Tag: IBM Training Partner India

Microsoft Azure Cloud Services, Uncategorized

Advancing Azure service quality with artificial intelligence: AIOps

We are going to share our vision on the importance of infusing AI into our cloud platform and DevOps process. Gartner referred to something similar as AIOps (pronounced “AI Ops”) and this has become the common term that we use internally, albeit with a larger scope. Today’s post is just the start, as we intend to provide regular updates to share our adoption stories of using AI technologies to support how we build and operate Azure at scale.

Why AIOps?

There are two unique characteristics of cloud services:

  • The ever-increasing scale and complexity of the cloud platform and systems
  • The ever-changing needs of customers, partners, and their workloads

To build and operate reliable cloud services during this constant state of flux, and to do so as efficiently and effectively as possible, our cloud engineers (including thousands of Azure developers, operations engineers, customer support engineers, and program managers) heavily rely on data to make decisions and take actions. Furthermore, many of these decisions and actions need to be executed automatically as an integral part of our cloud services or our DevOps processes. Streamlining the path from data to decisions to actions involves identifying patterns in the data, reasoning, and making predictions based on historical data, then recommending or even taking actions based on the insights derived from all that underlying data.

 Infusing AI into cloud platform and DevOps – with AI at the center of Customers, Engineering, and Services.
Figure 1. Infusing AI into cloud platform and DevOps.

The AIOps vision

AIOps has started to transform the cloud business by improving service quality and customer experience at scale while boosting engineers’ productivity with intelligent tools, driving continuous cost optimization, and ultimately improving the reliability, performance, and efficiency of the platform itself. When we invest in advancing AIOps and related technologies, we see this ultimately provides value in several ways:

  • Higher service quality and efficiency: Cloud services will have built-in capabilities of self-monitoring, self-adapting, and self-healing, all with minimal human intervention. Platform-level automation powered by such intelligence will improve service quality (including reliability, and availability, and performance), and service efficiency to deliver the best possible customer experience.
  • Higher DevOps productivity: With the automation power of AI and ML, engineers are released from the toil of investigating repeated issues, manually operating and supporting their services, and can instead focus on solving new problems, building new functionality, and work that more directly impacts the customer and partner experience. In practice, AIOps empowers developers and engineers with insights to avoid looking at raw data, thereby improving engineer productivity.
  • Higher customer satisfaction: AIOps solutions play a critical role in enabling customers to use, maintain, and troubleshoot their workloads on top of our cloud services as easily as possible. We endeavor to use AIOps to understand customer needs better, in some cases to identify potential pain points and proactively reach out as needed. Data-driven insights into customer workload behavior could flag when Microsoft or the customer needs to take action to prevent issues or apply workarounds. Ultimately, the goal is to improve satisfaction by quickly identifying, mitigating, and fixing issues.

 

AI for Cloud: AI Ops and AI-Serving Platform showing example use cases in AI for Systems, AI for DevOps, and AI for Customers.

Figure 2. AI for Cloud: AIOps and AI-Serving Platform.

AIOps

Moving beyond our vision, we wanted to start by briefly summarizing our general methodology for building AIOps solutions. A solution in this space always starts with data—measurements of systems, customers, and processes—as the key of any AIOps solution is distilling insights about system behavior, customer behaviors, and DevOps artifacts and processes. The insights could include identifying a problem that is happening now (detect), why it’s happening (diagnose), what will happen in the future (predict), and how to improve (optimize, adjust, and mitigate). Such insights should always be associated with business metrics—customer satisfaction, system quality, and DevOps productivity—and drive actions in line with prioritization determined by the business impact. The actions will also be fed back into the system and process. This feedback could be fully automated (infused into the system) or with humans in the loop (infused into the DevOps process). This overall methodology guided us to build AIOps solutions in three pillars.

AIOps methodologies: Data (Customer/System/DevOps), insights (Detect/Diagnose/Predict/Optimize), and actions (Mitigate/Avert future pain/Optimize usage config/Improve architecture & process).
Figure 3. AIOps methodologies: Data, insights, and actions.

AI for systems

Today, we’re introducing several AIOps solutions that are already in use and supporting Azure behind the scenes. The goal is to automate system management to reduce human intervention. As a result, this helps to reduce operational costs, improve system efficiency, and increase customer satisfaction. These solutions have already contributed significantly to the Azure platform availability improvements, especially for Azure IaaS virtual machines (VMs). AIOps solutions contributed in several ways including protecting customers’ workload from host failures through hardware failure prediction and proactive actions like live migration and Project Tardigrade and pre-provisioning VMs to shorten VM creation time.

Of course, engineering improvements and ongoing system innovation also play important roles in the continuous improvement of platform reliability.

