Use Data to Perfect Your Business Decisions

November 14th, 2016 No comments

Wake up and smell the servers. It’s almost 2017.

The entire world is fueled by data. Decision makers no longer make choices based on gut reactions, instead they rely on business intelligence (or BI if you want to speak like the cool kids). Although BI isn’t really anything new, it’s definitely time to understand it if you don’t already, mostly because your competitors are probably already masters of it.

In its simplest form, BI is the process of taking raw data and transforming, or interpreting, it into useful information that companies use for business analysis determinations. The reasons for using BI typically are to uncover flaws or inconsistencies, identify market trends and purchase patterns, and/or develop new decisions and business opportunities.  Think of it as the “here and now” of your company’s data. It takes all of the structured or unstructured data you currently have, analyzes it and regurgitates it back in a way that is easy to understand through querying and reporting. It is the evidence you and your executive team needs to make vital decisions for the betterment of the company. To gain a profounder understanding of BI, let’s dive a little deeper into its benefits, process and enterprise applications.

Benefit from Info You Already Have
At the end of the day, when your executives make decisions, they want to make sure they are right. No one wants to look dumb, but more importantly, no one wants to lose money. In order to stay ahead of the game, being proactive rather than reactive is key. With everything in today’s world being quantified and recorded, people are able to have concrete proof to support their decisions with the help of BI. Aside from it posing as evidence, here are some of the other main benefits:

  • Enables companies to react quickly to consumer demand
  • Allows people to efficiently implement cost-cutting ideas
  • Optimizes pricing strategies
  • Uncovers flaws and inconsistencies in processes
  • Provides more leveraging to quantify decisions

Understand the Process
Alright, now that you have a basic understanding of what BI is, let’s discuss the process of how it’s used.

In all companies, data is presented and formatted in a plethora of diverse ways. For example, the way a hospital consumes their data will be much different than way a credit card company does. However, the process is characteristically the same. The first three primary steps in compiling all of this data are Extract, Transform and Load (ETL).

  1. Extract – The most critical step in this process is extracting your data from your databases source systems. It’s imperative that this is done accurately and successfully. This is crucial because the extracting phase will influence the rest of the process.
  2. Transform – Once the data has been extracted from the source systems, it’s time to apply rules to the data. This essentially keeps the data clean and consistent, and converts it into the desired state.
  3. Load – Now that the data has been pulled and tidied up, it’s time to load it all into one centralized location, or a data warehouse. Storing this data in one place creates easier accessibility for those who need to delve into it.

Aside from ETL, another aspect of this process that helps businesses understand their raw data is data mining. Data mining is the process of discovering patterns in large, vast amounts of data sets. The overall goal of mining, once it has gone through the ETL process, is to accurately interpret data in a way that decision makers will understand. Data mining basically functions as the Rosetta stone for interpreting your info.

Mixed Applications Amongst Varied Industries
For several years, BI’s been a term that has been knocked around from industry to industry. With the advancement and widespread use of technology, capturing data has only grown larger and larger, and will continue to grow as long as we continue to consume. It’s no wonder almost every industry relies on business intelligence to cultivate and encourage accurate decision making. For instance, in the realm of retail, companies are using BI to detect fraudulent transactions in order to retain profits and eliminate losses as well as identify where such fraud is most commonly taking place. Restaurants such as Wendy’s and T.G.I. Friday’s, use BI to figure out the best sustainability methods for their food. In baseball, a prominent front office figure, Theo Epstein of the Chicago Cubs, uses BI to analyze player statistics in an unorthodox way through a method known as Sabermetrics, which is designed to maximize an organization’s salary cap while still fielding the best possible team. As a matter of fact, just a couple of weeks ago, he successfully ended the “Curse of the Billy Goat” by winning the World Series relying on business intelligence that he and his staff had accumulated.

Whether you’re an end user or an IT professional, business intelligence is used all across the world in numerous industries. Appreciating the process of inferring such data will not only aid in the feats of a company, it will aid in the success of its leaders and executives. With how much raw data is compiled in this day and age, it’s astonishing how creative and imaginative people become after analyzing all of it. The value placed on data is only increasing and becoming more and more prevalent. You don’t want to be the one held responsible for what your gut told you. Stick with the data, it doesn’t lie.

