Tag Archives: digital

Why You Should Use OneDrive for Business

As part of your organization’s journey to the cloud / digital transformation, document storage is key. OneDrive for Business (OD4B) replaces the traditional local “Documents” folder and opens up access to work documents from anywhere, on any device, along with many other capabilities.

This article will look at what OneDrive for Business is, how it compares with personal OneDrive, how to use OD4B, protecting your files and sharing them with others securely and some tips for Microsoft 365 administrators managing OD4B for a business. If you’d like an overview on how to use OneDrive for Business I’ve made the video below which accompanies this article:

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The Basics of OneDrive for Business

OD4B is SharePoint based cloud storage that you license as part of Office / Microsoft 365 that gives each user 1 TB of storage for their documents. You can access these documents from any Windows (the client is built into Windows 10, 1709, or later, but also available for earlier versions) or Mac computer, as well as through apps for Android and iOS. You can also access OD4B in any web browser, one easy way to get there is to log in at www.office.com and clicking on the OneDrive icon.

OD4B in Office.com

OD4B in Office.com

Alternatively, you can right-click on the folder in Windows Explorer on your desktop and select View online.

Right click on OD4B in Windows Explorer

Right-click on OD4B in Windows Explorer

Either way, you end up in the web interface where you can create new Office documents, upload files or folders, sync the content between your machine and the cloud storage (see below) as well as create automation flows through Power Automate.

OD4B web interface

OD4B web interface

Note that if you click on an Office file in the web interface, it’ll open in the web-based version of Word, giving you the option of working on any device where you have access to a browser.

For most people, 1 TB of storage is sufficient but many modern devices don’t come with that amount of internal storage so you may need to choose what to sync to the local device. There are two approaches, you can right-click on a folder or file and select Always keep on this device which will do exactly that (and take up space on your local PC), or Free up space which will delete the local copy but keep the files in the cloud. You can tell the different states with the filled green tick (always on this device) icon, or the white cloud (space freed up). The automatic way is to simply double-click on a file that you need to work on, and the file will be downloaded (green tick on white background), called Available locally, this feature is called Files on demand.

In Windows, there’s also a handy “pop up” menu to see the status of OD4B, see which files have been recently synced, and also lets you pause syncing temporarily.

Pop up menu from OD4B client

Pop up menu from OD4B client

If you’re working in Word, Excel, PowerPoint in both Windows and Mac on a file stored in OD4B (and OneDrive personal / SharePoint Online) it’ll AutoSave your changes without you having to save manually. OD4B will also become the default save location in Word, Excel, etc.

And the “secret” is that OD4B is a just a personal document library in SharePoint Online, managed by the OD4B service.

Choosing syncing options for folders.png

Choosing syncing options for folders

OneDrive versus OneDrive for Business

If you sign up for a free Microsoft account, you get the personal flavor of OneDrive which provides 5GB of storage. You can augment this with a Microsoft 365 personal (1 person) or Home (up to 6 users) subscription providing up to 1TB of storage per user, as well as Office for your PC or Mac.

From an end-user point of view the services are very similar but the business version adds identity federation, administrative control, Data Loss Prevention (DLP), and eDiscovery.

Advanced Features

OD4B provides quite a few advanced features that the casual user might not know about. For instance, when you’re attaching a document to an email, you’ll have the option to attach a link to the document in your OD4B instead of a copy of it. If you’re emailing the document to someone internally in your business or someone externally that you collaborate with, this is a better option as you’ll both still be working on the one file (potentially at the same time, see below) rather than having multiple copies attached to different emails and ending up having to manually reconcile the edits at the end.

Known Folder Move is another feature that you can enable as an administrator. This will redirect the Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Screenshots and Camera Roll folders from a user’s local device to OD4B. This has two benefits; firstly, if a user loses their device or it’s broken, their files will still be there when they log in on a new device, secondly, they can use their local Documents, Pictures, etc. folders as they always have.

There’s also versioning built into OD4B which keeps track of each version as it’s saved, you can access this either in the web interface or by right-clicking on a file in Windows Explorer.

OD4B document versions

OD4B document versions

The Recycle bin in the web UI for OD4B has saved many an IT Pro’s career when the CEO has deleted (“by mistake” – but they swear they never hit delete) an important file. Simply click on the Recycle bin and restore files that were deleted up to 93 days ago (up to 30 days for OneDrive personal). A related feature is OneDrive Restore that lets you recover an entire (or parts of) OD4B, perhaps after all the files have been encrypted by a ransomware attack. It also shows a histogram of versions for each file, making it easy to spot the version you want to restore.

