1.000.000.000.000 & The Performance Pyramid

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The era of BIG numbers is continuing. In my June 2018 blog, I already wrote about big numbers and big data, mentioned Microsoft’s market capitalization and predicted that the Azure Cloud financial figures probably would look great.

It was not so difficult to predict that, and it was even an understatement as headlines proved after Microsoft announced their financial results. Here is just one example:

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On 12 July, Microsoft market capitalization exceeded $800bn for the first time.  But there is always big, bigger and biggest. 1.000.000.000.000 is the number we saw passing by in August and September, the market cap of both Apple and Amazon reaching those highs. Clearly, Apple won the race to reach $1 trillion in market capitalization. Mad Money according to CNBC’s Jim Cramer. Well, give me a piece of that mad money and I would be more than happy with it.

These market cap figures are larger than the national income of the majority of countries in the world and the respective CEO’s are potentially more powerful than most political leaders of these countries. These companies have become so big that raises questions. Do they cause antitrust issues? Is there enough regulation in place to make sure they don’t hold too much economic and political power? For this money, you can buy 15 of the most expensive companies in Germany, including SAP. BTW, is it a coincidence that the 6 most expensive companies are all cloud companies? Oracle, IBM, and SAP are following as software vendors and service providers. There is a nice clickable visual on this website.

The Dynamics growth figures were even higher than I expected, and Microsoft’s revenue is more diversified than any other cloud company.

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“The law of large numbers is kicking in,” Evercore ISI analyst Kirk Materne told CNBC in an interview, referring to Azure’s growth. “The base is getting bigger. It is growing faster than Amazon Web Services did when it was at a similar size. This is probably a $9 billion business growing at more than 80 percent.”

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All Microsoft partners gathered mid-July to attend Microsoft Inspire in Las Vegas, the traditional kickoff of Microsoft’s new fiscal year. If you have been following the Microsoft news, then most of the Inspire 2018 news has already been highlighted, but there is 1 sentence of Satya Nadella worth mentioning again. This is the 1 short sentence with which he summed up what the difference is between Microsoft and Apple or Amazon. On stage, and earlier in a recent interview with Cnet, Nadella shared some insights into the inner workings of Microsoft, including what he has tried to change about the company. On the quest of hiring the best employees, Satya’s said, “You join here, not to be cool, but to make others cool.”. Please read the full analysis here.

The shift to subscription-based services will further increase. I already noticed the same concepts for the fashion, airline and many more industries. But I also see a risk of a subscription disease. In my personal life, I am getting fed up with all these subscriptions like Spotify, Netflix and more, leading to a high level of continuous returning variable base costs. Also, with the power and market dominance of the software companies mentioned above the risk of price increases is not far away. Microsoft already announced changed pricing for Office 2019 and Windows Server Version 2019.

On another note, the cloud promise and constant evergreen upgrades without disruption are nearly there. Microsoft has announced the way they modernize updating Microsoft Dynamics 365. Please read the message and think of this for a while. It at least means that the pace of our newsletters updates is slower than the updates Microsoft will implement! Compared to doing an update once per 3, 4 or 5 years this is going to happen each month. There is no other business application vendor in combination with a platform that can deliver that. What does this mean for add-ons and customizations? It makes more sense to take the ISV business serious, not only from the ISV perspective but also from a Customer and Partner perspective. Microsoft is exactly doing that. Only dedicated and focused ISV’s can keep hold of Microsoft’s speed of updating. Similar to constant updates I talked about constant acquisitions earlier. The market of enterprise software and service provides is following the automotive market, where there are only a few large players with multiple brands left, trying to distinguish themselves more on emotion and image than on product. How can software vendors do that? “We are here to make others cool.”.

So, the number of players in the world of software vendors is getting smaller and smaller and the same is true for the number of partners in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 world. The number is smaller, but the size of each partner is getting larger. So, if you as a company are looking for a new solution it is getting easier and more difficult at the same time. The same is true with elections and chances of winning. As we have seen above magic is in the numbers and as you may know, numbers always attract me. Politicians and companies can learn from mathematical challenges.

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Here is the story of Pete and Mary playing a game which I read in a column of Ionica Smeets. There are 4 vases filled with 5 marbles. Each vase has 4 white and 1 red marble. They both may pick 4 marbles from 1 or more vases blindfolded. The person with the largest number of red marbles wins the game. Pete may start and decides to pick a marble from each vase. Mary decides to pick the remaining 4 marbles from 1 vase. Who do you think has the biggest chance of winning? Pete seems very smart as Mary can only pick 1 red marble at max and he has a chance of picking 4 red marbles!

Let’s calculate their chances and start with Mary’s point of view. Her chance of picking a red marble is zero (0) or one (1). The chance of her picking zero red marbles is one-fifth (1/5), because that is the chance of Pete picking that 1 red marble from her vase. If that is the case, then Pete always has a higher chance of picking the most red marbles. This way his chance of winning is 1/5.

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But now let’s look at it from a different perspective. Mary has a chance of 4/5 to pick a red marble. Then there are 3 more potential results:

  • If Pete did not pick a red marble at all, Mary wins
  • If Pete exactly picked 1 red marble, they end equally
  • and if Pete has more than 1 red marble he wins

In case 1) the chance of Pete not picking a red marble out of the first vase is 4/5. The vases are independent and the chance of Mary winning is 4/5 x 4/5 x 4/5 x 4/5 = 256/625 or around 41 %.

In case 2) Mary has 1 red marble and the chance of Pete picking one red marble from the other 3 vases is 3 x 1/5 x 4/5 x 4/5 = 48/125 (need to multiply by 3 since the red marble may come from any of the 3 vases). And then further multiplied by the chance of Mary picking 1 red marble makes it a chance of 192/625 or ± 31% to equal.

In case 3) the chance of Pete beating Mary with a larger number of red marbles is 52/625 (feel free to make the calculation 😊 and if you enjoy doing this, then do this again with vases filled with n white marbles and 1 red marble). Adding the 1/5 chance of Mary picking zero red marbles makes Pete’s chance of winning 177/625 or ± 28%.

Double check: 41% + 31% + 28% = 100 % (Yes!). So: Mary by far has the best chance to win with the strategy she followed. Having 1 red marble is often enough to win. The lesson for politicians and companies: it is better to win by forming a coalition and win with a narrow majority than with trying to gather a huge majority for only a few of your proposals, topics or products.

To bouncer off in sports, we see it is hard to reach the top and it is even more difficult to stay there. Last week I attended the HSO UK Advance 2018 customer day in the beautiful Williams F1 Conference Centre and the theme was about driving high performance into your digital future.

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6-Willaims-performance2.jpgRichard West was one of the presenters and talked about the need to focus on continuous performance improvement and gave some nice insights in the F1 industry. Richard is the co-author of Performance at the Limit – Business Lessons from Formula 1 Motor Racing’ (Written by Jenkins, Pasternak, and West and Published by Cambridge University Press).

I have often made the comparison between sports and business. Richard made very clear to me that it makes sense by quoting the owner of the Williams F1 team Sir Frank Williams: ‘For two on a Sunday afternoon it’s a sport, the rest of the time it’s business!’