What’s Next?
New Horizons offers an abundance of classes pertaining to business intelligence whether you’re a novice or an experienced user. Here is a list of some of our most popular courses we provide based on audience:

New to BI/End User:
Crystal Reports 2013: Part 1
Crystal Reports 2013: Part 2
Excel 2016: Data Analysis with Pivot Tables
Excel 2016: Data Analysis with Power Pivot

Experienced BI Pro:
Analyzing Data with Power BI
Developing SQL Data Models
Implementing a SQL Data Warehouse
Implementing Data Models and Reports with Microsoft® SQL Server®

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User Training Completes Your Windows 10 Migration

November 7th, 2016 No comments

The rewards for a great, successful upgrade migration are many. Work can get done more efficiently. Communication between colleagues is enhanced. Data and documents enjoy a greater level of security. And there’s so much.

All of these values and more are only available, however, if the migration is complete.

Completing the Migration

In January 2016, Information Week magazine published an article called “Windows 10 Migration: 4 Tips to Help IT Prepare” in which they listed upgrading aging hardware, considering application compatibility, and thinking about how updates would be handled.

Saving the best for last, Information Week emphasized the importance of preparing for end-user training.

The Key Importance of User Training

It would be very easy to say that failing to train users is the same as simply not plugging in their computer (or charging their laptop or smartphone batteries) but it’s really somewhat worse!

An untrained user can make costly mistakes. They can waste tremendous amounts of time trying to and waste the time of those around them asking for help from nearby colleagues who have better things to do. Of course, time is money.

“We were upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10,” explains Brandi J. Norris, Computer Support Technician at LOOP LLC. A unique link in the nation’s energy infrastructure, LOOP delivers billions of barrels of crude oil safely and efficiently to U.S. refineries.

Norris continues, explaining that “The navigation and user interface were completely different from Windows 7. The file structure was different as were the security tools and troubleshooting tools. Windows 10 is a completely different product in itself.”

Norris, whose department is responsible for the highly proactive training program at LOOP explains how valuable training has been right from the start of their Windows 10 migration, saying “Training helped as we were preparing our deployment. We utilized training for issues that presented themselves as we were rolling out our workstations. This helped us create the baseline for our deployment image.”

Effective Training

Effective training leads to the most effective users. The IT organization at LOOP sought the best, and reports that

“Our organization is unique in how we approach training. We have an internal department with the freedom to select which training and which platform we’re going to use. When it comes to our Microsoft platform needs, everything totally leads toward New Horizons. Their flexibility in scheduling, the quality of their instructors. My personal experience? I haven’t had any courses where I didn’t get great value out of them.”

 

It comes as no surprise that Norris points at the relationship she enjoys with her preferred provider. “The New Horizons team is always there for us.  Really responsive and understanding of what our needs are. They always point us into the training that will best suit us.”

She continues, adding, “I really feel that New Horizons goes above and beyond in finding the best training for their customers. They listen. They help our people earn promotions by adding the right new skills. When a new application comes out, they look ahead to see if we’ll need it.”

Beyond the Class

Norris also addresses the concern about follow-up resources after the training is over. “The follow-up that we get after training is invaluable.  We’ve been in some other training courses where it’s all out-of-the-box info. You pay, you have your materials, and it’s up to you to go back and read them. The person who sold you the program doesn’t take an interest. Our New Horizons team does a great job of reaching out to us after we’ve taken a training to find out if it met our expectations and help us accomplish what we set out to accomplish.”

Beyond the fundamentals featured in the courseware, Norris was impressed with the experiential value shared by New Horizons’ instructors. “We learned about the “getcha-gotchas.” All the things you wouldn’t inherently know without instruction from a truly experienced person. This helped us to determine what to turn on and off in our baseline configuration.”