  • Hardware Failure Prediction is to protect cloud customers from interruptions caused by hardware failures.  Microsoft Research and Azure have built a disk failure prediction solution for Azure Compute, triggering the live migration of customer VMs from predicted-to-fail nodes to healthy nodes. We also expanded the prediction to other types of hardware issues including memory and networking router failures. This enables us to perform predictive maintenance for better availability.
  • Pre-Provisioning Service in Azure brings VM deployment reliability and latency benefits by creating pre-provisioned VMs. Pre-provisioned VMs are pre-created and partially configured VMs ahead of customer requests for VMs. As we described in the IJCAI 2020 publication, As we described in the AAAI-20 keynote mentioned above,  the Pre-Provisioning Service leverages a prediction engine to predict VM configurations and the number of VMs per configuration to pre-create. This prediction engine applies dynamic models that are trained based on historical and current deployment behaviors and predicts future deployments. Pre-Provisioning Service uses this prediction to create and manage VM pools per VM configuration. Pre-Provisioning Service resizes the pool of VMs by destroying or adding VMs as prescribed by the latest predictions. Once a VM matching the customer’s request is identified, the VM is assigned from the pre-created pool to the customer’s subscription.

AI for DevOps

AI can boost engineering productivity and help in shipping high-quality services with speed. Below are a few examples of AI for DevOps solutions.

  • Incident management is an important aspect of cloud service management—identifying and mitigating rare but inevitable platform outages. A typical incident management procedure consists of multiple stages including detection, engagement, and mitigation stages. Time spent in each stage is used as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) to measure and drive rapid issue resolution. KPIs include time to detect (TTD), time to engage (TTE), and time to mitigate (TTM).

 Incident management procedures including Time to Detect (TTD), Time to Engage (TTE), and Time to Mitigate (TTM).
Figure 4. Incident management procedures.

As shared in AIOps Innovations in Incident Management for Cloud Services at the AAAI-20 conference, we have developed AI-based solutions that enable engineers not only to detect issues early but also to identify the right team(s) to engage and therefore mitigate as quickly as possible. Tight integration into the platform enables end-to-end touchless mitigation for some scenarios, which considerably reduces customer impact and therefore improves the overall customer experience.

  • Anomaly Detection provides an end-to-end monitoring and anomaly detection solution for Azure IaaS. The detection solution targets a broad spectrum of anomaly patterns that includes not only generic patterns defined by thresholds, but also patterns which are typically more difficult to detect such as leaking patterns (for example, memory leaks) and emerging patterns (not a spike, but increasing with fluctuations over a longer term). Insights generated by the anomaly detection solutions are injected into the existing Azure DevOps platform and processes, for example, alerting through the telemetry platform, incident management platform, and, in some cases, triggering automated communications to impacted customers. This helps us detect issues as early as possible.

For an example that has already made its way into a customer-facing feature, Dynamic Threshold is an ML-based anomaly detection model. It is a feature of Azure Monitor used through the Azure portal or through the ARM API. Dynamic Threshold allows users to tune their detection sensitivity, including specifying how many violation points will trigger a monitoring alert.

  • Safe Deployment serves as an intelligent global “watchdog” for the safe rollout of Azure infrastructure components. We built a system, code name Gandalf, that analyzes temporal and spatial correlation to capture latent issues that happened hours or even days after the rollout. This helps to identify suspicious rollouts (during a sea of ongoing rollouts), which is common for Azure scenarios, and helps prevent the issue propagating and therefore prevents impact to additional customers.

AI for customers

To improve the Azure customer experience, we have been developing AI solutions to power the full lifecycle of customer management. For example, a decision support system has been developed to guide customers towards the best selection of support resources by leveraging the customer’s service selection and verbatim summary of the problem experienced. This helps shorten the time it takes to get customers and partners the right guidance and support that they need.

AI-serving platform

To achieve greater efficiencies in managing a global-scale cloud, we have been investing in building systems that support using AI to optimize cloud resource usage and therefore the customer experience. One example is Resource Central (RC), an AI-serving platform for Azure that we described in Communications of the ACM. It collects telemetry from Azure containers and servers, learns from their prior behaviors, and, when requested, produces predictions of their future behaviors. We are already using RC to predict many characteristics of Azure Compute workloads accurately, including resource procurement and allocation, all of which helps to improve system performance and efficiency.

Looking towards the future

We have shared our vision of AI infusion into the Azure platform and our DevOps processes and highlighted several solutions that are already in use to improve service quality across a range of areas. Look to us to share more details of our internal AI and ML solutions for even more intelligent cloud management in the future. We’re confident that these are the right investment solutions to improve our effectiveness and efficiency as a cloud provider, including improving the reliability and performance of the Azure platform itself.

 

Note blog reference: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/blog/advancing-azure-service-quality-with-artificial-intelligence-aiops/

Uncategorized

Is your business ready to take supply chain management to the next level?

When you lack deep visibility and insight into your supply chain, you leave money on the table

It turns out what you don’t know as a manufacturer can and will hurt you. For too long, manufacturers have settled for siloed and inconsistent information, as well as manual processes, to understand and manage their supply chain. Why? Because for a long time, these systems were good enough to keep production going.

But plenty of manufacturers don’t want to settle for good enough. IDC predicts that by 2019, 50% of manufacturing supply chains will have benefited from digital transformation, and the remainder will be held back by outdated business models or functional structures. Smart manufacturers understand that supply chain transformation is necessary. They are connecting assets across their factories, gaining visibility into their supply chain, and acting on insights from increased visibility to address inefficiency, as well as increase customer satisfaction and margins.

