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Data Science is the future (what is our definition?)

Data Science is the future, and the future is here.

We’re in 2021, and the future is already here. We aren’t seeing cars flying everywhere yet, and Elon Musk hasn’t sent people to Mars, but we can already buy a robot to clean our house, we all have a supercomputer in our pocket, and, according to The Economist, the world’s most important resource is no longer oil, but data.

Data-driven companies use large amounts of data behind the scenes to improve decision making, predict market trends, and increase overall customer experience by personalising their products accordingly. The increasing use of smartphones and the rise of the Internet of Things generate inconceivable amounts of data every day, and recent studies predict that the world will store 200 zettabytes of data by 2025. Data science is capable of extracting knowledge and providing deeper insight on customer preferences from these large datasets, through statistics and in-depth analysis.

Data science can be extended to multiple fields, as it uses mathematical techniques and theories as well as computer science processes and algorithms to understand and extract meaningful information from different types of data (tabular, text, time-series, images, and much more).  Data science covers numerous areas such as statistics, machine learning, programming, analytics and data visualisation. Data scientists should master these areas and develop statistical models that detect patterns and trends in large volumes of data. They can be considered storytellers who present data insights to decision-makers in an understandable way.

How does it work? What types of problem can it solve?

Historians say that it is important to study the past in order not to repeat the same mistakes in the future. In most cases, data science tries to apply that idea, it makes use of historical data to predict or analyse future similar outcomes using probabilities and statistics. Complex algorithms take advantage of accumulated data to find meaningful patterns and behaviours, which can later be applied to predict values or events.

We can find data science applications in pretty much every industry, from grocery shop stock management to competitive sports analyses. Although there are many more data science applications, most  use cases are included in one of the commonest problem types listed below:

  • Classification is used when we need to predict a given data point’s category or label. Social media is increasingly used to spread fake news, and classification algorithms are being developed to detect these posts as soon as possible. They can be used to automatically detect spam messages or analyse customer sentiments based on his product reviews, detecting the category of his opinion as either good, bad, angry, happy, etc. Automating processes like those make the acquisition of useful information faster, ultimately reducing time to market.

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  • Anomaly detection, as the name suggests, has the goal of identifying values outside the ordinary. One of the biggest challenges in the finance industry is the fight against fraud. Fraudulent transactions, phishing scams and anomalous transactions are some of the irregularities that can be  detected. We’re witnessing the fourth industrial revolution, the rise of digital industrial technology. One application of data science in industry 4.0 is the early anomaly detection in manufacturing machines, which can have a huge impact on the deterioration detection, preventing major part failures and decreasing unplanned downtime costs.

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  • Forecast approaches can tell us when or how an event is likely to occur. Data Science is being applied to healthcare and it is helping professionals save lives during pandemic times, either by forecasting the next spike or predicting the length of patient hospitalisation. Some football teams are using data science to win games; they try to predict player performances and market values. Liverpool Football Club data scientists analysed thousands of games to predict which areas of the pitch are best to use at any time. Another area where forecasts can have a huge impact is the evolution of the client-company relationship. A good example here is the customer churn rate prediction that our last blog post discusses in greater detail.

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  • ‘You may also like’ sections in online shops or movies services are built using recommendation systems. Netflix has a large dataset containing user interactions such as what time of the day customers watch, how long for, and on what device, as well as film trends, most-watched actors and much more. Using this data, they estimate the films or shows of the  greatest interest to every user, making their product highly personalised. These recommendation systems are being used in social media too, finding the most likely users or pages to be connected.

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  • Technology is evolving rapidly, and every day more and more expansive computations can be done, and with this comes the ability to develop greater and more complex models and algorithms. Recognition is a futuristic application of data science that we already have around us, with techniques existing for extracting meaningful information from images or sounds. We can unlock our phones using the camera or generate a transcript of a chat. Let’s be honest, for the laziest of us, telling Alexa to turn on the lights always feels stylish.

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What is the Xpand IT Data Science framework?

At Xpand IT we defined our data science process that aims to mitigate the natural uncertainty of data science projects with a structured approach based on agile methodologies (specifically Scrum and our own development framework XPAGILE). This way we can approach these projects in an agile way without losing focus on what matters the most: delivering quality results on time.

As data scientists ourselves, we developed this process so we would not lose any of the steps we deem fundamental, while being able to execute and improve the your vision. Some of the advantages the framework ensures for your solutions:

  • Risk reduction: expert knowledge and best practices are applied from day one, besides being a phase-based approach, we go as far as possible.
  • Maximizing obtained value: we identify the problem from day one, guaranty the goal relevance, and adjust it on every iteration.
  • Viable solution: we check if the final solution is viable, the project productization ensures that it wasn’t just another experiment, but the problem’s solution.
  • Project specificity: we assure each and every project’s quality without falling into the trap of “one solution fits all”.

Final remarks

Data Science can be applied to a wide range of businesses, and it is not easy to define the main advantages for all use cases. Since every case is unique, it is vital to evaluate the specific problem and then identify the best scenario opportunities. The main goal of this post is to show the reader examples of real data science applications and demystify its usage.

