Microsoft’s Project GigJam: Making Work Collaboration Easier


Mother Teresa quote together we can do great thingsMicrosoft’s Project GigJam allows operating systems to work together to accomplish great things.  It’s exciting that Satya Nadella has swayed Microsoft’s business focus from operating system wars to focusing on us, the customers.  GigJam developed  in part by Vijay Mital, General Manager of Ambient Computing & Robotics at Microsoft, does just that with this new app of apps by letting us work together EASILY regardless of the operating system.

Most of the source content of this blog comes from ZD NET’s  Alan Lepofsky for Constellation Research since Satya Nadella introduced GigJam at the World Partner Conference in VERY high-level terms saying:

“Gigjam’s technology empowers business workers to summon information from their line of business and SaaS apps, spontaneously divvy up the specific information and actions needed to get work done, keep track of each part, and bring it all to closure immediately.”

While that description is accurate, I wanted to give you more insight.  One that shows a glimpse of how Microsoft is continuously working to help you and your company accomplish more through products like Dynamics AX , Dynamics NAV or their newest product, Project GigJam.

Project GigJam’s name comes from the “gig-economy” trend, where people perform small jobs for different clients. Read more

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Microsoft Virtual Academy: Learn From The Experts

Especially developed for “born-to-learn” generations, Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) provides free online courses that cover a variety of topics relating to SMEs, cloud computing, virtualization, business intelligence, game and app development, etc. As technology is constantly changing and evolving, MVA is trying to offer new insights into the latest innovations, touching points of major interest for new generations, including millennials.

Microsoft: Next Generation Technology

We all know it: millennials cannot live without their devices and applications. It seems that these young adults have been endowed with inherent abilities to handle multiple tasks at once, build their own networks and create new abbreviations and codes for more effective communication, and adapt to new technologies and even decipher application logic with great rapidity. Considering all these, millennials promise to become the most efficient generation of workers we have ever seen, much more productive than previous workforce.

Microsoft Virtual Academy

In an effort to impress current and upcoming generations, innovators are looking into the possibility of developing advanced devices and applications, which will turn many new ideas, no matter how incredible they may seem — such as the eye- and brain-controlled devices and applications — into reality. But to be able to use such devices and applications, we need access to up-to-date information, guidelines, and tutorials. Microsoft Virtual Academy is one of the few portals that can help you keep up with technologies and develop new skills.

MVA – Is It for You?

Aiming at adding extra value to its products and services, Microsoft uses the MVA website to make available a variety of free courses, which cover different topics and meet the needs of a large number of users, regardless of their skill level. All courses are divided into multiple modules that include a variety of materials, from videos to written documentation, which can be viewed online or printed for further reference. At the end of each module, students are invited to take a self-assessment exam in order to obtain a certain number of points, which validate module completion. You can take any number of courses and retake self-assessment exams, at any time you wish.

Microsoft trainers are continually updating the database, adding new courses to Microsoft Virtual Academy. By simply browsing the materials available via this portal, you can find out:

  • How to migrate to newer versions of Office or Windows — MVA courses walk users through the steps they must follow in order to configure, update, and further administer particular software products;
  • How to move applications to the cloud — MVA provides comprehensive information about private, hybrid, and public clouds, using Microsoft Azure as a base for demos;
  • How to develop new desktop, mobile, and browser applications for the latest Windows devices — these courses also present compatibility essentials for bring-your-own-device scenarios, while offering details on managing users, contacts, websites, collaboration tools, and different applications within the same database;
  • How to make the most of JavaScript, HTML5, MVC, C#, and XAML — special courses have been developed for beginners and advanced users;
  • How to take advantage of powerful tools, such as Data Explorer, PowerPivot, Geoflow, SharePoint, Exchange Server, Office 365, Power View, and Microsoft’s suite of security features, in order to maximize existing infrastructure investments, run a highly efficient data center, and protect your infrastructure and users;
  • How to choose the right solution for your organization from available products, including Windows, Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Azure, Office applications, etc.

Besides offering up-to-date information about Microsoft products and developments, MVA allows next generations of IT professionals to deepen their scientific knowledge and acquire new technical skills, while providing them with all the tools they need in order to succeed in the technology-driven world of tomorrow. The additional Windows certification programs available through this portal validate expertise in designing, deploying, configuring, and managing a variety of Microsoft products, enabling graduate students to expand their career goals.

In conclusion, Microsoft Virtual Academy is the best bet for anyone actively pursuing mentoring to advance in his or her career in the growing field of information technology services.

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How To Prepare For Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015

Part of Microsoft Dynamics’ family, NAV delivers an ingenious ERP solution able to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in finance, manufacturing, supply chain, and customer relationship management. Ready to go one step further, Dynamics NAV 2015, formerly codenamed “Crete,” promises to take care of two pain points most NAV users have encountered over the years:

Dynamics NAV 2015Download our NAV 2015 guide on the new functionality that can automatically match your entries with transactions

1) Upgrades – NAV 2015 includes more upgrade tools to make possible technical upgrades instead of full upgrades. This means that users don’t have to perform any of the additional technical tasks they used to complete before, which will reduce overall deployment and maintenance costs.

2) User experience – Coming with a brand new interface, NAV 2015 will provide a more consistent user experience across Windows, Apple and Android devices.

According to Kirill Tatarinov, Executive Vice-President of Microsoft Business Solutions, the cloud-based Business Intelligence (BI) technologies included in NAV 2015 will also make possible seamless integration with the new Office 365, extending system functionality for superior reporting capabilities. In a nutshell, users will be able to use the tools they’re already accustomed to (Excel, SharePoint and mobile devices) to complete different operations more efficiently.

