Why an Accurate Active Directory Profile is Critical

When was the last time you updated your work profile?  In some cases the answer is never, as you may be thinking, “Isn’t that IT’s job and didn’t I complete several HR forms when I joined the company?”  Chances are you’ve updated your LinkedIn profile more frequently than your company bio.  Many of us spend a lot of time on social media sites, including Twitter and Facebook, telling the world (or a few friends) all about you.

You may want to think more about your work profile as Microsoft just announced an updated profile experience coming soon to Office 365.  Items such as your manager, teammates, and documents can be surfaced right from your name.   Leveraging the Office Graph and the same engine behind Delve, the new profile experience can make a connection quick and easy.

While some of this profile data is a result of your uploading and sharing of information in Office 365, your primary stats are stored in your company’s Active Directory.  With Office 365, a copy of your AD is synchronized with Azure and for startups and small businesses, their primary directory is Azure AD.  Either way, it is important for your profile to be complete.  In fact, many SharePoint workflows break as the approving manager is not available in the user’s profile.

Xgility has partnered with a new startup company founded by former Microsoft Product Manager and former Nintex CEO, who help organizations collect profile data.  The company is called HyperFish and we’re excited to help our customers improve their employee profile data with this service.

As the administrator, I let Hyperfish analyze my company directory and then schedule their machine learning HyperBot to help collect missing profile data.  Using our company brand, we set the tone of the communications and channels to communicate.  Here it is in action:

At Xgility, we like to come up with new ways to help our customers increase collaboration and productivity.  For our customers, keeping active directory up-to-date may be part of skills tracking, knowledge management, or automated workflows.  If you have ever needed to text a coworker at the last minute due to a conference room change, you will appreciate this tool.  Microsoft has some work to do to make it easier to do skills tracking in active directory, but we believe there are exciting things to come.  Making sure your directory and profile is complete and up-to-date will set the foundation for transformational results.

If you would like to view the PowerPoint presentation on this topic, from SharePoint Saturday DC, you can view it here.

Try the free active directory analyzer and photo tool or contact us for a free 30 minute demo.



Author:  Chris Ertz

Editors:  Kurt Greening and Alex Finkel

Microsoft Outlook App for iOS

In a previous YouTube video, Dean Virag showed you how to setup two-factor authentication using Azure AD premium.  The setup for two-factor authentication using the Outlook iOS app is very similar to any of the Office desktop apps.

The Outlook app is an alternative to the native mail, calendar, and contacts apps on your iPhone or other iOS device.   The native apps utilize active sync, which today does not support two-factor authentication and requires the use of an Azure app password.  This is the reason that your IT organization may want to use the iOS Outlook app and disable active sync.

In moving to the iOS Outlook app, I encountered two problems that kept me from switching over (Email is supposed to be a productivity tool, not slow you down) and today I will explain to you how to overcome those issues.

First, when I first started using the iOS Outlook app, I accidentally archived several emails.  This was very frustrating.  I was able to fix this issue in three easy steps.

  1. Go to settings or the gear at the bottom right of your iOS app
  2. Click on swipe options
  3. Hold down left swipe until you can select none

Second, after deleting my email account in active sync, my phone lost access to my contacts.  This means I could not tell which customers were sending me messages.  I fixed this is three easy steps.

  1. Go to settings or the gear at the bottom right of your iOS app
  2. Click on advanced options
  3. Select save contacts to device

Now that both problems are solved, I can safely and securely use email, calendars, and contacts from my iPhone.

The Outlook app is also extremely simple and easy to use.  The learning curve for the native iOS app users, is small, especially if you already have experience with Microsoft products/software.  The app also gives you slightly more customization than the native apps on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.  Microsoft also does a great job regularly sending out updates to the app to add new features and fix various bugs/issues.  Other features that the Outlook iOS app includes are: Touch ID login for verification purposes, the ability to choose which web app links and directions open in, customize notifications for calendar and email separately, the ability to have multiple accounts, and much more.


If you need security consulting or help with Microsoft Cloud/Office 365 training and implementations, contact us.



Author:  Kurt Greening

Editor:  Alex Finkel

Microsoft PowerBI

5 Reasons You Should Be Using PowerBI

PowerBI is a set of online services and tools that enables you to view, share, and collaborate on the data that is important to your organization.  PowerBI can be enabled through your Office 365 portal and is available as a free or Pro Version (stand alone).  The pro version is also available as part the Office 365 E5 bundle.  Making BI and Analytics easy to implement is very important, since Gartner cited it as the #1 CIO priority in 2016.


Microsoft has made great progress in the BI/Analytics space, partly due to advances in SQL server as well as Power BI.  Gartner highlights this indifference between their 2015 and February 2017 report.  Many of our customers are moving away from complex IT centric platforms such as Business Objects (SAP) and Cognos (IBM).  We have also seen impressive adoption of Tableau in our customer-base, but the progress made by PowerBI has some taking another look at Microsoft.

In this post, we will discuss 5 reason why it should be a serious consideration for your data reporting and collaboration needs.

5.  Cloud-based – PowerBI is delivered through Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 platform.  You will save time and money because Administration work has been dramatically reduced thanks to the simple to use Administration UI.  Hardware cost and maintenance savings are also greatly reduced due to the earlier fact that it is a cloud-based application.

4.  Drag and Drop – Data is visually explored using drag and drop to a free-form canvas.  This makes report authoring simple with no new languages to learn.

3.  Content Packs – Content packs are pre-build dashboards and reports for major online services that your organization may use (ex. Google Analytics, MailChimp, and SalesForce).  There are also Organizational Content packs, which allow you to package and share your own dashboards, reports, and datasets with co-workers.

2.  Natural language queries – You type a question in the search field, and PowerBI returns the data to you based on your question.  “Featured Questions” can also be created by an Admin or user with “Manage” permissions for the Office 365 site.  Those will then appear on the Power BI Site page and the Q&A collage page.

1.  Real-time dashboards with mobile alerts – See your data in realtime as it changes. Alerts provide the ability to be notified on your mobile device when data changes, hits certain thresholds or exceeds a target.  The example below, provided by Microsoft, shows retail analysis from a sample dataset.

Sample PowerBI Dashboard

Sample PowerBI Dashboard

Bonus – Power BI REST API – This is a powerful API that allows developers to manage your PowerBI data and environment.  More information on this can be found at https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn877544.aspx

In closing, I was able to load a dataset and create a dashboard within 15 minutes of seeing this for the first time.  That simplicity, along with the rich feature set make this a winner, and a product that deserves serious consideration.

If you want to see how PowerBI is assisting with AIDS prevention check out this public facing dashboard.

If you would like a demo, free trial or help with a proof of concept, please contact us.


Author: Donnie Wishard