Using AI, OD4B (and SharePoint) will automatically extract text from photos that you store so that you can use it when searching for files, it’ll also automatically provide a transcript for any audio or video file you store. File insights let you see who has viewed and edited a shared file (see below) and get statistics.

If you’re using the app on your smartphone you can scan the physical world (a whiteboard, a document, business card, or photo) with the camera and it’ll use AI to transcribe the capture.

Scanning in the Android app

Scanning in the Android app

Recently, Microsoft added a new feature called Add to OneDrive that lets you add a shortcut in OD4B to folders that others have shared with you or that are shared with you in Teams or SharePoint. Speaking of Teams – sharing files in there will now use the same sharing links functionality that OD4B uses (see below). Even more useful will be the forthcoming ability to move a folder and keep the sharing permissions you have configured for it, and some files (CAD drawings anyone?) the increase of the maximum file size from 15 GB to 100 GB is welcome. And, like all the other cool kids, OD4B (and OneDrive personal) on the web will add a dark theme option.

Collaboration and OneDrive for Business

One of the powerful features of OD4B is the ability to share documents (and folders) with internal and external users. As you might expect, administrators have full control over sharing options (see below) but assuming it’s not turned off or restricted you can right-click on a file or folder and click the blue cloud icon Share option, or click the Share option in the web interface. This lets you share a link to the file or folder with internal and external users, grant access to specific people, make it read-only or allow editing and block the ability to download the document (they have to edit the online, shared copy).

Sharing a file, One Drive For Business

Sharing a file

It’s a good idea to turn on external sharing notifications via email.

Once a document is shared you can also use Co-authoring to work on the document simultaneously, both in the web-based versions of Word and Excel as well as the desktop versions of the Office apps. You can see which parts of a document another user is working on.

Administration

If you’re the administrator for your Office 365 deployment you can access the SharePoint admin center (from the main Microsoft 365 Admin center) and control sharing for both OneDrive and SharePoint. There is also a link to the OneDrive admin center where you have control over other aspects of OD4B as well as the same sharing settings.

Sharing Settings in OD4B Admin Center

Sharing Settings in OD4B Admin Center

The main settings for you to consider here are who your users can share content with. The most permissive setting allows them to share links to documents with anyone, no authentication required (not recommended). The next level up allows your users to invite external users to the organization but they have to sign in (using the same email address that the sharing link was sent to), creating an external user in your Azure Active Directory and thus giving you some control, including the ability to apply Conditional Access to their access. If you only allow sharing with existing external users, you must have another process in place for how to invite external users. And the most restrictive is to only allow sharing with internal users, blocking external sharing. Don’t be fooled by these sliders however, if you set this too restrictive and users need to share documents externally, they will do so using personal email, other cloud storage solutions, etc. They will just not be using OD4B sharing links which at least allows you visibility in audit logs and reports, along with some control.

Under the advanced settings for the links you can configure link expiry in days, prohibiting links that last “forever”. You can also limit links to be view only. The advanced settings for sharing let you black or whitelist particular domains for sharing, preventing further sharing (an external user sharing with another external user) and letting owners see who is viewing their files.

Under Sync you can limit syncing to domain-joined computers and block specific file types. Storage lets you limit the storage quota and set the number of days that OD4B content is kept after a user account is deleted. Device access lets you limit access based on IP address as well as set some restrictions for the mobile apps, whereas the Compliance blade has links to DLP, Retention, eDiscovery, Alerts, and Auditing, all of which are generic Office 365 features. The next blade, Notifications, controls email notifications for sharing and the last blade, while Data migration is a link to an article with tools for migrating to OD4B from on-premises storage.

If you’re considering OD4B, there are handy deployment and administration guides for administrators, both for Enterprises and Small businesses. If, on the other hand, your business is definite about keeping “stuff” on-premises you can use OneDrive with SharePoint server, including 2019.

Note that a recent announcement means that the OD4B admin center functionality will move into the SharePoint Online admin center, but the above functionality will stay intact, just not in a separate portal.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that cloud storage is a cornerstone of successful digital transformation and if you’re already using Office 365, OneDrive for Business is definitely the best option.