Don’t accept operational inefficiencies as a limit on your business

Supply chain management is complex, so doing it right requires a solution that simplifies and consolidates disparate information, while retaining flexibility. Data from the sales process, suppliers, order fulfillment, product performance, and customer service all matter for a full understanding of the supply chain. The core tools for accomplishing this fall into three categories: IoT-enabled visibility and services, powerful analytics, and cloud-delivered data visualizations.

Like many aspects of manufacturing, IoT is the starting point. The best way to lower production costs is by using a single IoT-friendly platform to integrate back and front office processes. Using IoT-based modeling to create digital twins, manufacturers can understand in real-time the amount of wear and tear on parts and adjust designs in response. This insight can help identify simple inefficiencies like sourcing a part from the company that’s always supplied it, rather than buying a similarly-performing part at a lower cost from another supplier.

Powerful analytics is the next step in transforming your supply chain. A truly intelligent system for supply chain management dynamically adjusts distribution, as well as production, to accelerate the speed of delivery. By using built-in analytics and machine learning, public data like weather conditions can be used to create richer, more accurate schedules and delivery forecasts. On top of that, opportunities to consolidate or expedite shipments can be automatically identified using artificial intelligence—passing lower shipping and order fulfillment costs on to customers.

Finally, consolidating all this information won’t completely optimize your supply chain without the ability to easily visualize and manage it. That’s why a real-time and mobile-delivered view is so crucial. Understanding how to solve problems is hard enough; there’s no need to complicate it further by using different systems to identify where problems are occurring. Decision makers on the factory floor or in global headquarters need instant access to relevant information, and the collaborative power to communicate with or work alongside employees anywhere in the world. These investments in operations put manufacturers in position to embrace new technology and adjust to whatever business challenges they may be facing.

Get the tools to transform with Microsoft Dynamics 365

The power of a supply chain management and operations platform that combines all these capabilities at cloud speed and scale is obvious. Companies positioned to digitally transform their supply chains will see accelerated time to market and reduced cost to enter new markets or scale new lines of business. Microsoft supports flexibility in deployment, enabling you to leverage existing investments while expanding with either a cloud or a hybrid model that includes both on-prem and cloud systems. That can shorten deployment from months to days and ensure security and analytics capabilities are consistent across every location and tuned appropriately for every team.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 ends the artificial separation of ERP and CRM and makes it easy for employees to collaborate and even role-switch to engage customers or address supply chain issues. Only Dynamics 365 unites the front office and the back office with a single end-to-end system for managing every aspect of your business, all backed by industry-leading enterprise cloud. That means manufacturers can develop at the pace and scale that’s right for them, while taking advantage of current investments such as existing productivity and technology stacks. With Microsoft, consistent development practices and R&D investments combine to offer manufacturers rich analytics, embedded intelligence, partner-created applications, and the ability to collaborate worldwide.

Uncategorized

How Manufacturing Industry Transformed using Microsoft Dynamics 365

The future of manufacturing will be defined by the quality of investments companies are making today

In the not too distant past, efforts in manufacturing to optimize productivity and increase customer satisfaction were viewed as separate endeavors. Today, the convergence of physical and digital trends is disrupting these kinds of assumptions.

Manufacturers today care about integrated digital and physical systems, improved visibility, increased efficiency, additional flexibility, and lower costs. They want to connect equipment and factories, leveraging data from the factory floor to the customer call center to improve every aspect of their operations.

But this is just the beginning. Digitization is fundamentally changing the way manufacturers do business, enabling a customer-centric approach while optimizing operations. Digitally empowered manufacturers engage customers throughout the product lifecycle from design to field service. They sell value-add services to complement the product sales, opening new revenue streams and strengthening their customer relationships. And they are revolutionizing delivery of these differentiated services, using technology like augmented reality to combine the eyes of a technician in the field with the insights of an expert back at headquarters.

Capitalizing on these trends isn’t limited to large, well-resourced manufacturers. Across all kinds of manufacturing operations, the opportunity to digitize and transform your business has never been more accessible.

Imagine your business transformed

The Microsoft vision for supporting digital manufacturing embraces the seismic shifts in the industry today. We’ve created solutions that provide a unified and flexible approach across front office and production floor processes. Our approach enables transformation in six ways:

 

Optimize supply chain operations through better visibility and collaboration

By collecting, integrating, and visualizing global supply chain data worldwide, manufacturers gain better visibility into their operations from production to sales. For example, one of the world’s largest industrial automation firms found that by automating the collection and analysis of data from remote installations across the petroleum supply chain, they strengthened their competitive advantage with a faster time to market. Improved access to supply chain data is also the basis for better collaboration across production, supply, service, and sales. 

Streamline the management of assets, products, and production

With a consolidated view that unifies process oversight and provides real-time insight, manufacturers can institutionalize efficiency gains and use connected devices to monitor and resolve issues remotely. One leading manufacturer of industrial robots enabled 24-hour continuous uptime using this approach. The additional insights into production and customer usage also allow manufacturers to provide value-added services like ongoing monitoring and proactive support.

Engage customers in powerful new ways

To deliver personalized and contextual engagement across any channel, manufacturers must provide customers with more visibility and build trust through fast and convenient responses. This engagement approach is built on a combination of predictive analytics, the ability  to deliver value-added services at scale, and guided or self-directed service that’s relevant to customer needs. With the implementation of a connected platform for sales through service, a leading home technology manufacturer not only solved potential problems remotely before customers ever felt the impact, but provided custom differentiated offerings based on unique customer usage and purchasing history.

