Archive for December, 2014

A look ahead to IT in 2015

December 20th, 2014

The Internet of Things, IoT, – a proliferation of sensors and cloud computing gives businesses access to unlimited amounts of data – he challenge in the coming year is to act on key insights, to improve customer service,to reduce time to market, to enable new innovation in product and services development, and to ultimately transform a business with new business models and revenue streams.

Rockwell Automation is a prime example of the transformative power of IoT – Rockwell is building new forms of intelligence to transform the petroleum supply chain by providing managed monitoring and support for its products across the globe. This includes cloud-based solutions that use software, sensors and devices to predict equipment failures along the vast oil and gas supply chain, track performance in real time, and help refine designs and processes to prevent failures in the future.

In 2014, big-name companies in nearly every industry fell victim to cyber-attacks, prompting FBI Director James Corney to say “There are two kinds of big companies in the United States. There are those who’ve been hacked…and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked.” A recent survey by the Ponemon Institute showed the average cost of cybercrime for U.S. retail stores more than doubled from 2013 to an annual average of $8.6 million per company in 2014, and greatly increased in the financial services, technology, and communications sector as well.

One of the big changes we’ll see is a migration to Europay MasterCard and Visa (EMV), a new technology to protect consumers and reduce the costs of fraud. EMV is a global standard for cards equipped with computer chips and the technology used to authenticate chip-card transactions. Coming in October 2015, merchants using non-EMV compliant devices that choose to accept transactions made with EMV-compliant cards assume liability for transactions that are found to be fraudulent. In 2015, we expect this compliance requirement to drive a massive move to modern card technology and modern points-of-sale devices. That translates to better security for banks, merchants and consumers. Ask us about TCPOS

Businesses will make use of big data services in the cloud and we can expect machine learning to grow exponentially across the retail, manufacturing and health care sectors driven by three factors: broader access to machine learning, massive computing power connecting systems and services, and the explosion of online data. These developments create opportunities for organizations to use machine learning for data-driven decisions. For CIOs, this means providing data liquidity: the ability to get data the firm wants into the shape it needs with minimal time, cost and risk. Many large firms have found their big data pilots shut down by compliance officers concerned about legal or regulatory violations. This is particularly an issue when creating new data combinations that include customer data.

On 21 January 2015 at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington headquarters an invitation-only sneak peak at some of the features of the company’s new Windows 10 operating system. The full release of the new OS is expected sometime in mid-2015. Microsoft has been dropping hints about what the new operating system will look and feel like. That experience will include the Cortana digital voice assistant featured on the latest Windows phones, according to a Wall Street Journal blog post.

Among the changes Windows 10 is expected to bring is a return of the Start Menu. The lack of that menu in Windows 8/8.1 alienated many users, in the enterprise environment. Microsoft has said that Windows 10 will feature an extended Start Menu with one-click access to most commonly used functions. It will also enable users to personalize the menu with their own choices of apps and Web sites.

Windows 10 will be targeted especially to business users. It will feature “enterprise-grade security, identity and information protection,” as well as “simplified management and deployment to help lower costs, including in-place upgrades from Windows 7 or 8 that are focused on making device wipe-and-reload scenarios obsolete,” according to Microsoft.

Other new features arriving with Windows 10 are: a multiple-desktop option, special features for users of two-in-one devices, a new Task view button, snap enhancements and a return to resizable windows.

There will be no Windows 9 in between 8/8.1 and 10.

Prophix 11 Service Pack 3

December 17th, 2014

CRM 2015 some great new features to get insights into your data

December 15th, 2014

Significant investments in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 – mean that power users don’t need to learn to write code to build insights with the data in their CRM Systems.

In this short video Brandon Simons shows you how rollup fields and calculated fields can be created and configured from a simple interface.

Learn how to visualize and interact with hierarchical data like organization charts and account hierarchies in this short video. Prashanth GanapathyRaj shows the intuitive way hierarchy visualizations in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 can give you a better understanding of your business data.

Learn how Power BI (Business Intelligence) combines the power of Excel and Outlook 365 with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 to become a great platform for data analysis and visualization. In this video Narinder Singh also goes over CRM 2015 workbooks to help you understand the value of visualizing and analysing business data with Power BI.

In CRM 2011 you could create system and personal Dashboards and either use one of the predefined layout templates, or copy an existing one using “Save As”, choose a name, and give it a description .

If you changed your mind about the purpose of the dashboard then you could simply open it ,back up and change the name of the dashboard, and click the “Properties” button on the Ribbon to change the description.

CRM 2013 made a big change – although you could change the name of a dashboard, there was no “Properties” button on the command bar to change the description, so if you got it wrong when you first created and saved it – then you could not go back and fix it later. “Dashboard” is not an entity you can add to a Solution to work on the command bar RibbonXML using Ribbon Workbench, for example.