Our Data Science unit is ready to help you in any unique use case, and our goal is to deliver value throughout lifecycle of the project, while focusing on understanding your business and helping you to create and deploy the required technology.


João VarelaData Science is the future (what is our definition?)
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Is my company Data-Driven? How to check your business Analytics stage

This is the million-dollar question, in fact, for some companies, it could mean more. While pursuing the path to become a data-driven company you can acknowledge the power of data to make the right decision at each point in time. But, how do you know if you’re on the right track? There are a lot of indicators and information that help with that evaluation. Knowing what stage your company is at can help underline what you must do to achieve that ‘data-driven’ title. This leads to acknowledging what it takes to get there from different factors: how much effort is needed, how much resources must be spent, or even what competencies could be missing. In the end, the idea is to efficiently implement this process and become more competitive.

1. How much do you know about your data and who needs it?

To take advantage of analytics it is important that you know how data will be inputted and what data is available. How is data stored for the main areas of information that you need to work with, is it stored in files like Excel or text, or is it contained in databases? How are such sources accessed nowadays? If you can answer these questions, then you have a good understanding of the data available.

Another aspect is knowing whom that data will be relevant to, who your end users going to be and in what contexts they will access that data. For instance, if one of your objectives is to get mobile access to content or data stored in the cloud, you need to know if your company has these resources.

2. How focused is your team on becoming a data-driven company?

When a company wants to go down the data-driven path, its people must be oriented that way too. Every disruptor must have sponsors, normally executives, who are open to change and who understand and believe the benefits of the project. These internal sponsors will be responsible for ensuring that business processes frequently include data analysis and act as enablers.

3. Does your company have all the necessary skills?

Implementing an analytics platform will require different areas of expertise, ranging from data engineering, visualisation and even setting up the infrastructure. Besides this, users will need training and regular workshops can help drive adoption. Start by checking if you have an analytics department and what skills are available. Implementing a data-driven path without these specific skills will be very hard and take ages to achieve. You can even jeopardise the whole process if you don’t anticipate user needs or simply don’t have enough quality data and undermine the confidence in analytics. This is something hard to recover from.

4. How can everything be governed and secured?

Last but not least, after analysing where your company culture is headed, after evaluating the data available and after defining all the players who will be involved, you must check how security is achieved and content is being governed. Is information divided by department or is it all held centrally to be accessed by all users? What can someone with a specific role view? Will they only see specific information or be able to access all content? These are examples of some of the questions you must look at. Nowadays, modern BI (Business Intelligence) tools like Power BI and Tableau have features and capabilities that satisfy those issues, which makes this job easier. With them you can give freedom to your users to do whatever they want; see edit and share content, etc., but controlled by what you decide they are able to do. In many cases, especially for larger companies, data is accessed to build dashboards and content that can be shared with specific roles across the whole organisation. Without a good governance model, it’s really hard to achieve a streamlined process where content is quickly accessed, updated when needed and safely shared.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes it’s hard to evaluate what stage your company is at, and this is why today we’re giving you some insights and advice. The term ‘data-driven company’ is becoming ever more popular and better understood in the business world, but many companies don’t know where they stand and what they should do. The actual steps you need to take will depend on your unique company setup and where you currently stand. We want you to know where you are, what you have and what you need to do, and this is why Xpand IT offers DIaaS (Data Innovation as a Service). We can help you evaluate, design and deploy a sustainable initiative to pursue and achieve a data-driven culture, making sure you have all the necessary skills available and someone with a high level of expertise assessing your needs. The objective and final outcome is promoting the success of one of the most important aspects of your company’s digital transformation.


José MirandaIs my company Data-Driven? How to check your business Analytics stage
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How to start with Power Platform? We can help!

The low-code/no-code platforms revolution has been, over the years, gaining traction in different companies and industries, as its potential is starting to become recognised. Proof of this is the projections both Gartner and Forrester make about these kinds of platforms. Gartner estimates that about 65% of applications developed by 2024 will use low-code/no-code platforms. Additionally, Forrester indicates that these platforms can reduce 74% of the costs related to traditional app development. More telling are the Forrester Wave reports indicating that the low-code market will exceed 21$ billion in spending by 2022.

These are relevant statistics that reveal these platforms’ true potential and how they can be crucial, differentiating tools in the way organisations address their digital transformation journeys, particularly for internal scenarios. These solutions allow non-technical profiles, so-called citizen developers, to build applications, workflows, dashboards and reports or even chatbots rapidly and with agility, without being dependent on IT departments, without programming knowledge or knowledge of more complex technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence.

Presently, there are several low-code/no-code platforms, and one of the market leaders in this segment (according to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant) is Microsoft Power Platform.

What is the Power Platform?

Microsoft Power Platform for those who don’t know it yet is Microsoft’s low-code platform. It is composed of 4 products with different purposes:

  • Power Apps: allows business users to develop applications that can be used either on mobile or the web, without the need for programming knowledge;
  • Power BI: provides access to data visualisation tools, where it is possible to build visually appealing dashboards and reports;
  • Power Automate: aims to automate business processes or enrich Power Apps applications with business logic;
  • Power Virtual Agents: you can build bots and conversation flows with just the knowledge about the conversation you intend to have with the users.

