Accessing Power BI Dashboard Information on Apple Watch

Since we live in a connected world now, we expect access to information all the time, wherever we may be. Luckily, our smartphones, being an extension of ourselves, make sure that we get information as and when we ask for it. Having said that, smart watches, the extension of our phones, and thus of us, have made accessing information even quicker and easier. (You knew that already, didn’t you?) With just a flick of our wrist, and perhaps a press of a button, we get a quick glance of what we are looking for.

The Apple Watch has many functions, and you are perhaps familiar with almost all of them, or at least the ones that you care for. However, did you know that you can display information from your Power BI dashboards on your Apple Watch? No need to pull out your phone out of your pocket, open the Power BI app, and finally open the relevant dashboard to look for information. (That’s way too much effort! :))

How to Make It Happen

If you have the Power BI app on your iPhone, the Apple Watch will automatically get installed on your watch. However, that doesn‚Äôt mean that all of your dashboards are automatically available on your watch also. If you open the Power BI app on your watch, this is the message you’ll get:

Photo

 

Which means that you need to sync the dashboards you want on your watch from your phone. This is how you sync a dashboard:

In your iPhone Power BI app, open the dashboard you want to sync, and press the three dots/.

When you do that, you get a pop up menu. The last option on that menu is “Sync with watch”. Just select that option, and your dashboard will be on your watch!

Once synced, this is what it looks like on the Apple Watch.

 

Numbers Only

Keep in mind that (as of now) the Apple Watch Power BI app is only going to show you numbers and KPIs – basically, anything that’s not a visualization. If you sync a dashboard that contains only visualizations, you will get this message:

 

Accessibility

Digression: If you know anything about me, you know that I am always looking at ways people with disabilities would access an app or feature.

For many people with disabilities, accessing information on their phones can be tedious and cumbersome. The Apple Watch can be a very good way for them to look at numbers very quickly with minimal effort. Blind people or anyone with hand tremors or motor skills issues can use Siri to open the app and then use the crown to scroll through the tiles. They can also enable VoiceOver (Settings->General->Accessibility->VoiceOver) on their watch so Apple Watch could read information from the tiles to them when they tap on the watch screen. This video shows how VoiceOver can be turned on, and then used, along with Siri, to open Power BI, and go through each tile with minimal effort.

Awkward note: I start showing things at around the 1 minute mark in the video below, so if you are weirded out by my incredibly beautiful yet hairy arm, it’s okay to look away for the first minute. ūüôā

Conclusion

Obviously the Power BI app for the Apple Watch is not meant to get detailed insights, but if you are always looking for the latest¬†“numbers”, whether before entering a meeting, while eating lunch at the cafeteria, during commute to and from work, or while stressing about work at home or social situations because you haven’t embraced¬†inner peace yet,¬†¬†this app can work wonders and save you some time &¬†effort, without interrupting the current task you are focussed on.

 

Visualize Daily Data In A Calendar In Power BI & Dynamics 365

If you are a long time user of CRM (for Dynamics 365), you’ve probably noticed that there are lots of new ways now of displaying and comprehending information. With Power BI’s out of the box integration with CRM, it is so easy to bring in additional visualizations to get more perspectives and insights. Gone are the days of dashboards that consisted only of static pie and bar charts. Not that anything’s wrong with looking at traditional pie and bar charts! In fact, in many cases, simple visualizations are much more effective than flashy “cool” controls, but there are times when information presented in a different¬†format may¬†trigger newer ways of processing information, and in turn, help us with better decision making.

Beyondsoft Calendar Visualization

One of the controls that was recently introduced in¬†the custom visual store is Beyondsoft’s Calendar¬†visualization. This is one of the simplest yet extremely useful controls that can visually provide important information on how busy (or not) your days are.¬†From your dataset, it looks at one date field (date a sale was made, for example), one measure field (revenue, for example), and a bunch of tooltip fields.¬†What’s unique about this¬†visualization is that it takes into account the highest and lowest values for a given month, and¬†shades the background color from light to dark. The higher the value for a given day is, the darker the calendar day is.

Click to enlarge.