The workaround of making a further copy of the dashboard and setting the correct properties is all very well, but could mean having to change the default dashboards for each module in the SIteMap, and for users to have to set a new default if they were using the existing one.

Anyone using CRM for Tablets could only use the “out of the box” Sales dashboard, but if you wanted to change this you could modify every aspect of it (including the display name) to use it for non-sales purposes but you still could not change the description

What changes with CRM 2015?
The “Properties” button is back.
When you edit a dashboard and click this button you get a dialog box that allows you to change the description for the Dashboard. The description is shown to users as an infotip when they hover on the name of a Dashboard in a list, so it is a good idea to make it useful to your users.

Multiple dashboards for Tablet users in CRM 2015
Notice that this dialog box also has an extra checkbox labelled “Enable for Tablets”. This means that you can make additional system or personal Dashboards available to staff using the Tablet app. So as well as the Sales Dashboard, they can use other dashboards to see different aspects of their data.

Control access to Dashboards using security roles (since CRM 2013) so you can create more Dashboards and so that the list does not become too long for most of your users.
hide these from people who would not need the data

Oman – National Committee for Anti Money Laundering and Combating Terrorism Financing

December 14th, 2014

The National Committee for Anti Money Laundering and Combating Terrorism Financing which held its first meeting of the year on Monday, December 8th 2014 I the Central Bank of Oman reviewed major pertinent issues concerning Anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing laws in the country.

Held at the CBO premises, the meeting was chaired by H.E. Hamoud bin Sangour al- Zadjali, The Executive President of the CBO who is also the Chairman of the National Committee. All the members of the National Committee hailing from organizations such as ROP, FIU, Public Prosecution, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Ministry of Justice, Capital Market Authority, Ministry of Housing, and Ministry of Social Development also attended the meeting.

The meeting discussed a number of issues listed in the agenda and took appropriate decisions in this respect. The Committee welcomed the decision of the Sultanate assuming the chairmanship of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Work Group for 2015 along with hosting the upcoming 21st General Meeting of the Group in the same year.

The Committee also reviewed the executive stance of the Technical Cooperation Program with the International Monetary Fund and the anticipated visit of the IMF experts in January 2015.

Additionally, the Committee reviewed the status quo of the project for amending the Law on Combating Money Laundering and Financing Terrorism issued under Royal Decree No. (79/2010) in addition to examining the findings of the 3rd regular follow-up report on the Law on Combating Money Laundering and Financing Terrorism in the Sultanate of Oman by the Regional Financial Work Group.

The report is an analysis of the actions taken and implemented in the Sultanate as a party to the international standards framework and the joint evaluation systems developed for combating money laundering and terrorism financing.

Garnter Magic Quadrant Single-Instance ERP for Product-Centric Midmarket Companies

December 13th, 2014

Toward the end of November, 2014, Gartner published the latest iteration of its Magic Quadrant for Single-Instance ERP for Product-Centric Midmarket Companies.

In the overview diagram, Microsoft Dynamics AX is in an exposed position in the field of visionaries, and it’s also the most evolved ERP system in terms of completeness of vision.

Because of its advanced ability to execute, Dynamics AX edges close to the field of leaders.

Gartner—which created the term “ERP” in 1990—explains that this magic quadrant was developed for product-centric companies: manufacturers and distributors. In recent years, the boundaries between these two types of businesses have eroded.

– These companies use what Gartner calls operational ERP, with functions such as :customer and order management, manufacturing, distribution, inventory management, procurement, and others.

– In addition, they have typical back-office processes, including finance and HR management.

For the purposes of this ERP review, Gartner is not including companies that don’t make or distribute products and that use ERP only in an administrative way, in the back office.

The Gartner analysts also point out that midmarket companies can be at least as complex as larger enterprises and their operating environments.

For the purposes of the Magic Quadrant, “single-instance” ERP refers to companies using their ERP systems to support multiple business entities in different countries or geographies.

They also may operate several business units for different offerings. At the same time, they maintain cross-entity processes and a level of coordination.

Increased adoption by large companies
In discussing Microsoft Dynamics AX and its position in the Magic Quadrant, Gartner points out that the solution has found increasing adoption by large companies with thousands of users. Partners support these customers by extending the product with industry-specific capabilities, as Synergy has done for example in Project Manufacture.

According to Gartner, customers rate the quality, usability, flexibility, and scalability of Microsoft Dynamics AX highly.

While Microsoft Dynamics has relied on partners to help execute on its innovation strategy, a challenge exists in Microsoft’s limited “ability to service new opportunities with experienced direct or partner resources, especially for larger customers that expect industry and process depth and comprise [sic] extensive and complex requirements.” In this regard, Synergy Software Systems and our long term collaborating partners System Advisors Global and AxPact around the world allows us to provide a centrally managed global rollout with common practices and processes through established partners and contractual agreements. This brings the benefit of local knowledge and same time frame and language support with rates that benefit for this collaboration.