Norris notes that New Horizons training has served LOOP LLC well beyond the initial implementation of Windows 10. “On the tech end,” she points out, “the troubleshooting section was invaluable. We’re still using those skills regularly today.”

Making Training Convenient

Many organizations view user training as a significant inconvenience and a heavy cost, taking billable resources out of production for perhaps several days at a time.

LOOP LLC predominantly uses available scheduled classes for their personnel. “When Windows 10 came out in July 2015 we wanted to test and deploy it immediately,” notes Norris. “We procured Windows 10-equipped workstations and decided the first thing to do was to send our technicians to New Horizons for training because they would be key in developing our plan going forward. New Horizons schedule is always broad enough to accommodate our needs so we were able to move quickly.”

Norris appreciates that many courses are offered online, making it far easier for their technicians to take classes with minimal downtime, and many courses are offered live at various New Horizons locations for those who prefer in-person training. “There are always plenty of choices,” notes Norris. “That flexibility really works for us.”

These vouchers make  New Horizons’ training available to Microsoft customers at no cost, part of Microsoft’s added-value proposition for customers.

 

 

Completing Your Migration with Windows 10 User Training

Windows 10 can deliver tremendous value when used by someone with the right training. Using LOOP LLC’s experience as a model, here is a quick checklist of what to look for when planning to complete your Windows 10 migration with user training:

  • Technical training that supports initial deployment decision-making as well as ongoing troubleshooting and support.
  • User training that goes beyond the courseware and includes experiential information that enhances usability.
  • An extensive calendar of regularly scheduled training flexible enough to meet the needs of the various people you’ll be sending for training.
  • Online and in-classroom options to suit different learning preferences.
  • Top-rated instructors with relevant real-world experience using Windows 10.
  • Microsoft Learning Center certification assuring the highest-quality courseware and the opportunity to use training vouchers provided by Microsoft to many customers as part of their licensing program.
  • Staff that work proactively to help you select the right sequence of courses to assure maximum efficiency in learning.
  • A team that is there to help you choose the right resources, not to sell you classes and courseware.
  • Follow-up resources that continue to support your users beyond their class experience.
  • A curriculum that continues to evolve along with the continuing evolution of the Windows platform.

 

 

 

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Change the ruler’s measurement units for comfortable form and report design (Access 2000/2002/2003/2010)

November 2nd, 2016 No comments

The ruler is a great way to ensure that your reports print accurately or your form controls are right where you want them. However, you may not know exactly what measurement units Access’ ruler indicates. If you’re more comfortable with the metric system (centimeters instead of inches), you can adjust your ruler permanently. Or, if you have Access 2003, you can simply input measurements in your preferred unit.

To change the ruler’s units of measurement:
1. Access your Windows Control Panel, which you can usually find on the Start menu.
2. Double-click on the Regional And Language Options icon. If you’re using Windows XP’s Category view, just click on Date, Time, Language, And Regional Options and then click on Regional And Language Options.
3. In the Regional And Language Options dialog box, select the Regional Options tab, if necessary.
4. Click the Customize button to display the Customize Regional Options dialog box.
5. Select the Numbers tab, if necessary.
6. Choose either U.S. or Metric from the Measurement System dropdown list and click OK to apply it.
Of course, since the ruler is based on the Windows regional settings, this means that the change from one measurement system to another affects your entire operating system.

In Access 2003, if you want to enter measurements in a different unit, but you don’t want to make the change permanent, you can do so. For instance, follow these quick steps to set a report’s left margin to six centimeters:
1. Choose File | Page Setup from the menu bar.
2. Click on the Margins tab, if necessary.
3. In the Margins (Inches) panel, type 6cm in the Left text box and press [Enter].
When you press the [Enter] key, Access automatically converts the six centimeters into its equivalent inches, since our operating system is set to the U.S. measurement system. If you’re using the metric system as your default, you can perform the same automatic conversion by typing the text in after your measurement. Access converts the measurement from centimeters to inches.

Adapt for Access 2010: To adjust a report’s margins, use the Page Setup contextual tab, which is part of the Report Design Tools. In the Page Layout Area, click on Page Setup.

