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Monday, July 29, 2013

Retiring this blog

I wanted to write everyone today, to announce I'm retiring this blog starting in October of this year. It's been an amazing eight years of writing and covering the Dynamics Ecosystem. At least coverage from my perspective of the Dynamics world. In doing so, I've been honored to have received a Microsoft Dynamics AX MVP award for both 2012 & 2013.

This blog started out as my extended brain, a place where solutions could be kept to the early days of Axapta 3.0. Fighting with the COM connector was one of the first post.: Axapta 3.0 Business Connector (COM+)

I went from a customer specific role into the partner side with the start of this blog. It's seen many changes over the years, and different entry types. Completing my first interview, changed the focus of the blog into more than just being an extended brain. It became an outlet of coverage, write-ups, how-to's, bugfix, thoughts, concepts and more.

It's been a really interesting journey with the focus I've had around keeping the content flowing for this blog over the years. It for sure drove me to learn more and more, and with the build up around Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 - the content became super focused around helping the community-at-large understand issues and how to put in place the new paradigms that came along with this release of Microsoft Dynamics AX.

On the implementation side of things, I've seen the shift away from the "Cowboy Consultant" days, through to a more mature project implementation methodology.

From this blogging experience a more connected community started to arise. This included Microsoft and the Dynamics portal, MSDynamicsWorld.com, the Top 100 DynamicsWorld.Co.Uk and so forth. Other fellow peers, like Joris, Jon, Joel, Dick and the others - whom all have shared the content we each help bring to form the whole of the Dynamics community.

It is with this understanding, this appreciation for the community, that I'm making the choice to step aside from the role this blog has in the larger Dynamics Community. It's been a humbling and really rewarding experience, to put it plainly.

I will continue to write, but more on the business intelligence side of the things. You can find me at the ImplementingGreatIdeas.com. I will have a very focused purpose on this new blog, that will still include Microsoft Dynamics AX. Again, the focus will be however for BI & Analytic's. Really helping customers putting their data to work for them.

Though this is not my very last post on this blog, I felt it was needed to be stated now. This came from my lack of ability to continue to post entries as often as have been able to in the past. Thank you! Thank all of you who read my ramblings over the years and challenged me. Thank you to my fellow peers for going that extra mile in trying to help foster a community - whom's main goal was, and remains - to bring value to our customers.

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Webcast of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 & Personal BI

Well I hope everyone is doing well this fine Tuesday. We are very close to the summer equinox and that means the longest day of the year! I love summer time, it's full of fun times, water activities as well as opining for the beach!

With that, I wanted to post a link to the recent webcast I lead via MSDynamicsWorld.com. The link to the web cast can be accessed from the following resource.: The Power of Personal BI with Dynamics AX 2012: PowerPivot and Power View

Now there is for sure one point that I need to clarify from this webcast. Specifically the question was asked around what version's of SharePoint & SQL Server are needed in order to enable specific aspects of what we reviewed during the webcast. When looking at this from a Microsoft Office Excel 2013 perspective, then the topic of SharePoint & SQL Server version for that matter in what was shown, is not relevant. Meaning, it does not affect what you can do with Excel 2013 in context to what was covered.

However when we look at enabling PowerView from SharePoint, launched within Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 then we need to better understand what versions of software do impact what functionality. Thus we have the above pictured diagram from Microsoft. It shows that indeed we do need more than standard versions of MOSS & SQL Server for different levels of functionality, including that last part of the webcast around PowerView & SharePoint.

I hope that this is helpful to people. During the session we have a lot of great questions, and feedback. Keep in mind, this is not edited but is a full capture of the entire webcast itself. Finally, I encourage you to send me any questions around this and just think about how Personal BI can help craft a reporting story for your company! If you would like to know more, you can contact us here.: Sunrise Contact Page.

Well that is all for now. I know that I'm behind a bit in getting some of the previously targeted topics posted. It's a sign of the current times, with being busy. It's good to be busy, and so there will be plenty to cover soon. Til Next Time!