While the Magic Quadrant focuses on single-instance ERP, the analysts also mention that some companies may want to give their regional entities greater independence and autonomy, and enjoy the agility that can come with that. The Dynamics Ax server licensing approach that includes all Dynamics Ax modules means this is now feasible without punitive additional licensing costs.

Azure and Biz Talk

December 13th, 2014

BizTalk Services – Seamlessly integrate the enterprise and the cloud. Windows Azure BizTalk Services (WABS) provides integration capabilities in the cloud for EAI and B2BT and this new service on Windows Azure was made available in November 2013.

WABS is a cloud integration platform or integration platform as a service or IPaaS.

Build your integration on premise, and deploy in the cloud, where it is hosted in a service (a set of dedicated hardware).

This operates as a subscription model for the IPaaS service in the cloud ( BizTalk Services means running on Windows Azure – hence the name Windows Azure BizTalk Services). Currently there are quite some players offering that kind of service like Dell, Attunity, MuleSoft, TIBCO, and so on.

Recent features adds this year include:
• EDIFACT Protocol Support and X12 Schema Updates
• Pulling Messages from Service Bus Queues and Topics
• Service Bus Shared Access Signatures (SAS) support with Service Bus Queues and Topics
• BizTalk Adapter Services No Longer Needs SQL On Premises
• Backup and Restore Support
• Operation Log Support
• DocumentDB is a recent storage option added to Microsoft Azure. It is a no-sql storage service that stores JSON documents natively and provides indexing capabilities along with other interesting features.

The new features to WABS extended the flexibility and ability to create cloud solutions. However, WABS will need more adapters (sources/destinations) for instance to be able to compete with some of the other IPaaS vendors like MuleSoft.

Most of the configuration of WABS is done through Visual Studio a main component currently to build, deploy and manage a bridge solution. Managing for some parts of a bridge solution like configuration of sources and destinations might be better done in a tool like management console/web application or even within Windows Azure itself.

Expect frequent improvement of the service in many areas.

Microsoft office on Android – Office 365

December 11th, 2014

Last month Microsoft announced that Office apps customers are coming to Android tablets with the start of Office for AndroidTM tablet Preview.

Microsoft is also delivering Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for iPhone® and updates for the iPad apps–

New, touch-optimized Office apps for Windows 10 are in the works

Complete functionality with Office 365

Customers get the best value and a complete set of features from an Office 365 subscription, including 1 terabyte of OneDrive online storage — with unlimited storage on the way. By subscribing, customers join a community of over 7.1 million active Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal subscribers and unlock the full productivity power of Office on every device they have.

(Ask us about special year end bundled promotions of Office 365, Power BI and On-Line CRM)


The new Office for iPad and Office for iPhone apps are available in 29 languages and 136 countries. The apps require an iPad or iPhone running iOS 7.0 or later. The Office for Android tablet preview is available for sign-up beginning today.

EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – are you ready?

December 11th, 2014

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was proposed in 2012 and aims to apply a single set of data protection rules across the European Union (EU) to protect user’s data.

Organisations will be expected to report a breach in 72 hours, and give data owners the right to request a copy of the personal data they hold, and the right to have personal data erased.

The regulation will impose greater fines on organisations that break the law -compliance failures will carry fines of up to €100m or 5% of global turnover – whichever is greater.

The proposed regulations are planned to begin at the end of 2014, coming into effect over the next two years.

A recent survey from network management and monitoring software specialist, Ipswitch showed that
– over half of employees could not accurately describe GDPR
– and 52% admitted their firms were not ready for the changes the regulations might bring.

Survey finds users think SAP is too expensive

December 11th, 2014

An interesting finding from an SAP UK and Ireland User Group survey is that:
– SAP customers find the supplier’s account managers insufficiently knowledgeable about their businesses.
– Customers say SAP knows too little about their businesses and is too expensive
– Over 50% of respondents say that SAP account executives don’t have the level of knowledge about customers’ industry or business to help with adopting innovation.
– 74% of respondents said that SAP was bringing out technology innovations at a speed with which they were unable to cope.

SAP’s reputation for high costs was also evidenced by the survey – 15% more respondents (69%) said that SAP licensing and subscription costs were cited as an adoption barrier compared to other vendors (54%)

SynergyMMS- Affordable Hotel Maintenance Management on the cloud

December 11th, 2014

Hospitality maintenance is like a puzzle. The complexity of that puzzle depends on the environment in each property, the local market, and the economy.

Often, maintenance is postponed or skipped due to limited resources, but this only delays problems which are likely to become much more severe.

Maintenance isn’t just fixing things, how well you maintain a property has a major impact on guest loyalty.

