Today, we are taking the first step to bring our customers new, modern, enterprise-ready intelligent business apps with the introduction of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource.
Technology is transforming our personal lives with apps and services that are simple and intuitive, and deliver helpful assistance to improve our lives.
In contrast the apps and services we use to drive business process are often difficult to use, try and deploy. Some even make you pay extra for capabilities like visualization, workflow automation and predictive insights.
We imagine a better world for business users everywhere. One where you can track leads, automate field service, drive sales and improve operations using modern, mobile, enterprise-ready intelligent business apps from the cloud that are as easy to use as the consumer apps that help us all get rides, book rooms, listen to music and take actions to improve our health.
Helping customers transform with a new approach to business process
Available this fall, Microsoft Dynamics 365 evolves our current CRM and ERP cloud solutions into one cloud service with new purpose-built apps to help manage specific business functions, including: Financials, Field Service, Sales, Operations, Marketing, Project Service Automation and Customer Service.
Dynamics 365 apps are designed so they can be easily and independently deployed. That means you can start small and pay only for what you need. Yet they work together seamlessly so, as your business demands, you can grow into additional capabilities with ease. They include built-in insights, predictive intelligence and workflow optimization, all of which will be delivered through simple, easy-to-use, mobile experiences with offline capabilities.
Power BI and Cortana Intelligence will be natively embedded to help customers achieve their business goals with predictive insights, prescriptive advice and actionable next steps.
For example, Cortana Intelligence will enable cross-sell recommendations to help sales reps predict which products and services a customer will need. Access to IoT data inside Dynamics 365 for Field Service will enable preemptive action from field service agents by connecting asset monitoring and anomaly detection so they can take action before failures occur, avoiding costly customer service issues.
Deep integration between Dynamics 365 and Office 365 will connect the structured workflow of business apps with the unstructured work of collaboration and productivity.
For example, a sales person receives an email, and can respond directly in Office with a quote that is created based on information from both Finance and Sales apps, stored back to the right app, with right pricing, discounting, etc. All without the user having to leave Outlook.
Adapt and innovate in real-time with a common data model and extensible business application platform. Dynamics 365 apps will:
Use a common data model, shared with Office 365, to simplify data management and integration across apps and business processes.
Offer tech-savvy business customers/analysts, aka “citizen developers,” (using PowerApps, Power BI and Microsoft Flow) and professional developers (using Azure platforms services) a consistent business platform they can use to compose new apps and easily extend and modify existing ones.
Come with connectors that let you integrate with applications and services from Microsoft and our partners – including custom APIs and on-premises systems.
A place to find new apps and better ways to get things done
We are also introducing Microsoft AppSource – Microsoft’s new destination for business users to find and try out line-of-business SaaS apps from Microsoft and our partners. At launch AppSource contains more than 200 business SaaS apps, add-ins and content packs, including exclusive new industry-specific business apps from:
AFS™ “Retail Execution” – An end-to-end solution for CPG organizations to use as they engage with their customers in the field, covering visit and merchandising, sales, asset management and audit as well as a full suite of BI and analytics.
AvePoint “Citizen Services” – Government organizations can automate incident reporting, response and resolution, so employees can solve issues faster and serve citizens better.
Veripark “Next Best Action” – Financial institutions can maximize the lifetime value of each customer and deliver a first-class customer-centric experience by making the right offer, at the right time, via the right channel.
Helping business users accelerate their digital transformation
With Dynamics 365 and AppSource customers can encourage innovation, increase collaboration and ultimately achieve more with the power of intelligent business apps. For additional insights from the engineering leaders for our business applications, and the application platform innovation Microsoft is delivering, please visit here.
Customers can learn more about Dynamics 365 here and about AppSource here. Partners can learn more here and at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference next week.
Microsoft will work with Sprinklr to provide clients with a cloud-based experience management suite that will streamline business processes across sales, marketing, and customer service.