 

You see what I mean? In one quick glance, you can tell that the 2nd, 9th, 11th, and 19th, were super busy. In fact, 19th was the busiest. Also, the first half of the month was the busier than the second half.

Here’s another view:

Click to enlarge.

 

The gray¬†in this month’s view indicates no numbers. Another way of seeing that the beginning of the month, we had no business (GASP!), but then it picked up on the 21st, and got really busy by the end of the month.

How Do You Create It?

First, you add the Beyondsoft Calendar visualization from here.

Once you have it, drop the visualization on the canvas, and add your date and measure fields.

Next, set the colors for the “spectrum” under the Format tab.

 

Feel free to change other formatting values, but essentially, your calendar visualization is ready!

Who Is It For?

  • Well, it’s for everyone. Here are some examples I can think of.
  • Businesses that track daily sales. A bike shop, coffee shop, restaurant, etc.
  • Businesses that process orders per day. Print shops, for example.
  • Not for profits that work with clients and are required to work on cases on a daily basis.
  • A disability resource center that provides accommodations and prepares Braille, captions or other services to its disabled clients.
  • Organizations that work with volunteers, and need to track daily volunteers hours.
    • Speaking of volunteers, seeing how busy certain days of the month get, this calendar can provide insights into when an organization should get volunteers to take care of busy/seasonal periods.

The Best Part

You use this visualization in a Power BI dashboard which can be displayed in CRM for Dynamics 365! You don’t have to go to Power BI to look at this information. Here’s my Power BI dashboard displayed in Dynamics 365.

Click to enlarge.

Quick Additional Note

This visualization shows only one month’s (the first month in your dataset) data. In order to go through other months, create a slicer and use it with this calendar.

Click to enlarge.

 

Does this visualization excite you? How do you plan to use it? Let me know in the comments below!

Have other questions about Dynamics 365? Drop me a line!

Quick Tip: Using Annotations in Power BI To Add Notes

In the Power BI mobile app, Annotations are what let you write hand written notes on a Power BI graph, and share with others. Why would you want to do that?

  1. To ask a question about a certain territory or product.
  2. To give kudos to someone within your team.
  3. To come up with a plan of action based on certain trends you are noticing via a Power BI report/ graph.
  4. To let others know that their attention is needed.
  5. Sometimes, you just want to ask someone a simple question, and waiting for a weekly meeting to happen so you could ask that question may not be a viable option.

Annotating is simple. All you do is click the “Pencil” icon on the top right, and start writing.

This short video below shows how quick and easy it is to not only write note, but also share annotations with others.

 

This is especially helpful if you are using the free version of Power BI because just recently Microsoft made sharing available only to Pro users.

Note:¬†The sharing via Annotations uses the mobile OS’s native sharing mechanism. Essentially, it is taking a screenshot and letting you share it via email, text messaging, and other apps.

Image Gallery:

 

 

Set Up Self Scheduling For Your Customers With Microsoft Bookings

You have many customers who you see on a daily basis. Typically, these customers call your office, speak to the front desk person, and get an appointment scheduled. The front desk person has access to all of your employees’ calendars, and they go through the requested employee’s calendar to find an available slot. While that’s happening, there’s another person waiting in line (on hold) to get their appointment booked. Oh, and also, the appointments can only be booked between 8 AM and 4 PM- during office hours (while your human front desk person is available to take calls).

What if you could let your customers schedule their appointments themselves without having them to call the office? How convenient would it be for them (and you) to schedule an appointment any time of the day? It would be a relief too for people who don’t like talking on the phone. (like me!)

Picture the following scenarios:

  • Dentist’s office: New and existing patients call all the time to book appointments.
  • Auto body shop: Customers need an appointment to get work done on their cars.
  • Educational institution: Students need to schedule a meeting with their teachers, professors, advisors.
  • Not for profit organization: You work with victims of abuse. Your clients would like to meet with their case managers when they need help.
  • Bike shop: Your current customers want to schedule an appointment for a tune-up. New customers want to come to the shop to look at bikes.
  • Wealth Managers/ Tax Consultants: Your clients want advise on how to manage their wealth; need to meet with you so you could help them file their taxes.

