How can an IT Pro make a tangible business impact?

I recently wrote an article that has been published on the Technet UK site. The focus ofimage_thumb the article is a discussion around the skills required for an IT pro to make a tangible business difference

Here is an excerpt from the article, click more to see the full article.

Business and IT are inextricably linked, there is no denying the fact and if that’s the case then the IT Professional has a big part to play in the success of the business.

I am employed as Senior Consultant at Foundation SP which means I get dropped into a lot of different businesses who are looking to maximise their use of IT to benefit the business as a whole, but what skills do I have that means I can make a difference to the business?

Let me first give you an insight into my career, I have worked for 19 years in IT with 18 of those spent in education and the last year working for an IT Consultancy. I have various Microsoft certifications and for the last 3 years I’ve been proud to be a Microsoft MVP in the SharePoint discipline. So I think my IT skills are OK but how is that going to make an impact in a business environment apart from the obvious of keeping everything running, which let’s face it just costs the business money, it doesn’t actually generate income ….. More

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Building BI Dashboards with Visio

I was lucky enough recently to spend a week in Barcelona while presenting at the European SharePoint Conference. The slide deck from my session is now uploaded to slideshare and shown below.

A video of the simple diagram demo has been uploaded to my YouTube channel with the complex diagram demo video to follow soon.

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Apprentice v Graduate – Who’s right for your business?

I recently wrote an article that has been published on the Technet UK site. The focus ofimage the article is a discussion around the above title and how a business chooses which route to go down when thinking about employing someone.

Here is an excerpt from the article, click more to see the full article.

Background
When I looked at writing this article I garnered some opinions from a lot of different people; educationalists, IT professionals and also the directors of my current company. The surprising bit about gathering all of this opinion was how similar it was, for me this was a bit of a shock, I really did think that all of these people from completely different career spectrums would have very differing opinions.
So what was that opinion; well in a nutshell it was that it depends. Now that might sound like a bit of a get out of jail reaction but it is very true, the choice of graduate or apprentice does depend on a lot of factors. Some of these I have listed here
· Maturity of the business
· Speed of new staff member being able to contribute to the business
· Skillset needed by the business
· Freeness of business staff to provide quality on the job training and guidance
This list is not an exhaustive one but shows some of the thought that has to go in to decision making behind whether the business takes on a graduate or an apprentice……….More

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Relaying Mail in Office 365

I recently worked on a project that required all email to hit Office 365 and then for some users forward that mail ontoimage an external mail account. The reason being that the organisation didn’t want to take up licenses for the users but they still needed a mail address that existed in the organisations domain.

The reason for going down this solution route is that as a default due to security concerns Office 365 will not forward email out of Office 365 for a user that doesn’t exist. What this means is that you can’t setup a rule that says for any email that arrives and the user does not exist send it to this smart host

Solution

All the users requiring their mail forwarding will be created as mail users with an alias within the organisation but have an email forwarding address that points to the external mail account for the organisation. So as an example Joe Blogs will have an email address of joe.blogs@organisation.co.uk and have a forwarding address of joe.blogs@external.organisation.co.uk all mail destined for the Google domain will also be forwarded out of Office 365 using a connector to ensure it does not bounce around MX records.

Mail Users

Creating a mail user in Office 365 is simple. Navigate to the Exchange admin page and click on Contacts

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Click the + icon and select Mail User and fill in all the details required

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Click Save and the user will appear in the list

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Connector

So now we have the mail user any mail arriving for jblogs@edutechnow.com will be forwarded to jblogs@external.organisation.co.uk and Office 365 will forward it directly to the smart host for the external organisation

From the Exchange admin page select Mail Flow | Connectors

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Click on the + icon to create a new outbound connector

The first section is fairly straight forward as shown below

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The next sections to complete are shown below, take note that for this connector I have selected that this connector will be used for criteria based routing

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Click Save to save the settings for the outbound connector

Rules

At the moment you have a mail user and an outbound connector that basically will do nothing and this is where rules come in

Navigate to Mail Flow | Rules and click on the + to create a new rule

From the menu select Create a new rule

As soon as you see the pop up window click on More options… this make sure that some of the more advanced settings are available to you from the start

Give the rule a name

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For each of the field select the following

