treat for that tough-to-shop-for relative, Microsoft Store has you covered this Super Saturday and beyond. And in case you need to make a return, we’ve extended the return window so items purchased through Dec. 31, 2019 can be returned through Jan. 31, 2020. Be sure to check your local Store listing for special holiday hours, including Christmas Eve which may have reduced hours.

While you’re in the Store, make sure to check out our fun and free experiences—there’s something for the whole family. Play Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on Xbox in a custom Star Wars chair, take a selfie with the newest Minecraft Earth character, the Jolly Llama, or register for educational Winter Workshops and Camps including online safety, digital skills and coding. Plus, you’ll receive a free year of personal training for devices purchased at a physical Microsoft Store location.

Visit your local Microsoft Store or microsoft.com for more details on availability and pricing. Follow Microsoft Store on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

* Offers shown are available in the U.S. online and in Microsoft Stores while supplies last. U.S. prices are shown. Offers and content varies by market and may change at any time. May not be combinable with other offers. Other exclusions may apply.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Major funding, SaaS trends top data backup news in 2019

In the backup market, 2019 started with a financial bang.

On back-to-back days in January, Rubrik announced a $261 million funding round, while Veeam disclosed that Insight Venture Partners invested an additional $500 million in the data backup and management vendor.

That data backup news set the tone for a busy year of more funding rounds, acquisitions, CEO changes, new products and key trends in a market that is constantly evolving.

Backup business busy with acquisitions, funding, leadership changes

Much like recent years, backup was big business in 2019.

Carbonite had one of the busiest years of all. In March, the data protection vendor acquired cybersecurity firm Webroot for $618.5 million, with a focus on fighting ransomware. In July, CEO Mohamad Ali left to take the same job at tech media company International Data Group, with board chairman Steve Munford filling the role at Carbonite on an interim basis. Then in November, following months of rumors of a possible sale, content management provider OpenText acquired Carbonite for $1.42 billion, to help expand its cloud offerings.

Commvault also transitioned to a new leader, as longtime CEO Bob Hammer stepped down and former Puppet CEO Sanjay Mirchandani stepped in. The company made its first acquisition in September, buying software-defined storage vendor Hedvig for $225 million to help converge primary and secondary storage for better data management.

Headshot of Commvault's Sanjay MirchandaniSanjay Mirchandani

Acronis became the latest unicorn, closing a $147 million funding round in September at a valuation of more than $1 billion. The company has shifted from a backup-focused product portfolio to a more comprehensive cyber protection platform. Like Carbonite, Acronis now has a major emphasis on cybersecurity.

Druva and its cloud-focused backup and recovery product set received a $130 million funding haul. Just a month later, the vendor acquired CloudLanes and its cloud migration technology.

Veeam Software, which is on the lookout for acquisitions, actually did the reverse this year. The vendor sold back AWS data protection provider N2WS, a company it acquired two years ago, to the original founders. Veeam is launching its own products focused on AWS and Azure backup.

In other data backup news developments:

  • Veritas Technologies acquired Aptare to improve its storage analytics and monitoring.
  • Cohesity made its first acquisition, choosing Imanis Data for NoSQL database protection.
  • Spencer Kupferman took over as CEO of AWS data protection provider Cloud Daddy, a recent entrant into the market.
  • OwnBackup secured $23.25 million, its largest funding round, for expansion of its Salesforce data protection.
  • David Bennett, previously the chief revenue officer at Webroot, became the new CEO of backup and disaster recovery vendor Axcient.

SaaS backup continues its ascent

The software-as-a-service backup market remains one of the hottest in tech. The word is out that SaaS applications such as Salesforce, Google’s G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 need backup because these vendors typically have protection for their own infrastructure but not for your individual files.

Clumio came out of stealth in August with its cloud-based backup as a service. Noting that “SaaS is taking over,” Clumio CEO Poojan Kumar described his company’s founding vision as “building a data management platform on top of the public cloud.” The vendor originally offered protection for VMware on premises, VMware Cloud on AWS and native AWS services. While closing a $135 million funding round in November, Clumio pledged support for more public clouds, SaaS applications and containers, starting with Amazon Elastic Block Store protection.

Clumio backup dashboard
Clumio, which provides backup as a service, came out of stealth in August.