 

Want to learn more about Microsoft Office? Check out our classes at nhlearningcenter.com

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Categories: Microsoft, Tips & Tricks

Don’t let fancy CLR debugging slow you down

November 2nd, 2016 No comments

There are a number of tools you can use for debugging CLR integration code in Visual Studio 2005, such as the test.sql page and a special CLR debugger. Unfortunately, each new tool comes with its own quirks and setup headaches. Our recommendation is to avoid using these fancy tools unless you need to troubleshoot why something that works in Visual Studio doesn’t work when you deploy it to SQL Server.

Instead of relying on complex debugging setups, write your modules and classes in a regular project in Visual Studio and debug them there. Make sure your SQL Server stored procedures and functions are very simple; they only need to be a few lines. In those lines, you can call procedures in your modules and classes, where you do the serious work. Architecting your code this way makes code reuse much easier’as well as keeping you from having to debug more tools just to debug your code.

Find our more tips and tricks by attending one of your classes that focus on topics like the one above.

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Categories: Tips & Tricks

Designate the document title in an exported PDF (InDesign CC 2015)

November 2nd, 2016 No comments

When you export a PDF from InDesign, by default, the PDF file name will display in the PDF’s title bar. But file-naming conventions and document titles don’t always match up, especially if you use file names to help keep track of your revisions. For example, if you’re exporting a PDF of an annual report, you would probably rather see the title bar display “Company Report 2016” than “companyreport_rev3.pdf.”
To set the document title, choose File > File Info, select the Basic pane, enter a name in the Document Title field, and click OK. Choose File > Export, enter a name for your PDF, and click Save. InDesign displays the Export Adobe PDF dialog box. Click on the Advanced pane and in the Accessibility Options section select Document Title from the Display Title pop-up menu. Finish configuring your settings, and then click Export. Now when you open your PDF in Acrobat, the title bar will display the Document title instead of the file name.

If you would like to keep expanding your knowledge on InDesign, or other Adobe products, visit our website at nhcomputerlearning.com; there you can explore an array of related courses.

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Categories: Tips & Tricks

Learn Lots and Win Big All in One Sensational Day

September 30th, 2016 No comments

Do you like free money? Who doesn’t? It just so happens that in two weeks, we’re giving a LOT of it away. Over $500,000 to be exact and what’s better is you could be a lucky recipient of it. Ok, now that I have your attention, let me explain how you could win. It doesn’t mean that just by reading this blog, Ben and his clique are going to magically fly out of the computer screen and into your pockets (although, that would be pretty nice).

Show Up
On October 14, we are hosting our biggest event of the year, SpecTECHular. SpecTECHular is a free one-day technology open house in which educational workshops are offered, covering everything from information technology and security to office applications and professional development. These hour-long breakout sessions are led by our award-winning instructors at 19 of our 22 locations (agendas do vary per location). This all sounds pretty good, right? Well, there’s more.

Aside from partaking in the workshops, each person in attendance will receive a complimentary lunch as well as the chance to win an assortment of prizes – these include application and technical classes, Microsoft Office 365 for your home and others to be announced.

The second Friday of Fall’s favorite month appears to be a phenomenal day for one more reason.

Take a Chance
Remember when I said free money? Of course you do, that’s why you’re still reading this. Well, each person in attendance will have the opportunity to win a fully-paid career training programs. Each center will be giving away one professional program valued at $19,500 and one associate program, valued at $7,500. In total, we will be giving away over 500 large in educational opportunities.

Make a Change
Let’s say, you win one of the programs, but feel as though you wouldn’t benefit as much from it as someone else. That’s fine. By all means, offer it to them. In order to win one of these free programs, you must be in attendance when they are awarded but once received, you can gift it out to whomever you want.

Now, should you be the fortunate individual to win, you have the opportunity to choose training that leads to a career in a high demand field, such as security IT, network systems administration, database administration, business administration or medical office administration. The monetary amount will cover each program’s tuition, including multiple training courses, class courseware and the standard certification exam voucher.