Why Choose NAV 2015

Although very little information has been published so far, a demo performed during Microsoft Convergence 2014 revealed that “Crete” delivers a wide range of new features, which will make possible advanced data processing. For instance, you’ll be able to develop more relevant formulas and even to use information derived from NAV in conjunction with data collected from other systems in order to perform more complex analyses.

Additionally, you can use the system to create color codes for highlighting titles and different areas of your reports. This way, identifying specific elements on a page becomes a very simple task. Browser performance has also been improved, offering users a truly intuitive and smooth browsing experience.

Upgrading to Dynamics NAV 2015

One thing is for sure: as many people are currently running pre-NAV 2013 versions, an increasing number of users will start looking for system upgrades very soon. Furthermore, Microsoft will end technical support for NAV 2009 in 2015, which means that the latest software version is going to be in high demand.

Fortunately, NAV 2015 is on its way, proposing new, more powerful features, which will not only streamline financial, inventory, warehouse, sales, marketing and service management, but also allow current users to keep customization to a minimum when replacing previous software versions with the latest one.

Besides, the most recent solutions released by Microsoft (e.g. Dynamics NAV 2012 R3 and GP 2013 R2) indicate another essential aspect: over the past few years, the developer has made impressive efforts to develop new mobile business management tools. Dynamics NAV 2015 should be included among these solutions not only because it delivers a new software version, but also because it’s one of the few tools that will help developers turn “mobility” from a simple trend into one of the most essential concepts of Information Technology. Further, the concepts especially created for this new upgrade will provide more reliable upgrade paths for future software solutions.

Should You Upgrade or Re-Implement?

If you’re a NAV user, you have the option to either upgrade or re-implement. To make the right choice, you need to consider the following factors:

  • An upgrade may be a better option if you use a recent NAV version, such as NAV 2009. In case of an older version, it’s better to re-implement.
  • If the version you’re currently using has been heavily customized, re-implementing the system is the best alternative to get stable business solution.
  • If your organization has changed significantly since the last implementation, it’s important to consider the degree of customization performed and required for the future before deciding between a system upgrade and a re-implementation.

As Dynamics NAV continues to evolve, manufacturers will be able to streamline more business areas, while meeting growing customer needs and demands. Though quite brief, the overview presenting the features and technologies included NAV 2015 reveals the fact that this software solution will probably become a key business success factor, helping small- and medium-sized enterprises overcome inefficiencies and move forward toward their goals.

NAV 2015

Looking Ahead: Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015

Among Microsoft’s array of ERP solutions, NAV has been the enterprise accounting software of choice by distributors, manufacturers and other organizations alike. Users have come to expect Microsoft to roll out upgrades for these ERP solutions either once a year or every other year.  So for all of you NAV people on 5.0 and 2009-the time has come. NAV has been working on an upgrade since late 2013.  Soon, small and medium sized enterprises will have upgraded features in NAV that will arm them with the tools to move forward in 2015.

NAV 2015

The Microsoft Dynamics NAV team has been hard at work to not only make the ERP solution simpler to use but also to have multi-tenancy and multi-platform capabilities. During the Convergence 2014 presentation in March, Microsoft committed to shipping yearly releases for NAV, beginning with NAV 2015. Also christened “Crete”, the NAV 2015 is expected to undergo partner testing in June and launches in beta for businesses in September.

While Dynamics AX R3 got all the hype for its new capabilities, the NAV 2015 also promises to be packed with a couple of upgrades that will improve business agility among SMBs.

NAV 2015 is built to create a uniform experience across devices. For example, when operating on mobile and other portable devices, it can adjust as a user tilts the device. However, Crete’s main emphasis is on Power Business Intelligence (BI), integration with Office 365 and document reporting.

NAV 2015 Business Intelligence

Big data plays an important role among organizations by enabling them to put the customer at the center of the universe- with central access to customers, suppliers, sales cycles, inventories and other pertinent business processes.  With Big Data becoming not only an advantage-but a necessity for Manufacturers and Distributors competing in the SMB space-it is becoming crucial to capitalize on big data sooner, than later. However, despite the importance and potential of big data, very few organizations are using it to their benefits. It’s estimated that 85% of businesses do not have the capability to harness the power of big data for their operations.

With Crete, Microsoft is focused on helping small businesses tap the full potential of big data insights in their critical business processes. Through Power BI, Crete users will be able to use common tools such as SharePoint, Excel and mobile devices. Some of the key features in the Power BI module include:

i) Power Query – This feature will enable users to access data from public and corporate data sources.

ii) Power Pivot – This module extends the capability of Excel by adding key Performance Indicators (KPIs), hierarchies, custom measures and relationships. Pivot’s in-built memory can store generated models, hence enabling users to analyze millions of data fast.

iii) Power View – Provides interactive views of Excel data or reports in form of charts and graphs for easy understanding.

iv) Power Map – Enables end users to integrate Excel with geospatial data to create a 3D map experience.

Power BI will also be accessible through Windows 8 app-enabled phones, iOS and Android devices.

Apart from introducing new features, Microsoft is also working on technological innovation that will make it less expensive for users to upgrade to NAV 2015 and subsequent versions. Any upgrades after NAV 2015 will be easier to carry out. Users will not feel a big technological shift like has been in the case before.

The Crete is expected to be a major NAV upgrade. After launching Crete, the NAV team will focus more on supporting applications.

Microsoft believes that small businesses also need agile solutions that will solve their problems just like the big companies. Crete will solve many of the problems SMBs face in their daily operations. Crete is poised to have powerful enterprise-comparable features that are quick to deploy and easy to implement.