Commvault launched a SaaS backup subsidiary, Metallic, with an emphasis on protecting servers and VMs, Office 365 and endpoints. The data protection vendor is aiming Metallic at smaller businesses than its usual enterprise customers.

Much like recent years, backup was big business in 2019.

In other notable data backup news on the SaaS front:

  • Druva enhanced its SaaS backup capabilities, adding restore options to its Office 365 protection and introducing backup for Slack and Microsoft Teams conversations.
  • Odaseva, a data protection vendor focused on Salesforce, unveiled a high-availability option for the customer relationship management provider.
  • The newly launched Actifio Go SaaS platform offers direct-to-cloud backup to AWS, Azure, Google, IBM and Wasabi public clouds.
  • Arcserve updated its Unified Data Protection product to provide granular, file-level backup and recovery for Office 365.
  • Veeam enhanced its Backup for Microsoft Office 365, the fastest growing product in the history of the company, to back up directly to the cloud to either Azure or AWS.

Container backup takes the spotlight

One area that emerged in 2019 is backup of containers. As Kubernetes workloads in particular increase in popularity, organizations will need specifically targeted protection. Newer vendors, including Kasten, Robin and Portworx, focus on Kubernetes protection and management. Products from other vendors, including IBM Spectrum Protect, tackle Kubernetes protection in addition to other capabilities.

Container and SaaS backup will likely increase in 2020. Organizations should continue to keep an eye on data backup news, as products and businesses are evolving at a dramatic pace.

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For Sale – Macbook Pro 2015 13.3 – i5 – Barely used

My Macbook Pro is up for sale.

It was purchased from Amazon in May 2015 and has only had a couple of days use in all that time! It was used to test a few web apps and then forgotten about. As you can imagine, it is in amazing condition.

I do have the box as well.

It only has a cycle count of 22 on it’s original battery!! As I say, it just wasn’t used.

The specs are as follows :

Intel i5 at 2.7Ghz
8Gb Ram
13.3″ display
256gb SSD

I have updated it to Mojave.

This will make an amazing Christmas pressie for someone – It’s literally just sat on my desk and never gets turned on (I turned it on today to take the piccies).

I will post via fully insured courier or post and it will be very well packaged or you are welcome to come and inspect it or collect in North Wales.

Payment by BT or cash on collection please.

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Vendor 3PM uses AI and analytics to prevent Black Friday fraud

The months and weeks leading up to Black Friday, one of the most hectic shopping days of the year, keeps e-commerce intelligence vendor 3PM Solutions busy.

“This is a very important time,” said Rob Dunkel, CEO of 3PM.

More people buy products and more retailers and individuals sell products online on Black Friday than on any other day, and the number of counterfeit products listed for sale skyrockets, Dunkel said. Chicago-based 3PM, with its platform built to collect, change and then analyze unstructured data, identifies potentially counterfeit products for its e-commerce clients so they can crack down on Black Friday fraud.

Founded in 2013, 3PM sells software that automatically combs through products and reviews to give its e-commerce clients a better snapshot of what customers are purchasing and why, as well as to protect brands and identify and take down counterfeit or misrepresented items.

The 3PM platform automatically scrapes public data off e-commerce websites, such as Amazon and eBay, Dunkel explained. Data includes customer reviews, product images and descriptions, and buyer and seller information.

No APIs are used, he said — instead, the platform collects data as it appears on e-commerce dealers’ websites using machine learning and natural language processing. The collected data is then brought into the platform and structured for its clients, some of which include major e-commerce players.

The process is continuous and encompasses billions of online product listings.

Google AI

Black Friday fraud, shopping
AI and analytics help prevent online shopping fraud on Black Friday and all year

The vendor uses a host of Google Cloud products to support its platform. A few years ago, 3PM left AWS for the Google Cloud Platform, after seeing the capabilities of Google Cloud Bigtable, a scalable, fully managed NoSQL database.

The database product was in beta testing then, Dunkel said. But, with its ability to handle huge workloads, it seemed perfect for 3PM.

Also, Dunkel said, 3PM was drawn to Google for its machine learning and AI products and tools available on the cloud.

Google Cloud Vision AI, alongside Google Cloud TPU, gives 3PM the ability to automatically classify and match images, for example.

“We’re heavy users of Google AI,” Dunkel said.

Preventing Black Friday fraud

Analyzing products in search of counterfeits is particularly important around Black Friday. Due to the sudden, massive increase in buyers and sellers during this holiday period, Black Friday fraud is common.