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Author: Paul Schnackenburg

Using data and IBM AI to make coronavirus economic predictions

Global digital marketing firm Wunderman Thompson launched its Risk, Readiness and Recovery map, an interactive platform that helps enterprises and governments make market-level decisions, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The platform, released May 21, uses Wunderman Thompson’s data, as well as machine learning technology from IBM Watson, to predict state and local government COVID-19 preparedness and estimated economic recovery timetables for businesses and governments.

Building a platform

The idea for the Risk, Readiness and Recovery map, a free version of which is available on Wunderman Thompson’s website, originated two months ago as the global pandemic accelerated, said Adam Woods, CTO at Wunderman Thompson Data.

“We were looking at some of the visualizations that were coming in around COVID-19, and we were inspired to really say, let’s look at the insight that we have and see if that can make a difference,” Woods said.

A global marketing subsidiary of British multinational communications firm WPP plc, Wunderman Thompson has collected thousands of data elements on 270 million people in the U.S, including transaction, demographic and health data. That data, which is anonymized, led the company to understand the potential economic impact of the coronavirus quickly.

“We’ve seen the economic damage that this has caused, and we see that because we have access into really deep transactional data,” Woods said. “We were able to watch the ball drop almost in real time.”

We’re focusing on “how do we help brands that we work with really understand the right response and the way they should reopen their operations,” he said.

Wunderman Thompson, Risk, Readiness, Recovery
Wunderman Thompson’s Risk, Readiness and Recovery tool uses IBM Watson.

Wunderman Thompson Data, the technology arm of the company, developed the interactive Risk, Readiness and Recovery platform using that data.

Machine learning technology from IBM Watson proved to be an integral part of the platform.

Two data-centered companies

Wunderman Thompson Data started working with IBM Watson about a year ago. Wunderman Thompson Data had a data lake and consolidated data did not have modern tools to build machine learning models, Woods said.

So, the firm looked at the products from several different data science and AI vendors before settling on IBM.

We were able to watch the ball drop almost in real time.
Adam WoodsCTO of Wunderman Thompson Data

IBM provided a scalable system to help with Wunderman Thompson’s data science problem using Watson Studio, a machine learning-as-a-service platform with tools for data preparation, drag-and-drop machine learning model building and data visualization.

“They are very confident in their ability to work a problem at this scale,” Woods said, adding that Wunderman Thompson Data has about 20,000 different features it can bring into a machine learning model.

“We can do really fast, high-quality model understanding with those tools,” he said.

Wunderman Thompson Data brought in IBM’s Data Science Elite Team, a consultancy that works with customers to tackle AI- and analytics-related use cases, to set up a rapid growth testing model.

“Organically, we knew these were the right things to do, but we just didn’t have a way to get the project done,” Woods said.

The IBM and Wunderman Thompson partnership eventually powered the Risk, Readiness and Recovery platform, which uses Wunderman Thompson’s data and machine learning models built with IBM Watson Studio.

Risk, Readiness and Recovery

The platform, as the name suggests, focuses on three areas:

  1. Risk. Health conditions, COVID-19 and census.
  2. Readiness. Health support within communities.
  3. Recovery. The impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

Risk identifies how much a given local government organization or zip code area in the U.S. is at risk from COVID-19. Readiness, meanwhile, identifies how prepared an area is by looking at its hospital and intensive care unit availability, and Recovery identifies how economically affected local areas are, how fast they might recover and when they might return to normal.

Wunderman Thompson Data is selling the tool to state and local governments, as well as to enterprise customers.

“We’ve been able to really quickly look at this [data] and bring it to a position …to help brands in a highly localized way,” Woods said.

As the economic fallout and, in some places, recovery from the worst of the pandemic continues, it’s going to be on a “vastly different county and county basis, and we can see that in the data,” Woods said.

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Surge in digital health tools to continue post-pandemic

Health systems have rapidly rolled out digital health tools to meet the needs of both patients and providers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Interest in digital health tools, a broad term that refers to the use of technology to deliver healthcare services to patients digitally and can include technologies such as wearable devices, mobile apps and telehealth programs, will likely continue long after the pandemic ends, according to healthcare experts.

Already, healthcare systems are increasing the number of telehealth services they provide. They are embracing symptom checker tools and tools that enable practitioners to keep tabs on patients remotely. It’s also resulted in healthcare CIOs looking to contact tracing tools for managing the spread of the virus.