 Transform service centers into profit centers

Thanks to the ever-decreasing cost of IoT sensors, sophisticated mobile devices, and cloud-based data aggregation, manufacturers can improve service quality and margins by offering remote monitoring and proactive maintenance services that supplement break/fix support. By more intelligently coordinating technicians equipped with mobile and virtual reality tools, companies can leverage existing expertise and minimize costly engagements. A leading tire service and manufacturing company found that by combining customer records, technician availability, and back-end inventory in a single mobile-friendly system, it could provide a seamless user experience as well as improve its service delivery.

 

understand their business more deeply, from customer usage through supply chain sourcing and production. With IoT-enabled parts, assets, and products, manufacturers can gain the insights needed to innovate. Data from connected products and equipment can empower developers, engineers, and technicians to collaborate. For example, teams can identify overengineered or faulty components and track product usage in the field to improve future designs. When a leading information and communication technology company implemented remote monitoring, they decreased time to production as well as accelerated the cycle of innovation using a data-driven approach.

Empower employees to work more effectively

When a company can provide 360-degree views of customer assets and work order history, technicians are empowered by a better understanding of not only the job in front of them, but of other similar and successful field service engagements. This goes hand in hand with empowering service agents to provide instant feedback, using machine learning to find and follow similar cases for successful troubleshooting, and scheduling a visit or evaluation. A leading auto manufacturer wanted to save money by unifying their siloed customer service and customer engagement while providing employees with better tools to understand customer sentiment. To accomplish this, it implemented a system to connect production and project management with their customer relationship management systems in order to deliver personalized service and recommendations to their customers. 

Introducing Microsoft Dynamics 365

For manufacturers, Microsoft Dynamics 365 ends the artificial divide between CRM and ERP systems and supplements necessary capabilities with rich analytics, embedded intelligence, and the convenience people expect from consumer apps on their phone or tablet. Dynamics 365 unites the front office and the back office with a single end-to-end system for managing every aspect of your business, at the pace and scale that’s right for you. Digital transformation isn’t accomplished overnight and leveraging current investments is a key component of any successful approach. With Microsoft, you can optimize across all your processes while laying the foundation for connecting advanced technology in the future.

 

Blog reference: https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/dynamics365/bdm/2017/05/30/manufacturing-transformed-microsoft-dynamics-365
Uncategorized

Maintain business continuity with Dynamics 365 Field Service

In today’s dynamic business climate, field service teams are still expected to maintain infrastructure and customer equipment, often with fewer onsite technicians and limited face-to-face interaction with customers. That means adjusting one’s field service model to continue providing proactive service—sending in the right people and tools at the right time—while being prepared with the processes and technology to do more with less from the field.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist can help organizations provide proactive service at the speed, volume, and quality customers expect, while reducing latency and cost burdens of onsite service. To drive these key business outcomes, we’ve invested in the following areas for the 2020 release wave 1:

  • Increasing technician success by enabling field service inspections, technician time tracking capabilities, and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist
  • AI-infused insights to improve incident categorization and connected IoT capabilities
  • Enhanced proactive service delivery with tighter integration between Field Service and Microsoft Power Automate, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, and Intune for Field Service Mobile
  • Optimized resource scheduling with the new, next generation scheduling board

Increasing technician success

We know that for onsite visits, enabling technicians to achieve a first-time fix is the ultimate goal, while also leveraging the technician’s valuable onsite time to drive increased proactive customer service. To that end, we’ve added the following capabilities:

  • Now in preview, the new Inspections feature allows technicians to analyze and capture essential data while performing Field Service inspections, which can better assure quality, safety, and end-customer visibility.
  • Enhanced the technician’s ability to track their time in both automated and manual ways, directly within Field Service rather than in separate applications. In addition to the ability to track time, we’ve enhanced it with time capture precision to ensure the most granular data is available to derive the insights that can help to ensure better scheduling and utilization.
  • We have updated Dynamics 365 Remote Assist with enhanced data capture and sharing. When technicians use a Microsoft HoloLens headset when performing inspections or fixing equipment, they can record and share the session with experts located elsewhere, enhancing real-time team collaboration with the ability to review onsite work, helping to improve quality of service and first-time fix rates.

Technicians can now share files with experts who are helping them with their site visit

These new Field Service and Remote Assist features help ensure technician success and optimize resource utilization, creating confidence in an uncertain business landscape.

AI-infused insights

We’re enhancing Field Service with AI to help technicians properly categorize incidents, which leads to improved business metrics like parts inventory and availability, technician scheduling, and increased first-time fix rates—driving down the overall cost of service for customers.

Device telemetry and service maintenance data helps to make intelligent decisions around dispatching technicians, however analyzing and prioritizing IoT alerts can be challenging. To address this, we’ve enhanced IoT alerting in several ways to increase proactive service delivery.

  • Using AI-generated suggestions (preview) based on the past service history data, organizations can easily identify which IoT alerts are most important and can drive the biggest impact to increased proactive service delivery through connected field service.

