Gartner recognises UIPath for process Mining

June 8th, 2024 by Stephen Jones No comments »

For the first time, UiPath is honored to be recognized as a Leader in the 2024 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Process Mining Platforms. In the report, Gartner® evaluates process mining technology vendors to assist enterprises in their selection processes.

SQL 2014 end of support

April 18th, 2024 by Stephen Jones No comments »

 Microsoft periodically sunsets support and requiring upgrades.

Each version of SQL Server is backed by a minimum of 10 years support, which includes five years in mainstream support, and five years in extended support:

  • Mainstream support includes functional, performance, scalability and security updates.
  • Extended support includes only security updates.

End of support (also sometimes known as end of life) indicates that a product has reached the end of its lifecycle, and servicing and support is no longer available for the product.

The most imminent is the end of support (EOS) for SQL Server 2014, with an EOS date of July 9, 2024. Mainstream support stopped back i 2019. After the EOS date, Microsoft will no longer provide patches or security updates, potentially resulting in security and compliance issues for applications that still runs on SQL 2014, and soon extended support will also end…

The EOS event presents an opportunity to evaluate migrating and modernizing SQL Server workloads to the cloud for enhanced operational excellence and innovation velocity.

Fabric Conference News update

April 5th, 2024 by Stephen Jones No comments »

The Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform

The Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform is the solution to help you to simply create a powerful, agile, and secure data and AI foundation, with suite of technologies it has Microsoft Fabric at its heart to help organizations harness the full power of their data.

The platform natively integrating products across four workloads: I, analytics, database, and security. So, organizations no longer have to bear the cost and complexity of stitching together a complex set of disconnected services from multiple vendors. They can now focus on taking bold, real-time decisions and to empower teams to create and innovate without limits.

Organisations know their data holds the key to their success. They want to implement AI tools. After 15 or more years of data and cloud investments, they find their ambition is limited by the very solutions they’ve built over time. Patch after patch, their data estate has become fragmented, hard to manage, and incapable of AI era-workloads.

A key part of the Intelligent Data Platform, Azure AI, makes building data-informed ideas and experiences easy. Last year, introduced Azure AI Studio, a one-stop-shop for generative AI creation offering model selection, data, security features, and DevOps in one interface.

Microsoft directly connected Fabric to Azure AI Studio so customers can now build AI apps without requiring manual data duplication or additional integration.

Microsoft also built and tuned Azure Cosmos DB and Azure SQL DB Hyperscale for generative AI innovation. With hyperscale performance, built-in AI including vector search and copilots, and multi-layered AI-powered security embedded into the database, these databases unify, power, and protect the platform.  

For over a year, generative AI has captured imaginations and attention and we’ve learned that AI’s potential comes to life at the intersection of an organization’s data and ideas. The world’s generates and stores incredible amounts of data, and  for so long has waited for technology to catch up and simplify the process of using the data in bold, meaningful ways.  

The Intelligent Data Platform is the ideal data and AI foundation for every organization’s success, today and tomorrow.  

These are all valid concerns and roadblocks to progress.:

  • Even when customers know their infrastructure needs upgrading, many find it difficult to make the switch—and for good reasons. To fix a broken or outdated data platform and to future-proof a data platform are two distinct and sizable problems to solve
  • It’s not been easy to choose. Azure offers more than 300 products, with more on the horizon,. You can rarely buy complete solutions because the reality is one size will never fit all.
  • Customers have favourite products and need reassurances those products will interoperate with other products.
  • Over time  solutions to become more specialized and often  more fragmented
  • To migrate  data accumulated over years, sometimes decades, is an exercise that can feel risky even to the most experienced IT professional.

With the emergence of generative AI, the original idea of the Intelligent Data Platform has morphed into a cloud solution capable of solving data fragmentation problems of the past and present, to empower uncapped innovation for even the most ambitious organizations.  Generative AI changes a data strategy: data solutions created today must be designed with foresight to ensure those can easily manage spikes in data, new workloads and new technologies for many years to come.

News from Power BI and Fabric Blog:
There are numerous new updates that were announced at the Fabric Conference.

Many updates on the Data Factory and an amazing article about the DAX Query View with Copilot, which is amazing.