Be Present (to win!)
Learn what’s new with Windows 10, delve into the importance of business acumen or take the first step into pursuing a new career path. Whatever your interests are, SpecTECHular is a unique happening and we encourage everyone to experience the fun. Remember, you must be present to win. But, you already knew that – see you in October.

Register now.

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7 Tips You Need to Know for Cybersecurity in the Workplace

September 28th, 2016 No comments

October. It’s the heart of football season and a time when pumpkin spice surfaces as the premier ingredient in the cooking world. But October is also a time for something more serious; something that each of us should place on a pedestal above such a highly touted culinary craving: cybersecurity.

Supported by the Department of Homeland Security, October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Today, we are more connected than ever foreign and domestically. With the increasing prevalence of smart devices, accredited to the international westernization of society, we must be more alert and secure than ever before. Advancements in modern technology have been one of the greatest phenomena, yet place us in one of the most vulnerable states.

Our dependency on computers, mobile devices and cloud-based technologies has enhanced our way of life and made things easier, especially in the workforce. Companies are becoming more comfortable with integrating and storing digital data, for our consumption and evaluation. On the flip side, these actions pose alarming threats from hackers and illegal cyber-attacking groups alike, searching for the most susceptible companies on whom to prey. The incursion on healthcare organizations, banks and even retail chains are occurring more frequently and not without dire consequences.

Steer Clear of Cyber Culprits & Digital Demons
As awful as it sounds, the current trend has become to attack company’s human resources departments. Why you ask? Simply put, this is where all of the most sensitive employee information is held. HR is a goldmine of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) – all of a person’s personal information (name, DOB, SSN, postal address, etc.) – and arguably the hottest commodity. Additionally, they monitor payroll and other financial systems nestled within an organization. Unfortunately, there is a pretty lucrative underground market for criminals who plan to exploit and resell this information and that virtual emporium is growing.

With all that being said, here are the 7 best tips for everyone in the workplace who wants to keep their information secure from cyber culprits and digital demons and maintain the protection for your HR department:

  1. Passwords, passwords, passwords.
    No matter what department you’re in, do not use the same password for every login account you have. Also, please don’t be the person in the office who has the sticky notes bordering your monitor full of usernames and passwords for everyone to see. I know “Bob” sitting next to you probably could care less, but that’s private information that only you should know.

  2. Training during the on-boarding process.
    Understanding the company culture and assigning new projects might take precedent in new hire orientation, but instilling proper security measures should be a priority as well. If, from day one, your new hire understood the severity of potential risks and exercised correct security procedures, the chance of an attack will lessen enormously.

  3. This isn’t just a job for IT.
    Sure, IT are the ones who get paid to ensure malware and cyber threats are kept at bay, but it’s everyone’s responsibility within a company to avoid such dangers. Your IT department, or whoever is in charge of handling your organization’s security, would greatly appreciate everyone’s participation and it would make their jobs a lot easier.

  4. Educate everyone extensively.
    This can’t be stressed enough: no matter your role within your company, everyone must be held accountable for their actions and technological behavior. HR needs to be the parents in this relationship and educate their employees a couple times throughout each calendar year.

  5. Stress caution when assimilating work and personal devices.
    If you are going to merge your personal devices with work, such as emails, calendars or even projects, be aware of your surroundings when reviewing this information. Understand the connection you are on, whether it be public or private, and recognize where you are outside of the office.

  6. Social engineering is not cool.
    According to Dell SecureWorks, 70% of cyber-attacks are attributed to human elements. This is exclusively what social engineering depends on. Similar to phishing scams, this form of psychological manipulation, performed by fraudsters, dupes people into believing they are providing confidential information to a known source. These messages can be communicated in forms of emails that might imitate their boss requesting a social security number for an urgent matter or even a voicemail from your “co-worker” wanting to know where you live so they can drop something off. Be careful, because these messages can be replicated almost identically to that of your boss, co-worker or anyone else. This is ultimately phase one of the infiltration of your HR department and/or company as a whole.