Most brands know that in order to stay relevant, they must put their customers front and center, listening to and engaging with them in meaningful ways across all channels to better serve their individual interests and needs. Yet, in a connected world where customers move across a seemingly infinite number of digital channels at the speed of social, that’s not easy to do.
Enter Sprinklr, one of the world’s leading enterprise social media management solutions, which, as Forbes recently put it, is “helping big brands make sense of the maelstrom in social media.” Working with more than half of the Fortune 50, including brands such as Nike, McDonald’s, Samsung, JPMorgan Chase, Starwood, and, for the last five-plus years, Microsoft, Sprinklr helps enterprises create and cultivate customer relationships at scale by enabling more intuitive, consistent and personalized experiences at every digital touchpoint. We are proud to say Sprinklr, a born-in-the-cloud company, will be extending its platform to Microsoft Azure, a leader in enterprise cloud computing, to power new, joint Microsoft-Sprinklr customers.
Together, we see great possibilities to unlock new opportunities for our mutual customers. That’s why today, we’re also excited to share our intent to work with Sprinklr to introduce a future solution, hosted on Azure, to streamline business processes across sales, marketing and customer service.
Our vision for a solution of this kind is to deliver actionable insights from unstructured social data along with other enterprise data sources and systems of record, so every department, from marketing to sales to customer service, can see and engage customers not as disjointed data points, but as people. This solution will integrate Sprinklr’s experience managementplatform with our customer relationship management (CRM) solution, Microsoft Dynamics, our business analytics suite, Power BI, and our leading productivity suite, Office 365 to power a next-generation experience management suite – all hosted in the cloud.
Today, the cloud is the great enabler when it comes to helping companies scale across continents and devices in a secure and flexible way. We’ve already begun working with Sprinklr to extend its platform to Azure, and future joint customers’ cloud-based offerings to Azure. Here’s an overview of what the news means for joint Microsoft and Sprinklr customers:
Leading developer tools. Azure’s development capabilities will enable Sprinklr to move even faster with future platform enhancements and integrations.
Intelligent cloud. Sprinklr will leverage Azure’s elastic search capabilities and advanced compute modules, including key elements of its reporting product and user interface.
Massive global scale for new joint Sprinklr and Azure customers. Azure has announced 32 regions globally with 24 regions currently generally available – more than any other major cloud provider combined and all backed by Microsoft’s $15 billion (USD) investment in global datacenter infrastructure.
Trusted and secure platform. Azure has 37 major certifications and attestations – also more than any other major public cloud provider, enabling our customers to operate globally and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. A full list can be found on the Microsoft Trust Center at www.microsoft.com/TrustCenter.
This is just the beginning. We’re thrilled about what this collaboration means for our customers and, ultimately, their customers. For more on the news, check out this blog post from Sprinklr’s President & COO, Carlos Dominguez.
“S” is for summer – and for Spartans, Spark and Sprightly, three super subjects this week that you won’t want to have missed. (See what we did there?) But first, let’s talk about the terrific trickle-down effect that’s in full swing in the field of data visualization.
Seattle broadcaster KING 5 made Puget Sound voters the first in the nation to get a real-time, in-depth look at their local civic process by harnessing the computing power of new, off-the-shelf technology that’s now available to anyone in the world. Thanks to Microsoft’s Power BI data visualization tool and Surface Hub 64-inch touch screen, the station was able to drill down into the results of Washington state’s May 24 presidential primary and share insights county by county, even as votes were being tallied.
That kind of capability is a prime example of gains made in the accessibility of data and the technology to analyze and share it, and it heralds a new era in political reporting for local broadcasters.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but it’s never been possible before at the local level, only for the networks, who’ve spent gobs of money on custom software packages that are well beyond local TV capabilities,” says Peter O’Connell, executive producer for special projects at KING 5. He’s been covering elections since 1976, when there were no electronic graphics and TV stations just put numbers on boards and filmed them.