In addition to the products mentioned above, the platform also has components such as AI Builder, that allow users to take advantage of Artificial Intelligence differently. For example, users can create a model that learns to recognise specific fields in a document from a set of original documents, or even identify objects in images – all through a highly functional interface designed for non-technical users to take advantage of this technology’s potential.

Now that you already know the platform, we understand that the difficulty is sometimes understanding where exactly should you start and what components to bet on.

How do I get started with Power Platform?

Before you adopt Power Platform, there are three things you need to know to start your organisation’s digital transformation journey:

  • What are your needs? 

Your journey starts with your organisation’s needs. What are the most urgent challenges you need to tackle? Do you need to build an internal application or replace an Excel file continually being shared between users? Do you want to create a chatbot that supports the Human Resources Department? Do you need to automate critical business processes that are still dependent on humans, or do you want to analyse business data to make better decisions? Before you decide which Power Platform component is best suited to your needs, you need to clarify the company’s needs. Otherwise, you won’t be able to define the purpose of adopting the platform. Without purpose, the investment won’t have any guiding lines, and projects won’t be successful.

  • Can you identify a use case? 

Once you know your needs and the challenges your organisation must tackle first, you can decide which Power Platform component will best suit your needs. At this point, it’s essential to identify a use case and try to understand how the Power Platform will help you achieve your goals. Can you identify a specific process that could benefit from automation capabilities? If you need to build an application, how are employees currently performing this task? If you want to make a chatbot, do you know what kind of questions you want it to answer? Finally, if you need to analyse data, do you know what data you need to look into and where is it stored? Reflecting on your possible use cases for this technology will help you better materialise your vision for the solution. It will be important to help make that vision a reality.

  • What systems/ technologies are already at your disposal?

Lastly, it’s fundamental you make a cross-sectional analysis of the systems or technologies already in use in your organisation and that you can use to implement your use case. In many organisations, it’s already possible to access the various Power Platform components, so check if this is true for you and, if so, get down to business. If you need to, it’s quite simple to subscribe to the various products online, by activating a trial so that you can develop your first project. If you’re thirsty for more knowledge, you can attend, webinars or find out about solutions that already take advantage of this technology. What’s important is that you start exploring.

What’s next?

Suppose that even after you’ve explored the technology, examined the different content at your disposal and identified your particular needs, you feel you need specialised support to understand the best solution for your organisation better. In this case, an excellent first step is to fill in the Power Platform Assessment our team has built for you. This way, you will be able to receive different resources and personalised advice from our Xperts specialising in this technology directly in your inbox.

At Xpand IT, the Digital Xperience business unit has been focusing on developing Power Platform solutions, helping companies take advantage of its components and accelerating their digital transformation journey. In 2020, Xpand IT was awarded Partner of the Year’s prize in Power Apps & Data Analytics from Microsoft Portugal. Because of this, you can always count on us to support your projects – reach out to us at:  marketing@xpand-it.com.


Filipa MorenoHow to start with Power Platform? We can help!
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6 best Big Data events in 2021

Big Data universe is ready to follow the digital transformation trends that the past year has forced to accelerate. With new challenges happening in people and companies’ daily lives, consumers habits are changing. In this new era of organization and event management, the conference centres are (even more) present online, appealing to proximity and expanding the range of opportunities to share and acquire knowledge. Reflection and discussion will continue to happen in Big Data with several events available to all, and just a click away. Here are Xpand IT’s suggestions with some of the Big Data events in 2021 you won’t want to miss this year.

Big Data events in 2021:

data ai summit europe 2021

Data + AI Summit Europe 2021

17 – 19 November 2021 | Get me there »

Formerly known as the “Spark + AI Summit”, Databricks presents the Data + AI Summit Europe 2021 to the online world. Apache Spark’s success accelerated data teams’ evolution. This event promises to bring together thousands of professional teams in the field, students, leaders, entrepreneurs and the creators of Spark, Delta Lake, MLFlow and Koalas.


kafka summit europe 2021

Kafka Summit: Europe 2021

11 & 12 May 2021 | Get me there »

This is an ideal event for developers, operators and data scientists. The Kafka Summit is a reference event for streaming technology. There will be plenty of opportunities for learning from professionals and networking. Joining a community dedicated to the Apache Kafka platform could be on your to-do list this New Year.


bda europe 2021

BDA Europe 2021

09 March | Get me there »

This event aims to be a showcase of the best technologies to be used in Big Data systems. The importance of databases in the business world or innovation through digital disruption will be the main focus of the event that will feature companies specializing in Big Data and Advanced Analytics solutions, capable of providing the best advice for what you are looking for your organization.


big data world 2021

Big Data World 2021 | Londres

07 & 08 July 2021 | Get me there »

This is the event where data management and integration will be the main topic. From machine learning to Artificial Intelligence, Big Data & AI World is the leading event that focuses on real company problems.  Hours of knowledge share from multiple speakers and one-on-one discussions with leading experts and companies in the field are guaranteed.