Richard talked about things that form the basis or prerequisites of becoming a successful team. It’s about people, winning team culture, focus, behavior and continuous performance improvement with a plan-do-review cycle. The original book may be a bit older, but the lessons are so true. Yesterday I attended the introduction evening for parents of my youngest daughter who is now going to middle school and the director said: “You cannot not learn”. Focus is related to constant learning and to a winning culture described in The Performance Pyramid which is nicely explained in this video of professor Mark Jenkins:

To repeat the lesson mentioned earlier: it is better to win by forming a coalition and win with a narrow majority, than with trying to gather a huge majority for only a few of your products. I enjoy being a Microsoft partner.

Kind regards,

On behalf of Dynamics Software
Eric Veldkamp

Trust: the currency of big data sustainability

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Thank you for reading our June 2018 newsletter.

Another June, another fiscal year-end for Microsoft. I look forward to seeing Microsoft’s financial results. Not because I am a shareholder (I’m not), which I regret given the fact that Microsoft surpassed Alphabet’s market capitalization on May 29th this year.

I trust that the financial figures related to Azure cloud services will look great, although Microsoft will probably not reach their internal targets for Dynamics 365. I do believe the increase will be significant and probably above market average which will result in a larger market share of implemented business applications. If you set your targets unrealistically high it may look bad (internal) but look good (external), at the same time as you beat your competitor’s growth. Read this interesting article on Forbes.com to find out more why Microsoft will hit the $1T market cap 3 years before Alphabet will.

Coincidence or not I came across the quote of the day on Forbes.com when reading the article. The quote read: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark”. I doubt whether POTUS would subscribe to that quote from the great Michelangelo.

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It was funny to see the size of the envelope Trump received from Kim Jung Un by the way. Sometimes I do get complaints that my blogs are too long, but apparently Kim writes extremely long letters that they require this size of envelopes. Social media immediately busted on the size of the envelop but I’m sure it contains very interesting information which was transferred in an old-fashioned secure way: the letter.

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On May 25th the General Data Protection Regulation (European Regulation 2016/679) came into effect. I’m not sure what your personal thoughts are about the regulation but instead of expecting to receive less emails, I only received more! I wonder how Trump was informed about these privacy updates. Could it be that he also received them in old-fashioned and oversized envelopes?

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As you may know, the IT sector is often filed with buzzwords such as Internet of Things, Digital Transformation, Blockchain, to name a few. Blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, that are linked and secured using cryptography. I will save you any further technical details on blockchain, but there’s a certain paradox between blockchain and GDPR. The immutable nature of blockchain networks could break Europe’s new GDPR rules. In some ways GDPR has an opposite effect when it comes to making blockchain architecture GDPR compliant. But when implemented properly, a distributed ledger technology could be part of a solution for compliance. If you want to find our more, I encourage you to read this article on Computerworld.

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Dynamics Software sponsored the 2018 European Rental Association Convention,  held in May in Vienna. This is one of the few events C-level management attends. During the event there was a special interest workshop on Digital Transformation. The workshop discussed the future of rental and the effects of Digital Transformation such as payment models, the viability of physical stores, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. One of the conclusions on going digital in rental is that it can only work if there is availability and accessibility of equipment, and trust.

The closing keynote was given by Austrian born Oxford professor Viktor-Mayer Schönberger . He is the co-author of “Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think” (2013) and “Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age” (2009!). Those subjects are an important part of the GDPR. His most recent book is called “The Data Economy”. In his very interesting presentation he talked about data and decision making, and as you may recall from my previous blogs, these are one of my favorite topics.

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A nice example about insights in data in his presentation was that for years marketers would fret over the question: Which is America’s favorite pie? Everybody knows the most popular pie in the US is apple pie. Right? Why? It was because supermarkets stated that the 12-inch apple pie had the highest sales. But a couple of years ago somebody did research and when asking people what their favorite pie was, it appeared that nobody really liked apple pie. Most Americans would name cherry pie, apricot pie or any other kind of pie as their favorite. Hardly anybody would answer apple pie.

It so happens that when families discuss which kind of pie to buy, apple pie is often chosen as some sort of compromise. When negotiating, apple pie turns out to give the least problems because nobody really dislikes apple pie. For want of any other option, Americans were forced to buy large apple pies.

As a matter of fact, a 12-inch apple pie is really big. Big enough to feed an entire family. The researcher noted that perhaps we were asking the wrong question. Instead of asking what your favorite pie is, we should ask what the right size of apple pie is for supermarkets to store. Analytics revealed that the ideal size of a pie should be about 5 inches, so that people who liked apple pie could buy it per requirement, and not be compelled to buy in excess. Once this issue was addressed and pies were baked accordingly, apple pie sales shot up. Prices came down too, as economies of scale kicked in. A great example of big data helping us to ask the right questions.

You can watch a 2015 presentation of Viktor here:

In his presentation Victor also gave the example of Duolingo, a phone app used to learn new languages. Data patterns revealed that the Spanish were not able to learn English in the way it was offered through this app. They got down to fixing the problem, and today Duolingo has a special app for the Spanish to learn English. A customized solution to a unique problem.

Walmart stores in America always see a spike in the sale of strawberry pop tarts, whenever there is a hurricane warning. Why does this happen? Is it because the sugary content is comforting at times of extreme stress? The data does not tell us why. And it is not very interesting for Walmart as well. All they need to do is make sure that pop tarts are available and easy to pick up when a hurricane is arriving. We don’t always need to know why and establish a causal effect relationship.

To avert impending death on premature babies a certain experiment was carried out in Canada. Besides providing emergency medical support, the aim was to see if Big Data could be used to save lives. Digital sensors were primed into action, which showed up to 1200 data points per baby per second. In the process an interesting pattern emerged. 24 hours before the onset of a major infection, the vital signs of the babies would stabilize. Almost like a lull before the storm. The doctors did not know why, but it was enough for them to tease out the value from this data to save lives. It acted as warning 24 hours in advance.

Databases and data can be hard to see trough. On what do you focus, and what do you see, or do you hear? This is being nicely illustrated in the recent Laurel or Yanny viral that is scientifically explained in this video:

A similar challenge occurs visually with the color of these tennis balls, You may also remember the color of the dress viral from 2015. Or the number of circles you see in the next picture?
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Created by Anthony Norcia, the illusion won the ‘Illusion of the Year’ contest in 2006. The image called the ‘Coffer Illusion’ shows a pattern of rectangles, but something is hidden is plain sight. The Coffer Illusion may initially appear as a series of sunken rectangular pattern, but after a few seconds, your brain’s representation of the image may ‘flip’ to give you the experience of 16 circles in the background. Some people are unable to see it.

The normal way of looking at data is: question -> data -> answer. But are we asking the right questions? Viktor is convinced that the more data is available, the more questions you can ask. This will in the end lead to innovation and he gave the self-driving car and Amazon (revenue growing 30% after introduction of recommendations) as examples.

Because google collected 1000000000 data per second compared to traditional car producers, they are better capable in driving the self-driving car innovation. Less is more and more is better, but relative to what you are looking for.