Spartans to the rescue! The supersoldiers of the popular Halo video game franchise will swoop in and brave unpredictable dangers as they do whatever it takes to complete their assignments – much like the elite engineering team they’re named after (or is it the other way around? Hmm…), the Special Projects and Resources Team.
These Spartans are always ready to go where they’re needed and dive into building a brand-new technology, solving a problem or otherwise using their varied expertise to help get an important job done. The 14-member squad will expand to about 20 in the coming weeks to tackle different areas across Microsoft’s Information Platform Group.
“It doesn’t matter what category it is,” says Shaiwal Singh, a principal group engineering manager who was tapped to start the Spartans a few years ago and has led them ever since. “As long as it is critical and aligned to the success strategy of our division’s mission and vision, we are on top of it.”
Turning from supersoldiers to superscouters: Microsoft researchers say web search data could help diagnose serious illness earlier, including diseases such as particularly deadly pancreatic cancer, for which early diagnosis is key to survival.
This type of sleuthing shows the feasibility of a new form of screening that could ultimately allow patients and their physicians to diagnose pancreatic cancer and begin treatment weeks or months earlier than they otherwise would have.
“We are excited about applying this analytical pipeline to other devastating and hard-to-detect diseases,” Horvitz said.
And from superscouters to superstylers: Sprightly, a Microsoft Garage app, now can help small- and medium-sized businesses quickly design and create professional-quality digital content on their own — without the need to hire designers. It was introduced on Android in February and is now available on iOS in a much-requested development that delivers a mobile-only way to make fliers, catalogs, multiple price lists, e-cards and discount coupons.
Another Garage app that’s now available on iOS is Kaizala, the hub for small- and medium-sized businesses in India to track activities such as managing bills and assigning jobs, and to chat with teams, partners and customers, keeping the conversations in one place. The app will be rolled out to other countries soon.
In apps this week, Bank of America expands mobile bank offerings on Windows 10 mobile devices, tablets and PCs, allowing customers to use voice commands in Cortana to look up account balances, get to the screens to pay bills or transfer money, find the nearest banking locations and contact customer service.
Play a wide range of free games from your phone with Microsoft BizSpark member’s Last 2 Left app, which dubs itself the world’s simplest fantasy format game for sports, reality TV and more.
And crack a case with Judy Hopps, the first rabbit to join the police force in “Zootopia,” an all-animal metropolis – even if it means teaming up with Nick Wilde, a smooth-talking scam artist fox. You can enjoy this animated comedy adventure across all your devices via the Disney Movies Anywhere app.
This week on the Microsoft Facebook and Twitter channels, we learned how educators can get early access to Minecraft: Education Edition.
It’s like Minecraft for “Sesame Street,” which reminds us again of the letter “S,” which stands for summer – so enjoy your summery weekend now and come see us again next week for more.
Microsoft news spanned the globe this week and encompassed a variety of technologies that enrich innovation, productivity and generosity. Lots of good stuff. Let’s take a look.
Once the lore of science fiction, technology that understands human speech now includes apps that translate conversation as it happens and a virtual assistant who can give you numbers to call for pizza.
Those breakthroughs and a peek at future voice recognition are the subject of a fascinating read this week. Writer Allison Linn spent time with Microsoft researchers to see how data availability, computing power and machine learning are making computers so smart that they may one day understand what you’re saying as well as any human can.
“When machine learning works at its best, you really don’t see the effort. It’s just so natural. You see the result,” said Harry Shum, executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Technology and Research group.
Microsoft researchers also offered up this week 16 predictions for 2016, ranging in topics from AI to data science to cryptography. For Chris Bishop, managing director of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, the United Kingdom, next year’s key technology breakthrough will be “the emergence of new silicon architectures that are turned to intensive workloads of machine learning.”
For Doug Burger, director of Hardware, Devices and Experiences, Microsoft Research NExT, the big tech advance of 2016 will be “successful and large-scale inclusion of specialized compute acceleration in the cloud.”