The event will take place in London, on the 7th and 8th of July, depending on how the current pandemic situation unfolds.


data fest 2021

Data Fest 2021

Data Fest 2021 definitely lives up to its name; it’s just like a festival! But instead of musical artists, it puts the most competent IT specialists, students of computer engineering and professionals in the field on the stage. Over the last three years, the concept has gone through 3 “stages”: Data Summit, Data Talent and Data Tech. This year’s idea is the same, but the Scottish cities that hosted this event will be replaced with an online offering, allowing people to participate anywhere in the world!


idc data monetization & management

IDC Data Monetization & Management

11 & 12 May 2021 | Website not available yet

IDC is hosting an event on data management and monitoring, in partnership with NOVA IMS University. More information coming up.


We believe the Big Data challenge is the ability to manage large volumes of data, generated at high speeds, either by deriving valuable insights or simply by making sure data gets where it needs to.

Our secret is a multi-disciplinary team with top of the line skills in leveraging distributed data processing technologies, mixed with an agile and interactive approach and a set of power technology partners like Cloudera e Confluent.

Looking for experts in Big Data in London, UK? We have a data-driven team for hire!

Pedro Rosa6 best Big Data events in 2021
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Data Analysis with Write-Back: the next step for Tableau CRM

If you got to this content, certainly you already have considered using tools such as Tableau and Salesforce. But do you know how to enhance its use, how to collect and analyse data the best way possible, and how to make data analysis with Write-Back? Discover the new Tableau CRM’s benefits and how the new Xpand IT software product can improve your user experience.

Salesforce CRM is an invaluable tool for managing sales processes and customer relationships. In short, it is an intuitive, customizable cloud platform that enables you to get the best out of your data and ensure that it is always up to date with very little effort.

However, the value of using Salesforce does not end here. Because processes are better defined using the tool, you can start to make them richer by providing more context at each step along the way.  And this is where analytics takes an important role, allowing you to see immediately beyond the moment or the current sale and giving you a broader picture of what is happening, or even anticipating the results of your next action with predictive models. This means you will be able to make better decisions because you are relying on a broader context rather than guesswork, which will increase your chances of success.

When using Salesforce for analytics you used to have to choose between:

  • Einstein Analytics, built into Salesforce and allowing the combination of internal and external data, providing users a more intelligent experience. This is achieved by offering insights as well as AI/machine learning capabilities on top of Salesforce CRM applications. This meant that it was better suited to implementing use cases related to CRM processes.
  • Tableau, a leading analytics platform that allows anyone you choose to see and understand your company data. Connect to almost any database, use drag and drop to create visualisations, and share with just a click. It offers limitless data exploration and visual analytics across any data source.

These tools are being combined into one (Tableau CRM) bringing the best of both worlds, a single analytics platform that is great not only for exploring and visualising data from any data source but that also features enhanced predictive and recommendation capabilities.

The way forward is simply using Tableau within Salesforce CRM, making it an integral part of your CRM flow and enabling CRM users to have immediate access to the right insights in order to make decisions. This process has been simplified by the introduction of the Tableau Viz Lightning web component, making it easy to integrate Tableau visualisations into Salesforce with just a few clicks. Also, Tableau uses the same security mechanism as Salesforce, meaning that users are always synchronised and only need to sign in once to use both applications.

Data Analysis with Write-Back

With all these insights available from data sources beyond simple CRM you’ll probably want to start creating richer models, whether for forecasting or categorisation, as well as getting qualitative analyses from users involved in the process. This where Write-Back enables you to take the next step. Placing it inside your Tableau visualisations, you have an easy way to access those user inputs and integrate them into the process immediately. This makes the whole experience more actionable, not just through the CRM process using Salesforce but also through the analytics process with Write-Back.

The best part of all this is that Write-Back can also be fully integrated into Salesforce security, meaning that although users are using the three products simultaneously the experience will be seamless, as they are all fully integrated.

Ricardo PiresData Analysis with Write-Back: the next step for Tableau CRM
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How to start cloud adoption in less than a week

In this increasingly technological age, we are witnessing a boom in digital modernisation and transformation (across all areas of business). The current pandemic situation further accelerates this trend and a successful digital transformation will, for many firms, make the difference between success and failure in the coming era.

We cannot address this topic without bringing cloud computing to the table. An increasing number of companies are studying the possibility of shifting their applications to the cloud and reaping the benefits of not having the responsibility and skills to maintain an on-premises infrastructure (this study suggests that “more than $1.3 trillion in IT spending will be affected by the shift to the cloud by 2022”).

Cloud computing usually has characteristics that your business can immediately take advantage of such as high availability, scalability, fault tolerance, security and many more.

Besides the technical aspect, migrating your applications to the cloud can have a meaningful impact on company costs and productivity.

With this change, it is possible to predict costs (with zero upfront expenditure as no on-premises infrastructure is needed) because you only pay for what you use. You should also consider the fact that you can use and pay for additional resources when needed and stop paying for them at any time. Also, with the rapid uptake of cloud computing, cloud providers can take advantage of economies of scale which then translates into lower prices for their customers.

All the technical skills needed to build and maintain data centre infrastructure are ensured by the cloud provider so you can boost the productivity of your business by letting your IT teams focus on application development.

When discussing the cloud migration process we are talking about planning how an organisation should move its data and applications out of the office and into the cloud.

