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How to Simplify Your Data Integration by Moving to the Cloud


 

Are you struggling to integrate your enterprise data sources into an efficient, centralized location for reporting and analysis? You’re not alone—so was one of our recent clients until Datavail gave them a helping hand.

 
Datavail’s client is one of the world’s leading manufacturing and services companies, with more than 60,000 employees across 200 countries and territories, and with products that 2 billion people use every day. The client’s primary impetus for working with Datavail was the need for a singular view of their customer relationship management (CRM) data; each regional branch was using their own CRM software, creating a fractured ecosystem that lacked a global, unified perspective.

Moving to the Microsoft Azure Cloud for CRM

As an existing Microsoft customer, the client used the Microsoft Azure cloud for this project. Datavail was the ideal Azure cloud migration partner, with Microsoft Gold Partner status, copious years of working remotely and across time zones, and a 24/7 hybrid onshore/offshore business model.

Datavail helped the client adopt Microsoft Azure cloud technologies such as:

  • Azure Data Factory: Microsoft’s cloud-based solution for ETL (extract, transform, load), integrating data from unique sources and storing it in a single centralized target location.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365: Microsoft’s cloud-based CRM and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, leveraging artificial intelligence to deliver smarter business insights.

 
In addition, Datavail helped the client switch their use of ETL software from a proprietary tool with a steep learning curve, to KingswaySoft, which uses standard SQL commands and has connectors with many data sources and targets, including Microsoft Dynamics 365.

The client now enjoys lightning-fast ETL processes and marked improvements to the quality of their enterprise data. By applying Datavail’s Azure data migration expertise, the client’s data migration workloads—which once took 8 to 10 hours to run—are now half as long or shorter. Datavail also helped the client automate their post-load validation (PLV) processes to make sure data was correctly and successfully migrated during ETL.

From working with Datavail, the client has realized benefits including:
 

  • A unified CRM system in the Microsoft cloud.
  • Dramatically faster data migration times.
  • Simplified ETL stored procedures.
  • Uncovering hidden data tables that were part of the client’s ETL workflows.
  • Automating the post-load validation process.
  • Completing more than 1,000 agile tasks and fixing hundreds of bugs for the client.
  • Building a robust, complete set of documentation and templates for future collaborations with IT managed services partners.

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Worldwide Manufacturing and Services Company Modernizes with Sleek New CRM

Want the full story of how Datavail helped the client achieve a modern, unified CRM in the cloud? Download the complete case study.

The post How to Simplify Your Data Integration by Moving to the Cloud appeared first on Datavail.

Single Sign-On (SSO) as an Essential Cybersecurity Practice


 

The rise of “password fatigue” as a real, documented phenomenon has shown that our current approach to enterprise IT security and authentication is flawed.

 
According to a 2019 report from Yubico and the Ponemon Institute, employees spend an average of 10.9 hours per year entering or resetting their passwords; this corresponds to a total annual loss of $5.2 million for the average organization. Meanwhile, Netskope’s 2019 Cloud Report has found that the average enterprise uses a staggering 1,295 cloud services.

Faced with the Herculean task of remembering too many login credentials, employees may engage in a number of undesirable practices. Some users may reuse the same password in multiple locations, increasing the risk of a security breach, while others may engage in “shadow IT” (the use of IT devices, software and services outside the ownership or control of IT) thereby undermining an organizations IT department’s security protocols.

What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the risk of cybersecurity issues. The Center for Internet Security’s “CSO Pandemic Impact Survey” found that 61 percent of security and IT leaders are concerned about an increase in cyber-attacks; and 26 percent have observed an increase in the volume or severity of attacks since the pandemic.  One recent reminder of this fact is the cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which crimpled our fuel supply lines from Texas to much of the East Coast, equating to hundreds-of-millions of dollars in lost productivity.

Although there’s no shortage of solutions to the issue of password fatigue—including biometrics and password management software—one of the most popular options is single sign-on (SSO). Single sign-on is a cybersecurity best practice in which users only have to log in one time (hence the name) in order to access a suite of software applications or services.

