Tag Archives: What’s

In 2018, a better, faster, more accessible cloud emerges

Here’s what’s new in the Microsoft Cloud: Microsoft is making it easier for developers to build great apps that take advantage of the latest analytics capabilities with free developer tools and languages, best-practice guidance, price reductions, and new features.

Better decisions through better analytics

Knowing how users interact with your apps is a critical first step in managing product strategy and development pipeline. Using robust analytics, you can get the immediate feedback you need to determine how to engage users and make better decisions to improve your apps. With Visual Studio App Center, you can access App Center Analytics completely free. Now you can use this tool with Azure Application Insights to improve your business. Get started today.

New tools speed app development using time series data

Integrating IoT with other real-time applications can be a complex challenge. With Time Series Insights (TSI), developers can build applications that give valuable insights to customers, take fine-grain control over time series data, and easily plug TSI into a broader workflow or technology stack. To help developers get started and shorten development cycles, Microsoft has released new Azure Time Series Insights developer tools. With these tools, developers can more easily embed TSI’s platform into apps to power charts and graphs, compare data from different points in time, and dynamically explore data trends and correlations.

Faster feedback drives better apps

Good intuition is important, but without user input and insights you are playing a potentially costly guessing game. Gathering feedback fast from beta users who are invested in your product’s success lets you learn and adapt quickly before getting too deep into code that’s expensive to correct later. Using this step-by-step guide from one of our Visual Studio App Center customers, you will learn how to swiftly gather quantitative and qualitative user feedback to build apps your customers love, anticipate and correct problems, and ultimately win customers’ loyalty.

Empowering data scientists with R updates

R, an open-source statistical programming language, empowers data scientists to drive insightful analytics, statistics, and visualizations for mapping social and marketing trends, developing scientific and financial models, and anticipating consumer behavior. Recently we’ve released Microsoft R Open 3.4.3, the latest version of Microsoft’s enhanced distribution of R. This free download includes the latest R language engine, compatibility, and additional capabilities for performance, reproducibility, and platform support.

New open-source analytics capabilities at a lower cost

Microsoft recently announced significant price reductions, along with new abilities for Azure HDInsight, the open-source analytics cloud service that developers can implement in a wide range of mission-critical applications, including machine learning, IoT, and more. This includes capabilities like Apache Kafka on Azure HDInsight and Azure Log Analytics integration, previews for Enterprise Security Package for Azure HDInsight, and integration with Power BI direct query.

We are constantly creating new tools and features that reduce time-to-market and allow developers to do their best work. To stay up to date on Microsoft’s work in the cloud, visit https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com.

Wanted – iMac 27″ Retina

What’s your budget? I have a pretty high spec iMac 2015 I can price up but depends on your budget.

Actually I’ll just put it here since I might put it on the classifieds later:

– Apple iMac 27″ 5K
– i5 3.3GHz
– 512gb SSD
– 8GB RAM (or 64GB RAM for +£600)
– 4GB Radeon 395X
– Magic Keyboard
– Magic Mouse 2
– Applecare (just under a year I believe but will double check)
– Fully boxed

£1900 + delivery.

Wanted – iMac 27″ Retina

What’s your budget? I have a pretty high spec iMac 2015 I can price up but depends on your budget.

Actually I’ll just put it here since I might put it on the classifieds later:

– Apple iMac 27″ 5K
– i5 3.3GHz
– 512gb SSD
– 8GB RAM (or 64GB RAM for +£600)
– 4GB Radeon 395X
– Magic Keyboard
– Magic Mouse 2
– Applecare (just under a year I believe but will double check)
– Fully boxed

£1900 + delivery.

Wanted – iMac 27″ Retina

What’s your budget? I have a pretty high spec iMac 2015 I can price up but depends on your budget.

Actually I’ll just put it here since I might put it on the classifieds later:

– Apple iMac 27″ 5K
– i5 3.3GHz
– 512gb SSD
– 8GB RAM (or 64GB RAM for +£600)
– 4GB Radeon 395X
– Magic Keyboard
– Magic Mouse 2
– Applecare (just under a year I believe but will double check)
– Fully boxed

£1900 + delivery.

Artificial intelligence in HR a buzzworthy industry trend

Artificial intelligence in HR.

That’s mostly what you need to know about what’s hot this year in HR tech. and it’s expected to be the most buzzworthy topic at the 20th annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition, according to HR tech experts.

“You won’t be able to walk 2 or 3 feet without someone talking about this new emerging kind of software,” said John Sumser, principal analyst at the independent consulting firm HRExaminer and a speaker and panelist at the three-day conference in Las Vegas.