Microsoft Fabric March 2024 Update

Azure stateful log search alerts are generally available on May 1, 2024

March 23rd, 2024 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Starting May 1, 2024, stateful log search alerts, a feature which is currently in public preview, will be generally available, and so will become chargeable, with pricing details on the Azure Monitor Pricing page.

Log search alerts are a type of alert that you can use in Azure Monitor. They let you run a log analytics query on your logs at a regular interval and trigger an alert based on the results.. Once stateful log search alerts are generally available on May 1, 2024, stateful log search alerts pricing will be aligned with the pricing of stateless log search alerts. This means that, for both types of alerts, you will be charged based on:

– the number of log search alert rules created,

-the frequency of evaluation,

– and the number of time series evaluated.

RSA keys shorter than 2048 bits will soon be deprecated in Windows

March 22nd, 2024 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Microsoft has announced that RSA keys shorter than 2048 bits will soon be deprecated in Windows Transport Layer Security (TLS) to provide increased security. Rivest–Shamir–Adleman (RSA) is an asymmetric cryptography system that uses pairs of public and private keys to encrypt data, with the strength directly related to the length of the key. The longer these keys, the harder they are to crack.

1024-bit RSA keys have approximately 80 bits of strength, while the 2048-bit key has approximately 112 bits, making the latter four billion times longer to factor. Experts in the field consider 2048-bit keys safe until at least 2030.

RSA keys are used in Windows for several purposes, including server authentication, data encryption, and ensuring the integrity of communications.

“This deprecation focuses on ensuring that all RSA certificates used for TLS server authentication must have key lengths greater than or equal to 2048 bits to be considered valid by Windows.”

Unfortunately, this move will likely impact organizations using older software and network-attached devices, such as printers, that utilize 1024-bit RSA keys, preventing them from authenticating with Windows servers.

While Microsoft has not specified precisely when the deprecation will begin, it will likely involve a formal announcement followed by a grace period, as we saw with the deprecation of keys under 1024 bits in 2012.

During this grace period, Windows administrators can configure logging to determine what devices are attempting to connect using older keys and will be impacted by this change.

Microsoft has decided to limit the scope of impact so as not to affect TLS certificates issued by enterprise or test certification authorities. However, Microsoft strongly recommends that organizations transition RSA keys of 2048 bits or longer as soon as possible as part of following best security practices.

Power BI Premium per capacity SKUs retirement – use Fabric Capacity instead.

March 15th, 2024 by Stephen Jones No comments »

With the release of Microsoft Fabric and the Fabric capacity stock keeping units (SKUs) last year, Microsoft is consolidating purchase options and retiring the Power BI Premium per capacity SKUs (P-SKUs). 

The Power BI Premium product capabilities will not change and there is no immediate action required. You can continue using your existing Power BI Premium capacity until the time of your next renewal.

After January 1, 2025, existing Power BI Premium per capacity customers should work with their Microsoft account representative to transition to a suitable Fabric capacity and pricing plan at the time of their next renewal, which provides more flexibility in SKU size, pay-as-you-go billing options, access to Azure-only features, and is eligible for Microsoft Azure Consumption Commitment (MACC).

Retiring Power BI Premium per capacity pricing options

Last year, microsoft introduced Microsoft Fabric—combining the best of Microsoft Power BI, Azure Synapse Analytics, and Azure Data Factory to create a single, unified software as a service (SaaS) platform. Microsoft Fabric is a superset of Power BI Premium; which means that it has all the capabilities of Power BI Premium plus six other core workloads. To make the transition as easy as possible, customers can access Fabric capabilities on their existing Power BI Premium per capacity.

With both pay-as-you-go and reservation options now available for Microsoft Fabric, Microsoft announced the eventual end of life for the Power BI Premium capacity SKUs. Depending on your existing agreement, the retirement will impact you differently:

  • New customers will not be able to purchase Power BI Premium per capacity after July 1, 2024.
  • Existing customers without an Enterprise Agreement (EA) will be able to renew their Power BI Premium capacity subscriptions until January 1, 2025.
  • Customers who have a renewal date after January 1, 2025 will need to replace their Power BI Premium capacity subscription purchase with the purchase of Fabric capacity at the end of their agreement.
  • Customers with an existing EA agreement can continue to renew their Power BI Premium capacity purchase annually until the end of their EA agreement. If the end of the existing EA agreement is after January 1st, 2025, then they will have to transition to Fabric capacity once the agreement has ended to continue using Microsoft Fabric.
  • Customers on a sovereign cloud will not be impacted by this retirement because they do not currently have access to Microsoft Fabric..