You see what’s happening here? We are surrounded by businesses/establishments that require us to meet with them in person to get our work done. As an institution that caters to the needs of others, it is our responsibility to make things more comfortable and easier for our customers. For starters, we can let our customers schedule their own appointments!

Exit light. Enter Microsoft Bookings.

If you are an Office 365 customer, especially Business Premium, you may have seen a new product called Microsoft Bookings in your suite. You can use this product to easily set up self-scheduling for your customers. Here is what it does:

  • ¬†Provides a web interface for your customers that they can use to schedule their appointments with either specific employees in your office or anyone (random selection). It finds available time on your employees’ calendars and lets customers schedule appointments in those slots.
  • ¬†Lets you set work days & hours for the business and individual employees so that customers don’t schedule anything outside of those days and hours.
  • Lets you setup all services you offer. Customers can pick the service they want to schedule an appointment for.
  • Sends confirmation and reminder emails to both employee and customer.
  • Allows cancellation and rescheduling of appointments.
  • Provides a calendar view of how busy your employees are.

Who is it for?

  • Definitely small and medium sized businesses. Businesses that may not have the resources to implement a full fledged scheduling portal. Microsoft Bookings is a straightforward solution for them to help their customers with self scheduling.
  • Smaller groups/departments within larger companies that don’t have self scheduling on their portals yet. These groups can use Microsoft Bookings as an interim solution until their company moves to an enterprise-wide platform.
  • Not for profits/ educational institutions. Anyone who wants to schedule meetings with their clients/students/parents.
  • Others!

What it doesn’t have (yet)

Currently, Microsoft Bookings operates as a standalone solution. However, since it is an Office 365 product, we should see it integrate with Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Flow in the near future. An appointment in Microsoft Bookings will most likely be able to sync to CRM for Dynamics 365 or have Microsoft Flow create a record in Dynamics 365. Having said that,  you can
definitely use “Automatic Record Creation and Update Rules” now to create records in CRM based on notification emails you get from Microsoft Bookings. That would ensure that you could start a bunch of workflows that can perform several actions for you related to (pre/post) appointment.

Conclusion

This is one solution you should definitely try if you are seriously considering providing your customers with the ability to book their own appointments. It’s possible that in the future, as your requirements get more complex, Microsoft Bookings may not be the right solution for you anymore, and that’s when you can migrate to something else. (Or maybe Microsoft will keep adding more features to it!)

Availability

At the time of writing this article, Microsoft Bookings is available with the Business Premium edition of Office 365 and will roll out to other plans soon.

Check It Out!

Want to see how it works? I created a demo page that has self scheduling for a fake bike shop. Check it out!

If you are ready to get started, you can check out some tutorials here.

Create Records In CRM For Dynamics 365 By Pressing A Physical Button! (Using Flic & Microsoft Flow)

What if your customers could just literally press a button to solve their problems? Picture the following scenarios:

– Your clients, who use your products or services, are having trouble with them. Something’s not right! They press a button and immediately get a call from your support staff.

– You run a coffee shop or a restaurant. You notice that you are low on supplies (Coffee beans? Beverages? Ketchup?). You press a button which sends an email to your supplier telling them to restock supplies.

– You run a roofing company. Your staff is up on one of the roofs fixing things. Once they are done, they press a button that creates a record in CRM, notifying office staff that the job has been completed.

That would be pretty awesome, right? (no? aww okay :/)

In case you didn’t know, Microsoft Flow can now be triggered by “Flic” – a physical button that connects to various services like Uber (to order a cab), Sonos (to control music), and Philips Hue (to control smart bulbs) to name just a few.

With Flic now working with Microsoft Flow, we can use this combination to create records in CRM for Dynamics 365, and perform various actions. For example, in the video below, I show how a customer, whenever they have an issue with our product or service, can just press Flic once, which will create a case record in our CRM.

Benefits

So what are some benefits of automation tools like Microsoft Flow, especially when they are combined with smart buttons like Flic?
  1. It makes initiating a process or action much easier and convenient.
  2. It encourages people to follow the process because everything is already automated.
  3. It brings convenience to your employees with disabilities because just pressing a button performs various tasks for them.

The Flow

This is what my Microsoft Flow looks like. Easy peasy!