The first step should be an assessment of the environment, to decide which resources should be migrated and what migration strategy should be used for each individual resource. The next steps should be selecting the cloud provider and executing the migration itself.

In this article, we will just cover the first step by presenting the most common strategies used for cloud migration (with some practical examples, for migrating real-world applications).

We will focus particularly focus on two cloud service models, IaaS –“Infrastructure as a service” and PaaS – “Platform as a service”.

The main difference between these two is in responsibility distribution:

With IaaS, the cloud provider manages everything to do with hardware but other concerns such as maintaining the OS and network and application configuration remain up to you.

With PaaS, you get less responsibility as you are not in charge of network maintenance or the OS, and only need to worry about your application data and configuration.

The commonest migration strategies are:

  • Rehost (AKA “lift and shift”) – migrate current application “as-is” to IaaS
  • Refactor – migrate application “as-is” with minimal configuration changes to take advantage of cloud services (e.g. PaaS, DBaaS)
  • Rearchitect – Modify application architecture/code to optimise it for new cloud functionalities
  • Rebuild/New – (Re)build application adopting cloud-native methodologies and technologies

The following table presents a comparison of the different strategies (the objective factors have an impact on the choice of what strategy to apply):

So, how do we do this?

With one week to carry out our adoption, we are just going to look at the first two possible strategies, Rehost and Refactor.

Rehost, also known as “Lift and Shift”, is one of the most popular and well-used strategies. As the name suggests, this strategy consists of “lifting” your application out of the current host, for example, where it is hosted on your premises, and “shifting” it to your chosen cloud provider. This is one of the easiest ways to adopt the cloud model when there is no time to re-engineer your applications.

Your infrastructure costs are now being redirected to your cloud provider, who takes care of all the resources needed to run your application and sells that as a service (IaaS). The risk is low for this strategy and you receive immediate benefits and return on investment. If it is no longer needed, you can free up your on-premises infrastructure.

There are some tools available to carry out this migration, but some companies prefer to do it manually. This strategy is a good first option for cloud adoption but, depending on your application, of course, the next that we will present can benefit more from essential cloud-native features.

To simplify this concept here’s an example of an application that runs in a Java environment, uses a database management system, runs it all under a Linux system.

With Rehost, you just move all the layers of your application to a cloud provider infrastructure, but the cloud has much more to offer.

With Refactoring you are not altering the core of your application, you are just moving different layers of your application to cloud managed services. Think about all the time and resources spent managing databases, backups, updates and many other concerns. Most cloud providers offer database-as-a-service where all of those concerns are managed by them. Some services offer fully managed platforms where you can run your application layer and all of the capacity provisioning, scaling, load balancing and other features are managed by your cloud provider.

This strategy may need code more changes and additional configuration than the Rehost option, but you’ll benefit from it.

While this is a big step up from the Rehost strategy, it is still far from leveraging all the cloud-native capabilities that you can benefit from, but with one week to migrate to the cloud, it is a good one.

If you want to know more or if you want more information/help with your cloud migration strategy plan, please do get in touch with us.

antónio correia
joão gouveia gonçalves
António CorreiaHow to start cloud adoption in less than a week
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Jira Service Management: a new service desk experience

Jira Service Management from Atlassian is the new generation of Jira Service Desk. From November 2020, Jira Service Desk features will be gradually added, which till now were only available separately in other Atlassian products such as Opsgenie, Mindville Insight and Halp. This will make Atlassian’s service desk solution a much more complete and modern IT Service Management tool.

By ending the possible hold-ups between teams working separately, solutions, problem-solving and support requests (internal and external) can be carried out faster, based on richer and more detailed information. Jira Service Management empowers organisations with greater visibility and responsiveness, fostering and promoting efficient collaboration between teams.

Previously available only as a separate product, Opsgenie’s integration with Jira Service Management will allow you to manage alerts for incidents, disruptions or plan service interventions. Support requests for incidents in Jira Service Management can be tested and escalated within the product, which will automatically generate, for example, alerts for the team responsible for the services. These features will be available in the Cloud version. For Server and Data Center customers, integration with Opsgenie can only be achieved with the solo acquisition of this service.

Mindville‘s Insight will also be part of Jira Service Management. A flexible asset & configuration management tool, which allow you to catalogue your organisation’s assets, such as hardware, software, car fleet or office supplies. This will offer a more detailed and interlinked view in managing its lifecycle. All types of orders within Jira Service Management can quickly be enriched with detailed information from Insight. Example: an order related to laptop assistance or a licence that needs renewing can now automatically be added with all its associated technical information. Insight features will be available on Jira Service Management in the second half of 2021.

Halp allows you to create, sort and manage tickets using conversational tools, and will also be included in Jira Service Management in the second half of 2021. It will be possible for teams to integrate Slack (already available in Halp’s standalone version) or Microsoft Teams (in testing) with Jira Service Management and manage orders directly in these applications.

Source: Atlassian

In addition to the new capabilities included in the product, Jira Service Management will also provide new templates for support projects. These templates will cover typical settings in Incident & Change Management, Service Request and Problem Management scenarios, speeding up the tool’s adoption process. They will also integrate naturally with Bitbucket, offering automated new controls, deployments approval and greater tracking in problem analyses.