Using its platform, 3PM can identify fraudulent products for its clients and partners generally within four hours, Dunkel claimed. He offered an example.

Game of Thrones: Season 8 comes out on DVD and Blu-ray soon. Given the popularity of the show, and the expected demand for the season, it’s inevitable that some sellers will purposely mislist similar products to make them appear to be Season 8, to trick potential buyers. They could, for example, use clever descriptors or images to pass off a poster of Season 8 for the DVD.

So, said Dunkel, “We’ve been able to train the system to understand each title” of the different products, to automatically identify from the title what the product is.

We’re able to build and train our models to understand what is good and what is not.
Rob DunkelCEO, 3PM Solutions

Moreover, the platform can identify and compare a product listing’s image to a known image of the product, and scan for discrepancies using image recognition. Models can also read the descriptors and listing categories and compare them with other listings or with what the category is known to be. In the case of the Game of Thrones: Season 8, a category might be DVD. If the product lists as something else, 3PM issues a warning.

“We’re able to build and train our models to understand what is good and what is not,” Dunkel said.

The platform can also analyze product reviews. On certain e-commerce sites, third-party sellers can change their listings. They may have listed a specific product that racked up many positive reviews, but later changed the listing to a completely different product. Yet, the reviews stayed.

At first glance, then, the product seems to have high reviews. By reading through the reviews, it may become clear that the positive reviews were meant for a different product altogether. The 3PM platform can automatically read through reviews, and comb through the history of the listing, to detect that, Dunkel said.

While most Black Friday sellers are honest, Dunkel emphasized the importance of watching for Black Friday fraud.

“With Black Friday, with all the people shopping, consumers need to be more diligent,” he said. “Consumers need to take more steps to make sure they are buying an authentic product.”

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AT&T integrating 5G with Microsoft cloud to enable next-generation solutions on the edge – Stories

DALLAS and REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 26, 2019 — Microsoft and AT&T are ramping up innovation in the early days of their strategic alliance announced in July. One area of focus is aimed at enabling new 5G, cloud and edge computing solutions to drive enterprise capabilities for companies around the world.

The companies are opening select preview availability for Network Edge Compute (NEC) technology, which weaves Microsoft Azure cloud services into AT&T network edge locations closer to customers. This means AT&T’s software-defined and virtualized 5G core – what the company calls the Network Cloud – is now capable of delivering Azure services. NEC will initially be available for a limited set of select customers in Dallas. Next year, Los Angeles and Atlanta are targeted for select customer availability.

From making the world’s first 5G millimeter wave browsing session on a commercial 5G device to groundbreaking commercial installations in healthcare, manufacturing and entertainment, AT&T has proved itself to be a leader in 5G. The company recently activated an industry-first 400-gigabit connection between Dallas and Atlanta to support video, gaming and other 5G needs. AT&T serves parts of 21 cities with its 5G network using millimeter wave spectrum (5G+) and plans to offer nationwide 5G in the first half of 2020.

“The first smartphones on 3G networks introduced the idea of mobile apps over a decade ago. A few years later, 4G LTE made it feasible to connect those devices faster to cloud applications to stream videos, hail rides, and broadcast content to the world,” said Mo Katibeh, EVP and chief marketing officer, AT&T Business. “With our 5G and edge computing, AT&T is collaborating uniquely with Microsoft to marry their cloud capabilities with our network to create lower latency between the device and the cloud that will unlock new, future scenarios for consumers and businesses. We’ve said all year developers and businesses will be the early 5G adopters, and this puts both at the forefront of this revolution.”

This innovation points to a future where high-end augmented reality glasses are as thin and stylish as a standard pair of eyeglasses, lightweight drones can track themselves and thousands of nearby companions in near-real time, and autonomous cars have access to nearly-instant data processing capabilities without having to install a mini data center in the trunk.

“We are helping AT&T light up a wide range of unique solutions powered by Microsoft’s cloud, both for its business and our mutual customers in a secure and trusted way,” said Corey Sanders, corporate vice president, Microsoft Solutions. “The collaboration reaches across AT&T, bringing the hyperscale of Microsoft Azure together with AT&T’s network to innovate with 5G and edge computing across every industry.”

