Archive for January 14, 2019

Hitachi Solutions Acquires Capax Global, LLC

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 14, 2019 by itnerd

Hitachi Solutions America, Ltd., a global leader in delivering success with business applications based on the Microsoft Cloud, today announced it has acquired Capax Global, LLC, a leading provider of cloud and data platform solutions based on the Microsoft application platform. This acquisition provides Hitachi Solutions with deep capabilities across cloud-native application development, data platform modernization, big data, machine learning, and advanced analytics along with modern workplace and managed services solutions.

The companies share many synergies — including a deep commitment to achieving customer excellence, a close cultural alignment, and a strong strategic partnership with Microsoft.

As a Gold Certified Microsoft Partner, Capax Global specializes in building innovative cloud and data platform solutions that realize cost savings, improve data management, and solve critical business problems. The company is a recognized leader in Microsoft’s Azure platform across all major workloads. Capax Global is also a member of Microsoft’s Inner Circle for Data and AI, and both Microsoft’s Azure Application Development and Data Partner Advisory Councils and was honored as a finalist for the Microsoft 2017 Data Platform Partner of the Year. In addition, the company was named as one of Inc Magazine’s Best Workplaces for 2018 and maintains ratings of 4.9 stars and 99 percent approval on Glassdoor.

With this acquisition, Capax Global will immediately become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi Solutions America, Ltd. Capax Global’s leadership and employees will remain in place and be integrated into Hitachi Solutions America’s North American practice.

IoT Solutions

The strategic acquisition also strengthens Hitachi Solutions’ IoT capabilities with the addition of Capax Global’s proven technologies. These solutions incorporate data telemetry to quickly and securely gather data from multiple remote points and arrange it into the appropriate structure for downstream applications and reporting.

In addition, Capax Global brings its onsite and mobile IoT Labs, a unique experience that allows for hands-on exploration and brainstorming with engineers and data scientists to develop IoT-related strategies, see how to extract key insights from IoT-generated data and explore how to unlock the many possibilities.

Commitment to Microsoft’s Platform

With the addition of Capax Global, Hitachi Solutions becomes one of the largest global Microsoft Partners capable delivering world-class solutions across all 4 workloads – business applications, modern workplace, data and AI, and applications and infrastructure on Microsoft’s cloud platform.

 

 

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Salesforce Expands Commerce Cloud With New Platform Tools

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 14, 2019 by itnerd

Salesforce today announced new innovations across its Commerce Cloud platform that enable companies to bring artificial intelligence, visual search, inventory availability services and more to an entirely new generation of commerce experiences. Today, discovering and shopping for products doesn’thappen exclusively on ecommerce sites, and brands need agile and flexible ways to stay ahead of where shoppers research or transact next. The latest advancements in Commerce Cloud empower companies to embed innovative commerce experiences into every customer touchpoint – through voice, in mobile or social apps, in store, in marketplaces and even in connected products.

Customer Behavior is Transforming Commerce

Today’s consumers want to access and buy the products, services and experiences they desire, anytime and anywhere. They have fitness monitors and digital personal assistants, and they stay connected to and engage with brands through social media, marketing emails, chatbots and customer service experiences. And they expect to learn about and purchase the product or experience they are looking for in those moments.

Companies want to create a smart, easy commerce experience for every channel, but most do not have a central commerce platform that gives them the agility and flexibility to deliver. Salesforce and Deloitte research shows that, on average, retailers use 39 disparate systems to manage customer engagement, including point of sale, mobile, call center, email marketing, social media, and more. Because all of these roads to making a purchase ultimately bring the shopper back to an ecommerce site, brands risk losing aconsumer they’ve managed to engage on one channel because they’re asking them to transact onanother.

The expanded Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform consists of a powerful set of APIs, platform services and developer tools that empower companies to embed intelligent commerce experiences into every touchpoint to drive growth. Now, companies will be able to:

Extend Einstein AI-powered commerce and image search everywhere

● New Einstein Recommendations API: This will allow merchants to quickly integrate Einstein-powered product recommendations beyond their ecommerce site. With intelligent recommendations in mobile apps, clienteling devices and across marketing and customer service channels, merchants can power personalized and consistent experiences no matter how or where shoppers interact with the brand.

● New Einstein Visual Search: Now shoppers will be able to “snap and search” for products usingimages, not text. Shoppers can search based on photos or screenshots from their mobile phone, which will return the same product or most relevant option available based on the image uploaded.