During a recent HIMSS webinar, four healthcare leaders discussed how the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital health tools and why that interest will continue after the pandemic ends.

Digital health tools help with response

Digital health tools such as telehealth programs have become a crucial element of the pandemic, especially as governments and health systems began mandating work-from-home and shelter-in-place orders, according to Bernardo Mariano Jr., CIO and director of digital health innovation at the World Health Organization in Switzerland.

Bernardo MarianoBernardo Mariano

But, Mariano said, more work needs to be done, including the development of an international health data exchange standard so countries can do a better job of supporting each other during a crisis such as COVID-19. For example, Mariano said, while Italy was suffering from an overload of patients at hospitals, neighboring countries may have been able to help treat patients remotely through telemedicine. The lack of an international “principle or regulation” hindered that capability, he said.

As the pandemic stretches on, Mariano said the proliferation of contact tracing technologies is also growing, with countries seeking to use the technology as part of their reopening strategies. Mariano said the COVID-19 crisis could accelerate the adoption of a global healthcare surveillance system like contact tracing that will enable countries to quickly analyze, assess and respond to outbreaks.

“The power of digital solutions to minimize the impact of COVID has never been so clear,” he said.

‘Digital front door technologies’ are key

Pravene Nath, global head of digital health strategy at Roche, a biotech company with an office in San Francisco, also cited the explosive growth of telehealth as an indicator of the impact COVID-19 has had on healthcare. While they are instrumental now, Nath also believes digital health tools will last beyond the pandemic.

Pravene NathPravene Nath

Nath said the crisis is enabling healthcare systems to readily make a case for “digital front door technologies,” or tools that guide patients to the right place before stepping into a healthcare facility. A digital front door can include tools such as acute care telehealth, chatbot assessments, virtual visits, home monitoring and self-monitoring tools.

“I think the disruption here is in the access and utilization of traditional care models that’s heightened the value of digitally-driven chronic disease care management, such as platforms like MySugr for diabetes management,” he said. MySugr is an app-based digital diabetes management platform that integrates with glucose-monitoring devices.

“We think the adoption of these kinds of technologies will accelerate now as a result of the total disruption to physical access to traditional healthcare environments,” he said.

Nath said after the pandemic has passed, healthcare systems that quickly rolled out digital health technologies will need time to assess how to be “good stewards” of that technology and patient data moving forward.

Mobile app use grows

“Digital technologies play an important role in managing the crisis,” said Päivi Sillanaukee, director general of the Finland Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Päivi Sillanaukee Päivi Sillanaukee

Digital health has played a role in keeping patients informed via mobile apps and other online methods. Sillanaukee said by having tools that provide reliable, up-to-date information to patients has resulted in a decrease in time-consuming calls to healthcare workers.

Finland has also begun looking into contact tracing tools, although Sillanaukee said she has seen an acceleration in discussions about patient data safety along with the contact tracing discussion.

Pandemic bypasses change management

While the benefits of digital health were evident before the crisis, such as remotely connecting patients to doctors, Benedict Tan, group chief digital strategy officer at Singapore Health Services, said the challenge has long been change management and getting buy-in from providers for digital health tools.

Benedict TanBenedict Tan

But COVID-19 and social distancing have changed that, suddenly presenting a need for tools such as telehealth, analytics and remote monitoring to help manage patients during the crisis, and they are showing the value of such tools, he said.

“What COVID-19 has done is accelerate, or give motivation, for all of us to work together to leverage and see the benefits of what digital health can bring to society,” he said.

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Wanted – Any cheap m.2 drives kicking about?

Western Digital PCSN520 NVME 256GB £30 inc ??

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Free Educational Content in Minecraft Marketplace!

Venture into digital worlds instead of the real one!

The world is upside down right now. We’re learning lots of new phrases like social distancing, contact tracing, and stop snacking just because you’re bored. Everyone around the world is coming together to do their part, whether that’s working on finding a vaccine, delivering food and supplies, or staying indoors. Whatever the case, all of our daily routines have been thrown completely out of whack. It’s easy to get scared at a time like this, which is why focusing on something can help you stay calm. 

Educators around the world are doing everything they can to provide digital lessons for the half a billion students who are out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not an easy task and we want to do our part to help keep young minds sharp and stimulated. 