“As organizations strive to keep up with the pace of change, they are looking to technology to drive digital transformation,” wrote Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela. “Our message this week is simple – Microsoft is here to help.”
Microsoft amped up Giving Tuesday, with a real-time look at the outpouring of generosity during the worldwide movement. The company worked with 92nd Street Y (92Y), the nonprofit cultural and community center that created Giving Tuesday, and Blackbaud, which processed most of the day’s donations, to turn vast amounts of data into a real-time dashboard tracking the day’s momentum.
“Having Microsoft come in gives the day a richness and a depth that we wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Asha Curran, director of 92Y’s Center for Innovation and Social Impact.
The visual dashboard allowed the team to build on insight in real time, instead of waiting to evaluate their efforts after the event, said John Doyle, director of product marketing at Microsoft.
“With HoloLens we can remove many of the barriers that exist today; accelerating product iteration, providing more intuitive cross-team communication and setting new standards in collaboration,” wrote Ben Sugden, studio manager of Microsoft HoloLens.
If you don’t feel like time is always on your side, check out the new FindTime app from the Microsoft Garage. The Outlook add-in helps you schedule meetings faster with people outside your company, so you can be more productive and spend less time doing the tedious job of figuring out when everyone’s available.
“We think scheduling a time can be more collaborative – and with FindTime, it feels almost magical,” said Vivek Garg, a developer for Microsoft’s Team SIX and tech lead who helped create FindTime.
The end of the year is indeed nigh, which means it’s time for a little hindsight. On Wednesday, Bing featured the top searched stories and celebrities of 2015, out of the billions of searches on Bing this year. The perspective gave us a unique look at the moments that shaped us the year, from the U.S. Women’s FIFA World Cup victory to Caitlyn Jenner’s iconic “Vanity Fair” cover.
Finally this week, on the Microsoft Instagram channel, we watched Microsoft employees from around the country spread holiday cheer in New York City. Joined by a local children’s choir, they shared a message of peace and harmony with a neighbor down the street.
Following just over six months of public preview and a continuous flow of user-driven enhancements from our rapidly growing community, I’m excited to announce the new Power BI will be generally available on July 24. But the news doesn’t stop there – we’re making four big announcements today:
The Power BI business analytics service (“Power BI 2.0”) will exit preview status, becoming a generally available service on July 24. This supersedes the Power BI for Office 365 service (“Power BI 1.0”), which we will continue to operate during a transition period as users migrate to the updated service.
Power BI Desktop, (known before today as Power BI Designer), will also exit preview and become generally available on July 24. We’ve renamed the product to better reflect the power and intent of this world-class business analytics tool.
Today we contributed the Power BI visualization framework and its complete library of visuals to the open source community under an MIT license – source code and more is available today on GitHub.
T. K. “Ranga” Rengarajan announced a new data service today, Apache Spark for HDInsight, our Hadoop service on Azure. Spark leverages main memory in contrast to the two-stage, disk-based MapReduce paradigm often used with data stored in Hadoop. Query performance over a Hadoop dataset can be 100 times faster with Spark. Last night we updated the Power BI service adding direct support for this new service enabling users to monitor, explore and visualize their HDInsight data in Power BI.
Throughout the Power BI preview period we’ve sustained a blistering pace of innovation. We update the Power BI service every week, adding new features, capabilities and at least one new third-party content pack – plus Power BI Desktop is updated each month.
The extensive list of new features and capabilities delivered over the six month preview period provides some indication of the scale of our investment in Power BI. It is evidence of our commitment to relentless execution to delivering value to our users with unmatched speed and agility.
Though our innovation pace has been high, it is more than sustainable and it is reasonable to expect acceleration. A meaningful percentage of our energy over the last year has been directed toward laying a solid foundation for a global-scale service that can support over a billion users – our aspiration. Laying that foundation was an exit criterion for declaring Power BI generally available. With the foundation in place, more energy will now flow to user-visible product and service enhancements.