The new Jira Service Management is now available as a Cloud version with several plans available – Free, Standard, Premium and Enterprise – with added features of Insight and Halp being made available gradually over the coming months. The Server and Data Center versions will arrive via update later this year.

Are you ready to amplify service management in your organisation?

Tiago AlmeidaJira Service Management: a new service desk experience
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And the winner is… modern BI!

Why ‘modern Business Intelligence‘ is so important for your organisation in order to become more competitive?

Modern BI gives you the flexibility to build a data-driven culture where you can make decisions based on facts rather than guesses or assumptions. Instead of relying solely on EDWs (enterprise data warehouses), like traditional BI, it comes with a set of new visual interactive tools to tackle all kinds of tasks from IT to workflow. BI is no longer just a project; the goal is now a data-driven company in which BI connects data with its end users through ETL (extract, transform and load) and visualisation tools. What we want here is to demonstrate how modern BI can bring value to your company and we’ll do that via the following trilogy.

1. Accessing data

Connecting to data has become so much easier. Nowadays you can connect to every type of DB (database), to a set of files, like PDF or excel, and to APIs or data from the web with web data connectors, etc. You can do this from a BI tool such as Tableau Desktop or Power BI, which let you connect directly to these data sources. Think about it; many companies rely on Excel as an output for their departmental information. Imagine that you prepare monthly report files on sales figures. How best can you compare your sales performance for 2008 against that of 2018? Are you going to open all those Excel files? How can you build a sales vs region map by year? And drill down to data for every month? Well, fortunately, modern BI tools can give you all this. You get the capability to quickly connect your Excel file, or a load of Excel files (by joins or relationships) to Tableau or Power BI, which means you’re acquiring a real upgrade of analysis efficiency because in a matter of minutes you can clean, normalise and use all the data to build dynamic reports and dashboards.

Bear in mind that sometimes data isn’t completely error-free, so a cleaning process must be carried out, which you can do easily in the tools mentioned above with just a few clicks. However, if you have many complex files, which need to perform complicated calculations, or you want to join too many different data sources, you’ll need an ETL tool like Pentaho, Tableau Prep or SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) and a database into which your ETL can drop the data from all those sources.

2. Building visualisations

All right, connecting data has new fancy options and is now much faster, but the coolest thing is building the visualisations. Forget those old static charts and tables or maps. Nowadays, BI solutions give you the ability to construct every type of graph to display information exactly as you want. Using a single graph, in few minutes, you can create a visualisation by year with the possibility of drilling down to individual days; or you can drill down by hierarchies, for example, showing profit first by product group and even further until you reach profit by individual product. You have the ability to incorporate filters into your visualisations in order to be more precise with your analysis. You can build parameters to enable you to see different KPI’s (key performance indicators) by groups of products meaning that in the same visualisation, you can explore profit or number of sales or margin by product. Nevertheless, you can explore raw data by creating tables with all the information you need.

Alongside these cool attributes, there’s another important functionality. You can explore and analyse all the underlying data. Choosing a group or clicking on a specific point on your graph, you can promptly see the information behind the values. With this, you’re never working blind, and guess what, you can export these pieces of data to file. Using this functionality with the visualisations, you can do your own exploration and analysis in which you’ll be able to find trends or outliers and take interesting conclusions.

You arrive at a place where you’re able to create views that you can group in a super-dynamic dashboard full of filters and parameters that can be applied to all your graphs, tables and maps. With dashboards, you can create data stories where you tell a story using snapshots of a specific dashboard to communicate data much easier and more consistently.

It gets even better because after constructing visualisations you can then share them with everyone in your company and decide who sees what.

3. Governance

If the visualisations are cool, imagine how awesome it is to easily share content with anyone in your company. Tools like Tableau or Power BI give you the opportunity to bring all your content together in one place, divided by project or department. We’re talking about your data sources and dashboards in which you can create groups of users and decide their permissions. Imagine that you build a marketing dashboard and publish it via the online service. You have users in all your company’s different departments but you only want those in marketing to be able to see this dashboard. To achieve this you create a group called Marketing, add all your marketing users to it and grant them permission to see your content, while for other groups, such as Finance, for example, you deny permission.

The online service is managed either through a physical server or based in the cloud, with a high level of security. To connect, you can use login directories such as Active Directory, or you can create one locally. You can embed your interactive visualisations into webpages, which will refresh any time that you change the underlying data. Defining schedules and alerts is something you’ll find really useful. Schedules for refreshing data, for example, and alerts for when a KPI reaches a specific limit. Despite this, you are able to monitor everything: who has accessed what, performance, space usage, tasks, etc.

The best part of all of this is the fact that your IT personnel are still an important part of managing access to data, but with the right software, every user is empowered to view, customise, create and edit dashboards and reports or analyse data in far less time.

Final thoughts

As we said, BI is no longer simply a project. BI is a living being in your company. Imagine your company as a city and BI as a data speed highway flowing freely between every corner of that city. Scalability becomes very effective as you can upgrade your departments to the digital culture in less than no time or upgrade your old digital BI structures, which will then become even faster.