If you head over to the Minecraft Marketplace, you will find some of our favorite lessons from Minecraft: Education Edition in a brand new Education category. These educational worlds can be played on your own, with your kids, parents or friends. From the comfort of your home, you can tour the International Space Station or even explore the inside of a human eye. We’ve also included ten worlds from our Marketplace creator community! Thanks to creators Everbloom, Jigarbov, Lifeboat, Razzleberries, The World Foundry, Blockworks, and Imagiverse you can explore renewable energy, marine biology, Greek history, and more! The worlds include lesson plans like creative writing activities, build challenges, and tricky puzzles. 

All of these worlds are launching today and are free to download through June 30, 2020.

Anyone with Minecraft for Bedrock platforms can find these worlds by launching Minecraft and visiting the in-game store. Minecraft is available on Android & iOS, Kindle Fire, Windows 10 PC, Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Fire TV, Xbox One, Windows MR, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4. 

You can find the complete content list here: https://www.minecraft.net/en-us/marketplace/education

To learn more about distance learning with Minecraft: Education Edition, visit: https://aka.ms/remote-learning-blog

Stay safe, wherever you are. We’ll get through this.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Wanted – Any cheap m.2 drives kicking about?

Western Digital PCSN520 NVME 256GB £30 inc ??

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Using automated machine learning for AI in insurance

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, one of the largest insurance firms in Japan, began the process of digital transformation several years ago. The company launched multiple projects, and continues to start new projects, to send it further into the digital age.

One of MSI’s more ambitious undertakings is the MS1 Brain platform, an AI in insurance project to create a more personalized experience for customers.

AI in insurance

Released earlier this year, the MS1 Brain platform uses machine learning and predictive analytics, along with customer data, including contract details, accident information and lifestyle changes, to recommend products and services to customers based on their predicted needs.

The platform also generates personalized communications for customers.

“Our business model is B to B to C [business to business to consumer]. We provide our products through agencies,” said Teruki Yokoyama, deputy manager of digital strategy in the department of digital business at MSI. “Until now, we have provided products to customers, both individuals and corporations mostly by leveraging experienced agents’ intimate knowledge of client needs.”

“By providing the needs analysis outcomes of each customer to the agency by MS1Brain, now even an inexperienced agency can make optimal proposals to customers with higher demands,” he continued.

To build the platform, MSI chose dotData, a startup automated machine learning vendor based in San Mateo, Calif.

Machine learning
Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance used automated machine learning to build out a machine learning platform

Automated machine learning

MSI first connected with dotData in 2017, when MSI‘s CIO visited Silicon Valley for a technical survey, Yokoyama said.

At that time, dotData was just getting started, and it hadn’t released a product. Still, MSI was intrigued by its automated machine learning platform, which claims to provide full-cycle machine learning automation. DotData competitors include DataRobot, H2O.ai and Auger.ai.

Automation of the data science process is the only way a company can truly deliver value from AI/ML investments and provide competitive differentiation by investing in predictive analytics.
Teruki YokoyamaDeputy manager of digital strategy, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance

“When it comes to data analysis, model accuracy often gets the most attention; dotData, on the other hand, focuses on how quickly you can move from raw data to working models — the AI-based feature engineering is what stood out,” Yokoyama said.

MSI had to build a lot of intelligent models, said Ryohei Fujimaki, CEO and founder of dotData. But, the firm didn’t have the data science team to build them.

DotData’s platform was scalable and enabled MSI to automate the entire AI building process, from feature generation to model implementation, Yokoyama said.

“Everyone should embrace this approach,” said Yokoyama of the automated machine learning approach.

“Automation of the data science process is the only way a company can truly deliver value from AI/ML investments and provide competitive differentiation by investing in predictive analytics,” he said.

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My next chapter: Shaping a sustainable future with AI – US Partner Community Blog – Microsoft

Organizations around the world are going through rapid digital transformation. This is especially true in the US Market, where we see this phenomena being accelerated by the scale and agility of the Cloud and fueled by the latest innovation in machine learning and artificial intelligence. As they progress through their transformations and examine impacts on employees, partners, customers, and society, new strategies are emerging with socio-environmental factors with sustainability at the center.