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

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Friday, June 07, 2013

AX 2012 R2 & The Power of Personal BI

I hope everyone finds themselves doing well this fine summer Friday. Always something about Friday's, and specifically those where the sun stays out and beckons us back to our childhood days. With that, I wanted to post today and bring to your reading attention an upcoming virtual event. It's free and you can attend right from your desk. This event is being hosted by MSDynamicsWorld.com a long time sponsor of this blog.

The event is next Friday, June 14th starting at 11:00 AM EST. The following is a description from the event.: (register here)
"The real value of business intelligence (BI) comes from crafting a story based on an organization's data. For the manager, analyst, or individual contributor, BI typically begins with desktop tools like Microsoft Excel. With the right skills and know-how, personal BI can become the gateway to a robust BI initiative at any organization.

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

Join Microsoft Dynamics AX MVP and BI expert Brandon George of Sunrise Technologies for an examination of Microsoft PowerPivot & Power View with Dynamics AX 2012 R2. The webcast will look at how these tools can empower both functional and technical resources at the individual level to discover new insights and improve operational outcomes. Learn how to put data to work and further build towards organizational BI needs from personal BI artifacts."

The event represented above, is specifically around Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 & Personal BI. I've wrote a lot about this topic in the past, and so I think its very important to reference such resources in regard to this upcoming event. The following is such a list, that I think would be helpful to anyone who is wanting to attend, or already signed up to do so.

With the above resources your well on the way to understanding what will be talked to and covered in this upcoming event. I would highly encourage you to attend it, as I'm planning for it to be engaging! Speaking of engaging, that is the whole goal we after. All of this, every bit of it builds to the point of creating a System of Engagement. Where we can truly help turn users, into fans!

Well that it's for now, I will be back to posting next week with some really interesting stuff. Anyone want to go on the wild ride of predictive analytic's? It's like stepping into a quantum time machine! Well it's really more about understanding & owning your companies data assets. That's whats coming soon, so check back next week and make sure to attend next Friday's virtual event!

Finally, if you would like to know more about putting your companies data to work for you. Then make sure to reach out, and contact Sunrise Technologies so we can help craft a BI & reporting story for you! Til Next Time!

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spotlight: Top Reasons Companies Implement an Automated Data Collection Solution

Companies choose ADC because their industry demands it, either by regulation or voluntary standards compliance. With our research we found the top reasons companies choose an ADC solution:

Implement Industry Regulations – think of food and beverage traceability initiatives and Pharmaceutical ePedigree requirements:
  • The recent Food Safety Modernization Act Section 204 is dedicated to enhancing tracking and tracing of food and recordkeeping
  • PTI or the Produce Traceability Initiative is Voluntary. Tracing starts in the field, when the produce is removed from the field and put in the carton.
  • One RF-SMART customer packages produce, they use RF-SMART to capture carton number in the field and throughout their entire process, satisfying the PTI.
  • The ePedigree for pharmaceutical is a record in electronic form containing information regarding each transaction resulting in a change of ownership of the given prescription drug, including returns
  • We have several Pharmaceutical customers coming to us to satisfy the new ePedigree requirements

Empower your Warehouse Team – We all like to be able to make decisions and be accountable, RF-SMART’s ADC will make you workers feel empowered
Reliable Information- Is everyone in your organization able to rely on information they pull from their ERP or do they worry that it is not accurate or timely Capture Metrics – Providing important Key Performance Indicators, such as Inventory Velocity by location and Picking Performance by worker is possible with ADC. Selection of an Automated Data Collection solution must use real time validation, and real time updates to the ERP system. If it is architected with a redundant database no one will know which system to believe. Soon everyone will be second guessing the system.

There is nothing that keeps a CFO awake at night like not knowing if the information they are relying on to make major decisions is valid, accurate and timely. For these reasons RF-SMART is architected to use only the Dynamics AX database so there is a single source of truth. All data resides in the AX database. RF-SMART leverage Dynamics AX business process to provide top-notch warehouse management functionality validating against AX in real-time and all updates occur at the point of the activity.