The benefits of SSO include:

  • Ease of use: SSO is obviously attractive from an end user standpoint because it simplifies the login process. There’s no need to memorize 10 separate passwords for 10 different applications, and your session won’t expire if you haven’t used a single application in a while.
  • Lower IT burden: With telecommuting on the rise, many decidedly non-tech-savvy employees have been forced to act as their own tech support, diagnosing and resolving issues from home. Fewer forgotten passwords also mean a lower burden on your IT support team who have to help users reset their credentials.
  • Increased productivity: Less time spent logging in and out, and less time spent waiting for help from the IT team, means an increase in employee productivity. This can help organizations recoup potentially millions of dollars due to inefficient login practices.
  • Greater security: In addition to the monetary gain from productivity, businesses also need to consider the potential financial and reputational losses as a result of a cyber-attack. SSO helps improve IT security and decrease the risk of a devastating data breach.

 

Some organizations have the misconception that SSO actually weakens IT security by providing just a single point of weakness for an attacker. If a user’s password is exposed or cracked, the theory goes, a malicious actor could simply waltz into the application portal unopposed.

In practice, however, SSO improves IT security for multiple reasons. First, SSO can and should be used in combination with other IT security best practices, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) and risk-based authentication (RBA):

  • With MFA, users need to authenticate their login via at least one other means, such as entering a code from an email or verifying with a smartphone authentication app.
  • RBA analyzes the metadata surrounding a particular login (such as the IP address, the device, the user’s location, and the time of day) to assess the likelihood that the login is fraudulent, alerting the user if it detects suspicious behavior.

 

There are several other reasons why SSO improves IT security within an organization:

SSO streamlines the login process, making it less likely that users will write down their passwords.

  • Thanks to this simplification, IT departments can also place more stringent requirements on password length and complexity, making them harder for attackers to crack.
  • SSO facilitates identity management (IdM), allowing organizations to create roles for users and groups of users that clearly define which applications and services they should have access to.
  • Employees’ login credentials can be quickly and easily restricted or terminated (e.g., when they depart the organization), lowering the risk of an insider threat.
  • More sensitive systems, applications, and data can be excluded from the SSO portal as necessary.

 

Looking to implement your own SSO portal for your existing cloud applications—or as part of an upcoming cloud migration? Datavail can help. To learn how we helped one client implement SSO as part of their Microsoft Azure cloud migration, check out our recent case study “Major Auto Manufacturer Migrates Application Portal to Azure Cloud.”

The post Single Sign-On (SSO) as an Essential Cybersecurity Practice appeared first on Datavail.

Why You Need an Integrated CRM Ecosystem


 

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is one of the most crucial applications for enterprise IT, helping businesses keep track of their contacts with vendors, leads, and clients.

 
91 percent of organizations with more than 10 employees now use a CRM—and the average return on their investment can be as high as $8.71 for every dollar spent.

Yet with many companies operating across multiple locations, regions, countries, and time zones, integrating all of your CRM data can be a significant challenge. Yet the results of a CRM integration project are well worth the time and effort. The benefits of an integrated CRM ecosystem include:

  • Creating stronger customer relationships and improved customer retention rates.
  • Identifying new opportunities based on customer feedback.
  • Developing better products and services through data-driven decision-making.
  • Making smarter sales and marketing decisions for different countries and regions.
  • Improving data quality by reducing data duplication in multiple locations.

 
In particular, a cloud-based CRM can offer advantages such as:

  • Lower costs: Migrating from on-premises to the cloud is also a move from a capital expense to a recurring operating expense; many businesses find that the latter is more cost effective. The cloud also frees you from the obligation of employing in-house staff for IT support and maintenance.
  • Greater scalability: Scaling on-premises IT is challenging without making another costly hardware purchase. In the cloud, however, you can scale your data or storage by leveraging the cloud provider’s existing resources.
  • Easier integration: Moving to the cloud makes it easier to integrate with other software, systems, and platforms.