We’re just at the beginning of what is possible with AI, endless possibilities not only for companies and partners but for everyone to benefit from improved societal impact, social good and sustainability. All requiring the need for a strong ecosystem and strategic private & public partnerships to build a trusted and secure future with new AI innovations and solutions. I’m delighted to share I’ve taken a new role at Microsoft to address both of these challenges: Vice President, AI Country Strategy & Sustainability Partnership for the US Microsoft Subsidiary. Focused on driving cross-boundary collaboration and transformation at scale, my new team and I will build strategies and partnerships that strengthen Microsoft’s position in the US as the leader in Cloud & AI, and leverage that knowledge into delivering in the US on Microsoft’s sustainability promise to be carbon negative by 2030.

Microsoft is making big, strategic bets on Cloud & AI and I look forward to driving digital transformation the US with a holistic view of the partner ecosystem—from customers and partners to developers and other strategic partnerships. Through the development of private and public partnerships we will drive technology innovation and ecosystem activation and begin to utilize Microsoft’s $1B investment in support of sustainability agendas across the US.

I have always been passionate about building teams that help shape the future of new technologies; and this new role creates the connections and opportunities for expansion of Microsoft’s mission to empower people, and drive growth and economic prosperity at a global level. The chance to leverage AI and sustainability to help us solve the world’s most vexing challenges is an opportunity for us all—and I’m grateful to be at a company that supports this mission.

While this will be a transition from my current charter in leading Go-To-Markets as a strategic advantage for Microsoft’s commercial partners, I’m excited to see the role the Microsoft community and its tens of thousands of partners will play in driving the future of AI and sustainability.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we are partnering with customers, commercial partners, developers, students and startups, follow along!

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Ex-SAP exec steers Episerver CMS toward digital experience market

NEW YORK — The Episerver CMS is morphing into a digital experience platform, led by CEO Alex Atzberger, the former SAP C/4HANA customer experience platform lead. He departed SAP in October and joined Episerver last month.

We sat down with Atzberger at NRF 2020 Vision: Retail’s Big Show to discuss recent Episerver acquisitions such as Insite Software, future acquisitions, how digital experience and customer experience differ, why he left SAP and his vision for Episerver’s acquisition and product roadmap.

How did you end up at Episerver? Things happened kind of fast after you left SAP.

Alex Atzberger: It happened very fast. When I desired to leave SAP, I looked for a cloud company with triple-digit [hundreds of millions of dollars in] cloud revenue. I was looking for something in CX, the most exciting and fastest-growing part of enterprise software. And I was looking for something that had the right strategic mindset.

[Episerver] had been acquired by Insight Partners, which had put money into the business, so they’re at an inflection point. They are the leader in what is still king, which is content. Even if you look at commerce-centric businesses, content matters a lot. And how do you marry content and commerce together? There are very few companies that have both of those embedded, and Epi is one of them. It worked out well, and the timing was perfect, very fast.

You’ve only been at Episerver for a month, but how would you describe your vision for the company and the product roadmap moving forward?

There are a couple of trends that continue to be very important: One, understanding everything about your customer, and two, serving up the next best action.
Alex AtzbergerCEO, Episerver

Atzberger: We have an untold story. People are really, really happy with this technology. One big part of the strategy, going forward, is expansion in North America, and telling the story of Epi.

Because of the size of the U.S. market, we have to decide on which specific verticals to focus on. There’s a large part of the economy that is not digital, that is somehow forgotten. These companies will not work with [platform vendors] that are too large; they need [vendors] that are large enough to serve, but small enough to care about the results. … Ultimately commerce and content are the face of so many brands, the heart of your business. … We’re going to focus on that market, and bringing automation to content, using AI and automation to scale [digital operations].

Do you feel like you’re competing with your old company SAP, since Episerver CMS is now on its way to being a full-featured digital experience platform with content and commerce clouds?

Atzberger: When I built the SAP CX platform, we built it under the notion of connecting supply chain and demand chain. It was really a relevant message for very large companies that were looking at one platform. Epi is much more focused on the digital experience, truly understanding the digital customer, and doing it in such a way that companies between, say, a million and a billion, are the sweet spot. It’s 80% or 90% whole different [market].

What happened at SAP? Bill McDermott left [in October], and you weren’t far behind. It was all very quick.

Atzberger: If you look at the big picture, it was 15 years [at SAP]. We all want to be CEO of a company. At one point it becomes harder, and you basically end up being part of a company for life.

There’s too much innovation going on, too much excitement going on that I wanted to be part of as well. Ariba and CX are a massive part of SAP. I’m very proud of that and I’m proud of what SAP has done as a company. With the CEO change it was a natural point [to depart].

How do your past experiences at SAP and SAP Ariba color what you’ll be doing at Episerver?