Activate inventory in real time across every channel

● New High-scale Inventory Availability Service: This new platform service enables companies to activate in-store and fulfillment center inventory across digital channels at massive scale–all in real time. This means companies can launch programs like browse by store or buy online, pick-up in store as well as support high-volume requests required for spike periods like flash sales and holidays.

Innovate commerce experiences faster

●  New On-demand Developer Sandboxes: Provide added agility so development teams can deliver innovation to the business faster. Developer Sandboxes can be spun up in minutes, improving productivity and giving developers more consistency within their test and deployment process.
●  New Commerce API Explorer: This new one-stop-shop for all Commerce APIs in a single portal and easy-to-use user interface allows developers to design and test new experiences more efficiently.
●  New Commerce Cloud Developer Trailhead Trail: With this new free online learning resource, developers can educate themselves on the core elements of developing on the Commerce Cloud platform.

Salesforce Customers Deliver Dynamic Commerce Experiences

Commerce Cloud connected to the world’s #1 CRM platform, giving brands a single view of the customer and ability to build great experiences across marketing, commerce, and service. Brands are also empowered to quickly create and scale trusted apps with Heroku, integrate data with Mulesoft, and leverage the Salesforce DX developer experience framework for high-performance agile application development.

Salesforce Partners Use the Commerce Cloud Platform to Help Companies Deploy and Optimize Commerce Experiences

Salesforce has more than 100 consulting partners across the world that support integration and ecosystem efforts for building unique customer experiences powered by Commerce Cloud, including:Deloitte Digital, Accenture, Capgemini’s LYONSCG, Publicis.Sapient, OSF Commerce, Astound andPixelMEDIA. It also has over 250 pre-integrated partner applications that extend platform functionality, including:

●  Amplience: Amplience helps content and technology team unleash their creativity and productivity with an API-first solution that integrates with Salesforce Commerce Cloud
●  Radius8: Radius8 enables Salesforce Commerce Cloud retailers to localize their websites based on hyperlocal trends such as popularity, weather, and events, giving consumers a more engaging online experiences based on local context.
● Olapic: Olapic leverages Commerce Cloud to enable brands to tap into a variety of visual content – from consumer and influencer content to short-form videos – and incorporate it across their websites to create engaging, personalized consumer shopping journeys while delivering actionable data and performance.
●  PredictSpring: PredictSpring enables Commerce Cloud retailers and brands in and out of the store with its mobile commerce solutions, including consumer shopping apps, and store Clienteling and Modern POS apps.
●  ChannelAdvisor: ChannelAdvisor leverages Commerce Cloud to enable brands and retailers to unlock their selling potential through marketplaces, digital marketing, paid search, comparison shopping, flex feeds, social, rich media, and demand forecasting.
●  Mobify: The Mobify Platform integrates with Commerce Cloud to enable retailers to build fast, engaging Progressive Web Apps separate from the backend, empowering retailers to begin digital transformations with the mobile shopper experience — all while ensuring backend updates don’t impact the front-end.

About Commerce Cloud

Salesforce Commerce Cloud empowers retailers to unify customer experiences across all points of commerce, including mobile, web, social and store. From shopping to fulfillment to customer service, the Commerce Cloud delivers personalized shopping experiences that consistently delight customers. With embedded artificial intelligence powered by Commerce Cloud Einstein, retailers can drive increased engagement, conversion, revenue and loyalty. Commerce Cloud customers sold approximately $21 billion worth of merchandise (“gross merchandise value”) through more than 3,000 websites in 50+countries through the Commerce Cloud in 2017.

Availability
●  Commerce Cloud Einstein Recommendations API is currently in Beta. Pricing will be announced at the time of general availability.
●  Commerce Cloud Einstein Visual Search is currently in Pilot and will be generally available in the second half of 2019. Pricing will be announced at that time.
●  High-Scale Inventory Availability Service will be in Pilot in the first half of 2019.
●  On-demand Developer Sandboxes are currently in Beta and will be generally available in the first half of 2019. Pricing will be announced at that time.
●  The Commerce Cloud Open Commerce API (OCAPI) Explorer is generally available today.

#PSA: Windows 7 Extended Support Ends In Exactly One Year’s Time

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 14, 2019 by itnerd

If you still run Windows 7 because you have not made the jump to Windows 10…… Which if you have not made the jump I don’t blame you seeing as Microsoft’s QA in reference to the last two Windows 10 feature updates has been sub optimal….. Then consider this to be your two minute warning.