Power BI and the disruptive nature of SaaS
We hung a banner in our building when we began work on the new Power BI service that says “5 seconds to sign up. 5 minutes to wow!” As a cloud-hosted, business intelligence and analytics service (“SaaS”), Power BI permits business users to directly connect with and gain insight from their business data.
This is game changing.
In the past, business intelligence solutions started with the installation and maintenance of servers and software. Then, BI professionals would build corporate BI solutions and business analysts would employ “self-service” BI tools to explore and analyze data. These would be published as interactive and operational reports, spreadsheets, dashboards and other analytical artifacts. They would (finally!) hold the potential to deliver value to the ultimate consumers – the business end users who make better business choices based on insights gleaned. That is not five minutes to wow.
This complex flow was mostly inevitable. Business data was locked up in applications and database systems controlled by IT, so any solution had to start with them. This is changing. Increasingly, and I would argue inevitably, business data is contained in SaaS services – Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, Workday, Marketo, MailChimp, Google Analytics, Zendesk and countless others. With their login credentials, business users have direct access to this data. The growth of SaaS has itself made it possible to offer business intelligence and analytics software, as a service.
We believe Power BI is, by a very wide margin, the most powerful business analytics SaaS service. And yet even the most non-technical of business users can sign up in five seconds, and gain insights from their business data in less than five minutes with no assistance, from anyone.
While even some legacy business intelligence solutions provided “connectors” for SaaS services, Power BI takes it a few steps further by providing complete, “out of the box” content packs for Power BI for these services. When a Power BI user connects to their Google Analytics data, for example, they get a curated collection of dashboards and reports that continuously update with the latest data from the user’s Google Analytics account. We are effectively acting as a team of IT, BI and business analysis professionals on behalf of the user.
The result is that more people can connect with and gain insight from their data, faster and more simply than ever before. What used to take days, weeks, months or even years of complex coordinated work now happens quickly.
Dozens of services have committed to delivering content packs for Power BI. Sixteen are available in Power BI today, and we are adding at least one new one every single week, steadily increasing the likelihood that any new user will find services they depend on from which they can begin gaining business insights.
Sounds good, but the proof is in the pudding – are users actually showing up, signing up and engaging with the service? In that regard, Power BI has exceeded even our most starry-eyed predictions. Over half a million unique users, across more than 45,000 companies spanning 185 countries have signed up for and used Power BI in the six months it’s been in preview. That would be a good decade worth of growth for a successful, last-generation business analytics software company. That’s the power of SaaS.
And we’re just getting started.
Power BI sets the standard for modern business intelligence
Beyond the inherent benefits of a SaaS-based approach, Power BI sets a new standard for “modern” business intelligence with a collection of capabilities completely unique in the industry:
Real-time dashboards and support for streaming data. Data is increasingly streaming from everything. With Power BI you can monitor streaming data sources via live, continuously updating visuals. Maintain an up-to-the-moment pulse on your business. Legacy business intelligence solutions are largely retrospective – and of course Power BI also provides rich and deep analysis of historical data like other BI solutions. But you wouldn’t want to drive your car looking only at your rearview mirror. You shouldn’t drive your business that way either.
Keep your data where it is. Though business data is increasingly contained in SaaS business applications, there is and probably always will be important data contained in applications and databases “on premises.” Power BI doesn’t require an organization to move or copy data to the cloud to benefit from Power BI. It’s a have your cake and eat it too kind of capability. Whether your data is on-premises or in the cloud, stored in a relational database or Hadoop, or resident in a business application that’s custom, packaged or SaaS, Power BI can send queries to the data versus pulling data to itself. You can do that too – and Power BI provides world-class extract, transform and load (ETL) capabilities. In some cases this may be preferred (as when the source database query performance is too slow for interactive data analysis). The point is, with Power BI you have a choice.
