Custom Software Development
Friday, March 30, 2012
It is important to assess SharePoint 2010 implementations in the context of the hot topics of today which include: Social networking, cloud and governance. Here is what analysts say about the trends developing around SharePoint:
Social communications is expected to become more pervasive on premises but not expected to be used universally. Pilot adoptions will be the preferred norm rather than enterprise adoptions and many of the tasks will not have the "network effect" since only a few initial members will be involved for self-sustaining social collaboration.
SharePoint 2010 has enhanced social networking features but ultimately lacks the maturity of social media like Twitter and Facebook. SharePoint is accepted by some organizations as part of their enterprise collaboration strategy, but due to lack of awareness, they have not utilized the tools for extending the social functions and governance features. This is where the independent software vendors come into the picture.
SharePoint 2010 implementations today provide the facility to add relevant social content to a broad range of sites. Hence the demand for Personal Content ("PCM") adoption is on the rise since everyone feels the need to aggregate their personal information.
On the other hand, cloud adoption is bound to accelerate with the reintroduction of SharePoint Online as an integral part of Office 365. More cloud adoption in Office 365 is expected. Office 365 is preferable for Microsoft-oriented organizations especially for migration from non-SharePoint sources. Office 365 is touted as the preferred platform for document collaboration with external partners, clients and third parties.
Security and authentication skills are in constant demand in SharePoint professionals. With the rise in extranets and cloud deployments, there is a dearth of professionals who have the ability to manage security systems externally. They are extremely valuable in today’s setup.
Additionally, governance is a topic doing the rounds amidst SharePoint nowadays. With the drastic growth witnessed by SharePoint 2010 implementation services in the recent years, especially double-digit growth, the new users will require constant scrutiny and security. Care should be taken along with channeling and guidance for management of the new crop of users.
Governance is taken mostly in the broad perspective, but essentially it hints at guidance. Governance helps in keeping things on track, and is a perfect response to huge scale adoptions. One needs to have things in place for sustained growth and usage. Governance in this context does not refer to management but to find answers to questions related to how can SharePoint be managed efficiently.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Analysis cubes are extremely important tools used for Business Intelligence. An analysis cube is basically a set of measures and dimensions which are interconnected with each other for data analysis purpose. Here a measure stands for facts, and imply the transactional value or measurement used by the user for aggregation. Measures are picked up from columns of more than one tables and grouped too. Additionally, a dimension stands for a group of attributes which represent some connection with the corresponding measures in the cube. The dimensions are basically used to analyze the measures present in the cube.
Developers make use of analysis cube data to create reports and for identifying key performance indicators (KPIs). Reports and KPIs can be used by different businesses for data analysis modeled in the analysis cube. Existing trends can be identified with the help of analytical results.
The previous versions of Microsoft Dynamics AX gave access to analysis cubes based on the license keys. If the licensing did not allow data access, then configuration keys had to be customized. The customization was extensive and very challenging in most of the cases.
In Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, analysis cube settings can be easily modified to adjust to different business needs and various security levels. One can make use of the Analysis Services Project Wizard, which makes it easier to create or update SSAS projects. Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 also has default cubes wherein users can customize them or even create new analysis cubes which can be custom-made again with the help of the provided tools.
The analysis cubes feature has boasted of various enhancements in the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 version. Alternatively, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 has introduced multiple changes to the Analysis Services Project Wizard and the Workflow performance cube section and its reports. The EMS cube has brought in some new features while the Role Center has been re-introduced with some minor modifications related to the accessibility. Cubes and dimensions related to supply chain management feature many tweaks related to their representations. Additionally, one can sense some major OLAP modeling improvements along with the introduction of the Business Overview Web part.
The Analysis cube feature is useful primarily for Business Intelligence and helpful for quick decision-making and getting a thorough insight into any of the operational processes. Business decision makers, implementation team members and independent software vendors will find the analysis cube feature particularly useful for making important business decisions.
Monday, March 19, 2012
Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail Industry is known as a single application for multiple user scenarios. The main reason behind addressing it like this way is the application uses the same model based incorporated architecture. Business data and information automatically passes through all relevant user scenarios starting from the Point Of Sale (POS) to order management, financials to reporting and even to the supply chain. There are various cost benefits associated with this type of model compared to some of the well-known or modular approaches that has been the alternatives for retailers till now:
Following are some key advantages of the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail Industry
- Single application for multiple user scenarios helps reducing initial scheduling time, any additional integration costs, and time to deploy the application at several departments, which enables retailers to start new locations quicker and reach payback faster
- Ongoing support costs and other operating expenses are low as there is no or limited need to deploy support resources at various locations. Everything can be managed from one master location
- Modifications and upgrades needs fewer integration rebuilds, less revised testing, or recoding, which allows retailers to make modifications that could help gaining competitive advantage rapidly and swiftly
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 for Retail Industry
The main aim of the application is to help retail consumers that are already using traditional ERP application at their business headquarters for all types of back-office tasks but looking for some agile and less dependent or resource-intensive application to manage all types of retail operations.
Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail Industry application offers many advantages and flexibilities to the administrator which includes drag-and-drop fields, customize POS interface for any individual environment. For employees or group of employees, role enabled views can be defined.
Retail is a wide industry. It is a big challenge in this industry to bring in all the employees up to speed rapidly, allowing them to resolve explicit customer issues quickly and swiftly, and holding high performers on a continual basis. Dynamics AX for Retail Industry application implementation helps overcoming these obstacles easily. It offers retail employees a perspective user interface which suits the best with the tasks they are performing, which ultimately lower down training requirement and helps quick customer service, as well as retaining the employees.
Dynamics AX 2012 for Retail Industry offers additional enhancements where the application allows employees with certain rights to generate and manage particular orders at the POS. It also facilitates them to view relevant data like inventory and promotions through customized dashboards.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
The Gartner Group, an independent research firm has formally recognized Dynamics AX as the leader in the Magic Quadrant for ERP. The report was announced recently in terms of ERP services for product-centric midmarket companies for the 2011. With the latest entrant in the form AX 2012, specific modules for manufacturing, wholesale and retail have been presented as a converged solution. This gives an added boost to its already strong standing in the ERP market.
Forrester Research, Inc. cited Microsoft Dynamics AX as the order management hub solutions leader in recent years. It still goes strong because it provides able support for end-to-end management processes and foresighted strategies.
Here is the value proposition that Microsoft Dynamics AX is known for
- It is a global solution and supports over 36 countries and languages
- The AX codebase is highly customizable and extendable
- Extensible with partner vertical solutions
- Designed for midsize businesses ( 150 - 1500 employees), scalable to 3,000+ employees
Even if any other major ERP is used at corporate level or in the headquarters, Dynamics AX can serve well at the branch level. Dynamics AX helps in driving customers’ business success to the pedestal and functions as a complete and comprehensive business solution.
Introducing Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012
AX 2012 is in itself, a great enterprise product since in a general view, it has loads of features that can function independently without the need for drastic customizations. It is also a generational shift in field of software development and implementation with its offerings and capabilities. The ERP boasts of unmatched agility, and a compelling interface which leverages the overall user experience. At the same time, AX 2012 has been particularly attached to the core value of simplicity. It has not diverted itself from the path of simplicity, whether it is in terms of design, implementation, maintenance as well as use.
Dynamics AX 2012 also features rich capabilities along with some pre-built domain-specific functionalities and industry-specific features especially for manufacturing (process, discrete, and lean), distribution, and other sectors such as retail, public sector, and service industries.
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 works like a global solution which offers immense business scalability features. It is simple enough in its deployment and can be tailored depending on the unique requirements posed by businesses in more than 36 countries. Dynamics AX has also helped in providing strong insights that help decision-makers to make better decisions. The heart of AX includes unified, natural models and a RoleTailored interface which can let you see, assess and change your business.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Time-poor executives and managers need continued and real-time access to KPIs. Most of them prefer the trendiest of smartphones and tablet PCs for using Mobile BI implementations. With the advancement in technology, analytics and reporting are displayed for better insight. As field executives begin to use smartphones, rich web content on mobile supported sites provide extensive access to corporate data.
Field service personnel need real-time access to do their job effectively. Pro-active alerts and quick access to the database which details current customer needs and other info helps in enhancing overall efficiency and productivity. Mobile BI dashboards also help in risk management and workforce cohesiveness.
Different dashboards convey different information lucidly. Portfolio dashboards make a lot of sense if different portfolios are involved. One of the better ways for showing measurement of improvement is by linking the graph to a business metric. The challenge here is to bring out the business objective credibly to an IT metric through the mobile BI implementation.
Service dashboards can be focused on organizing and presenting metrics which can impact the service issues. It facilitates measurement of throughput with respect to business transactions and their peak times. Quality can be measured by assessment of the number of bug fix requests. Customer satisfaction can be very clearly measured by taking into account the average time with which helpdesk tickets were closed.
The IT dashboard usually consists of lots of metrics of all types and hence most of these dashboards lack focus and direction. The primary reason why one can implement this mobile BI dashboard is to attend to specific improvement goals. Improvement dashboards even have some particular benchmarks related to the quality of projects, processes and other aspects of IT.