Mainstream support for Windows 7 ended back in January 2015, but extended support which requires Microsoft to continue to deliver updates and fixes any vulnerabilities in the OS, runs for a further five years. Those five years end one year from now. As in January 14, 2020. Therefore you have one year to get off Windows 7 and onto Windows 10. Or flip to another OS such as macOS. Not that Apple’s QA is any better at the moment. But consider yourself warned that your days on Windows 7 are numbered.

Review: Tech Bergen Sport Loop Flash Band

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 14, 2019 by itnerd

If you own an Apple Watch, and you actually use it for sports, you want a sport loop band for the following reasons:

  • You can adjust it to fit your wrist perfectly which makes it more comfortable than the fluoroelastomer bands that Apple offers.
  • It tends to provide much better results for the heart rate monitor because you can ensure that it is secured to your wrist tight enough to provide accurate results.
  • The fabric is more breathable than the fluoroelastomer bands that Apple offers.
  • It tends to stay in place better when doing vigorous exercise.

To all to the above, Apple when they came out with the Series 4 Nike Edition Apple Watch did something smart. They came out with a reflective version of their sport loop band which adds a bit of extra safety to those who run at night. However you can only get it with the Series 4 Nike Edition Apple Watch. It may be available at some point down the road from Apple as a separate part, and if it is, it will go for their typically insanely high prices that they charge for Apple Watch bands. But in the here and now there is an option which is the Tech Bergen Sport Loop Flash Band:

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The packaging screams “Cheap Chinese Knockoff.” Which isn’t a shock seeing as it was shipped from China. But you’re not buying this for the packaging so I’ll let that slide. Here’s the band outside the packaging:

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It looks like Apple’s Sport Loop and my exam of it didn’t find any flaws or quality issues. When I put it on my Series 4 Apple Watch, there was very little play in terms of the mounting points. I wore this all day just doing what I normally do and I found it to be comfortable. That’s when I decided to take things to the next level by running some tests on this band.

The first thing that I tested was the reflective properties of the band. Here’s a picture in normal light taken with my iPhone XS.

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You can see the reflective yarn that they used in the band in this picture. But it isn’t over the top and it isn’t all that noticeable without using a camera. That changes in the dark:

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When the flash from my iPhone XS hit the band, it turned out to be very reflective. The logic is that your wrist moving while a cars headlights are hitting the band will attract the attention of the driver of said car. Which means that they are less likely to hit you if you are out running at night. Now my wife who is an avid runner questions if something that small would make a difference, but from my perspective I believe that every little bit helps to keep you safe.

My next test was to do something athletic. So I did a ride on the Zwift virtual bike riding platform. Something that usually generates a ton of sweat. Now I usually use a heart rate monitor on a chest strap when I ride my bike virtually or otherwise as that tends to produce the most accurate results. But for this ride, I used the Zwift Companion App for Apple Watch to see how accurate it would be with this band. I ended up doing two one hour rides:

Ride #1: I did a one hour ride wearing both the chest strap and my Apple Watch with the Tech Bergen Sport Loop Flash Band. Both were recording heart rate data. I didn’t find much difference in the heart rate waveforms except for a drop out in the heart rate data near the end of the ride on the Apple Watch. By drop out, I mean no heart rate data was recorded for about a minute or so.

Ride #2: I did a one hour ride wearing both the chest strap and my Apple Watch with a fluoroelastomer sport band. Both were recording heart rate data. I didn’t find much difference in the heart rate waveforms. But the fluoroelastomer sport band had 9 drop outs in heart rate data over that one hour period.

Clearly the Tech Bergen Sport Loop Flash did its job.

Gripes? There was one. It had a weird chemical smell when I took it out of the box. It disappeared after a few hours of wearing it. So I am not sure what the deal with that but I am guessing that it was due to the box that it came in as the band was in a cardboard box with a foam insert which held the band. But nothing else jumped out at me as a negative. One positive was the price which was $15.99 CDN. Seeing as Apple is likely to sell their version of this sport loop at $65 CDN, if they ever decide to do that, this is a deal. And it will become my default band for workouts once I get my Road ID for Apple Watch onto it. If you don’t want to wait for the official Apple reflective sport loop to appear, if it ever does, have a look at the Tech Bergen Sport Loop Flash Band. You’ll be glad you did.