All existing customers will be able to purchase more Power BI Premium capacity on their current agreement until its end date.

The benefits of Microsoft Fabric capacity

Customers that migrate their purchase to Fabric capacity will enjoy additional benefits. Fabric capacity is eligible for MACC which means Fabric customers can apply their Fabric spend against their MACC commitment. There is also a pay-as-you-go option for Fabric to dynamically scale up or scale down and pause capacity as needed. Fabric capacity customers can also take advantage of smaller compute SKUs that start far below the entry level Power BI Premium SKU.

Fabric capacity customers will also get access to Azure-only features like  trusted workspace access for OneLake shortcuts and Managed Private Endpoints for Spark. These features are native to Azure and are not available to Power BI Premium capacity customers.  

Microsoft Fabric SKUs available in your Azure region on the Microsoft Fabric pricing page.   

Migrate to Microsoft Fabric capacity

To migrate your Power BI and Fabric artifacts, simply reassign your workspaces to the new Fabric capacity. Administrators can bulk assign workspaces to accelerate the process.

 You will be able to access your Power BI and Fabric artifacts for at least 90 days after Power BI Premium capacity subscription ends. During these 90 days, you will be able to migrate workspaces to your new Fabric capacity without losing access to your existing work.

Learn more about managing and reassigning your workspaces in the Microsoft Fabric documentation.  

Impact on other Power BI licensing

Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium per user (PPU) are not impacted by this retirement. 

  • For Power BI Embedded, Microsoft Fabric capacity is compatible with Power BI Embedded and can be used to run all of your embedded activities.   
  • Microsoft Fabric capacity is not compatible with Power BI Report Server. To continue to access Power BI Report Server, you can insteadacquire it through SQL Server Enterprise Edition with Software Assurance. This option is the most popular way of acquiring Power BI Report Server.

To learn more about this change and how to migrate your Power BI capacity to purchases to Fabric capacity, view the Power BI Premium FAQ.

 You can also view your Fabric capacity pricing options on the Microsoft Fabric pricing page.

Copilot in Dynamics 365 Finance and SCM

March 14th, 2024 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Copilot in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance

Copilot in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance enhances productivity for collections managers and improves collaboration with their customers.

The AI-generated summary of the customers’ account, overdue invoices and payment history helps prioritize which customers need attention.

Personalized customer communication created by using AI-generated email saves time and increases overall efficiency by not having to navigate to multiple screens. This helps to increase successful collection rates and proactively keeps customers in good standing.

Copilot in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance displays this AI-generated summary on the new Collections coordinator workspace. Powered by Microsoft Azure Open AI’s large language model, this will reduce the time to review collection details for customers. Collections coordinators can help their organizations to improve cash flows by ensuring timely payments.

Copilot gives users access to AI capabilities that augment Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations apps’ application experiences and functionality. It can appear in many different user experiences. Here are some examples:

  • Sidecar – Copilot sits alongside the application as a sidecar and provides conversational support to the user. The sidecar is the primary Copilot interface in Dynamics 365 Finance apps. It provides a natural language chat experience that helps users work with application functionality and data. For example, the generative help and guidance with Copilot (preview) feature is provided as a sidecar.
  • Embedded – These Copilot features add intelligent capabilities to the application itself. In this way, they bring AI to the center of the application experience. For example, in the Confirmed purchase orders with changes workspace, AI capabilities built into the page help users understand and react to changes in confirmed purchase orders.
  • Outside – External agents help orchestrate across different apps and tasks. For example, users can use Copilot to ask questions about Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations data. For more information, see FAQ for finance and operations data on Microsoft 365 Copilot

Copilot in Microsoft Dynamics 365 SCM

Copilot in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management will proactively flag external issues such as weather, financials, and geography that may impact key supply chain processes. Predictive insights then surface impacted orders across materials, inventory, carriers, distribution networks, etc. Supply chain planners can then automatically draft an email generated by Dynamics 365 Copilot to alert impacted partners and mitigate potential disruptions before they happen.

