Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Back to the Future -- Cloud Infrastructure Pricing

A growing trend in cloud computing is to set prices based on actual utilization of resources such as memory, storage, processing, and bandwidth.  This is a rational way to price cloud infrastructure, because these are the items that contribute to the cost of cloud hosting, especially as the scale of a solution increases. 

One of the benefits of moving to the cloud is to not have to worry whether you have enough computing resources, because it is so easy to add more resources in a cloud environment.

In some ways, this is a throwback to timesharing, the venerable practice of buying time on an expensive mainframe when it was inconceivable that everyone would own their own computer.

The downside of usage-based pricing is that the actual bill is hard to predict.  Without knowing the cost in advance, budgeting is challenging.  How can a customer plan for this expense?

Another risk is that utilization of resources may be beyond your control.  You could have a surge of real or fake users hitting your site or apps and then get a high monthly bill.  No doubt companies will step in with approaches to reduce the risk of pricing uncertainty, as has happened in other industries.  Buyers of cloud computing can also take comfort knowing that pricing is on a steady decline -- at least for now. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Demo Video Now Available for Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors

InfoStrat has released a new video showing its sales force automation solution for government contractors based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

 
Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors provides government contractors with a flexible solution that helps automate business capture processes, including market intelligence analysis and in-depth proposal management.  This solution simplifies the capture process by allowing users to search for opportunities from government databases directly within Microsoft Dynamics CRM and import those search results, creating CRM opportunity records. Users can then follow opportunities through the sales process from proposal and review phases to the final award phase. Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors is built on the Microsoft Dynamics platform to facilitate integration with ERP, accounting, and document management.

Monday, June 30, 2014

InfoStrat Excited About Microsoft Kinect V2

The InfoStrat Advanced Technology Group has been deeply engaged with Microsoft in its products using a natural user interface (NUI) such as multi-touch screens, voice controls, and motion sensing.  We are excited about the latest version of Kinect, and are exploring how it will make NUI apps better than ever.

The following video shows a comparison of Kinect version 1 and version 2 for tracking skeletons.



Skeleton tracking is essential for many games and for practical purposes such as exercise and physical therapy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Microsoft Focuses on Compliance and Agility for Government Contractors

In his blog post today, Elliott Ichimura, Microsoft Global Industry Director, announced a new initiative to help government contractors work more efficiently and comply with regulatory requirements.

Microsoft has recently formed an alliance of its partner companies who focus on the government contractor community.  InfoStrat is excited to be named one of the premiere partners in this group for Dynamics CRM.

The InfoStrat solution Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors has recently been enhanced to work on the latest version of Dynamics CRM and provide integration with data services such as FedBizOps and Onvia.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Don't Let SharePoint Grow Like Kudzu

SharePoint is a great product, but it is so easy to use and offers so many options for how you organize your sites and content that it can grow out of control.  In a large organization, the depth and quality of content varies widely from one department to another, and even site navigation can become confusing.

After a few years of using SharePoint, your intranet can become like the wild west, sprawling and lawless.

To get the most out of SharePoint, you need governance which matches the cultural style and policies of your organization.  Consider questions like these:
  1. Do you want a single consistent graphic design and theme throughout your sites?  Should departments "brand" themselves in a different way than the overall organization?
  2. Can users create sites without permission from administrators?
  3. How long should sites last?  How can users know when content is still current?  Are old sites deleted or archived?
  4. Does the site navigation reflect the popularity of sites and pages?  How does it evolve as new content is created?
  5. Do you want the site to look like SharePoint out of the box, or create a more custom website appearance?
  6. Should you have a collection of formal sites as well as a separate set of informal, ad hoc sites for collaboration?
InfoStrat helps clients not only with the technical side of SharePoint, but with planning, design and governance.  Be sure to write down the vision for the intranet, and keep updating your objectives over time.

Agile project approaches are well suited to SharePoint because they engage the project stakeholders.

Upgrading to a new version of SharePoint provides an opportunity to institute governance and clean up your sites. Learning about which new features you will need is a great way to increase overall knowledge of SharePoint and give your intranet a fresh start.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Small Business

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is a great solution for small businesses because you don't need to worry about the server infrastructure or purchasing server software licenses.  But what if you need fewer than the minimum five users for Dynamics CRM Online?

Microsoft publishes a list of three options for small businesses to track their sales activities:

http://community.dynamics.com/crm/b/xrm/archive/2014/04/21/microsoft-crm-options-for-small-businesses.aspx

One of them is Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM: a cloud-based CRM solution from xRM, a Microsoft partner that specializes in CRM and private cloud solutions. Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM is priced at the same monthly subscription rates as Dynamics CRM Online but does not have a minimum number of users.  It requires an initial setup fee of $50 in addition to the monthly subscriptions. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Government Contractors: Tailoring Your CRM to Shipley Processes

Shipley Associates (www.shipleywins.com) has developed the best known business development processes for government contractors.  The Shipley seven-phase process has been proven to help government contractors increase their win rate and achieve growth in new contracts. According to their publication Capturing Federal Business:

"Rarely, though, are all steps shown appropriate for a particular company or a given business opportunity.  Successful business development organizations will tailed this model to reflect characteristics and time scales of their markets, leaving out or adjusting tasks if necessary."

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors lends itself to tailoring, so you can configure automated business processes to match the needs of your company and the type of opportunities you pursue.  You can quickly add or delete fields, and design workflows using a wizard user interface.  As I said in a February blog post, one size does not fill all for government contractors.