AI-generated suggestions (preview) can help organizations identify which IoT alerts are the most important

  • We’ve also added time series insights and a summary of the measures for the alert making it quick and easy to view and analyze the service history and take action.

AI generated suggestions are based on past service history data

Enhancing proactive service delivery

Improving proactive service with remote delivery helps to increase customer satisfaction and reduce overall service costs. We’re enhancing proactive service delivery with tighter integration between Field Service and several enabling Microsoft technologies, including:

  • Integration with Power Automate (preview) to expand the automation workflow capabilities to the massive library of connectors and robust logic building user experience.
  • Aligning asset management capabilities and integration with Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management to complete the field service workflow scenarios, end to end, all in Microsoft Dynamics 365.
  • Intune for Field Service Mobile to enable IT organizations to easily manage the Field Service Mobile app.

Optimizing resource scheduling

Resource Scheduling Optimization (RSO) automatically schedules jobs to the people, equipment, and facilities best equipped to complete them. Updates include:

  • new, next generation schedule board (preview) and resource management features to help service teams more quickly and efficiently manage technicians at all stages of the service journey. The new schedule board has a modern user experience with greatly improved performance and a fluid drag and drop functionality.
  • A simplified and improved experience for managing technician work hours and time off, including a Microsoft Power Apps control that lets customers modify technician time through even more simplified app experiences. In addition, we’ve added requirement dependencies to schedule work orders in sequence increasing first-time fix rates and technician and customer satisfaction.

The new schedule board has a modern user experience with greatly improved performance and fluid drag and drop functionality

  • new dashboard for managers and dispatchers to surface insights that can help them monitor utilization and identify optimizations for time utilization.

A new dashboard for managers and dispatchers helps them monitor utilization and identify optimizations for time utilization

Delivering more agile, simplified, and proactive field service

Siemens Smart Infrastructure intelligently connects energy systems, buildings, and industries to adapt and evolve the way people live and work, helping companies make buildings safe, comfortable, energy-efficient, and economical. Siemens is deploying Dynamics 365 Field Service to support more than 12,000 employees—including 7,500 service technicians—with the tools, processes, and agility they need to quickly and proactively handle customer issues and ensure smooth communication. Now, by taking advantage of capabilities such as proactive service delivery, resource scheduling, AI-infused insights, and more, Siemens is empowered to be more nimble and able to react to disruptive changes while continuing to provide high quality service to their customers. To learn more about the Siemens journey, read the customer story.

Like Siemens, Microsoft can help you and your service teams continue to meet ongoing demand for service despite new challenges. Explore the resources below to learn how Dynamics 365 Field Service and  Dynamics 365 Remote Assist help ensure your ongoing success so you and your team continue to flourish long after this crisis.

You can contact Trident Information Systems for Demo of Dynamics 365 for Fields Services

Blog Source : https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/dynamics365/bdm/2020/04/28/maintain-business-continuity-with-dynamics-365-field-service/
Retail ERP Software, Retail POS Solution

7 tips to deliver better online grocery shopping

The boom of online grocery shopping has been a long time coming. In 2015, more than one third (37%) of shoppers in Asia-Pacific regularly shopped for food online, Nielsen reports. Although in the rest of the world online grocery shopping was less common, there was already a growing trend, which has only become more pronounced. According to projections by Deutsche Bank, online grocery shopping is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.2%, which is significant if compared with a 2.5% CAGR for total grocery sales.

Supermarkets have had time to prepare for the shift to online, but not all of them have stayed on top of trends. When, due to necessity, consumers worldwide moved massively towards online shopping, some supermarkets found themselves suddenly out of the race. Today, the businesses who didn’t believe and invest in omni-channel are facing the harsh consequences of their decisions.

Online shopping has been gaining ground quickly among all ages and geographies, and there is no reason to believe this popularity will fade in the upcoming months. This means there is no better time than today to invest in improving your e-commerce capabilities.

Here are seven tips to get you started.

1. Focus on speed and ease of use

Simplicity and usability of the platform should be your top goals:

  • Make it easy for people to registerfind the products they need, add items to the cart, review and edit the order and pay.
  • Enable filtering per sub-groups of items to speed up search. Your customers would rather not have scroll through a hundred-item long list of “bread and pastries” to find the apricot-filled croissants they are looking for.
  • Make sure you include all relevant product information. Feature high-quality pictures, and clearly label brand names, price, ingredients with nutritional value and allergens, and pack size.
  • Include expiry dates wherever possible. If a shopper knows that the Greek yogurt lasts three more weeks, they might buy three packs instead of one.
  • Support returning shoppers. Give customers the possibility to recreate previous orders quickly and activate shopping lists where people can add staples and family favorites. Allow registered customers to see their buying history and to share the basket with other family members.
  • Ensure short page load times. If your site is too slow to load, buyers may abandon their cart without completing the purchase.

2. State the important information up front

How annoyed will your online shopper be when he finds out that his postcode is not eligible for delivery, after he spent a full hour adding products to the cart? For retailers, it pays off to be clear and provide all needed information from the start. Buyers should be aware of shipping prices and timesdelivery restrictions, geographical areas included in the service and special conditions before they have added a single item to their cart.