Cross-platform, native mobile apps. In addition to its rich Web client, there are native Windows, iPhone, iPad and Android apps that keep mobile users connected with their data, wherever they may be. As hard as it is to believe, other mainstream BI vendors still lack native mobile apps.
Natural language interface. Benefiting from years of groundbreaking natural language interaction work at Microsoft Research, Power BI permits users to simply ask questions of their data. As you type your question, visualizations appear and are successively refined as you continue to type. This capability, perhaps more than any other, has empowered end users to self-serve their business analytics needs. No need to learn complex query languages or master some gesture-based exploration tool. Just ask questions.
Completely open, but an integrated part of Microsoft’s comprehensive data platform. Across the Microsoft data platform there is bi-directional awareness of and integration with Power BI. For example, when a user creates a new Azure Data Warehouse, or a new Azure Stream Analytics solution, there is a one-click option to make that data available in Power BI. Conversely, if you have an existing HDInsight dataset fronted by Spark, or a tabular data model in SQL Server Analysis Services, there is a one-click option in Power BI to connect back to those sources of data. This makes it easy to compose very powerful data solutions and provides “one throat to choke” accountability – if the solution doesn’t work, you don’t have many vendors pointing fingers at each other. We don’t limit our support only to Microsoft solutions, but we make it easy to go that route if you desire.
Power BI Desktop
The Power BI service allows business users to sign up for a business analytics service, and to get value without requiring support from a BI professional or business analyst.
But as users have signed up for Power BI they’ve asked “how can I get my own data into Power BI?” and “how can I combine my Salesforce, Marketo and Google Analytics data into a set of reports and dashboards in Power BI?”
This is where Power BI Desktop comes in. Power BI Desktop (formerly known, until today, as Power BI Designer) is a powerful analytical tool for use by business analysts – with it analysts can connect to wide range of data sources; cleanse, transform and model interrelationships between the data; explore the resulting mashed up datasets and create beautiful, interactive reports. With a single click, these reports can be published to the Power BI service for use by end users.
On July 24th Power BI Desktop will exit preview and become generally available. Power BI Desktop is a free tool, downloadable from powerbi.com. While other vendors charge thousands of dollars per seat for this class of software, we prefer to make it widely and freely available ultimately resulting in far more content in Power BI, which leads to a larger and more engaged end user community.
Open sourcing the Power BI visualization stack and visuals
Today we contributed the source code of our visualization framework and the complete collection of native visuals supported by Power BI and Power BI Desktop to the open source community under the permissive MIT license. This is not a point in time snapshot, or some set of samples. This is the actual code base we are enhancing and using inside Power BI and Power BI Desktop – the project is available today on GitHub.
Want to build and have us add a new base visualization type to Power BI? Do it and send us a pull request. Want to enhance the behavior of the underlying visualization system? Ditto.
We made this move for many reasons, but perhaps the most important being that it paves the way for completely custom visualizations in Power BI and Power BI Desktop. We’ll soon add the ability to upload completely custom visuals to your Power BI tenant, or to attach them to a report. We hope to see a growing collection of visuals that can be used with Power BI.
Visualize big data with Power BI and Spark for Azure HDInsight
Spark leverages main memory in contrast to the two-stage, disk-based MapReduce paradigm often used with data stored in Hadoop. Query performance over a Hadoop dataset can be 100 times faster with Spark.
Since both services are powered by the cloud, you can deploy a Spark cluster in Azure HDInsight and visualize the backing Hadoop data in Power BI within minutes without investing in hardware or complex integration.
The complete Microsoft data platform
Microsoft continues to make it easier for customers to maximize their data dividends with our data platform and services. It’s never been easier to capture, transform, mash-up, analyze and visualize any data, of any size, at any scale, in its native format using familiar tools, languages and frameworks in a trusted environment on-premises and in the cloud.
If you haven’t joined the hundreds of thousands of Power BI users, you can sign up at PowerBI.com with any business email account to try it for free today. To try the public preview of Spark for Azure HDInsight, go to the Spark page and sign up.