On-hand inventory insights to help user make informed inventory decision, such as for order promising:

  • Query on-hand inventory: Users can use natural language to ask about inventory stock levels and availability just as easily as when chatting with a colleague. For example, type “Find all the 18-inch tires in my store” without need to remember any exact item code or specifications, IDs, or navigation paths.
  • Inquire Inventory: Use guided conversational experience to quickly identify the best available products for order inquiries without leaving the Microsoft 365 work context. Sales managers focus on communicating with customers and increasing sales. Having product inventory levels handy from Microsoft 365 helps sales managers please customers and close deals faster.

Copilot helps procurement specialists to make better purchasing decisions in procure-to-pay processes:

  • Manage purchasing decisions with Copilot: The Copilot support for procurement is an advanced tool that empowers users to efficiently manage and assess changes to purchase orders on a large scale. Classifying changes by impact and risk associated with these changes greatly enhances procurement decision-making. With Copilot, users can swiftly identify high-impact or low-impact alterations and analyze downstream impact, enabling prompt actions to mitigate potential risks.

What’s next?

The possibilities of AI in ERP systems are endless, and Dynamics 365 Copilot is just the start of an exciting journey.

Copilot isn’t here to replace the expertise of service agents or app developers but to augment it. By caring for mundane activities, Copilot allows everyone to be more productive by focusing on critical tasks.

Microsoft has been recognized as a Leader in three IDC MarketScape reports

March 14th, 2024 by Stephen Jones No comments »

(A few technical glitches held up posts for the last two weeks).

—IDC MarketScape: Worldwide SaaS and Cloud-Enabled Enterprise Finance and Accounting Applications 2023-2024 Vendor Assessment (doc #US51405823, December 2023); I

DC MarketScape: Worldwide SaaS and Cloud-Enabled Midmarket Finance and Accounting Applications 2023-2024 Vendor Assessment (doc #US51405023, December 2023);

and IDC MarketScape: Worldwide SaaS and Cloud-Enabled Small Business Finance and Accounting Applications 2023-2024 Vendor Assessment (doc #US48041222, December 2023).

According to the IDC MarketScape for Enterprise Finance and Accounting Applications, “Consider Microsoft when you are searching for a well-established provider with the resources to innovate quickly and effectively.”

According to the IDC MarketScape for Enterprise Finance and Accounting Applications, “We will see the demand for more analytics, reporting, and data visualization tools. This trend will continue to accelerate and shape buying decisions for financial leaders.”

The answer to this is to provide simple solutions that focus on collaboration, productivity, AI, and insights—to help finance leaders make data-driven decisions and drive business agility and growth.

According to the IDC MarketScape for Enterprise Finance and Accounting Applications, “Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot brings together Azure OpenAI and ChatGPT. Copilot is embedded in Dynamics 365, working alongside business professionals to help them create ideas and content faster, complete time-consuming tasks, and get insights and next best actions. This enables users of all technical abilities to use AI to boost their productivity and focus on more important tasks.”

PROPHIX CPM Platform Evolves to Meet Unique Finance Needs

January 30th, 2024 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Prophix  platform enhancements for 2024 enable global finance leaders with the agility and precision to :

  • further eliminate manual processes that inhibit business performance,
  • access, interpret and report critical financial performance data.

“Entering 2024, finance leaders find themselves at a true inflection point – embrace the possibilities that new, advanced financial performance technology can deliver for their businesses and their employees, or continue to rely on processes that just barely meet the standards of the modern finance department,” said Alok Ajmera, Chief Executive Office of Prophix.

“For organizations that are ready to embrace substantive progress within the office of the CFO, Prophix has never been better positioned to fundamentally improve the overall experience for its customers. In the year ahead, Prophix will provide significant updates to our platform and its use cases and we couldn’t be more excited for what’s ahead.”

