All posts by Dr Nitin Paranjape

Store files in Office 365 – Best Practices

(Reading time 3 min ) This article provides concise instructions on where to store files when you have Office 365 E3 or above in your organization. There are multiple places and apps within Office 365 where files can be stored. But there is no clarity about which file goes where.  Here is a simple guide for everyone.

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Transforming Shadow Analytics

This content is relevant only if you are a CIO (or IT decision maker). Here is the video of the session I conducted at CIO Power List event on 4th May, 2018, at Conrad, Pune. Shadow Analytics has been around ever since “shadows” – also called end users – are around. Everyone knows about. Some people tried to eliminate it. Nobody succeeded.

This 30 minute video explains how to use Shadow Analytics as an opportunity to empower rather than restrict users and improve effective utilization of data.

Demos Included

The demos included in this Shadow Analytics video are:
Flash Fill, Insights, Explain the increase and Q&A.

Insights option in Insert menu of Excel

What is Shadow Analytics?

It is all kinds of data capture, clean-up, manipulation and report generation performed by end users without IT intervention.

If you generate a report from a business system (which is built or managed by IT), it is alright. But if you copy paste data from multiple such reports into Excel and then generate a new report, it becomes “Shadow Analytics”.

As you can imagine, it is difficult to eliminate it. Irrespective of how much time and effort you have spent on creating the most flexible ad-hoc reporting systems, it is impossible to provide every possible variation that users want. Therefore, Shadow Analytics has always been there and is likely to survive in the foreseeable future.

Problems associated with Shadow Analytics

Primarily two problems. It is extremely error prone and time consuming. There are lots of related problems. The root cause is that data is handled in a casual manner without regard for its recency and in a completely undocumented manner.

This can lead to wrong decisions, delayed decisions, increased operational risk and enormous wastage of precious time.

Summary

It is impossible to handle and correct the data sources and deliver data to users in a manner which is so easy that they stop doing the manual capture and clean-up altogether.

Once clean, accurate and updated data is available as input, creating reports can be done by end users in a more informed and productive manner.

Left hug Computer Right hug

Events from email in Outlook

This is a very convenient feature available in Outlook. You may be using it even without knowing about it. Outlook can analyze your incoming emails and create calendar entries (events) based upon them. Four categories are understood as of now, flight bookings, hotel reservations, car bookings and package delivery.

This is based upon machine learning algorithms – no human is looking at your emails. Once a mail is detected as an event, a calendar entry is created automatically. Here is an example of a travel booking.

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This mail was automatically processed by Outlook and the following calendar event was created:

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Check-in reminder

In addition, it created a reminder 3 hours before the departure time. That’s nice but there is more. Exactly 24 hours before the flight departure, I received an email reminder for checking-in. This reminder did not originate in my calendar. It came from a generic reminder service.

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Customize automatic processing

To change these settings, go to Outlook web access – Options (the gears wheel) – Automatic processing. Notice that the Package Delivery option is not selected by default.

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Although it sounds fairly simple, the internal working of this feature is quite complex. Why? Because there are thousands of different formats for hotel and flight booking mails. It has to understand the relevant fields and create the calendar events. This is where machine learning is helping us – behind the scenes.

Airplane

PowerPoint icons to shapes

PowerPoint provides 500+ icons in SVG format. I recently published a blog which has a downloadable version of all icons in a PPTX file. Scalable vector graphic format icons cannot be edited inside PowerPoint. You cannot treat them like any other PowerPoint shape. But now, we can convert icons into shapes. Once converted to shapes all the PowerPoint shape features available. You can also use the Merge Shapes option to combine or subtract shapes. Here is how you do it:

insert a new shape,  resize it as required , right click on it  and choose Convert To Shapes. 

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Read the dialogue which appears and click  Ok.

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The icon may get converted to one or more shapes. If it has more than one shape, it will be in a grouped state. So it is a good idea to right click on it and try Ungroup. If Ungroup option is inactive, there is only one shape.

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Here we have three shapes. Now the shapes can be used like any other PowerPoint shape.

What to do with the shapes?

Once Icons are converted to shapes, there are few things which can really add value. Color and animation. I will write separate blog for this but here is an example.

The icon above is from the Analytics category. It is a speedometer icon which is often used in performance management. Management dashboards showing KPIs often use this type of speedometer graphic. Here is how we can enhance the speedometer icon after it is converted to shapes.

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With Animation, the needle can be made to move to show the current state of performance.

More stuff on icons coming soon…

What is Microsoft Teams

May be you already know this. But still, read for just 2 minutes more to clarify your thoughts.  Teams is an app which streamlines teamwork. That is the obvious definition. But this is an incomplete description.

Coordinating with multiple persons is Teamwork. Agreed. But there are a plethora of apps available to collaborate with others. What is special about Teams?

Teams is an app which helps you work with all types of Technologies. So it is not just teamwork with other people, it is with multiple technologies as well.

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