 
With over 60,000 employees in 200 countries and territories, one of Datavail’s recent clients was struggling to integrate their fractured CRM ecosystem, with different systems in use at each regional branch. To find out how Datavail helped the client unite their CRM software in the Microsoft Azure cloud, check out our case study “Worldwide Manufacturing and Services Company Modernizes with Sleek New CRM.”

The post Why You Need an Integrated CRM Ecosystem appeared first on Datavail.

Stop Doing the Same Tasks Over and Over, Automate Instead!


 

Many IT leaders were trying to figure out how to address the mainframe talent shortage in 2020, and the situation is still a problem in 2021. One thing that has made a difference to many of the companies we work with is automating repetitive and mundane tasks that take your DBA resources time.

 

Sometimes, in the rush to keep everything running smoothly, IT leaders can overlook things that are easy to do but save a significant amount of time and improve service levels. Automating tasks that a software bot can do even more effectively than a human being is one of those things.

Repetitive Tasks Can Cause Big Problems

In today’s environment, business depends on its automation tools much more than in the past. If a database driving critical business functions has a problem, the repercussions go far beyond the IT department. And, if mundane and repetitive tasks aren’t performed well, IT can end up in a situation where the users know about a problem before it does, and that’s a situation IT departments really want to avoid.

Take Oracle EBS, for example. It drives critical applications, including ERP, CRM, and Supply Chain Management. You can imagine what would happen if one of those applications was down or not operating at peak efficiency. Here are just a couple of the problems you could run into if some mundane tasks weren’t completed correctly and on a timely basis.

  • Mundane Task: Monitoring concurrent managers and workflow.
  • Potential Problems: User requests will slow down, and some requests will return errors.
  • Mundane Task: Monitoring pending, long running, and errored tasks.
  • Potential Problems: Since users often fail to monitor the successful completion of their tasks, an errored task could result in the production of an inaccurate report that may be acted on by management.

How to Use Software Bots to Automate Repetitive Tasks

A software bot is a script written to automate a task. They’re not as complex as a chatbot, for instance. All a software bot must do is automate a series of steps and present the results to the person responsible for monitoring that task.

Let’s take daily health checks as an example. It’s a fairly easy task when only one environment is involved, but when you need to monitor multiple environments, the task becomes much more complicated but not more interesting. Daily health checks are prone to human error and take valuable time away from the person who is assigned the task.

Using a software bot, a report showing the health of the system can be presented at the start of every day. Rather than hours of logging in and out of multiple systems, the task becomes a few minutes of review. And, the report can be tailored to everyone who needs to use it. One report can contain the details for system engineers and DBAs and a high-level summary for management. We helped one of our clients take a manual check from one hour to 15 minutes, saving 22.5 hours per month.

Automating Tasks Gives You the Upper Hand

There are so many benefits to automating repetitive and mundane tasks that you’ll find your department spending more time doing high-value tasks and less time simply trying to keep your systems running at peak performance. Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll see:

  • Catching small issues before they become big problems. For example, you can have a bot monitor the status of request sets during month-end close activities. If a problem comes up, you can fix it before everyone involved in the close ends up in your office.
  • Eliminating human error. Ask anyone who has done manual checks for performance tuning, and they’ll tell you how time-consuming they are. Wading through menu trees and lists of SQLs makes this manual task prone to human error, regardless of how diligent you are.
  • Receiving automated alerts or trouble tickets. In Oracle EBS, for example, monitoring concurrent managers is a complex task. But, you can use a software bot to do that for you. The bot can send you an alert or generate a trouble ticket automatically if problems are spotted.

 

You’ll also see global advantages. You’ll increase the service level you can provide to your users. You can also offer more challenging work to your talented staff to motivate them to stay on the job. And, you’ll make your life easier, which is sometimes an elusive goal.