In Germany Lufthansa flight data are now used to do better weather forecasts and Inrix used to better predict traffic jams. Inrix is a leading traffic intelligence provider. Its services are widely used by commuters to avail the best routes and avoid traffic jams. Obviously Inrix has a repository of gargantuan sized data sets. Some part of that data was used to draw out a correlation between traffic movement around shopping malls, and the revenue that was generated from these malls. Predictive Analytics came into play to predict future sales as well. A classic case of how data is being reused to generate value for an altogether different business line. Car sharing could be a solution to reduce traffic jams, but the problem is that 70% of the drivers think they drive better than other drivers. It is why people also are afraid of flying. They like to be in control which flying, and carpooling do not allow. Similarly, with Big Data, privacy and decision making, in the end, comes to trust and therefore trust is the currency of Big Data sustainability. How will your customers get value out of data?

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But why should we hand over our data to others when we receive nothing in return? Car manufacturers, banks and software providers should consider this when attempting to collect data. The recent Facebook consumer privacy scandal with Cambridge Analytica has focused attention on the importance of trust. Why should we trust Facebook or other technology providers to follow through on privacy promises when they have demonstrated that they are willing to flaunt their internal policies and government oversight when the need suits them? Trust is about humility and humanity.

As Rep. Michael Doyle, a Democrat from Pennsylvania asked Mark Zuckerberg; “Today, we are at a reflection point in the debate over (consumer) data privacy and regulation which has impact on brands and technology companies that provide the tools”. It is about the terms of trust and consumers are prepared to share information about themselves in return for something which make it better for them (products and/or services). But like with the planes and the carpool they will only do that if they can control and understand what’s happening with their data. Trust is everything. The next leading brands will be the most trusted brands.

This summer I will be attending Microsoft’s Inspire in Las Vegas followed by a holiday in the Western part of US with my family. I am looking forward to apple pie, not strawberry pop tarts. And if too hot, like most of the data centers, you can always go take a swim with the Microsoft’s deep sea data center.

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What will happen when this data center leaks? In all cases you should always clean your own leaks, like the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte did when dropping his coffee cup.

Wishing you a hot and Big Data summer with lots of coffee!

Kind regards,

On behalf of Dynamics Software

Eric Veldkamp

eXtreme and Texas Sharpshooter

Thank you for reading our April 2018 newsletter.

eXtreme is the theme. Why? Doing normal is not the norm anymore. It seems everything has to go faster, further, better, higher, cheaper, eXtremer than before. I am in the Microsoft business for 15 years now and heard at the most recent conference that there has never been a better time to partner with Microsoft. This is what I have heard for 15 years and it is probably true. I look forward to the next 15 years. I have attended many Microsoft and related events and that is why I am often there as a veteran, I even won the most expensive medal being such a veteran.

In the past Microsoft Dynamics was quite synoptic since it was siloed in classic Microsoft (Windows, Office, etc.) and the business applications division (Microsoft Dynamics) with products for CRM, ERP (in multiple flavors: AX, GP, NAV and SL) and BI. Since the introduction of Gartner on the Pace-Layered Application Strategy and IT Organizational Design with systems of record, systems of differentiation and systems of innovation, Microsoft introduced Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 is core to Microsoft and customers and is creating opportunities in areas where Dynamics Software has not been in or after before, like D365 for Sales, D365 for Field Service, PowerBI, PowerApps and so on and so forth. The digital feedback loop Microsoft introduced recently during the Business Forward Event and the Spring 2018 release proves why there has never been a better time than to partner and use Microsoft Business applications. The story is getting better every 6 months.

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I am not going to explain these loops, you can find a lot online on this by following the session links above or read James Philips’ blog. Given Dynamics being core to Microsoft, accordingly and especially since Microsoft stopped organizing their Convergence (Dynamics only) event, all the relevant event organizers, like the User Groups and eXtreme started changing their event names from CRM and AX to “Something 365”. I expect Directions with focus on NAV, now Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central will follow soon. So, 2 weeks ago I was a rookie attending eXtreme 365 for the first time and everything was eXtreme indeed. The location, the event, the people, the presentations, the food, the drinks and more. The event was in the beautiful Croatian city of Dubrovnik, a city full of eXtremes, tourist visitors, history, food and (normally) beautiful weather.

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I was surprised the event was not named Croatia 365 since the Croatian tourism offices are already operating under that name with a nice logo:

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Is Microsoft sponsoring Croatia? The event was a perfect mix of great content and nice people of Microsoft, partners and customers. The presentations were good, especially if you consider it took Cecilia Flombaum and Mike Ehrenberg 3, 4 or 5 flights and up to 40 hours to get to Dubrovnik (and to get out of Dubrovnik). I was invited by Microsoft to present in 2 of their presentations. Unfortunately one session only had 2 attendees and one of them was not even coming for the content of the presentation, but to speak to me right after the session. The other session had a full room with interesting discussions on adding field service to the partner practice. For that session I was introduced by Lutz Jannausch as Mr. Service and I am proud getting that label. Thank you Lutz for that introduction, but now my wife is expecting me to do deliver full service in the house!
My sister in law is Croatian, so I knew that food, drinks and hospitality are of top priority. And yes, there is a logo for Croatia and good food as well.

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We had very nice dinners and I think I grew 5 kilograms only that week! But the weather……. My sister in law says the sun is always shining in Croatia. Well, not the week of eXtreme: eXtreme winds were holding the planes to land in Dubrovnik Airport. On the way to Dubrovnik many flights were rerouted via Split or Zagreb, but fortunately not ours, we were lucky. The return flight was a different story though. Arriving at a brand new empty airport already made me a bit suspicious. And yes, the flight got cancelled and we were booked on a 5 hour bus drive to Split and then on a flight to Zagreb, where we enjoyed an extra hotel overnight in the lovely Sheraton hotel to catch the next day flight to Amsterdam. What a joy! My colleague decided to opt for the Frankfurt flight and we contested on who would be at home first. The Sheraton hotel in Zagreb was nice, but we had to leave early to catch the flight to Amsterdam. So, we received a breakfast bag on our way to airport. And since Croatia Airlines provided business class tickets we had another breakfast in the lounge, followed by the 3rd breakfast in the business class on the plane. And given the fact that breakfast is always one of my daily highlights, I grew another 2 kilos…… By the way: we won the contest arriving at 1.30 PM (36 hours of travel)  and my colleague at 5.30 PM.

This dubious travel achievement followed another recent travel disaster from England where we were caught by severe snow storms resulting in cancelled flights, terrible bus and train rides arriving 36 hours later than originally planned. And there was another one recently where the weather had a lot of influence causing significant delays. Has the climate changed and do we have more severe weather conditions or is just a coincidence as I travel a lot? This, as well as the suspected link between Microsoft 365 and Croatia 365 and the fact that many houses are for sale in my neighbourhood, reminded me on a story I recently read about the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy or clustering illusion. Friends visiting us concluded something must be wrong with our neighbourhood given the number of houses for sale. This is known as the Texas sharpshooter fallacy, an informal fallacy ignoring the difference while focusing on the similarities, thus coming to an inaccurate conclusion. The fallacy’s name comes from a parable in which a Texan fires his gun at the side of a barn, paints a bullseye around the bullet hole, and claims to be a sharpshooter. Though the shot may have been totally random, he makes it appear as though he has performed a highly non-random act. In normal target practice, the bullseye defines a region of significance, and there’s a low probability of hitting it by firing in a random direction. However, when the region of significance is determined after the event has occurred, any outcome at all can be made to appear spectacularly improbable. It is explained in this video:

The clustering of the houses for sale can be a coincidence or have another cause than the reputation of the neighborhood. The clustering illusion is something seen in epidemiology where people link concentrations of a certain disease (like cancer) to something in the area (water- or air pollution, power cables, factories), but exceptional outcomes on small numbers don’t prove significant causal interrelations. Another example, it strikes most people as unexpected if heads comes up four times in a row during a series of coin flips. However, in a series of 20 flips, there is a 50% chance of getting four heads in a row. Don’t believe the Law of Small Numbers.