 5G and edge for gaming, drones, and more

One example of how edge computing can unlock new scenarios and experiences is in mobile gaming, where gaming company Game Cloud Network has created a unique 5G game that’s hosted on the network edge with Microsoft Azure. Game Cloud Network is a pioneer in developing game-based brand engagement and a customer of AT&T. The company is now showcasing its new “Tap & Field” game, which utilizes Microsoft’s Azure PlayFab services. In the game, users race each other in near-real time via this track-and-field-style game, enabled by the speed of 5G-connected devices.

“5G gaming provides consumers with the best of both worlds: highly-immersive experiences on lightweight mobile devices,” said Aaron Baker, chief executive officer, Game Cloud Network. “AT&T and Microsoft are building the perfect environment for game developers to create amazing new possibilities for gamers. 5G and edge computing have the potential to radically change how we play together and launch new business opportunities for brands and game publishers.”

Through AT&T Foundry, AT&T and Microsoft are exploring proofs-of-concept including augmented and virtual reality scenarios and drones. For example, both companies continue to work with Israeli startup Vorpal, helping its VigilAir product track drones in commercial zones, airports, and other areas with near-instant positioning. The companies also recently demoed using Microsoft HoloLens to provide 3D schematic overlays for technicians making repairs to airplanes and other industrial equipment.

Progress toward a “public-cloud first company” and more

Microsoft is also helping AT&T Communications become a “public-cloud first” company by migrating most non-network workloads to the public cloud by 2024, and this migration to Azure is already underway. Another important part of AT&T’s strategy is to empower much of its workforce with Microsoft 365. This includes cloud-connected Office apps on Windows 10, and modern collaboration with Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive. AT&T has begun rolling out these solutions to tens of thousands of employees to help drive a culture of modern work.

AT&T and Microsoft will have more to share over the coming months and years as this unique alliance continues to evolve and expand. The two companies will both create and adopt new technologies to develop tools, commercial services and consumer applications that benefit everyone.

About AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is a diversified, global leader in telecommunications, media and entertainment, and technology. It executes in the market under four operating units. WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content to global audiences through its consumer brands including: HBO, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC Entertainment, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others. AT&T Communications provides more than 100 million U.S. consumers with entertainment and communications experiences across TV, mobile and broadband services. Plus, it serves nearly 3 million business customers with high-speed, highly secure connectivity and smart solutions. AT&T Latin America provides pay-TV services across 11 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean, and is the fastest growing wireless provider in Mexico, serving consumers and businesses. Xandr provides marketers with innovative and relevant advertising solutions for consumers around premium video content and digital advertising through its AppNexus platform.

AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc. Additional information is available at about.att.com. © 2019 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, the Globe logo and other marks are trademarks and service marks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

Cautionary Language Concerning Forward-Looking Statements

 Information set forth in this news release contains financial estimates and other forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties, and actual results might differ materially. A discussion of factors that may affect future results is contained in AT&T’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AT&T disclaims any obligation to update and revise statements contained in this news release based on new information or otherwise.

This news release may contain certain non-GAAP financial measures. Reconciliations between the non-GAAP financial measures and the GAAP financial measures are available on the company’s website at https://investors.att.com.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, contact:

Clay Owen
AT&T Corporate Communications
Phone: (404) 538-0124
Email: [email protected]

Microsoft Media Relations
WE Communications for Microsoft
Phone: (425) 638-7777
Email: [email protected]

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Contact center agent experience needs massive overhaul

Gone are the days when it is acceptable to have greater than 40% turnover rates among contact center agents.

Leading organizations are revamping the contact center agent experience to improve business metrics, such as operational costs, revenue and customer ratings; and a targeted agent program keeps companies at a competitive advantage, according to the Nemertes 2019-20 Intelligent Customer Engagement research study of 518 organizations.

The problems

CX leaders participating in the research pointed to several issues responsible for a failing contact center agent experience:

  • Low pay. In some organizations it’s at minimum wage, despite requirements for bachelor’s degrees and/or experience.
  • Dead-end job. Organizations typically do not have a growth path for agents. They expect them to last 18 months to two years, and there always will be a revolving door of agents coming and going.
  • Lack of customer context. Agents find it difficult to take pride in their work when they don’t have the right tools. Without CRM integrations, AI assistance and insightful agent desktops, it is difficult to delight customers.
  • Cranky customers. Agents also find it difficult to regularly interact with dissatisfied customers. With a better work environment, more interaction channels, better training, more analytics and context, they could change those attitudes.
  • No coaching. Because supervisors are busy interviewing and hiring to keep backfilling the agents who are leaving, they rarely have time to coach the agents they have. What’s more, they don’t have the analytics tools — from contact center vendors such as Avaya, Cisco, Five 9, Genesys and RingCentral; or from pure-play tools such as Clarabridge, Medallia, and Maritz CM — to provide performance insight.