To strike a balance between different types of dashboards is challenging and expensive. In this regard, the dashboards can be segregated into three different types of mobile BI dashboards which indicate the different needs of an organization:
Operational Dashboards are useful for monitoring routine business processes and are assessed on a real-time basis. Managers can be alerted if the operations seem to cross over the thresholds or if there is a major exception in the graphical data
Tactical Dashboards reflect the working of a particular department and its performance while focusing on different areas of concern which would exhort the manager to take up measures for an optimal performance
Strategic Dashboards provide important and pivotal points of insight related to an organization’s performance in comparison to its predefined strategic goals. These dashboards are based on data warehouses or data marts which consist of time-stamped snapshots of information
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Customers often feel the need to use mobile apps for placing orders or for tracking them. Managers and Executives need real-time information, which makes sense and rely on key performance indicators, dashboards, financial quarter performance results, and government regulations for understanding compliance requirements.
Mobility is needed during order processing, inventory assessment and price verification. Customer relationship management can also be better and efficient if smart mobility is considered. Inventory tracking, order packing and management of the supply chain can be done efficiently by the plant management using mobile apps which are integrated into your Dynamics AX system.
The Field Service team relies on information for its service execution and also requires contract reference and route planning ideas for better service.
Your organization must concentrate on the following prioritization criteria for better service provision:
Determine which processes need the perfect flow of critical information
Choose which app can actually lead you to save substantially
Determine which will reduce process cycles and boost revenue
Select apps which are well aligned with your organization’s business goals
The high impact areas must be determined transparently by assigning priorities and the planning of implementation should be done immediately to get more clarity. There are two options for mobile app deployment through Microsoft Dynamics AX which is in the form of Mobile Web Apps and Rich Mobile Apps.
Mobile Web Apps are specially created so that users can access them from their own Smartphones with the help of a browser while Rich mobile apps are installed on smartphones and might be specific to operating systems or can run on multi-platform.
The right deployment option varies as per organization to organization and also depends on the overall cost savings, simplicity and maintenance requirements. Rich mobile apps are rated quite highly in terms of usability. On the other hand, mobile web apps are rated quite highly in terms of scalability and architecture flexibility. Rich mobile apps are extremely difficult to maintain and the time to market is usually time-consuming. Development cost is quite high for rich mobile apps too.
One should decide on the relevant parameters and then choose the right deployment option depending on your organizational attributes. Furthermore, there is the question of whether you should buy a mobile app or build it. If one can afford to build it, you can set it to your requirements. Additionally the extent of customizations is increasingly high since you control the code. The time to market is extremely high if you build an app compared to the app purchased off the shelf.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Driving employee productivity is one of the prime reasons for delivering BI to mobile devices. Inability to access information on a real-time basis affects the mobile worker productivity. No matter what their location or mobile device is, they should be able to access information for better results especially sales personnel depend in this regard. Delivery of the right data when required helps people to execute their jobs effectively without having search for it.
Improved data delivery is one of the prime motivations for implementing Mobile BI too. For mobile workers, it is critical for them to access organizational data assets any time and anywhere.
Real-time reporting and analytics helps field sales workers and service teams to achieve their goals and objectives by making sense of raw data as and when needed. Even queries can be addressed immediately if the right resources are available. The field delivery team cannot waste time in sales especially if the inventory stocks suggest that there is a shortage or if the money involved has been updated.
The fourth pivotal driver is closed loop reporting. One needs to close the loop of reporting so that it results in clear operations and managers are able to take better-informed business decisions.
Mobile Business Intelligence
One of the most influential external factors for Mobile BI is the constant evolution and reinvention of smartphones. Mobile BI has reached a level of maturity due to fantastic mobile platforms in the form of Android and iOS. There is an emerging fleet of phones which support the integration of analytics and reporting. Such convergence of applications is expected in the long run too.
The device-savvy digital generation has an affinity to stay “online” and “connected” which was not expected previously. Furthermore they are device independent nowadays. Today’s business professionals too expect that the enterprise data delivery mechanism needs to be constantly updated and that enterprise content connectivity is a must.
Organizations are increasingly forced to be connected to the online world since the current generation is always on the run and have very short attention span. Previously, the field service executives stayed offline if they were not in office. Nowadays this trend is unacceptable for companies since they are expected to be connected anywhere and anytime in this competitive market.
Even the cost of establishing a BI solution for the mobile workforce is now increasingly affordable. Even the security issues have now lessened to a great extent and remote data access is now a preferred way to stay connected to the main system. The price of inaction has become extremely costly since competition has grown tremendously over the years.