William Feller discovered that people easily see a pattern in random situations. During the second World War bombings in London, it appeared that some areas were bombed much more than others, letting people to believe that German spies must live in the untouched areas. William’s statistics analysis in 1950 showed that the impacts of V-2 rockets on London were a close fit to a random distribution.

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And William is born in Croatia! Is this a coincidence or do I see a pattern here? This illusion is born in the prehistory. Our forefathers were always cautious to ensure they would survive. They tried to mastermind the cause of changes in their environments to anticipate on these changes. When asking the broker why so many houses are for sale he smiled: “It is just an area with long streets and lots of houses”.

The best 2 eXtremes I came across recently are the performance of Chris Vos at the Paralympic games in PyeongChang. At the age of 5 Vos got into an accident which resulted in his right leg being paralyzed. Chris and many others showed you can do the impossible during the Paralympic games. Chris won a silver medal in PyeongChang.

Learn more on Chris in this video:

And last Thursday, I attended a so called Winners tournament which was the best football match I have ever played. It is an indoor soccer event with and for disabled people. We played with 2 Down syndrome boys and only the goals they scored counted, just winners! Besides their enthusiasm there was 1 other thing that gave me a good feeling and that was the first time I played with someone having more grey hair than I have!

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To end this blog I would love to share some funny videos on dubious travel achievements.

Unnecessary words used by airlines:

And 4 bored guys at the airport:

Wishing you a lot of eXtremes and sharpshooting.

Kind regards,

On behalf of Dynamics Software

Eric Veldkamp

Elusive creative genius fishing, Olé!

Thank you for reading our February 2018 newsletter.

This blog is not about phishing emails, DDos attacks or other popular hack methods. My first sentence is always the same, except the month and the year vary. Does that matter? Probably not, you might judge this as a lack of creativity or you like the consistency, something I often hear people like. By continuing reading everything you just read happened in the past. Since people spent less time on reading you see more and more the average reading time being mentioned at the top of an article. You can then decide quickly if you want to read it, have time to read it now, later, when and how. I know my audience is busy and has hardly any time to read, so I will try to keep it short and do more with less, hopefully interesting enough and hopefully you have decided to still read this. Maybe I should switch from blogging to vlogging to keep it more attractive and make some money with it on YouTube.

Writing in essence is an expression of creativity and creativity is what differentiates humans from computers or robots. My creative colleague Gideon Neijs made me aware of an older TED talk from Elizbeth Gilbert, (the author of Eat, Pray, Love) about Your elusive creative genius and he thought I could use this somehow for my blogs. That is very true, I very much like Elizabeth’s insights in her life being doomed after her successful book, talking about fear of failure, anxieties and rational and the link between creation and suffering. Especially the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius (as the Roman called it, where the Greek called it a demon). It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk. So, let’s drink gin at 9 am, dance the whole day and say Olé, Olé as the Spanish dancers do. Have a look:

Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed, like an idea, a theory, art, a musical composition, a physical object, a computer program, a book or a blog. During the creativity process creators are confronted with anxiety and fear of failure. Fear of failure is also a big business model and is the reason why there is a business we supply to, which is why companies are spending money on preventive maintenance processes and systems to support that.

To overcome the anxiety and fear of failure the creator has to have a strong belief in him or herself and making the decision to persist with the work. I recently also read an article from Adam Grant, (organizational psychologist and Wharton professor and bestselling author of GIVE AND TAKE, ORIGINALS, and OPTION B) that every human has brilliant ideas and everybody could be a creator, but only few do something with it. Very interesting, but to avoid being too creative (or distracted if you like) maybe more on this in a future blog, I have decided now to continue with something else and stay persistent.

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Life is continuously making decisions from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed again to get some sleep. My most brilliant ideas, by the way, rise when sleeping and I have a very bad memory. As I wrote in my previous blog, decision making is mostly done on emotions (or reptile brain or system 1) instead of rational (System 2). Our marketing team recently attended a very interesting Digital Engagement Marketing Workshop offered by Microsoft. This statement on decision making was reconfirmed during that workshop and happens everywhere. The workshop was facilitated by Sharka Chobot, Chief Transformation Officer at Neural Impact and adjunct professor of marketing and behavioral science at the University of British Columbia and Joanne Charley, NI’s Chief Marketing Officer and Professor Marketing & Behavioral Science. I enjoyed working with these impactful women. And an impact it had, so much that the whole country went through a big storm in the Netherlands on January 18, 2018, the first day of the workshop.

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In a previous workshop Neural Impact’s Mark Stuyt suggested to have sales and marketing think like a fish and he told a story about his brother. I am not sure if it was really his brother though. If you search online, you will find the story about Captain John Rade who has been a fisherman ever since he was a boy. He is legendary in the commercial fishing world as he’ll catch big and very valuable fish everyday he goes out to fish. It wouldn’t matter how bad the weather is or if conditions weren’t ideal. When others come home with empty nets, he always gets a fish. When interviewed about the secret of his success, John said: “It’s not really a secret. It’s pretty simple really. I just do the opposite to what most other fishermen do. You see, when most fishermen go out to fish, they think like fishermen. When I go out, I think like a fish”.

think_like_a_fish

You might have heard this story before, so I won’t reproduce  it to the full extent (not very creative), so if you are interested to read the full story visit this URL, but  after you have finished reading this blog. The moral of the story is to think as your (prospective) customers do, be part of the tribe as you then know what they need. John has been doing that every day for 33 years now and that’s the other part of his secret. You must be consistent and focused, it’s simple, but far from easy.

Making decisions based on emotions is done everywhere illustrated by a very recent example in the European Union, which voted to ban Pulse Fishing. Pulse fishing is claimed by many conservationists to be cruel and destructive, as well as unnecessary, method of fishing. However, others see it as a more humane alternative to the destructive practices of beam trawling, in which a heavy metal bar is dragged across the sea floor ruining it. Pulse fishing sends a current of electricity through sections of the seabed, disturbing the fish and propelling some of them into the net, but beam trawling can rip up the seabed along with fish habitats. I am not an expert in fishing (I try to be a fish and get away from fishermen), but my point of view based on media reports (inspired by an article of NOS reporter Thomas Spekschoor) is that the Dutch lost as they did not anticipate on the emotions of people. Pulse fishing is a Dutch innovation and the promise is that it saves fuel significantly and is creating less damage to the ocean floor.