When it’s time to check out, make sure that all the steps are clearly labelled, and that shoppers know what’s coming up in the process. Consider adding lines that clarify where the customer is at, such as “You can still modify your order in the next step” or “By clicking here, you confirm your order and accept to pay. You won’t be able to modify your order afterwards”. Consider adding a progress bar that shows the various steps (“Customer details” -> “Shipping” -> “Payment information” -> “Review order” -> “Complete and pay”).

Once the order has been placed, include an “order completed” page where all the key information is summarized: items purchased, delivery and payment information, time of order, and what the customer should expect (an email? A call? A link to track the shipment?).

3. Think of the different platforms

Today, more consumers access websites from mobiles than from computers. According to data from marketing site The Drum, last year 63% of traffic and 53% of sales on retailers’ eCommerce sites happened via mobile. As the preference for mobile shopping is only going to get more common, you should ensure that your website performs well on mobile devices. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Is my e-commerce site responsive?
  • Are the buttons big and easy to tap? Are the text fields large and easy to type into?
  • Are pictures clear? Can people easily zoom in to see extra details? Is it easy to move through different images?
  • Is all information visible on small screens, or do some lines disappear or end up off screen?
  • Can customers easily move between items and categories?
  • Is the payment process simple and easy to follow?

Many consumers start a transaction on a device and continue it on another one. If when they resume the transaction they lose all the items they had already added to the cart, they may not be bothered to start over again – and you’ll lose that transaction. Enable saving the cart for logged in customers, so they can easily pick up transactions on different devices, at their pace and convenience.

4. Make it easy to navigate

On your e-commerce site you can easily display a larger product selection than in your physical locations. If you decide to go for the “endless aisles” style, make sure you organize the selection so that customers can easily find what they need.

  • Offer top-level categories that can be accessed from the top menu.
  • Enable customers to filter and sort items by price, brand, group, review scores, etc.
  • Make sure information is easy to skim through. Use bullet points and organize information consistently (first ingredients, then package size, then weight, then expiry date…) so users can find what they need at a glance.
  • Make sure the “buy” button is clearly visible. Add a checkmark or confirmation text to clarify when an item has been added to the basket.
  • Include a search function with predictive suggestions and auto corrects (“Did you mean…?”). Your customer may call “cilantro” what you call “coriander” on your site; you wouldn’t want her to leave without it just because the search gave no results.

5. Offer flexible delivery

Offer several delivery options and time slots, and be specific with your delivery times. The best practice is to offer precise delivery windows, and allow people pick the one that best fits their schedule. The more precise you are, the more likely you are customers will decide to shop with you. Nielsen’s “Global Connected Commerce Report” advises offering 30-minute interval windows – provided you can stick to your promises, and ensure delivery within the selected time frame.

How should you ship the products? Food retailers worldwide have been experimenting with different delivery methods. Which one(s) you should implement will depend on your customers’ demands, as well as on the local context and competitive landscape. Do your customers prefer to get their products delivered home? Would they rather use a third-party delivery station, such as a refrigerated locker? Do they want to order online and pick up in-store? Can you support picking up products at the curbside, or even via drive-thru? The more delivery options you can offer, the likelier you are to satisfy all demands. What if you don’t have the infrastructure to manage timely delivery and distribution of your goods? Then you should consider partnering up with distribution agents. This model, made popular by tech companies like Instacart, has already been successfully adopted by many supermarkets.

6. Guarantee high quality

Research by Nielsen shows that concerns over the quality of fresh items and worries about the risk of spoilage during delivery are two of the main barriers to online food shopping. To help consumers overcome these concerns,

  • Offer delivery options that preserve product quality. Refrigerated lockersone-hour delivery, and click and collect within a specific pick-up window are some of the options to ensure freshness while offering customers high flexibility.
  • Provide detailed information for fresh produce. This means including not only a description, but also freshness labels that say how many days the product will last after it is delivered.
  • Solicit feedback, and feature customer reviews under each product your website.
  • Allow customers to exchange the products, or get their money back, if the food does not meet their expectations at delivery.

7. Make it all work together seamlessly

When you are selling products online, you will be judged for more than just the quality of your products. If your website crashes, if the delivery service runs late, if a product description is incorrect, if the refrigerated locker where you deliver products breaks down, customers will hold you responsible. Convenience is a core element in consumers’ decision to shop for grocery online. A poor experience, a snag in the process, and you risk losing a customer forever.

It pays off to analyze and future-proof your whole chain, from production, to the technology you use, to accuracy of product information, to physical delivery, and ensure that every step of the process is smooth, efficient, and up to standards.

Online grocery shopping has moved beyond its tipping point. Although it’s hard to predict what will happen tomorrow, we can expect that grocery e-commerce will continue its upward trend. Retailers who want to shape the market and win over competitors must move quickly and fearlessly. If you need advice getting ready for the digital future of grocery shopping, do not hesitate to contact us.

Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

THE TOP 10 REASONS WHY SMBs SHOULD INVEST IN THE CLOUD

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are lagging behind their enterprise counterparts when it comes to cloud adoption. With the new year (and new decade) fast underway, a recent Microsoft study showed that more than 96% of enterprises are using the cloud, compared to only 78% for SMBs. And while the use of cloud-based productivity apps like Office 365 has steadily grown among these smaller companies, their continued reliance on legacy software in key business applications such as ERP or accounting is impeding them from competing effectively with today’s top players.