All hotels have beds, televisions and marble-top sinks. What sets you apart are: your prices, your service, and the quality of the property.

The effort put forth into preserving the asset and equipment will reflect in the guest satisfaction, the life of your assets and thus your costs, and your pricing and repeat bookings and thus the bottom line.

Hospitality maintenance is not an easy task in a 24 x7 operation and it requires coordination between departments and flexibility around occupancy. Limited staffing make s it difficult to complete scheduled maintenance since so much effort is placed on reacting to day to day issues -putting out fires. The problems are the same for al hotels in all regions, and the economy has not helped matters.

SynergyMMS delivers the tools for staff members to easily capture and to process work and provides visibility and accountability for work force management.
A cloud based SaaS module means no upfront purchase of license or hardware, and no extra workload for IT.

In hospitality, occupancy is a constant challenge when it comes to PM. With SynergyMMS and a PMS interface, properties can see which rooms are unsold and plan the daily PM . This reduces backlog and assists in planning. The PM Calendar shows future PM tasks and also the parts and hours required.

SynergyMMS supports unplanned maintenance actions including guest-focused response tools. Organize open work requests into custom lists per user to focus on what is important. Real-time information keeps everyone informed of the up-to-the-minute status of any issue. Audit trails and logs ensure accountability – every transaction is tracked.

The Pooling engine in SynergyMMS automates the distribution of work in SynergyMMS ensuring the work reaches the right person. Factors like: time of day, day of week, type of work and even location determine how the work should be sent out. Pooling can distribute work to devices such as cell phones, email addresses, DECT phone systems such as Ascom and printers. The Pooling engine will even load balance the distribution of work between members of a pool to ensure no one person is over-loaded.

The SynergyMobile iOS Application is a portable window into the program. Mobile staff members can remain up on the floors while exchanging information in real-time. Work request functions include: creating, editing and completing tasks as well as performing itemized checklist inspections for rooms and equipment. The iOS application is asynchronous meaning it can operate without a consistent signal only needing a casual connection for synchronizing when available.

The Multilingual Voice Interface is an excellent tool for creating a very convenient and comfortable interface with SynergyMMS. It is convenient because is utilizes any house phone to connect to the database allowing users to create accurate and timely work requests via the key pad. Simple numeric sequences ensure accuracy of reporting as well as quick data entry. An experienced user can create an accurate work request in about 15 seconds. The interface is offered in 10 languages; English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Polish, Slavic, Bosnian, Arabic, Creole and Philipino (Tagalog). Once the user enters their numeric employee ID, SynergyMMS looks up their preferred language and the rest of the dialogue is in that language eliminating barriers to accuracy of reporting.

The Multilingual Voice Interface dramatically increases the accuracy and timeliness of reported issues resulting in a better and faster response by Engineering.

There are lots of products that claim to manage maintenance so how is ours any different?

In a recent independent study SynergyMMS was compared with 6 other leading competitors and SynergyMMS was selected as the best choice based on ease of use, feature set and price – in that order.

So what does it cost?
Unlimited users/clients per property
Hosted environment (no local server required)
No license purchase
The Cost is an annual charge which includes enhancements and support, for around $1 per room, per month, depending on the interfaces required

SynergyMMS is built on 30 years in the business specializing in a single vertical – hospitality. Our intimate understanding of hospitality operations and our appreciation for the unique levels of involvement among the different departments and personnel is what sets us apart.

In summary, a comprehensive maintenance program specifically for hotelswill save you money and improve the quality of the guest’s experience. Synergy MMS is available through Deyafa Systems for the EMEA region and it is widely used globally by leading hotel chains. It helps ensure staff efficiency and accountability.
– Room/Equipment Preventive Maintenance
– Unplanned Maintenance Requests
– Guest Requests
– Intelligent Dispatching
– Mobile Application
– Multilingual Voice Interface
– Comprehensive Reports

SynergyMMS is the software solution employed by the world‟s largest and most successful Hospitality companies. Providing tools that are designed to support the roles of the many diverse users in a hotel, SynergyMMS offers non-technical, multilingual user-friendly interfaces for intuitive operation.With SynergyMMS the many departments at a property enjoy the following benefits:
– Improved communication through multilingual tools
– Increased guest satisfaction scores based on better quality of asset and faster response to issues
– Real-time status updates of work in the system
– User-oriented screens remove clutter and help users to focus on their tasks
– Inspection results recorded in real-time
– Trend analysis and comprehensive reporting
– Accountability improvements since work is completely tracked

The primary solutions SynergyMMS offers are:

Guest Issues – priority handling and escalation of guest issues
Work Request – multilingual tools make it easy to capture issues
Preventive Maintenance – both rooms and equipment
Inspections – with each response recorded for detailed quality assurance
Contact: Madhav Baru – 009714 3240066