The Dutch approach was to convince the voters based on rational science reports with proof that pulse fishing is good. The French approach was very different. There was a dancing group visualizing the electrocution of fish, a cook explaining he could not create nice meals of pulse catch fish. Imagine the congressmen enjoying their fish meals in a picturesque restaurant in the port of a nice old Atlantic ocean town on a summer day in France. But the biggest trump were the local fishermen doing their daily jobs like they have done them for many years without innovation. I am not going to judge which party was right (I am not an expert), but clearly this is a proof that emotion is the most important thing in decision making. In the end members of European Parliament voted 402 to 232 for the prohibition, according to NGO Our Fish. Only 2 months earlier it looked like the Dutch would win this battle as the fishing committee discussed this file. 20 out of the 30 MEP fishing experts did not see any danger in pulse fishing and voted for a plan that would not harm the Dutch fishermen, only 5 voted against the plan. And normally this is where it ends, but the fishing committee decided it would be better to vote for it in the 751 member parliament of which many live in a country without a sea, let alone the north sea.

fish

This was the chance for Bloom Association who played an important role in influencing the emotions of those members of parliament. From an office the size of a toilet they managed to speak to 100+ members. Bloom convinced them without scientific proven statements, but how would a layman know? The Dutch lobby tried to even ban Bloom for spreading lies (or is fake news a better word?). European Parliament started an investigation, but that was still running during voting. By the way, Bloom is against both fishing methods, for them it is choice between the pest or cholera, which is not the choice most of our customers have. Ours and our competitor’s solutions are so good these days, it is more a choice between paradise or heaven. You may guess which one is paradise and which one is heaven.

We recently won a huge (1500+ users) project for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service enhanced with our Advanced Field Service. Doing a software and partner selection is serious decision making which companies (and the people within those companies) try to do as rationally as possible. You can compare it with the creative process of writing a book where the customer is only writing 1 book in 5-10 years and we are writing such books multiple times per year. The big difference is that these books are written by many authors. It is true that some books are more successful than others as we have learned from Elizabeth Gilbert. But teamwork can result in multiple successful books as Nikki French have proven. And I am an optimist, so I believe there are more successes to come than there are successes behind us.

Anyway, as we know emotions play that important role in software and partner selection as well. After being awarded this project we learned over dinner that thanks to the power, the trust and persistence of a few people we won the project. The only reason to contact us was their memory. They joined us for a visit to a Microsoft Executive Briefing Center based on which they remembered our experience in field service. The decision to choose Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service was against the company policy to select primarily SAP for business applications. And if, by exception, Microsoft Business Applications are selected above SAP, the implementation would normally be done through their contracted partners for the Microsoft solutions and not us. It appeared like we were very lucky as we did not really know how the hare run in that company. It made us emotional afterwards and we danced until 9 AM the next day. Without any gin. We will continue dancing, Olé, Olé.

ole ole

Wishing you a lot of emotional decisions in creative processes.

Kind regards,

On behalf of Dynamics Software

Eric Veldkamp

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI): The end of Homo Sapiens? 42

Thank you for reading our November 2017 newsletter.

It is an honor for me to write something you read. The past weeks I have been traveling a lot and attended interesting events with interesting speakers. I had the pleasure to attend Microsoft Envision in Orlando with numerous interesting speakers and attendees, like Beth Comstock, Satya Nadella and Michelle Obama. Michelle sat relaxed in an interview setting with Brad Smith, who I also mentioned in my last blog. It was a very nice interview, but there was hardly any connection to what brought us together: to learn and talk about connected devices, digital transformation, artificial intelligence and what that means to business.

In his keynote Satya updated us on Microsoft’s initiatives on Quantum Computing. As a non-technical person, I got lost on the topic after a few minutes, but from what I understood it is a very interesting and promising technology. Very intelligent people were saying very intelligent things on stage on Quantum Computing. Curious? Have a look at this video from minute 53:45. Wikipedia explains Quantum Computing in this article. I guess you all understand it now, don’t you? If not, in the below video it is explained in 2 minutes:

And for Dummies like me:

Interested in what Microsoft is doing on quantum computing? Check this and more here.

The 2017 European Utility Week, (in which we exhibited together with our partner Ferranti from Belgium) talked about connected devices, digital transformation, artificial intelligence and SMART utilities and metering. I also attended a couple of partner events and the main topic was about connected devices, artificial intelligence and digital transformation. The 2017 SMART Service and Maintenance congress also had some interesting speakers and talked about connected devices, artificial intelligence and digital transformation 😊.It looks like there is nothing else to talk about! I think Satya was right when he many years ago said that “every company is becoming a software company”. And based on my 20 years of software experience, I know software unfortunately comes with bugs for free and you have to pay to get it fixed.

It is good to see so many nice examples of smart connected devices. This is making us more and more dependent on internet and reliable electricity and connections. Power companies invest a lot in avoiding breakdowns, get inspired by the smart cable guard monitoring cables and predicting failures:

During the same event the organizers also invited a professional hacker from the GDI Foundation on stage to update us on security leaks and vulnerabilities on the internet. Of course he talked about connected devices and the risk they bring when they are not securely connected. Actually, I learned there is even a dedicated search engine to find connected devices, Shodan. Shodan is the world’s first search engine for Internet-connected devices where you can explore the Internet of Things, monitor network security and see the bigger picture. It was amazing to hear that even today not all networks are protected against the heartbleed bug. The bug got so famous that it got a name and a logo.

heartbleed

This bug was introduced for free into the software in 2012 and publicly disclosed in April 2014. 3.5 years later, despite all warnings and messaging, there are still connected and unprotected devices, even in hospitals around the corner having PC’s running Windows XP. It is costing a lot of money to repair the damage. Please, for more information see the report, after a search it returned 237,539 results on March 26, 2016. Click on the interactive map for your region. I phrase Brad Smith questioning the Envision audience (check video from 17:30) how many people are still using an iPod today? Nobody was raising the hand. The iPod was introduced 2 months after Windows XP was launched in 2001, so why are organizations still working on PC’s running Windows XP?

More recently, we were confronted with the major ransomware Petya cyber-attack infecting airlines, banks, shipping and utility organizations across Europe following just a few weeks after WannaCry attack. This is probably fresh in your memory, so I won’t dive into that. Brad is also mentioning this attack in his presentation. It is costing a lot of money to solve the collateral damage.

ransomware

What is the role of humans in this connected, digital, artificial world? The role will change, like the industrial revolution changed the role of humans. Recently, I saw a documentary on humans, gods and technology (VPRO, Tegenlicht October 29, 2017). Futurist and digital visionary Kevin Kelly talked about how Artificial intelligence can bring on a second industrial revolution. You can review his TED Talks here. In this documentary also historicist Yuval Noah Harari talked about the impact of these new technologies to the Homo Sapiens. It is funny to see a futurist and a historicist talk about the same topic. Yuval is making interesting links to sources of authorization for decision making, like religion and algorithms from Google, Bing or Facebook. Yuval is convinced that within 20 years Google algorithms will know us better than we know ourselves. If you are interested check out some of his videos or read his books. Bill GatesMark Zuckerberg and President Barack Obama have recommended it as a must-read. One of his quotes is that Homo Sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so. Are humans losing their autonomy? When I shared the link to the documentary to my friends via WhatsApp, one responded quite depressed on these future insights and the increased chasm between the rich and the poor, the increased silliness and disinterest of the majority.

maxresdefault

 

The Chinese government already knows the Chinese population better than the Chinese people know themselves. Chinese government is storing who is tweeting what, how long people sleep, which books are read, what is eaten and how long people take a shower. This is to make people have a better and happier life, of course. Data crunchers (as part of the construction internet culture) gather much more data than required, including private data allowing them to predict negative behavior. Chinese government is also working on the mother of all data projects: building a Social Credit System. This system is not only analyzing financial reliability, but also social morale. Parents who think their children do not visit them enough can go to court. If the judge confirms the children are failing, it will costs them points to their credit score of this social system. The first debtors are exposed as the system unfolds. Using Baidu, buying at Alibaba, navigating your car or chatting on your mobile in China is adding data to the database, allowing the data crunchers to improve their algorithms. Everybody is transparent and potentially people may get punished for something they have done or said long ago. It is good that the General Data Protection Regulation has become effective in Europe.