Given this situation, moving to the cloud should be an obvious priority for SMBs, but many myths and misconceptions still exist regarding the benefits of cloud technology. Below are the ten most crucial and game-changing benefits that SMBs have reported after investing in cloud solutions.

1 –  Greater profit and ROI

Simply put, companies that move to the cloud make more money. And not by a small percentage, either. SMBs that invest in the cloud report up to 25% growth in revenue and up to 2x the profits over those who don’t. Embracing the cloud is simply a better path to faster growth. Additionally, cloud deployments provide a greater return on investment (ROI) than traditional on-premises software projects, especially in ERP and CRM. For example, Nucleus Research determined that companies that use Microsoft Dynamics 365 see a return of $16.97 for every $1 spent. That’s well above the average for on-premise ERP and CRM applications.

2 – Lower costs and CapEx

Cloud subscription models eliminate up-front capital expenditures (CapEx) like the high cost of hardware and software licenses for projects like ERP software implementations. They also eliminate server and infrastructure setup, update, and maintenance fees—not to mention the resources saved on software upgrades, energy costs, and underutilized computing resources

3 – Unparalleled business flexibility

Cloud software allows small businesses to remain always-on regardless of location. In today’s mobile and cloud-first world, the ability to be productive on any phone, tablet, or laptop provides the flexibility required to quickly adapt to changing information and business needs. This means more agile operations and happier customers

4 – Faster IT innovation

The hassle and cost of routine IT maintenance tasks can be effectively offloaded to the cloud, enabling IT resources to focus on more strategic tasks like addressing problems, improving user experiences, fostering user adoption and best practices, and getting more value out of systems and processes

5 – Seamless, automatic software updates

With cloud computing, all software updates are handled automatically, so critical systems always have the latest functionality and security features. This effectively ensures that all the benefits of a vendor’s ongoing R&D nvestments are transferred to their customer’s business, without that business having to dedicate any time or additional resources

6 – Cost-effective scalability

SMBs need increased flexibility to grow and scale without hassle. With the cloud, as an SMB adds users, generates more transactions, or adds more data, services dynamically scale to manage the workload. This eliminates the need to pay for more hardware or maintenance to support business growth. As a bonus, SMBs only use the energy they need for their cloud apps. Since servers aren’t running idle waiting to be utilized, operations become more energy efficient, reducing the carbon footprint of the business.

7 – Improved collaboration and productivity

Digital, cloud-based workspaces offer the opportunity to collaborate more effectively and remove data silos to enable greater employee productivity. Additionally, cloud-based office productivity suites and all-in-one business management solutions possess integration capabilities that simply can’t be matched by on-premises software.

Cloud computing also allows teams to be productive, regardless of their location. This enables businesses to offer flexible working arrangements that create a healthier work/life balance and happier employees without sacrificing productivity.

8 – Seamless software integration

Cloud applications are typically compatible with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that simplify integration, while automation tools like Microsoft Flow facilitate stitching them together without any custom code. Data and systems can be connected like never before, resulting in new levels of speed and efficiency.

9 – Superior security and data protection

Small businesses are the most common victims of security breaches. In a recent study by ComScore, over 40% of small businesses were worried about data security before moving to the cloud. After making the switch, 94% of businesses reported security benefits they had been unable to achieve with their previous on-premises resources.

Furthermore, physical hardware protection has always been a challenge for SMBs. Laptops get lost or stolen all the time. In addition to the replacement costs, there is the even greater cost of losing important or sensitive data. When storing and backing up data in the cloud, however, data is available and protected regardless of what happens to personal devices.

10 – Increased competitiveness

Moving to the cloud gives SMBs access to enterprise-class technologies that were previously only available to the industry’s top players. With the cloud, any business can run on the exact same systems used by the largest, most sophisticated companies in the world, enabling them to innovate and act faster than competitors that manage on-premises legacy systems.

In conclusion, with cloud software now available that is purpose-built for SMBs to run their sales, marketing, service, accounting, operations, supply chain, and project management activities—all from a single, connected solution infused with AI and advanced analytics—there’s never been a better time for small and medium-sized businesses to make the move to the cloud.

Connect with our cloud expert for any query or requirement at –  info@tridentinfo.com

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

New AI features connect and extend insights across the organization

Today we’re unveiling new and enhanced artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities across Dynamics 365 applications, as well as a new solution to help project-centric services organizations transform their operations.

Joining more than 400 new and updated features in the 2020 wave 1 release, these new capabilities expand a fast-growing set of applications powered by AI-driven insights, and further propel our vision to empower every organization to unify data across the business and use it to power personalized customer experiences and processes.

Personalize customer experiences with unified data and unmatched time to insight

Customers expect personalized and consistent experiences across every touchpoint. Many organizations, however, struggle to modernize the customer experience, often due to disconnected systems and data siloes that can’t deliver the full picture of the customer’s journey across websites, purchases, service calls, and mobile apps.

Updates to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, Microsoft’s customer data platform (CDP), will help solve these issues. We’re introducing new first and third-party data connections to further enrich customer profiles that can be updated and activated in real-time, as well as enabling deeper insights with Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics.