Atzberger: Those involved transformation, and I think it’s going to be a bit of the same here, rallying people around a common cause and a common brand.

The acquisition of B2B e-commerce company Insite Software, which caters to manufacturers and distributors, happened within days after you joined Epi. The deal probably was in the works before you started, right? Did you have final sign-off on the acquisition, or was the deal finished before?

Atzberger: Yes, it was in the works. The strategic direction was important in speaking about it with [Epi’s private equity owners] Insight Partners. There’s a huge B2B commerce opportunity.

When the acquisitions of Insite and [product content tagging automation technology] Idio were discussed with me, not only was I supportive of them but also it attracted me to Episerver as a company. The acquisitions made it so much more compelling to be at this place, at this time. I went to Minneapolis and met [Insite Software CEO] Steve Shaffer, and saw how well they executed against their goals. It left me inspired. I left Minneapolis thinking, ‘This is part of the future of Epi.’

What can you tell me about how you’re thinking about future acquisitions? You’re growing, you’re flush with cash. You can’t be done. What’s next?

Atzberger: We’re not done. Our focus now is the integration of Idio and Insite. What’s interesting to me is that there are a couple of trends that continue to be very important: One, understanding everything about your customer, and two, serving up the next best action. Everything that we do in the foreseeable future will be focused on the digital experience, and helping our customers get better and more informed data about their customers so they can make better decisions.

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8 new ways to empower Firstline Workers and transform the way they work with Microsoft 365

Companies at the forefront of digital transformation recognize how critical it is to enable all of their people with the right technology and tools. That’s why, in industries like retail, hospitality, and manufacturing, there’s a movement underway to digitally empower the Firstline Workforce—the more than 2 billion people worldwide who work in service- or task-oriented roles.

With Microsoft 365, the world’s productivity cloud, we’re in a unique position to help companies of all sizes and across all industries provide their employees the tools and expertise they need to do their best work, without sacrificing the security of their organization or customers’ data. Giving Firstline Workers the tools they need requires companies to address unique user experience, security and compliance, and IT management.

Microsoft 365 for Firstline Workers

Microsoft 365 combines intuitive best-in-class productivity apps with intelligent cloud services to empower your Firstline Workforce.

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It’s inspiring to see how industry leaders, like IKEA and Mattress Firm, are driving higher levels of employee engagement and enhancing the customer experience by putting tools like Microsoft Teams into the hands of their Firstline Workforce. IKEA is connecting everyone in the organization with familiar features like chat and video calls and digitizing firstline processes such as shift management to save time and cost.

This video was created by Microsoft, with the agreement of Ingka Group.

Mattress Firm is empowering Firstline Workers with real-time access to the information, resources, and expertise they need to delight customers and provide a better shopping experience.

Ahead of next week’s National Retail Federation (NRF) tradeshow, we are excited to introduce new capabilities for Firstline Workers coming to Microsoft 365. Here’s a look at what’s coming soon:

New tools that make it easier for Firstline Workers to communicate and manage tasks

  1. Walkie Talkie in Teams—This new push-to-talk experience enables clear, instant, and secure voice communication over the cloud, turning employee- or company-owned smartphones and tablets into a walkie-talkie. This functionality, built natively into Teams, reduces the number of devices employees must carry, and lowers costs for IT. Unlike analog devices with unsecure networks, customers no longer have to worry about crosstalk or eavesdropping from outsiders. And since Walkie Talkie functions over Wi-Fi or cellular data, this capability can be used across geographic locations. Walkie Talkie will be available in private preview in Teams in the first half of this year.

Image displaying the intuitive push-to-talk experience to connect team members in Microsoft Teams. Three phones are displayed at various stages in connecting a manager to her team of cashiers.

Intuitive push-to-talk experience to connect team members across departments and locations.

  1. Tasks targeting, publishing, and reportingWith Tasks in Teams, now customers can drive consistent execution of store operations at scale across all of an organization’s locations. Corporate and regional leadership can send task lists targeted to the relevant locations, such as specific retail stores, and track their progress through automatic real-time reports. Managers have tools to easily direct activities within their stores, and Firstline Workers have a simple prioritized list available via their personal or company-issued device showing them exactly what to do next. Tasks targeting, publishing, and reporting is coming to Teams in the first half of this year.

Image of tasks being assigned to teams in Microsoft Teams.