China_SocialCreditSS

I am not convinced Yuval is right. I think he is making some wrong assumptions. Algorithms work according to the design of the system and decisions are based on rules. These rules try to enforce a very rational way of decision making. This is why the chess computer Deep Blue could win playing against world chess champion Gary Gasparov. And that is why the computer AlphaGo could even beat the best human player (Lee Sedol) in the most complex board game GO Professional. The algorithm is self-learning and we think it works like the human brain and that is why Yuval is making his point. These algorithms are already steps ahead of the famous cat recognizing algorithm Google is using in Google Photo. Artificial Intelligence is not new, the first neural network was built by Marvin Minsky, the father of Artificial Intelligence. He died on January 24, 2016 at the age of 88.

Algorithms are not working like human brains. The human brain is making decisions in a different way according to Daniel Kahneman in his book on thinking fast & slow. We have a system 1 and a system 2, where system 1 is our intuition and system 2 is our rational thinking. System 1 sends suggestions to system 2 continuously. And here is the point: System 1 is responsible for 95% of our decisions and System 2 for 5%! So, 95% of our thinking is subconscious. “Life is too complicated to carefully evaluate every element of every situation, so we learn to take shortcuts to help us make what are usually reasonable and reliable decisions.”

Kahneman-systems-800x575

Reality is that Artificial Intelligence is still quite obtuse. I can bake my eggs and at the same time make a call and try to raise my kids. Most intelligent algorithms are idiot savants: they can do 1 thing very well, play chess or play GO. (this piece is inspired by article of Bard van de Weijer on Artificial Intelligence in Sir Edmund). We don’t know yet how to create algorithms that do 2 things at the same time or have different algorithms share knowledge. It is like you need to look into the cook book every time your loved one is asking you to bake an egg for her or him.

Algorithms today can only work based on big data. That is easy with photos of cats, but more difficult when data are more complex to access, like in healthcare. The biggest challenge for Artificial Intelligence is to become less thirsty for data, like humans do by using their intuition. We can calm down by Google’s Mustafa Suleyman’s conclusion that it will take decennia before Artificial Intelligence will think like humans do. Accordingly, it will take a while before Artificial Intelligence is making the decision to buy Microsoft Dynamics 365 business application software. Fortunately there is still work to do for the salesmen. And it will take a while before we all know the question which belongs to the answer: 42.

42

42 is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42. Deep Thought points out that the answer seems meaningless because the beings who instructed it never actually knew what the Question was. Sometimes Siri and Cortana sound like Deep Thought. Why the number 42? The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and Douglas Adams chose that one. “Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought ’42 will do’ I typed it out. End of story.”

Well, Artificial Intelligence is not a joke and not the end of the story. If developments are going faster than we now think, there is still an interesting thing to do to boost some morals as a human being: we can always play a role in creating new versions of the living photographs of Arthur Mole and John Thomas.

In search of some eye-catching imagery to boost morale surrounding US involvement in WWI, the US military commissioned the English-born photographer Arthur Mole and his assistant John Thomas to make a series of extraordinary group portraits. Between 1915 and 1921, with the dutiful help of thousands of servicemen and staff from various US military camps, the duo produced around thirty of the highly patriotic images, which Mole labelled “living photographs”

I am 47 now, passed 42, and I hope to have a long and healthy life to live to become at least 88. My grandfather said just before he passed away: “Don’t worry about me, they never have forgotten someone to takeaway.” If my kids would hear him say this now, I am sure they would ask him: “Do you know if there is Wi-Fi in heaven?” 42.

Wishing you a lot of artificial intelligence,

Kind regards,

On behalf of Dynamics Software

Eric Veldkamp

1 Day Fly and Zero Risk

Thank you for reading our September 2017 newsletter.

Welcome back! It feels like our last newsletter was published ages ago. In reality it was only 3 (very exciting) months back. July kicked off with the renewed and renamed edition of Microsoft Inspire in Washington D.C., previously known as the Worldwide Partner Conference. This rebranding reflects how Microsoft and its partner community is inspiring each other to “innovate and deliver powerful new solutions to customers.” Making and selling good software (on subscription basis) is considered being Microsoft’s primary business model, I wrote about Microsoft’s second core business in my November 2013 blog which is organizing events and making money with that. It’s third core business is rebranding everything.

Microsoft Inspire was very exciting for me, although for neutral folks it was a bit boring.

BoringFor me the highlights of this year’s Inspire were:

  • The announcement of the One Commercial Partner organization and the Co-sell investments (with the accompanying reorganization affecting not only the Microsoft Dynamics organization).
  • The ISV Cloud Embed Programme
  • The announcement of Microsoft 365, the new offering drawing the best across Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility and Security and Azure stack improvements.
  • Microsoft being the first global cloud services provider to offer contractual commitments to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR Complaint.png

  • The message on stage as well as behind and between the lines of placing partners back at the center of the estimated $4.5 trillion digital transformation opportunity.
  • The 1 day fly. Huh?

In my April 2017 blog, I talked about interesting numbers like PI, e, n a, 1.62, γ, g and c. Inspire also gave some insight in Microsoft by the numbers:

  • Every $1 of Microsoft revenue brings a return of $9.01 for Microsoft partners. Looking at our current revenue, there is still room for growth
  • 95% of Microsoft’s commercial revenue comes from partners
  • 17 million people around the globe are employed by Microsoft’s partners ecosystem
  • Microsoft employees make up less than 1% of this number
  • 64,000 Microsoft partners leading cloud solutions: that is more cloud partners than Amazon Web Services, Google, and Salesforce combined.
  • Microsoft partners earn 19% higher margins than the partners of the next closest competitor.
  • 140 Countries represented at the conference
  • 6 Priority verticals that will continue to be focused on (Financial Services, Manufacturing, Retail, Education, Health, Government)
  • 4 Application areas to support this (The Modern workplace, Business Applications, Applications and Infrastructure, Data and AI)
  • 1 Commercial Partner
  • 1 day fly. Huh?