Customer Insights will now uniquely enrich profiles with a combination of proprietary audience intelligence and 3rd party data sources such as demographics and interests, firmographics, market trends, and product and service usage data. Customers can also integrate Microsoft Forms Pro, the simple, powerful enterprise survey solution, to bring in the valuable voice of the customer across channels, allowing organizations to act on insights based on changing customer behavior and perception. All of this comes together to create a holistic, 360-degree view of a customer and to update those customer profiles and activities in real-time enabling organizations to know their customers and improve engagement.

Customer Insights is built on a powerful and flexible platform that enables full extensibility. Organizations can derive deeper insights by using Azure Synapse Analytics, which combines customer data with enterprise and streaming data to improve data completeness, run high-speed analytical processing, and build custom machine learning models. This allows organizations to predict customer needs with insights and get guidance on the next best action to reduce churn and capitalize on revenue opportunities for the lifetime of a customer relationship. Organizations can act upon these insights in real-time across multiple destinations through prebuilt APIs to enable onsite clienteling, website personalization, dynamic marketing campaigns, and effective ad targeting.

As part of the wave 1 release, we’re expanding the availability of Customer Insights to government cloud computing (GCC) environments helping to improve the citizen experiences essential to modern government. This means our government and public customers with higher compliance needs can now leverage Customer Insights to better understand and interact with citizens, empower employees, and transform cities at scale.

Automate sales forecasting with predictive analytics

In addition to expanded AI capabilities on our customer data platform, we’re extending the ability for sales professionals to forecast sales more accurately and introducing a new, unified engagement center for inside sales representatives.

Available now for Dynamics 365 Sales and for Dynamics 365 Sales Insights, new manual and predictive forecasting capabilities empower sales organizations to have a better understanding of the pipeline, more accurately predict results, and gain visibility into future performance.

The predictive forecasting capabilities enable the proactive decision-making needed to meet sales goals. Dynamics 365 does this by extracting patterns from customer relationship management (CRM) data, current and historical leads, won or lost opportunities, contacts, accounts, customer interactions such as emails and calls, and more data sources, and then projecting these patterns into the future. Best of all, anyone can access the insights, no data scientists or tech experts needed (a big change from some other forecasting systems).

Dynamics 365 Sales dashboard with sales forecasting for FY2019 per quarter.

With a new engagement center designed to accelerate sales, we’re giving each inside seller a streamlined way to quickly triage, research, and engage new leads or opportunities. This provides them with their own prioritized work queue to take action on the highest priority leads and tasks based on built-in predictive scoring from Dynamics 365 Sales Insights and new, configurable sales cadences.

The experience helps sellers stay in the context of Dynamics 365 and quickly move from one lead or opportunity to the next in an AI-prioritized work queue, without needing to switch views to take the next best action. Additional embedded AI capabilities offer sellers a path to a warm introduction, and guidance from the assistant.

Dynamics 365 Sales Insights customer Regina Murphy profile.

Transform the back office with AI-infused finance insights

Not only are we expanding AI capabilities for customer and sales insights, we’re also bringing the power of AI to the finance department.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance Insights, coming to preview in May, accelerates your digital transformation by bringing the power of AI into your finance processes. As organizations look to make decisions rapidly, reduce risk, and focus on strategic initiatives, it’s critical to free finance from repetitive, time consuming and low value daily activities. Leveraging the power of AI, Finance Insights enables you to not only quickly understand and act on your company’s cash position, but also to take proactive action to improve it. Menial tasks are automated or removed, the barrier of developing or hiring AI-expertise is bypassed, and you’re left with insights to move your business forward.

Dynamics 365 Finance AI-infused Finance Insights daily cash on hand graph.

Our continued investment in expanding AI capabilities across Dynamics 365 helps your organization accelerate digital transformation initiatives while empowering employees with insights to drive better business outcomes every day.

Optimize project success and profitability with the ability to drive operational excellence across service-centric organizations

How people work today has changed, as has the way organizations run their business operations. Companies across all industries are innovating business models to support project-centric service offerings. And while business optimization has gotten easier with the rise of mobile and cloud technology, organizations continue to stitch together systems and struggle with managing data across disparate systems. These data silos within project-centric businesses and teams are negatively impacting business model transformation, customer acquisition, employee retention, project delivery, and business profitability.

Today we’re announcing a new Dynamics 365 application that connects cross-functional project teams, providing the visibility, collaboration, and insight needed to drive the success of project-centric organizations. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operationswhich will be generally available on October 1, 2020, delivers everything needed to optimize operations from prospect to cash, all in one application.

Dynamics 365 Project Operations timeline of 10 day project in task view currently in discovery phase.

Dynamics 365 Project Operations is built on our unified business cloud and leverages our rich-history across front and back office, as well as project management. We’re in a unique position to connect project-centric teams around actionable data. By applying the power of Microsoft Project together with Dynamics 365, Microsoft is developing the next generation of tools to reinvent how project-centric organizations operate.

Connect with us for Dynamics CRM Solution at info@tridentinfo.com

Blog Source: https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/dynamics365/bdm/2020/02/19/new-ai-features-connect-and-extend-insights-across-the-organization/

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