New platform applications and enhancements

Disclosure Management: this new application addition to the platform enables customers to complete “the last mile of finance” to prepare financial statements for disclosure including XBRL/iXBRL and ESG Reporting. Designed to streamline XBRL and iXBRL tagging, these solutions will enable Prophix customers to facilitate efficient financial filings. Via IRIS CARBON®, the Prophix platform incorporates narrative reporting, seamlessly integrating with Microsoft 365 (Word and Excel, with PowerPoint integration forthcoming), enabling the creation of management reports and collaborative documents that combine textual and numeric data for a comprehensive reporting experience.

Increased audit tracing and reporting: enhances traceability, making it easier for internal users of the platform to audit processes and adjustments and therefore streamline their annual audit processes.

Improved validation Rule creation and accuracy: refinements to the management and accuracy of validation rule setup; simplifies the process for users to create validation rules by leveraging existing rules as templates, and validates the setup of the rule itself.

Enhanced Data Integration automation with the ability to create serial steps for one or more tasks offering increased control of dependencies across complex environments.

The impact of the Prophix platform within the office of the CFO is reflected via third-party customer review sites, including TrustRadius and G2.

Using recent, verified key insight data from customer reviews, TrustRadius has recently compiled its 2023 Best of Awards. In the Corporate Performance Management (CPM) category, Prophix received three awards for: Best Relationship, Best Feature Set, and Best Value for Price.

For its Fall 2023 program, G2 awarded Prophix its Best Estimated ROI and Best Meets Requirement awards in the Enterprise category and its platform was selected as a Leader in the Enterprise category and a High Performer in the Mid-Market. In addition Prophix was named an Overall leader in Enterprise Performance Management in the Dresdner Advisory services 2023 Industry Excellence Award. P

More than 2,500 active customers across the globe rely on Prophix to achieve organizational success Reduce uncertainty, and illuminate insights with access to best-in-class AI insights to plan, budget, forecast, report, and consolidate.

Synergy Software Systems has been the MEA Prophix partner for 10 years.

Copilot for everyone

January 21st, 2024 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Copilot for Microsoft 365 became generally available for enterprises in November.

Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now available for organizations of all sizes — with no seat minimum.

  1. Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now generally available for small businesses with Microsoft 365 Business Premium and Business Standard Customers can purchase between one and 299 seats for $30 per person per month.
  2. There is no longer a  300-seat purchase minimum for commercial plans and Copilot is also available for Office 365 E3 and E5 customers (A Microsoft 365 license was previously required).
  3. Contact us to purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365.

Copilot for Microsoft 365 is even more powerful for organizations because it works across your entire universe of data at work — including emails, meetings, chats, documents and more, plus the web.

Use natural language prompts like “Tell my team how we updated the product strategy,” Copilot can generate a status update based on the morning’s meetings, emails and chat threads.

Copilot is also integrated into the apps millions of people use every day, including Microsoft Teams (not available with Copilot Pro).

Copilot jump-starts your creativity in Word, analyzes data in Excel, designs presentations in PowerPoint, triages your Outlook inbox, summarizes meetings in Teams – whether you attended or not – and so much more. Backed by enterprise-grade security, privacy, and compliance, and Microsoft’s Customer Copyright Commitment,

Some new features in Copilot

  1. Copilot GPTs –. Copilot GPTs lets you customize the behaviour of Microsoft Copilot on a topic that is of particular interest.  SomeCopilot GPTs have already been released twith specific purposes such as fitness, travel, cooking and more. Soon, Copilot Pro users will also be able to create their own Copilot GPTs using Copilot GPT Builder.
  2. Copilot mobile app – The Copilot mobile app is now available for Android and iOS. The Copilot app gives you the power of Copilot on the go as your Copilot queries and chats will roam across your phone and PC. The Copilot mobile app includes the same capabilities of Copilot on your PC including access to GPT-4, Dall-E 3 for image creation, and the ability to use images from your phone when chatting with Copilot. Download the app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
  3. Copilot in the Microsoft 365 mobile app –Copilot is now also in the Microsoft 365 mobile app for Android and iOS for individuals with a Microsoft account. This new feature is rolling out over the next month. Access Copilot right inside the app and easily export the content you create to a Word or PDF document. Download the app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

Whether you’re looking to get started with Copilot for free, want to supercharge your Copilot experience with Copilot Pro or are an SMB or Enterprise customer looking to increase your productivity in new ways with Copilot for Microsoft 365, there’s a Copilot experience for everyone.