If you want more Microsoft by the numbers go look here:

http://www.thewindowsclub.com/facts-figures-about-microsoft or:
https://www.onmsft.com/news/microsoft-numbers-look-how-many-people-are-using-microsofts-products-and-services

Satya Nadella’s keynote on Day 1 confirmed the direction to inspire and innovate and urged the partner community to take advantage of the opportunities that the new world presents. See his keynote where he talked about the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge:

https://www.onmsft.com/news/microsoft-inspire-2017-opening-keynote-watch-it-here

https://www.onmsft.com/news/check-out-this-video-highlighting-day-two-of-microsoft-inspire

What was my favorite presentation?
Of course I could not join them all and, besides some very interesting parallel sessions, I still prefer Brad Smith’s (Microsoft’s President and Chief Legal Officer) keynote on Microsoft’s commitment to security and sustainability followed by an interview with Ian Bremmer, President and Founder of Eurasia Group, where Brad and Ian discuss recent geopolitical events and the role the technology sector can play in advancing solutions to some of the world’s biggest issues. Will Mark Zuckerberg become president of the United States? These events led to more and more organizations leading the way for driving change around the globe above countries. My colleague Kevin Davis felt these insights were insulting to some countries, but I really enjoyed his view very much. It is definitely worthwhile reviewing this interview:

https://partner.microsoft.com/en-us/assets/2017/08/04/16/26/754561

And did you notice it? Please have a look a couple of seconds starting at 18:44.
Did you see the 1 day fly flying around? You probably thought it was flying around your personal device screen and you tried to wave it away, but the fly was flying in Washington D.C., It is funny to see that in this era of risk avoidance, such a very well organized event as Inspire with all the numbers as mentioned above, is little disturbed by a 1 day fly. A 1 day fly who decided to fly into the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and travel around the most important persons at that point in time in that building. What would the fly think?
Having a fly disturb an interesting interview is probably a risk the event organization did not think of and certainly did not anticipate on. And that is acceptable as it is a very small risk with visible, but limited consequences.

mayfly.jpg

1 day flies are also named mayflies. Mayflies (also known as Canadian soldiers, shadflies, fish flies or up-winged flies) are aquatic insects belonging to the order Ephemeroptera. This order is part of an ancient group of insects termed the Palaeoptera. Over 3,000 species of mayflies are known worldwide, grouped into over 400 genera in 42 families (Yes, numbers again!). Mayflies “hatch” (emerge as adults) from spring to autumn, not necessarily in May, in enormous numbers. This one hatched on July 12, 2017, that exciting day in July.

August was exciting for my family life enjoying the holidays. The news was headlined by the consequences of severe weather conditions in many, many countries, the fipronil food crisis and terror attacks in Europe as well as the nuclear tension with North Korea. Huge risk with potentially huge consequences.

Risk

Implementing business applications like ERP or CRM have big impact on organizations and therefore good project management is trying to minimize and mitigate risks. Still in every project things occur which was not anticipated on, the 1 day fly visiting projects.

Why do we want to exclude risks? He or she, who is aware of taking all the risks, would never leave the door, ever do sports again, dare to eat, go online and best do nothing at all watching the plants grow at home. People are prepared to take the risks where they (think they) can control themselves, like driving without seat-belts secured, smoking or drinking alcohol. Smokers know it is bad for their health and traffic is causing casualties, but they think: “That won’t happen to me!”. People also try to protect their kids, animals and pets for the risks they run. Putting tennis balls on a goat’s horn for instance is a worldwide phenomena to avoid risks.

Goats horn

If you want to see more of these, please have a look at the images from around the world of image chaser Idan Hayosh. Very funny. Similar like the fly above: we could only guess what would the goat think? Who was the first person to put a tennis ball on the goats horns? This must have been a farmer or parents protecting the goat and/or the kid to get bumped by its horns. From my own experience I remember this bump can be very painful and my parents were not tennis players. To avoid the goat bump into kids as they walk around, it is now allowed to remove the horns of goats at children’s zoo’s and farms in the Netherlands. But I have been told that this is bringing other risks, like the goat losing its integrity or getting bone sarcoma and infections. What choices do we make?

For things we cannot control like radiation, chemicals and cyber-attacks we only accept zero risks. That is why we protest against power pylons in our back yard and why governments are placing road blocks at events and popular touristic places where there is much crowd. The tendency to prefer the complete elimination of a risk, even when alternative options produce a greater reduction in risk (overall), is called the zero risk bias.

In research by Jonathan Baron, Rajeev Gowda and Howard Kunreuther in 1993, they asked their audience to decide on managing hazardous waste: “What should be cleaned up and who should pay for it?”

garbage.jpg

In their experiment they presented 2 major cities (1 with 2 million residents and the other with 1 million residents) having garbage belts polluting the ground water. The bigger city waste mountain caused 8 cancer cases per year, the other 4. Both cities had limited budgets to clean the garbage belts and the people had 3 options to choose from:

  1. Both garbage belts are cleaned partially reducing the number of cancer cases from 8 to 4 and from 4 to 2
  2. Full cleaning of the smaller city garbage belt and the larger one only partially reducing the cancer cases in the smaller town to zero and the larger from 8 to 7
  3. Full cleaning of the larger city garbage belt and the smaller one only partially reducing the cancer cases in the big city from 8 to 3 and in the smaller town from 4 to 3

What option do you think most people choose?
Although option 2 is reducing the number of cancer cases with 5 and option 1 and 3 with 6, 42% of the respondents chose option 2! Why did they chose for the zero risk? If risk is eliminated, you don’t have to worry and that is worth the costs. We often get muddled about the differences between quantities and proportionality – a rise of 100% in knife crime sounds terrible until you realize that this means it’s gone from one attack per year to two attacks. It also seems we prefer large decreases in small risks to small decreases in large ones, even when the overall benefit of the latter is vastly superior to the former: zero risk bias is an extreme form of this behavior, often triggered under conditions of uncertainty.

It is again easy to make the link to risks of ERP or CRM projects or the risks of getting your systems hacked. Make sure you choose a good implementation partner and put your data in a safe and secure cloud, Microsoft’s cloud.

Zero risk bias can be reduced by re-framing the problem, which suggests that it’s not immutable but is a consequence of the way we think about situations. Focusing on the other side of the equation can help: by and large it’s best to re-frame in terms of absolute quantities rather than relative proportions if possible. And be aware that zero risk is an illusion. The risk of getting cancer as a result of the garbage belt might be exiled, but not the risk if cancer caused by other things. And in turn you can create risk by trying too hard to eliminate it. Risk is the seed of opportunity, and necessary to get ahead in almost every field. So, being fully aware of the risks, taking responsibility, living with uncertainty and rewards should follow … as long as we risk less than our potential reward. Always! You die from living. Let’s live! We will all die (in the end).

R.I.P

Buy our software,  start implementing and get delighted by the results!

Kind regards,

On behalf of Dynamics Software

Eric Veldkamp

Advancing Technologies

June 2017,

Thank you for reading our June 2017 newsletter.