Of course, artificial intelligence (AI) in HR isn’t the only hot topic in the business these days.

Employee engagement, learning, benefits automation, and advances in payroll and compensation management technology will likely also be bubbling up, according to Sumser and another conference speaker and panelist, Mollie Lombardi, co-founder and CEO of Aptitude Research Partners, an independent HR tech consulting firm in Boston.

SearchHRSoftware’s publisher, TechTarget, is a media partner of the conference.

The meaning of AI

Sumser noted that there is some vagueness about the term AI in HR technology — with various vendors coming up with different definitions — and, often, a more precise term is more useful.

However, he said, “the essence is tools that reduce the amount of time the customer has to spend in the software and increase the value the customer gets out of the software.”

“That’s really what people mean when they say artificial intelligence,” Sumser said.

So, in other words, artificial intelligence in HR and its close cousin, machine learning, really amount to further automation of HR tech processes across the continuum from core HCM to employee engagement.

Sumser recently finished research for a report on 30 leading companies that have been developing applications for artificial intelligence in HR.

Having data provides advantage for vendors

Five of the vendors Sumser looked at are large-scale HR suite providers: Ultimate Software, Ceridian, Kronos, Cornerstone and Workday. A handful were what Sumser called more niche vendors, but bigger than startups; they included IBM, which has an AI product for HR; Salary.com; SmartRecruiters; and Burning Glass.

“The rest are startups,” Sumser said. “It’s my view that, in this particular arena, the incumbents, the suite players and the long-term players … have a significant advantage over startups. The reason … is they have data.”

All of the suite vendors Sumser mentioned will have a significant presence at the Oct. 10 to 13 HR technology event, as will tech giants with major HR footprints, like Oracle and SAP, and dozens of more specialized startups and smaller companies.

Also among the 421 exhibitors at the 2017 edition of the biggest U.S. HR technology show are social media powerhouses Google and LinkedIn, both of which have in a short time become strong contenders in the talent acquisition market. LinkedIn’s learning division will also be there.

Finding AI use cases will be tricky

As for Lombardi, she concurred with Sumser about the fuzziness that appears to accompany so much talk about artificial intelligence in HR.

AI, machine learning and bots are sort of where social and mobile were about 10 years ago.
Mollie LombardiCEO, Aptitude Research

“AI and machine learning and bots — a lot of people ask me, ‘What’s the difference between those, and what do they really mean?'” Lombardi said. “I think AI, machine learning and bots are sort of where social and mobile were about 10 years ago.”

“There’s going to be a lot of attention paid to it, but finding the use cases is going to be the trick,” she said.

In Lombardi’s view, some of the most interesting applications for AI in HR are in learning, such as intelligently guiding users to content.

Another intriguing use case might be using a chatbot or interrogatory AI tool to guide employers through pay comparison and compensation management decisions, she said.

‘The war for the user experience’

Meanwhile, still another dynamic now playing out in HR tech is what Lombardi called “the war for the user experience.”

“The big firms that have the data and the resources to put together a user experience platform — and a lot of people are talking about this, including the SAPs and the Oracles — they want to be the iPhone to your app,” she said.

But while the big human capital management vendors want customers to use all their modules — from payroll and time and attendance to talent acquisition — many employers are looking for specialized applications to integrate with larger systems.

“I may want to plug in some of these innovative best-of-breed vendors,” Lombardi said. “It will be interesting to see whether people are going to play nice or not.”

Microsoft Teams deployment to reshuffle UC strategies

ORLANDO, Fla. — The cloud is coming — whether you want it or not. What’s more, Microsoft Teams is coming to replace cloud-based Skype for Business — whether you want it or not. So, what’s your migration strategy to successfully corral a Microsoft Teams deployment?

Even as organizations made the shift from Microsoft Lync to Skype for Business over the last year or so, they now face another migration to Microsoft Teams, which aims to become the “hub” for teamwork, communications and collaboration. IT pros and end users could encounter significant hurdles as they migrate to Microsoft Teams.

For example, Microsoft Teams is built on an entirely different platform, with different protocols for call setup and management, according to Irwin Lazar, an industry analyst with Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.  

A Microsoft Teams deployment “is going to require enterprises to go back to the drawing board and look at everything again,” Lazar said. Enterprises may need to revisit their strategies around phones, gateways, session border control and voice performance management.

“You name it,” Lazar said. “The entire infrastructure may need to change as a result of people migrating to Teams.”