Touch it once. If I can capture at the point of activity I can trust the input the first time. For Example: Many times we find an as-is process like this: Print the pick list; distribute to the workers in the warehouse; the workers use the paper to find the items and then mark the quantities, batches, serial number, and locations. The paper is turned into the packing/staging station.

Some of you may not have considered Automated Data Collection as a tool that can be used to empower employees but it can do just that. By using RF-SMART workers can be guided through their daily task. An example is to guild a worker through the warehouse to pick sales orders. The worker can be guided, by highest priority, through an optimum route, to pick orders. And since RF-SMART offers real-time validation they will be notified if the data is valid, not only in content but in context. For example, the location is validated as a valid location for the warehouse and then the item is validated not only as a valid item but that it has inventory in the specified location. AX setup such as location blocking, optional dimension settings, batch dispositions, expiry dates etc. will be validate at the moment the worker touches the inventory, stopping the worker before a mistake happens.

Imagine how valuable preventing the use of expired or quarantined inventory for a Food and Beverage manufacturer is! Workers also can make decisions on the spot, because useful information is provided to them while they do their task. They can’t just write down what they have done and the pass the paperwork on, blaming someone else for mistakes. They are totally accountable. And that makes them feel good. They are autonomous!

Workers can review the progress of the transaction they are performing on mobile devices only when they need to, thereby keeping the mobile device screen crisp and clean unless they need to refresh their memory. To allow workers to make informed decisions at the point of activity, almost every field in RF-SMART has a lookup. And best of all, today you can let your workers BYOD (Bring your own device). Now instead of just texting on the smartphone, they could use it to do a quick inventory lookup or maybe you have a warehouse supervisor and a store manager that wants to work on their RF-SMART dashboard from their own device.

That is not a problem; good mobile solutions are not constrained by devices. RF-SMART is ahead of the trend, we are not constrained by device and we have many customers using multiple devices, such as an industrial device in the warehouse and a smartphone for a supervisor.

Now that is empowering a worker!

Reliable information is important and is probably one of the reasons that you have or are implementing AX. Why would you want to have business process that put the integrity of AX information at risk? It is important that your employees, whether in the warehouse or in the boardroom, trust the information they use.

I would like to thank RF-Smart for being such a supporter of the Dynamics Community at large, and further being a sponsor of this blog. That's all for now but check back soon as I continue to add more post around Dynamics AX & BI. Til Next Time!
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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Beyond Dynamics AX with Business Intelligence

I hope everyone is having a blessed day, and you find yourself productive in our Dynamics filled world. May is once again here, and that means we tilt ever so closer towards our solar systems star - in the northern hemisphere that is. That also means planning for summer time vacation, baseball / softball, as well as an assortment of water related activities. The march towards summer begins, and that means the world around us continues to come alive.

With spring in full force, I thought it was time to talk about the needed topic of beyond Dynamics AX with Business Intelligence. Lets face it, more and more projects are being sold & implemented well, that has Microsoft Dynamics AX only acting as an operational ERP element. It's one spoke in the total solution for larger companies. When you have this reality, Dynamics AX is no longer the single data mart from which analytic's & insights are derived from.

As we see from the above image, when Dynamics AX is the data mart in which such BI artifacts solely are crafted around, then you have a very compelling story in which a companies total reporting needs can be told by. This is Sunrise's standard offering for business intelligence needs. That is: Office+SharePoint+SQL Server.

Are focus is expanded however, when the needs of the customer expand. To help facilitate the understanding of when and where this might be the case, let's start by listing a high level set of topics, that in turn will be used to guide into greater business insights for customers. Further, how each of these topics would drive to a more complete or total BI story that is crafted for a customer. All the while, keeping in mind that the tool is the last thing you focus on for a real BI project.