For those who read our newsletters and follow us on social media, they notice that we release solutions on a very regular basis. We are proud to have our 6th solution Dynamics Software Copy Released Product available on the Microsoft AppSource! Copy Released Product is a powerful Dynamics Business Optimizer that saves significant time in the creation process of newly released products and their related data thereby enabling cost reduction. We should invent an app that saves significant time in writing blogs 😊. The current solutions on AppSource work with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations, soon to be renamed (again) to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise Edition. Easy, Great, Everybody Understands, Period. I wrote about Microsoft’s good job on continuously changing names of products earlier this year, so I am not going to repeat complimenting them. But just changing names is not proving innovation or advancing technology to make customer’s life easier. Also as I have written on innovation earlier in my innovate or die blog, we are still alive and kicking and the AppSource Apps as well as our other releases proof of our commitment to innovation. One of the big drivers behind the Dynamics 365 concept is to have users use more of the Microsoft software and be more productive with it to realize people’s full potential. Our solutions add value to that realization.

value_1

Sometimes we struggle finding the right names for our solutions as well. All our solutions are built on top of (or if you will embedded in) a business application of Microsoft. They optimize, advance, enhance, improve, strengthen, empower, increase, revamp, lift, amend, elevate, polish, sharpen, charge functionality based on our industry best practices and latest technologies adding value to our customers. So, they are all advanced enhancement value add business optimizer technologies solutions modules add-ons, making the lives of our customers easier 😊.

Technology only make sense if it is making our lives easier, but sometimes it works in reverse without even knowing it. This spring I read in an article (de Volkskrant, Martijn van Calmthout) that more icebergs than ever float around on the transatlantic routes. And that is dangerous as you probably have heard that on April 15, 1912 the Titanic disaster happened resulting in more than 1500 casualties. What you might now remember or know is that the SS Eastland, a Great Lakes cruise ship, capsized in the port of Chicago on July 24, 1915. 814 people died and that was a direct result of that Titanic catastrophe. The SS Eastland capsized as there were too many life boats hanging on that non-stable vessel. These life boats were added as there was a nefarious shortage of life boats on the Titanic to help save the number of people on the Titanic. This example is described in Edward Tenner’s book Why Things Bite Back. In this book Edward is proving that a lot of technologies deliver contrary results.

In other areas think of people smoking more after introducing light cigarettes, antibiotic creating more deadly bacteria’s, wider and more lanes resulting into more traffic and traffic jams, etc.. But for me the best example of reverse technology are escalators. Escalators? Yes, escalators! These are designed to move groups of people faster from level 1 to level 2 or from level 2 to level 1 by letting the stairs move with the direction of the one walking the stairs. This is the theory. In reality people are lazy and the majority of the people stand still on the moving stairs. The result is that the journey from level 1 to 2 is actually taking more time compared to taking normal stairs. The escalator paradox.

esc

Recently some London researchers did research and measurements on the New York Penn Station escalators. Why would London researchers do research in New York if there are enough escalators to look after in London? Is it because they are standing right sides instead of left sided? Anyway, as almost everywhere people on the right side are standing still and the rest are in hurry and run on the left side passing the right sided people. From their observations it appeared that this way less people are transported upstairs than if all people would have stand still. Their Conclusion as published in the New York times: don’t walk on an escalator as that goes faster! What a paradox, but total nonsense. Instead of not walking, everybody should walk as that goes fastest. The problem is that people are lazy and they don’t want to go back to January 2015 when The Penn Station escalator known as No. 25 was screaming and the broken Penn Station Escalator can mean a tough climb.

A recent study showed that workers lose up to 40% of their productivity as they had to switch task and systems during the day by multitasking. (Source: American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask.aspx). The average company is losing a lot of productive time in the prospect to cash process. Looking for customer account details in a  CRM system (if any), financial and outstanding details in ERP or financial system, details of the items sold and used in other transactional systems. Users switching between these systems lose a lot of time. The problem is that when we jump from task to task or from system to system, we aren’t really getting more done. We’re forcing our brains to constantly switch gears, working harder to do things at a lower level of quality, and exhausting our mental reserves, the escalator paradox? On another note it is estimated that only 2% of the population is actually proficient at multitasking, and ironically, these people are the least likely to actually multitask. The problem is that we all think we’re part of that 2%, and use our perceived ability as justification to juggle too many tasks. In fact, recent research indicates that people who multitask the most often are likely the worst at it. Instead you better implement Dynamics 365. Great companies obsess over productivity, not efficiency.

Do you want to be more productive? Stop multitasking and buy Dynamics 365 optimized with Dynamics Software solutions! With Dynamics 365 being integrated with Office 365 a lot of info coming from Dynamics 365 products become visible in for instance that email, no need to switch systems. I think it is a technology that really make the users life’s easier. And that is not an illusion.

Readers of my blog know I am a fan of optical illusions. The escalator paradox made me think of a famous auditory illusion, the Shepard tone. The Shepard tone is an audio illusion which seems to get forever higher but never really does.

Spectrum view

Figure: Spectrum view of ascending Shepard tones (linear frequency scale)

Ascending Shepard Tone – Escalator upstairs:

This is the direction executives would love to see their revenues and profits go. It is like sales targets, they continue to rise every year. And if you have done a great year, you get punished the next year as they expect you to always do better.

Here is an example of a descending Shepard tone – Escalator downstairs

And that is how executives hate to see their revenue and profits go.

So, endless tones and endless targets. (this piece is inspired by http://awesci.com/shepard-tone-an-incredible-auditory-illusion). I hope you were able to hear the tones. Do you know if your tone deaf or not? I am not. I did the test on ToneDeafTest.com and the Result: I am not tone deaf!

Stage A: 11/12
Stage B: 12/12
Stage C: 12/12
Final score: 35/36 = 97%

Congratulations, you are not tone deaf!

The test helps understand the Shepard tone. The Shepard tone reminded me of the endless Penrose stairs of my favourite artist and master of optical illusions Maurits Cornelis Escher (http://www.mcescher.com/).

visual illusion

The visual illusion of the stairs helps you to relate better to a relatively lesser known auditory illusion.

stairs

If you start going up on the endless stairs, you always keep moving up. Even after you come back to the same place, you still keep going up. An impossibility. But it’s something that fools your eyes. The same thing if you go down the stairs. The Shepard tone sounds like a tone that is continuously going down, endlessly. Only, it isn’t. It’s actually a much smaller looped sound that starts from a high point and then goes down. These little loops have been placed one after the other. If you do not carefully listen to it, you’ll never find the exact point at which one loop ends and the next loop starts. You’ll always interpret it as a continuously going up or going down sound. Just like the continuously going up or down stairs. Notes are not simple frequencies. A single note is usually composed of several other frequencies. To not overwhelm us with data, the brain puts all these frequencies together and we hear a single sound (note). Also, our brains like continuity. So, it cherry picks the frequencies from the loop’s notes that makes us hear a continuous sweep. This is the reason we hear no individual loops. In case you still don’t get it, then watch this video.

Note that the arrows in the video are the frequencies. If you want to know more on some auditory illusions, have a look below.

I am sure we all suffer the McGurk effect, but maybe more on that next time. The tone and stairs also reminded me to Hilbert’s Hotel which I wrote about in my Power of the Customer blog. And with that the circle is round. Microsoft wants their users to use more of the Microsoft software they already have and with that grow their revenues and profits. With the ability to offer the cloud infrastructure, the personal productivity apps and the business apps, Microsoft is the only vendor who is able to offer that all. So, there is no reason to not be productive and realize people’s full potential. As mentioned the circle is round, is it really round?

Or are these circles again optical illusions? Watch this Crazy Circle Illusion

Enjoy the good summer and buy our solutions!

Kind regards,

On behalf of Dynamics Software

Eric Veldkamp