Explore:

Flic

Microsoft Flow

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Embed Power BI Dashboards in CRM For Dynamics 365 With Just One Click

So, you have some really amazing and insightful dashboards¬†in Power BI (like the one below) based on your data you have in CRM for Dynamics 365, and you use them regularly to see what’s going on with your business, institution, facility or wherever that you work.

image shows a dashboard with three charts in power bi.

 

Ideally, you would want to have these dashboards in CRM so that you have access to all these valuable insights in just one place. But how would you go about doing it?

Enabling and embedding Power BI dashboards in CRM is literally just a click away.

Go to System Settings (under Settings->Administration) and open the Reporting tab. Under that tab, set “Allow Power BI visualization embedding” to Yes.

image shows System Settings window  in CRM for Dynamics 365. The image shows that clicking the "Reporting" tab and setting the option "Allow Power BI visualization embedding"  to Yes enables power bi dashboards in crm.

 

Uhhhh that’s pretty much it.

Now, if you go to your Dashboards and click the chevron next to “New” , you will see a new option for “Power BI Dashboard”.

in the dashboards area, a new option "Power BI dashboard " is displayed when the chevron next to the "New" button is clicked.

Note: Make sure to click the chevron to get this option. Clicking the New button  defaults to creating the traditional CRM dashboard.

When you select that option, you will see a dropdown that will show you all of your dashboards in Power BI. Choose the one you want displayed in CRM. Click Save.

Note: Make sure to check the “Enable for Mobile” checkbox if you want to access this dashboard¬†in your Dynamics 365 mobile app.

a new dialog shows all the dashboards in power bi in a dropdown. The user chooses which one they want embedded in this dashboard.

 

That Power BI dashboard is embedded in CRM now!

Power BI dashboard shown embedded in a CRM dashboard.

Questions? Let me know!

Product Recommendations in CRM For Dynamics 365 Using Machine Learning

If you are a company that sells various products and/or services, and you use CRM for Dynamics 365 for your selling operations, it’s highly likely that you use the Product Catalog, and also link up your products for cross selling opportunities. If you haven’t linked them yet, there’s good news – machine learning can do it for you! Based on patterns that it finds in historical sales transactions, CRM, with the help of the Recommendations API, can now provide product recommendations¬†to cross sell for your sales people as they pursue opportunities.

Have you manually linked up your products for cross selling in CRM already? ¬†There’s good news. You don’t have to keep doing it anymore! Why? See above.

But how does this all work?

Here’s the basic premise:

  • You have historic transactions that consist of products that have been sold by your sales team. Many of these products are cross sold, which means that if one product was being considered, at least another product was recommended in that sales opportunity as well.
  • There may be ways for you to look at historic data and see which products are more successful than others, but there is no easy way to see which products are recommended as cross sell products during a sales opportunity when a certain product is being considered.
  • That’s where machine learning comes in. The Recommendations¬† API looks at all of your historic data, and finds patterns of recommended/cross sold products. Then it rates those products.
  • Based on those ratings, you create your recommendation model. For example, when I am selling product A, recommend other products to cross sell. (Duh!) However, these recommended products¬† must have a rating greater than, let’s say 0.5 (ratings are between 0 and 1).¬† A higher rating means the recommended product has been in many historic “won” transactions.

Product Recommendations

Note: You will have to connect Recommendations API to CRM before proceeding. Read this article first.

When you go in to Product Recommendations in CRM for Dynamics 365 (Settings->Product Catalog), there are certain things you’ll see –¬†In the Details area, perhaps the most important field is the “Minimum Recommendations Rating”. This is the rating that is generated by the Recommendations API when it looks at our historic data. Here, we are saying that we want only those products to be recommended for cross selling that have a score of at least 0.50. Anything below it will not be recommended.

 

Digression: This is what the ratings look like in case you are wondering:

Let’s come back to the Recommendation Model.

 

Basket Data Entities

These are the entities for which historic data is present. By default, three are included РOpportunity,  Order, Quote. You can add your own as well.  Here, you can also tell the Recommendations API to look at very specific set of historic transactions. For example, we can set a filter that makes the  API look at only Won Opportunities in the last 12 months. (double click the Opportunity line item in the subgrid below)

Recommendation Entities

These are the entities for which recommendations are available. They also default to Opportunity, Order, Quote.