The enlightenment

Those in the contact center know this has been status quo for decades, but that is starting to change.

One of the big change drivers is the addition of a chief customer officer (CCO). Today, 37% of organizations have a CCO, up from 25% last year. The CCO is an executive-level individual with ultimate responsibility for all customer-facing activities and strategy to maximize customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction.

The CCO has budget, staff and the attention of the entire C-suite. As a result, high agent turnover rates are no longer flying under the radar. After bringing the issue to CEOs and CFOs, they are investing resources into turning around the turnover rates.

Additionally, organizations value contact centers more today, with 61% of research participants say the company views the contact center as a “value center” versus a “cost center.” Four years ago, that figure was reversed, with two-thirds viewing the contact center as a cost center.

Research shows there are five common changes organizations are now making to improve the contact center agent experience and reduce the turnover rate.

Companies are adding more outbound contact centers, targeting sales or proactive customer engagement — such as customer check-ups, loyalty program invitations and discount offers — and they are supporting new products and services. This helps to explain why, despite the growth in self-service and AI-enabled digital channels, 44% of companies actually increased the number of agents in 2019, compared to 13% who decreased, 40% who were flat and 3% unsure.

The solution

Research shows there are five common changes organizations are now making to improve the contact center agent experience and reduce the turnover rate — now at 21%, down from 38% in 2016. These changes include:

  • Improved compensation plan. Nearly 47% of companies are increasing agent compensation, compared to the 7% decreasing it. The increase ranges from 22% to 28%. Average agent compensation is $49,404, with projected increases up to $60,272, minimally, by the end of 2020.
  • Investment in agent analytics. About 24% of companies are using agent analytics today, with another 20.2% planning to use the tools by 2021. Agent analytics provides data on performance to help with coaching and improvement, in addition to delivering real-time screen pops to help agents on the spot during interactions with customers. Those using analytics see a 52.6% improvement in revenue and a 22.7% decrease in operational costs.
  • Increases in coaching. By delivering data from analytics tools, supervisors have a better picture of areas of success and those that need improvement. By using a product such as Intradiem Contact Center RPA, they can automate the scheduling of training and coaching during idle times.
  • Addition of gamification. Agents are inspired with programs that inject competitiveness among agents, by awarding badges for bragging rights, weekly gift cards for top performance and monthly cash bonuses. Such rewards improve their loyalty to the company and reduce turnover.
  • Development of career path. Successful companies are developing a solid career path with escalations into marketing, product development and supervisory roles in the contact center or CX apps/analysis.

Developing a solid game plan that provides agents with the compensation, support and career path they deserve will drastically reduce turnover rates. In a drastic example, one consumer goods manufacturing company reduced agent turnover from 88% to 2% with a program that addressed the aforementioned issues. More typically, companies are seeing 5% to 15% reductions in their turnover rates one year after developing such a plan.

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Tableau analytics platform upgrades driven by user needs

LAS VEGAS — Tableau revealed a host of additions and upgrades to the Tableau analytics platform in the days both before and during Tableau Conference 2019.

Less than a week before its annual user conference, the vendor released Tableau 2019.4, a scheduled update of the Tableau analytics platform. And during the conference, Tableau unveiled not only new products and updates to existing ones, but also an enhanced partnership with Amazon Web Services to help users move to the cloud and a new partner network.

Many of the additions to the Tableau analytics platform have to do with data management, an area Tableau only recently began to explore. Among them are Tableau Catalog and Prep Conductor.

Others, meanwhile, are centered on augmented analytics, including Ask Data and Explain Data.

All of these enhancements to the Tableau analytics platform come in the wake of the news last June that Tableau was acquired by Salesforce, a deal that closed on Aug. 1 but was held up until just last week by a regulatory review in the United Kingdom looking at what effect the combination of the two companies would have on competition.

In a two-part Q&A, Andrew Beers, Tableau’s chief technology officer, discussed the new and enhanced products in the Tableau analytics platform as well as how Tableau and Salesforce will work together.