Next Steps

Datavail provides expertise that can give you the upper hand. We’re an Oracle Partner, and we can perform Oracle EBS upgrades, help with special short-term projects, and provide managed services. We also have extensive experience helping clients set up automation for their EBS environments.

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The post Stop Doing the Same Tasks Over and Over, Automate Instead! appeared first on Datavail.

Why Access to Software Portals Is More Important Than Ever


 

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the way businesses of all sizes and industries operate—in particular, the places that employees do their work. According to an October 2020 Gallup poll, 33 percent of U.S. employees say that they are “always” working remotely, while another 25 percent say that they “sometimes” telecommute.

 

Faced with this rapid and unexpected shift to working from home, organizations have had to make sudden changes and evolutions, especially regarding their IT systems and software. Despite the pandemic, businesses must ensure that their employees, customers, partners, and third-party vendors can enjoy continued access to key software applications and services. These concerns are especially relevant for companies with locations and employees scattered across the country, around the world, or those who must navigate different time zones, regulatory environments, and more.

Although the pandemic is waning, its effects and repercussions will be long lasting. Businesses that take advantage of this time of change, uncertainty, and turbulence will position themselves well for whatever comes next.

For some companies who have not adopted a resilient mindset and a transformation-focused organizational culture, the pandemic has been a challenge to their business—often an existential one. Others, however, have seen the COVID-19 pandemic as an affirmation that justifies the investments they previously made in their IT infrastructure. Below are just some digital technologies that have paid dividends for their users:

  • Cloud computing for easier access to applications and services and rapid horizontal and vertical scalability.
  • Identity management (IdM) solutions to monitor and control employees’ access to business-critical applications.
  • Automation of tedious manual processes, freeing up employees for higher-level, more revenue-generating activities.
  • Data analytics to collect, process, analyze and visualize vast quantities of information, mining it for insights to enable more accurate forecasts and smarter decision-making.
  • Workplace communication and collaboration tools (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Slack, Trello, Zoom, etc.).

 

The rise in telecommuting has fostered the growth of SaaS (“software as a service”) usage. Software applications running in the cloud have greatly expanded user connectivity and productivity. Cloud-native software services have many advantages, with a few of them especially relevant in this day and age:

  • Support and maintenance for SaaS applications is the responsibility of the software vendor, rather than the in-house IT department. This means less stress on overburdened IT teams, and not waking up at 3 a.m. when a server goes down.
  • As a corollary, SaaS upgrades are rolled out smoothly and automatically, without the need for business-disrupting downtime.
  • Users can access SaaS applications from anywhere with an Internet connection and at any time—a vital asset during this time of telecommuting, but also tremendously convenient in general.
  • During times of uncertain demand, SaaS applications can easily scale to accommodate spikes in usage without degrading performance.
  • By using a centralized, streamlined solution rather than disconnected legacy systems, SaaS improves visibility and makes IT governance easier.

 

In particular, SaaSOps (“SaaS operations”) i.e. managing and monitoring an organization’s use of SaaS applications, is becoming more and more relevant and important. According to BetterCloud’s “2020 State of SaaS” report:

  • Organizations use an average of 80 SaaS applications.
  • IT teams spend an average of more than seven hours offboarding an employee from the company’s SaaS applications after they depart the organization.
  • Only 49 percent of IT professionals are confident in their ability to detect unauthorized SaaS usage on the company network.

 

To confront these SaaSOps challenges, organizations need a centralized coordinated approach. One of the easiest IT projects for your business to take on—yet one of the most impactful for employee productivity and user experience—is to build a clean, streamlined application portal with single sign-on (SSO), simplifying the process of logging in and using enterprise software.

With a single application portal, users can enter their credentials and access the services they need to do their jobs efficiently, from anywhere and at any time.

Looking to implement your own software application portal? Datavail can help. To learn how we helped one client implement a secure application portal in the Microsoft Azure cloud, check out our recent case study “Major Auto Manufacturer Migrates Application Portal to Azure Cloud.”

The post Why Access to Software Portals Is More Important Than Ever appeared first on Datavail.