  7. You’re smart. But so are cyber sneaks.
    Although I know you are aware that such cyber-attacks are nothing new in the working world, it’s undeniably important we understand that hackers are always one step ahead of current security practices and will stop at nothing to satisfy their cruel intentions. You’re smart, so act smart.

In addition to implementing these tips, go beyond the firewall of security and expand your education. New Horizons offers a plethora of cybersecurity courses from vendor-neutral vendors such as CompTIA, EC-Council and many more. Are you doing your part to keep you and your company’s information secure?

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Categories: IT News, News, security

Access Adobe Stock from InDesign and Increase Your Options (InDesign CC/CC 2014/CC 2015)

September 20th, 2016 No comments

Creating mockups for your clients can be stressful when you aren’t sure which stock art image they’ll prefer, and you don’t want to pay to download images you won’t use. There’s an easy remedy to this problem when you utilize Adobe Stock. It’s  easy to access Adobe Stock directly from InDesign, and you can save watermarked image previews right to your library for use in your mockups.

First, choose Window > CC Libraries. Type keywords specific to your search in the Search Adobe Stock text field at the top of the panel, and press Enter. The images will display in the panel, where you can click the cloud icon on the image to save it to your library, or right click on the image and choose Save Preview To > My Library. You can also right-click on the image and choose Find Similar On Web, to have InDesign launch your browser and take you to Adobe Stock online where you’ll get more search options. Once an image preview is in your library, you can click and drag any it to the page where it will appear with a watermark on it. Size it to your needs and send your client a mockup. In fact, do this with multiple images! Then your client can decide which image he wants and you only need to purchase the image that you know you’ll use!

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Categories: Tips & Tricks

How to Maintain IT Sanity During Mergers, Acquisitions and Spin-Offs

September 20th, 2016 No comments

While mergers, acquisitions, and spin-offs can create opportunities for an IT department, they can also be very frustrating events. Senior managers may not be aware of the IT ramifications, such as the need to transfer a domain or ensure that company email will still be available during the transition. This may result in inadequate lead time to ensure that these issues are handled smoothly. Mergers may also be a cost-cutting period, resulting in cuts to departments that are considered overhead. Furthermore, new management may not be aware of what IT staff spend their time doing and why it’s important. Both of these factors can result either in layoffs or in assigning additional side tasks to IT administrators that distract them from the work of keeping the company’s essential infrastructure running.

To help avoid these problems, be proactive about getting information as soon as you hear that any of these kinds of changes may be on the horizon. Make a plan regarding the key activities that will be necessary for a smooth transition. Document in a brief but clear way your transition plan, as well as your regular tasks (especially the ones you consider most essential). This should include what you do, how much time it takes, and why it’s important. Make a point of communicating your transition plan to the appropriate manager or executive, and be ready to refer to your documentation of essential ongoing tasks as needed. As the transition date approaches, keep the communication open with regular updates. If, despite your efforts, you’re asked to spend time on tasks you feel aren’t your main job, make an effort to shine in these, as they may be a test to see if your position should be retained.

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Categories: Tips & Tricks

Change Paragraph Alignment From the Keyboard (2000/2002/2003/2004/2007/2010)

September 20th, 2016 No comments

To change the alignment of a paragraph, you can click the Align Left, Center, Align Right, or Justify buttons on the Formatting toolbar (the Home tab’s Paragraph group in Word 2007 and 2010). You can also select Format | Paragraph, click on the Indents And Spacing tab, and choose the desired setting from the Alignment dropdown list. But, when you’re typing up the paragraph you need to align, where are your hands? They’re on the keyboard, of course. Instead of breaking the flow by moving to the mouse to apply alignment settings, you can keep your fingers on the keyboard using the helpful alignment shortcut keys listed in the table below.

Cut out this handy table and keep it next to your desk so you can use these shortcut keys on command.

Table: Alignment shortcuts

Alignment command Shortcut key
Align Left [Ctrl]L
Align Center [Ctrl]E
Align Right [Ctrl]R
Justify [Ctrl]J
Note: On the Mac, use [command] instead of [Ctrl]

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Categories: Tips & Tricks
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