 

As you get more historic data, you can build various versions of your recommendation model. To do so, set your Minimum Recommendations Rating (see above) and click Build Model Version.  This is where the algorithms start learning from your historic data, find cross sell patterns, and rate products.

Note: The build will take a while. I only had sample data and it took 6 minutes to complete the version build.

You can test your model also by clicking “Test Recommendations”.¬†Choose a product, and a version. Click “Show Results”. This will show you a sample of what products will be recommended if a certain product is being considered in an opportunity.

If you see recommended products with scores attached, it means that you have an up and running recommendation model!

Note: I want to quickly talk about “Precision”. Precision represents the frequency with which sales people pick suggested products. ¬†Higher the precision, the better. Try multiple models over a course of time and see how the precision changes. I have 0 because I have very minimal data in my demo org.

Now, let’s see the recommendation model in action!

First, though, let’s look at some older opportunities we have won so that we can see what the product recommendations will be based on. In the past, whenever we’ve sold the Southridge Laptop 19W Xq980 laptop, we have also cross sold a few more products with it.

Historic opportunity 1:

Historic opportunity 2:

Now, let’s see what our recommendation model recommends to us when we create a new opportunity for the same laptop. After adding the product, we click Suggestions.

And this is what we get. (We want recommend products with a score > 0.50)

From these suggestions, you can pick whatever you want and update your opportunity with more products!

Advantages

So what are we really doing here besides making suggestions easier for our sales team? After all, we could set these recommendations manually anyway in CRM, right?

First of all, you are utilizing your historic transactions to determine what really sells. Not only that, you are also scoring the effectiveness of each product when it comes to cross-selling. Just that infuses good confidence in your salesperson to include more products in their opportunities and ultimately bring in more revenue.

Second, it automates the whole process, which means that your analyst or customizer, who painstakingly set up all those product relationships (and probably ended up with arthritis from all those mouse clicks) doesn’t have to keep doing it manually anymore. Instead, with all the time saved now, they can probably learn a new skill to help you with your business operations.

Third, piggybacking on the first advantage listed above – if there are products that have lower rating, you can probably think of retiring them or getting them from a different manufacturer.

So, give Product Recommendations a shot, and see how well it works for you! Remember, this is still a preview so don’t screw around with it in your production environment! ūüėČ

Enabling Machine Learning in CRM For Dynamics 365

The machines are taking over!

We hear a lot about how machine learning is being used in many applications, and CRM for Dynamics 365 is no exception to that sentiment. There are several features in CRM for Dynamics 365 that utilize Microsoft Cognitive Services Рa very powerful set of tools/APIs that use the power of machine learning. For Example:

– Keyword matching, similar cases, topic analysis, and knowledge article suggestions, require a Cognitive Services Text Analytics connection.

РAutomatic product recommendations while creating opportunities and adding opportunity products requires a Cognitive Services Recommendations connection.

So, does that mean in order to use automatic product recommendations, keyword matching, automatic knowledge article suggestions, etc., we need to integrate Microsoft Cognitive Services with CRM for Dynamics 365?

Correct.

Before you do that though, you would want to enable the “Product Recommendation” and “Text Analytics” previews in your settings first. (Yes, they are still previews)

Go to Settings->Administration->System Settings, and click the (last) Preview tab.

Under Preview, set “Cross-sell Product Recommendations Preview” and “Text Analytics Preview for Case Topics analysis, Suggest Similar Cases and Suggest Knowledge Articles” to Yes.

 

Next, go to http://portal.azure.com and login with a Microsoft Id.

Once in, we will be looking for two specific Cognitive Services APIs – Recommendations and Text Analytics. Let’s start with Recommendations API.

Note: Calls to these APIs are not free. Having said that, Microsoft gives you 5,000/10,000 etc. calls per month for free depending on what API you choose. If you are likely to exceed these calls, Microsoft will prompt you to upgrade to a paid account.

Recommendations API

In the Azure portal, click the “+” button on the top left corner-> select “Intelligence + analytics” in the next pop up menu, and then Cognitive Services APIs (preview).