The given value of monitoring, making decisions, analysing information quickly or sharing insights between people and departments is one of many other strengths that BI can offer you, although business users become more autonomous to do so.

For sure, modern BI is a winner that caught the speed of our fast, competitive, changing world and earned its place right next to business fabric, and this is how XpandIT DIaaS (Data Innovation as a Service) became real. By defining your strategy, deploying, maintaining and supporting a robust data solution, and helping you build your speed highway, we can help you define the process of positioning yourself as a competitive data-driven company and of course, a winner because when you win, we win too!

José MirandaAnd the winner is… modern BI!
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Managing Marketing teams with Atlassian tools

Organising work is a daily topic for all companies. Who delegates what? How is that project that can’t really fail going? How do we evaluate the team’s workload?

All of these are legitimate questions, which is why we will help you take advantage of Atlassian tools to enhance your team and organisation. We will also present a use case, using the Xpand IT Marketing team as an example, so that you can better understand the true potential of these tools in teams outside the scope of software development.

Confluence

Let’s start with Confluence. Regardless of the organisation’s area of activity this knowledge management and sharing platform allow teams to display projects in which they are involved, and share results, initiatives and even personal content that may be useful to the organisation.

Thanks to its structure we can almost call it an internal social network which allows information flows to run effectively, allowing all the people involved in the company to stay up to date on each other’s daily work.

Let’s look at the case of the Xpand IT marketing team. With access to Confluence, it is possible to get visibility over all the marketing initiatives (and not just marketing!) taking place in our company. Easy access to information makes all our employees feel involved about the same projects, increasing and fostering a teamwork culture. With Confluence, everyone has a voice and can share and give feedback.

For example, we can see the impact of Confluence in an interaction between the Marketing team and the Sales team. Even working on different levels, the platform allows both teams to give their inputs in support of Xpand IT’s participation in an external event.

Through the quick and easy editing of the event-dedicated page, it is possible to increase the agility of the entire organisational process and simplify bureaucratic work that could easily become time-consuming carried out over the usual email exchange.

This is just an example of the benefits that Confluence software can bring to your team. It is also important to understand that the platform requires some attention from your team because it can be easily forgotten and get out of date. In another article, we explore the 10 reasons to update your version of Confluence and make sure that everyone contributes to your team’s success.

Through Confluence it is also possible to create meeting notes, project plans and service specifications, among others. You can learn more about Confluence here.

Jira Software

The name may seem complex, but any issues ends there. This work management platform allows your teams to view all tasks to the current work period in a practical and intuitive way.

There are 4 phases linked to this platform’s success and which have a positive impact on teamwork:

Plan: task distribution across the team;

Track: task prioritisation and monitoring the success of each project where your team is involved;

Release: execution time of various tasks. Throughout the work period, every team member can change their status to bring the rest of the team up to date;

Report: at the end of each work period, it is possible to prepare a report that identifies where your team has been successful and the improvement points.

It’s based on these four phases that we can give you another example from the Xpand IT Marketing. Within a team there may be several work methodologies to be adopted (in this article you can read about 5 agile methodologies). For this case, we will explore the SCRUM method. This working method is characterised by cycles or stages of development, defined as sprints, and by the maximisation of time development for a series of tasks.

There should mainly be daily meetings of 15 minutes, the daily scrum, which act to synchronise activities and as a way to plan the working day. With 15-day work periods, called ‘sprints’, the team start their work cycle with a meeting where each team member uploads their tasks to the platform and assigns several metrics to them: story points (from 1 to 8), which help to understand the degree of difficulty of each task; hours, providing a more reliable count of the time to be spent on each task; priority, allowing the entire team to perceive the urgency of each project; and assignee, the person responsible for fulfilling it. It is also possible to create several labels using tags that allow a better visualisation of where the team spent their time, in the final report for each sprint.

Then, the SCRUM Master – the person responsible for the team – starts the sprint.

At the end of the sprint, the team meets again for another briefing to learn about areas for improvement in their working methods and task difficulties, amongst other things.

team management

Let’s take a look the following example:

In this case, an issue was created in Jira Software for creating this blog post. It was assigned estimated story points and the number of hours in which to write this article and given a priority.

As you can see in this image, a total of 12 hours were allocated for the development of this content (1 day and 4 hours). The difficulty was maximum (remember, the scale is from 1 to 8), and 3 tags were created: Blog because it is an article for our blog; CS, because it is our business area associated with the technologies referred to; and Atlassian, because it is the theme that this use case portrays.

After uploading, this task will be displayed in the “To do” column and will then change status, depending on the progress of the task. In this case, if you are reading this article, the task is now in “Done”, but before this, it went through “In progress” as it was being developed.

With this, as a team, we are able to understand the workload necessary for each project and consequently optimise the work and the effectiveness of the human resources allocated.

Jira Service Desk

team management

This service order management platform is the ideal solution for resolving issues that can arise in your daily work. The resolution’s team mission is to respond to a request with the best and highest level of quality support while simultaneously being able to optimise the management process of their own timelines.