Part I focuses on data management and AI products in the Tableau analytics platform, while Part II centers on the relationship between Salesforce and Tableau.

Data management has been a theme of new products and upgrades to the Tableau analytics platform — what led Tableau in that direction?

Andrew BeersAndrew Beers

Andrew Beers: We’ve been about self-service analysis for a long time. Early themes out of the Tableau product line were putting the right tools in the hands of the people that were in the business that had the data and had the questions, and didn’t need someone standing between them and getting the answers to those questions. As that started to become really successful, then you had what happens in every self-service culture — dealing with all of this content that’s out there, all of this data that’s out there. We helped by introducing a prep product. But then you had people that were generating dashboards, generating data sets, and then we said, ‘To stick to our belief in self-service we’ve got to do something in the data management space, so what would a user-facing prep solution look like, an operationalization solution look like, a catalog solution look like?’ And that’s what started our thinking about all these various capabilities.

Along those lines, what’s the roadmap for the next few years?

Beers: We always have things that are in the works. We are at the beginning of several efforts — Tableau Prep is a baby product that’s a year and a half old. Conductor is just a couple of releases old. You’re going to see a lot of upgrades to those products and along those themes — how do you make prep easier and more approachable, how do you give your business the insight into the data and how it is being used, and how do you manage it? That’s tooling we haven’t built out that far yet. Once you have all of this knowledge and you’ve given people insights, which is a key ingredient in governance along with how to manage it in a self-service way, you’ll start to see the Catalog product grow into ideas like that.

Are these products something customers asked for, or are they products Tableau decided to develop on its own?

Beers: It’s always a combination. From the beginning we’ve listened to what our customers are saying. Sometimes they’re saying, ‘I want something that looks like this,’ but often they’re telling us, ‘Here is the kind of problem we’re facing, and here are the challenges we’re facing in our organization,’ and when you start to hear similar stories enough you generalize that the customers really need something in this space. And this is really how all of our product invention happens. It’s by listening to the intent behind what the customer is saying and then inventing the products or the new capabilities that will take the customer in a direction we think they need to go.

Shifting from data management to augmented intelligence, that’s been a theme of another set of products. Where did the motivation come from to infuse more natural language processing and machine learning into the Tableau analytics platform?

Beers: It’s a similar story here, just listening to customers and hearing them wanting to take the insights that their more analyst-style users got from Tableau to a larger part of the organization, which always leads you down the path of trying to figure out how to add more intelligence into the product. That’s not new for Tableau. In the beginning we said, ‘We want to build this tool for everyone,’ but if I’m building it for everyone I can’t assume that you know SQL, that you know color design, that you know how to tell a good story, so we had to build all those in there and then let users depart from that. With these smart things, it’s how can I extend that to letting people get different kinds of value from their question. We have a researcher in the NLP space who was seeing these signals a while ago and she started prototyping some of these ideas about how to bring natural language questioning into an analytical workspace, and that really inspired us to look deeply at the space and led us to think about acquisitions..

What’s the roadmap for Tableau’s AI capabilities?

With the way tech has been developing around things like AI and machine learning, there are just all kinds of new techniques that are available to us that weren’t mainstream enough 10 years ago to be pulling into the product.
Andrew BeersChief technology officer, Tableau

Beers: You’re going to see these AI and machine learning-style capabilities really in every layer of the product stack we have. We showed two [at the conference] — Ask Data and Explain Data — that are very much targeted at the analyst, but you’ll see it integrated into the data prep products. We’ve got some smarts in there already. We’ve added Recommendations, which is how to take the wisdom of the crowd, of the people that are at your business, to help you find things that you wouldn’t normally find or help you do operations that you yourself haven’t done yet but that your community around have done. You’re going to see that all over the product in little ways to make it easier to use and to expand the kinds of people that can do those operations.

As a technology officer, how fun is this kind of stuff for you?

Beers: It’s really exciting. It’s all kinds of fun things that we can do. I’ve always loved the mission of the company, how people see and understand data, because we can do this for decades. There’s so much interesting work ahead of us. As someone who’s focused on the technology, the problems are just super interesting, and I think with the way tech has been developing around things like AI and machine learning, there are just all kinds of new techniques that are available to us that weren’t mainstream enough 10 years ago to be pulling into the product.

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