Corporate headquarters can target, assign, and track tasks across locations. Firstline Workers can view tasks assigned to them and across the store.

  1. Workforce management integrations—Customers using leading third-party workforce management systems—such as Kronos and JDA—for scheduling and time and attendance can now start integrating directly with Shifts via Shifts Graph APIs and SDK. Supported scenarios include management of shifts, schedules, schedule groups, swap requests, time off requests, and open shift requests. The JDA connector for Shifts is open sourced and available on GitHub. The Kronos connector for Shifts will also be available on GitHub later this quarter.

Enhanced identity and access management features that make it easier for IT pros to keep Firstline Workers productive and secure

  1. SMS sign-in—With SMS sign-in, Firstline Workers are able to sign in to their Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) account using one-time SMS codes—reducing the need to remember usernames and passwords for all their Microsoft 365 and custom applications. Once enrolled, the user is prompted to enter their phone number, which generates an SMS text with a one-time password. SMS sign-in is a single sign-on (SSO) experience, enabling Firstline Workers to seamlessly access all the apps they are authorized to use. This new sign-in method can be enabled for select groups and configured at the user level in the My Staff portal—helping to reduce the burden on IT.

Image of one-time SMS codes being used to sign in to a device. Three phones display a code received and used by a Firstline Worker.

One-time SMS codes on mobile devices to streamline the sign-in experience for Firstline Workers.

  1. Shared device sign-out—Many Firstline Workers use a single tablet or mobile device that is shared between shifts. This can pose unique security challenges to the organization when different employees who have access to different types of data use the same device over the course of a day. With shared device sign-out, Firstline Workers will be able to log out of all their Microsoft 365 and custom applications and browser sessions with one click at the end of their shift—preventing their data as well as any access to customer data from being accessible to the next user of that device.

Image of shared device sign-out used on a shared Android device used as a scanning tool.

With one click, Firstline Workers can sign out of a shared Android device and log out of all applications and browser sessions to prevent sensitive data being shared with another device user.

  1. Off-shift access controls for Teams app—IT administrators can now configure Teams to limit employee access to the app on their personal device outside of working hours. This feature helps ensure employees are not involuntarily working while not on shift and helps employers to comply with labor regulations. This feature will begin rolling out to customers this quarter.

Image of off shift being used in Microsoft Teams. Three phones display various messages from the new feature.

Display a message and/or disable access to Teams app when Firstline Workers are off shift.

  1. Delegated user management—Firstline Managers can approve password resets and enable employees to use their phone numbers for SMS sign-in, all via a single customizable portal enabled by IT for Firstline Managers. Delegated user management can give Firstline Managers access to the My Staff portal, so they can unblock staff issues—reducing the burden of identity management on IT, and keeping employees connected to the apps they need on the job.

Image of the My Stage portal accessed from a tablet.

Through the My Staff portal, delegated user management enables a Firstline Manager to manage their team’s credentials and assist with password resets.

  1. Inbound provisioning from SAP SuccessFactors to Azure AD—Azure AD’s user provisioning service now integrates with SAP SuccessFactors, making it easier than ever to onboard and manage Firstline Workers’ identities at scale, across any application using Azure AD. This feature—in public preview—builds upon the ability to provision users to Azure AD from Workday, another popular human capital management (HCM) system, already generally available. Integrating with these systems of record helps IT to scale Firstline Workers’ onboarding and productivity from day one.

Image of Azure AD's user provisioning service integrated with SAP SuccessFactors and Workday used to check status on a laptop.

With Azure AD’s user provisioning service now integrated with SAP SuccessFactors, as well as Workday, it’s easier than ever to onboard Firstline Workers user identities at scale. Shown here, you can start the provisioning cycle and use the progress bar and provisioning logs to track the provisioning process.

All of these capabilities are expected to roll out in the first half of this year except where noted.

Empowering Firstline Workers to gain a competitive advantage

New research in partnership with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services highlights the untapped potential of Firstline Workers in retail.

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Looking ahead

This is just the next step in our journey to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We aim to build tools and experiences for the modern workplace and for workers at all levels of the organization. We’ll continue to develop and bring to market purpose-built Firstline Worker capabilities and experiences in partnership with our customers and industry leaders. And we’ll continue to innovate and build features that simplify work, bring people together, and help organizations big and small achieve more. Come see us next week at NRF 2020 in booth #4501.

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Author: Microsoft News Center