The process of opening a support ticket / request is quite simple. Let’s see a case from our marketing and design teams where a ticket has been opened to produce communication pieces for this blog post. On the Jira Service Desk platform, you can select a category for your order. In this case, we will open a ticket as a “Design Request”.

Next, we give the most accurate briefing possible so that the order has the highest possible success rate. Then you can allocate the ticket to the project (for budget or workload management issues), and select one or more approvers. Finally, you must select the ticket deadline and even attach reference files.

Final Thoughts

In this content we explained in a simple way the two tools that our marketing team use on a daily basis. However, Atlassian tools do not stop there. From Jira Service Desk to Bitbucket, the solutions that improve collaboration between teams are endless.

Since Xpand IT is a global company acting as the only Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner in Portugal, develops top services and products in the IT area to reach the ALM and SDLC.

Our knowhow, combined with our experience in Atlassian technology, allows us to give various specialised consulting services according to client needs, including installation, customisation, app development and monitoring, and support services for the entire range of products. Find out everything here. Our team of experts will help you.

Pedro RosaManaging Marketing teams with Atlassian tools
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5 questions you need to answer before creating your Azure solution

There are countless articles, blog posts and other types of content that talk about the cloud: from the benefits that this technology offers to companies to demystifying popular myths, and from how to make the most of this technology to how to optimise existing applications. The relevancy of the role that cloud technology currently has in the reality of companies is undeniable.

The topic remains so relevant that, according to a recent survey conducted by IDC, organisations show a strong inclination to increase investments in cloud services in 2020. On the other hand, the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus has resulted in an increasing digitalisation of companies where the cloud element has proved to be essential, given the benefits it presents for companies that have been forced to adapt digitally overnight. Infrastructure requirements have increased significantly, and the number of workers who have started to work remotely has also grown. Additionally, it has become clear that companies need to offer digital versions of their services to consumers.

However, considering the number of different available options, it can be challenging to understand where to start. Whether your company already adopts this technology in some parts of the business and wants to optimise it, or even if your company has yet to adopt cloud technologies, it’s important to do an analysis of the business to clarify the objectives and purposes your organisation needs to achieve by using this technology.

5 questions you need to ask to create an Azure solution

There are 5 elements you need to clarify to understand where to start on your digital transformation journey with the cloud with as much information as possible:

1) What are your needs?

Before moving on to developing solutions that take advantage of cloud technology, start by asking yourself what your needs are. Do you want to modernise an existing solution, build a native cloud solution, create a data platform, or are you still unsure of what your business needs are? Clarifying your business need is the first step you need to take before you even start thinking about embarking on a cloud migration project. Without the answer to this question, the purpose of the investment will not be straightforward – nor how it should be done.

2) What type of solution are you looking for?

Secondly, you need to understand what kind of solution you are looking for. Are you looking for a web app, a mobile app, a business backend, a streaming app or are you looking for another solution? Eventually, you may conclude that what your company needs right now is an aggregate of these elements. Having a clearer sense of your business needs and the type of solution that can help you suppress it will be an essential step to take on your migration journey to the cloud.

3) What is your business objective?

Once you know what you need and also what type of solution you are looking for within the universe of cloud technology, it’s crucial to reflect on what your business objectives are. This is the moment where you can finally crystallise your vision for the company and how this technology can you help you achieve it. Clearly and unambiguously communicating this vision will help specialists be aligned with you so that you make that vision a reality.

4) What is the technological stack you’re using/that you want to use?

Regardless of your needs, be they modernising an existing solution, creating a data platform or even building a native cloud solution, it is crucial that you consider the different technologies you already use or want to use. In this way, you can analyse the impact these technologies will have when starting on your cloud journey. The sooner you analyse the possible limitations or obstacles to achieving your goals, the more efficiently you will be able to find strategies to overcome them.

5) What are your main drivers?

Last but not least, it’s also essential to clarify the company’s drivers. What kind of elements are crucial for the company’s activity and which ones do you want to prioritise? Is it costs, performance, scalability or something else? To ensure the solution built is highly personalised and focused on the individual needs of the company, you need some visibility over what type of indicators guide it. Only in this way will it be possible to arrive at a solution that addresses all the challenges and opportunities to which the company wishes to respond.

What happens next? Next steps

Even after you’ve answered all these questions, it can still be challenging to understand what the best cloud solution will be or the best combination of resources for your specific needs. To help, Xpand IT has designed a Cloud Assessment tool. This tool’s goal is to make a brief assessment, so that our specialists can help your organisation understand what you’re already doing right, which areas you can improve and, finally, get visibility as to what is the best combination of resources within your business’s specificity and the challenges you need to answer.

At Xpand IT, the Digital Xperience business unit has, for many years, been focused on the development of solutions based on cloud technology, namely Microsoft Azure. The solutions we have been developing over the years take advantage of a variety of components that are combined to build the best possible solution: App Services, API Management, Cosmos DB, Cognitive services, among others. Our experience with these technologies and particularly with Microsoft Azure derives not only from the development of native cloud solutions but also from reengineering existing solutions, where we help our customers make the most of this technology and all its components.

Complete our Cloud Assessment and take a step forward in your digital transformation journey.

Filipa Moreno5 questions you need to answer before creating your Azure solution
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