On the next “Create” screen, give the service a name, choose Subscription (start with Free), choose API type “Recommendations API (preview)”, Pricing tier f0, and create a resource group. Click Create.

On the next screen, you will see a bunch of tabs to the left. Under Overview, make note of Endpoint, then choose Keys. When you do, you will see a couple of keys to the right. You will use one of these keys to connect this Recommendations service to CRM for Dynamics 365.

Now head to CRM for Dynamics 365. Go to Settings-> Administration->Azure Machine Learning Recommendation Service Configuration.

Fill in all the self explanatory fields. In the “Azure Service URL” field, enter the Endpoint that you noted above. In “Azure Account Key”, enter one of the two keys from the Keys section above.

Save and Test Connection. Once successful, click Activate.

That’s it. You are now ready to start building your Product Recommendations in your Product Catalog. (More on that later)

Note: It is possible¬†that your connection to the Recommendations service may not be successful at the first go. If one key doesn’t work, try the other. You may even want to¬†regenerate the keys if you keep getting connection failure errors.

Text Analytics API

Well, you know the drill. Do what you did above in the Azure portal. This time, when you create a new  service, you will choose Text Analytics API.

Back in CRM, go to Settings ->Administration->Azure Machine Learning Text Analytics Configuration, and do what you did above with the Endnote and Key.

Now you are ready to create “Advanced Similarity Rules”. (More on this later)

That’s it!

Thanks for making it this far! Hopefully this article gives you an idea of how to get started with the basic building blocks of enabling machine learning for CRM for Dynamics 365.

Question or comments? Let me know.

Tide: An App That Helps Me With Concentration & Focus

I’d be lying if I said that I am not going through a lot of stress these days. In the last two weeks, I have seen myself not very motivated to do things that I love to do – write, read, explore. In order to distract myself from all the stress, and to sort of get my concentration & mojo back, I decided to explore technology a little more than I usually do, and dive into the world of apps – apps that will possibly help me regain focus, and be more consistent with all the things I do. Maybe they will help me get even more creative, relaxed, and productive.

Is that too much to ask for from apps?

Tide

I am not the guy who listens to music when I am writing. I typically require peace and quiet around me for that, and that’s why I don’t like going to coffeeshops to write. My personal heaven is a library or my own apartment, at 5 in the morning. The pin drop silence early in the morning works wonders for me – no ¬†traffic outside, no loud beeping of garbage trucks reversing and maneuvering to get to the dumpster, no chatter from people around me.

A week or so ago, I discovered Tide in the app store. The concept of Tide is simple – it has a few sounds that you listen to while working on things. Nothing more, nothing less. Apparently, it helps you stay focused. It had good reviews and ratings.

My apprehension immediately kicked in because of reasons mentioned above. However, I decided to give it a shot. It’s a free app after all – what have I got to lose?

The app has five sounds you can choose from – Forenoon, Rain, Forest, Muse, and Cafe. Forenoon is basically the sound little waves make when a boat glides through water. Muse is soft, relaxing piano music. The rest are self explanatory.

I cannot explain what really happened, but when I tried this app, by starting with Muse, I immediately got hooked. I was astonished by how instantly effective Muse was. I immediately had razor sharp focus, and forgot about everything else around me. I was calm. Not distracted at all. I gave it a few more listens (while writing and researching for my blog), and felt the exact same focus. In fact, I have written a couple of  posts for Assistive Technology Blog now while listening to it, and I am listening to it now as I write this post. The app uses Pomodero technique that set the timer to 25 minutes (by default) and provides 5 minute breaks after each 25 minute cycles.

Based on my experience with Tide the last few days, I will go as far as to say that I am slowly getting addicted to it!

The interface is minimal – it has a calming photo in the background, a round, sleek countdown timer, and an inspiring quote. If you care about statistics, it also keeps track of how focused you were each day, and gives you weekly, monthly numbers etc.

I will try the other sounds soon (probably)¬†but I think I’ll definitely avoid Coffee Shop. That’s definitely not my cup of tea.

If you struggle with staying focused on things, or generally need some white noise/ background noise to stay calm, I highly recommend this app.

Image Gallery:

Download Tide here.