  • Dynamics AX is a spoke, not the hub - Here we have a total solution scenario, where Dynamics AX is an operational ERP element in a customers total solution. This means 2:n possible line-of-business applications that complete an end-to-end solution for a customer. When this is the case, items like real data warehouses, ETL, Master Data Management across the systems, and more must come into the picture. This further means that what tools are best for achieving the ultimate end goal might need to be extended beyond the Office+SharePoint+SQL Server.
  • Security & Exposure beyond the Dynamics AX walls - Here we have a need for an organization that has reporting requirements. These reporting requirements however dictate that there are business insights needed for employees that will not have, nor should not have access to Dynamics AX at all. When this is true, again, then we have directive for something that extends beyond the walled garden of Dynamics AX.
  • Mobile BI across a multitude of platforms - There is a very compelling story that can be told with the BI stack of Office+SharePoint+SQL Server. Mobile is very much apart of this, specifically with the release of Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013. However when you want a mobile BI platform, that needs to reach beyond the Microsoft world, in a more native way, then extending beyond the BI stack that comes with Dynamics AX is needed.
  • Abstraction - This last point is more focused around that true executive information system, or dashboard. With the continued improvements being made for Dynamics AX, and those improvements driving more technology and model churn, the need for abstracting away the C & B level executives from such churn is a valid one. Having something that extends beyond the Dynamics AX BI stack, can help abstract out the executive's and their analytical needs. Reality is, these might change some, but not at the rate in which technology, and further Dynamics AX is changing.

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

The above, by far is not a final list but something that hopefully has you thinking in terms of a more complete BI solution. There is hardly ever any truth in we bought (insert product name) now we have BI! Real business intelligence for customers is always about the data first, then reporting need second, and finally the product or products that help delivery on said need last. Take into consideration any of the above points, and you have a more larger requirement - where selecting specific tools first could halt the needed progression that is demanded by the organization.

Over the next several weeks, I will continue to expand upon each of the above topics, and others in how I feel these are best addressed. This includes both the stack that comes with Dynamics AX, and beyond that for a total solution offering.

That's all for this post, I hope you have enjoyed it and your excited to hear more. One final note, I would like to say that I'm honored to have been listed once again this year in the DynamicsWorld Top 100 list. Top 25 again this year! Honestly the amount of work that some of the people put into the ecosystem, that I can be included with amazes me. This community as a whole has grown leaps and bounds over the past 3 years. I can't say enough of how honored I am to be included as part of it. Til Next Time!

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

AXUG Community Site - Collaborate, learn, share & more!

I hope everyone is doing well this fine Dynamics filled Thursday! There is a lot of great things taking place in the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem, so much in fact that it's easily to get lost in the noise at times. Enter the newly minted, and very active AXUG Community Site.

This site is well under way in adding value to the community at large, and helps further complete the knowledge story for our ever growing ecosystem. I know for example, I find myself deep into scoping engagement and project work. That is what pays the bills, but at the same time am needing new ways to stay informed connected and focused. I'm finding, personally, that there is a lot of great information and value with my recent use of the AXUG Community site.

There are several ways in which you can join into the conversations taking place. Further creating new blog entries and sharing information that you learn. Getting involved with the many targeted communities that are represented in the collaboration site and more.

You will find topics and tags that are trending right now. As you see in the screen shot about, Business Intelligence is a hot topic right now. This is one near and dear to me, being my new sole focus for the Dynamics Ecosystem.

Further, you can see from the above screen shot and resource link, that clicking on a specific topic can take you to very relevant information. This happens to be one of the sessions I was *not* able to lead at Convergence 2013 due to being out sick. However you can still gain access to my slide deck. This can be of help, and further looking forward to presenting on this for AXUG in the near future.

All-in-all, this post is all about highlighting the value the community site at AXUG brings to our ecosystem. It helps customers & partners connect in a way only AXUG can offer.

Well that is all for this highlight post. I hope that you take the time to join in the conversation and get the intended value that this resource brings! Til Next Time!
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