Additionally, companies may need to consider how to transition video services and dedicated third-party phones to the new platform as part of a Microsoft Teams deployment. Plus, they’ll have to determine if their video interoperability service is supported. And for those firms that are a Skype-for-Business-certified third-party vendor today, what’s the certification path to become Teams-certified?

Getting end users up to speed

Questions loom not only for IT pros, but for end users, as well. The successful end-user adoption of Microsoft Teams represents a change in behavior, since it’s fundamentally a different way of working, said Karuana Gatimu, principal program manager at Microsoft. Gatimu led a session on Microsoft Teams deployment strategies at Microsoft Ignite, the vendor’s customer conference taking place here this week.

For end users, they’ll notice Microsoft Teams has a different user interface than Skype for Business. Predominately, Teams is also chat-based, which would replace Skype for Business instant messaging.

In the coming months, Microsoft plans to begin adding additional calling features into Teams — including inbound and outbound calls to PSTN numbers, hold, call transfer and voicemail. Microsoft said Teams will replace Skype for Business “over time.” 

End users will need some training to get acquainted with new features, Lazar said, such as scheduling meetings and launching voice and video calls. Interoperability challenges could also emerge if one part of an organization is on Teams, while another part of the organization may still be on Skype for Business.

Another Microsoft Teams deployment hurdle could be executive buy-in, Lazar said. Typically, with teams-based workflows, enterprise IT pros need executives to buy into the new tools. If the boss says, “No, I’m not using this. I’m going to continue to email you,” then no one on that team will use Teams. 

“I think convincing the executives is going to be one of the biggest challenges,” Lazar said.    

Skype brand was an enterprise obstacle

So, why is Microsoft moving Skype for Business into Teams? Microsoft has been facing competition from the wildly popular messaging platform Slack. Cisco, too, rolled out its cloud-based, messaging-centric app, Spark, two years ago. These sort of team-based collaboration apps have challenged traditional UC clients.

Additionally, the Skype branding was a considerable hurdle for some enterprise IT pros, as they thought they might be running some of their confidential, internal communications on the consumer version of Skype.

By folding Skype for Business into Teams, Lazar said Microsoft “took a pretty big step toward clarifying its team-centric collaboration strategy.”

What’s New in EDU: Back to School playlist gets your digital classroom ready |

Our August edition of What’s New in EDU is ready and here to round up the latest events and product news from Microsoft Education. The video below focuses on last week’s debut of Back to School LIVE, which you can also reference in full below.

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In our first-ever Back to School LIVE event, the team at Microsoft Education shared a stage with the Microsoft Educator Community to come up with faster, easier ways to prepare your digital classroom. We demonstrated practical techniques and easy examples in a concise series of Facebook Live streams, and answered questions from you about how to trade setup time for more student time.

It was a brisk day of school for everyone who participated – and now it’s a video playlist, in case you missed it.

The “Live” part may have come and gone, but our team is still here in video form to help you get back-to-school ready with some of our newest tools for the classroom. With setup stress minimized and education tools like Microsoft Teams, OneNote Class Notebook and Minecraft: Education Edition in-hand, you can collaborate seamlessly on projects, learn to code, and let creativity loose from the very first day of school.

You can also visit our Microsoft Educator Community resource page to catch up and connect on more back-to-school tips.

1st Period: Microsoft Teams for staff and the Microsoft Educator Community

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Learn about professional and staff development using Microsoft Teams and back-to-school preparation courses from the Microsoft Educator Community.

Hosts: Michelle Zimmerman, Raanah Amjadi, and Sonja Delafosse

2nd Period: Microsoft Teams with students and OneNote Class Notebooks

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See set-up tips for your digital classroom with OneNote Class Notebook in Microsoft Teams.

Hosts: Cheryl McClure, Mike Tholfsen, and Ari Schorr

3rd Period: Hacking STEM

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Build affordable inquiry and project-based activities with Hacking STEM.

Hosts: Karon Weber and Jason Ewart

4th Period: Minecraft: Education Edition

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Watch as experts discuss using Minecraft: Education Edition in the classroom and how to get started in your own classroom in a few simple steps.

Hosts: Meenoo Rami and Jeff Gearhart

5th Period: Intune for Education

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If you work in IT, here’s how to set up your Windows 10 devices and classes with Intune for Education.

Hosts: Ari Schorr, Jack Hitchings, and Likhitha Patha

6th Period: The future of EdTECH

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Take a peek at the future of EdTECH and discover what we can learn from a new elementary school taking shape.

Hosts: Anthony Salcito and Beth Hamilton

For more Back to School support and Professional Development resources, visit: aka.ms/BacktoSchoolLive.