Apply this rule if… The recipient address includes any of these words (enter external when the pop up window appears)

Do the following… Redirect the message to the following outbound connector (Select the outbound connector you created earlier)

The top half of the screen should now look like this

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Click Save to save the rule

How it works

You now have everything in place to send any mail to these particular users to an external smart host. The way it works is:

  • Mail will arrive at Office 365 for jblogs@edutechnow.com
  • Office 365 will see its an external contact and that the mail address includes the word external
  • The rule will kick in and send the mail through the outbound connector
  • The outbound connector will send the mail to the smart host for the external organisation

Its probably very rare that you will ever need to do this, in all the time I have worked with Office 365 this is the first tie for me and particular to the client. Hence the blog, for my own records as much for sharing.

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I’m speaking at the European SharePoint Conference 2014

The European SharePoint Conference is less than three weeks away and I’m delighted to be part of such an ESPC Speaker Graphicexceptional line up. The conference will take place in Barcelona, Spain from the 5-8th May 2014 and is Europe’s largest SharePoint event bringing you great sessions and the latest innovations from Vegas.

Browse through the superb conference programme including 110 sessions, keynotes, and tutorials, including topics covering the latest news from SPC14 including what’s new with SharePoint 2013 SP1 – Office Graph/Oslo – new Office 365 REST APIs – Access Apps – Cloud Business Apps.

I will be conducting a session on “Creating BI Dashboards Using Visio 2013 & Visio Services” aimed at IT Professionals.

“Creating BI Dashboards Using Visio 2013 & Visio Services”

“This session will look at how you can use the Visio 2013 client in conjunction with Visio Services to create interactive Business Intelligence Dashboards that can be viewed and manipulated by users without the need to have the Visio client installed. We will start with a simple drill down dashboard using Visio 2013 client and Visio Services in Office 365 and move on to working with the Microsoft Visio demos for Office 365 to see its full capability.”

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The European SharePoint Conference will be run over four days and with over 1000 SharePoint attendee’s already signed up don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to mingle with the European SharePoint Community.

If you want to deepen your SharePoint expertise, to understand the trend of the SharePoint market, and to learn how to leverage Microsoft Office 365 for your business, including the revolutionary Enterprise Social wave, the European SharePoint Conference is the best place to be in 2014!

Prices start from €1150! There is also special group discounts for bookings of 3 or more people.

Book Now and I’ll see you in Barcelona in May

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Now Hosted on Windows Azure

If you are now reading this post then the move to Windows Azure for this blog is now complete.image

The move was pretty straight forward using a Windows Azure website template for WordPress on a shared web server.

Will shut down the old site now and happily carry on the blogging with WordPress on Windows Azure

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I’m speaking at the European SharePoint Conference 2014

In case you missed it, the European SharePoint Conference 2014 programme is now available and I’m delighted toclip_image002 announce that I am speaking at Europe’s largest SharePoint event in Barcelona, Spain from the 5-8th May 2014.

I will be conducting a session on “Creating BI Dashboards Using Visio 2013 & Visio Services” aimed at IT Professionals.

“Creating BI Dashboards Using Visio 2013 & Visio Services”

"This session will look at how you can use the Visio 2013 client in conjunction with Visio Services to create interactive Business Intelligence Dashboards that can be viewed and manipulated by users without the need to have the Visio client installed. We will start with a simple drill down dashboard using Visio 2013 client and Visio Services in Office 365 and move on to working with the Microsoft Visio demos for Office 365 to see its full capability.”

The European SharePoint Conference will be run over four days and will feature over 100 informative SharePoint sessions and 6 preconference tutorials providing you with a fantastic opportunity for learning and building your SharePoint skills. Check out the full Conference Programme to see all sessions and topics that are being covered by myself and world renowned SharePoint experts.

If you want to deepen your SharePoint expertise, to understand the trend of the SharePoint market, and to learn how to leverage Microsoft Office 365 for your business, including the revolutionary Enterprise Social wave, the European SharePoint Conference is the best place to be in 2014!

Prices start as low as €995! There is also special group discounts for bookings of 3 or more people.

Book Now and I’ll see you in Barcelona in May

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SharePoint Saturday Slide Deck

Last week I was very privileged to present at SharePoint Saturday on Building BI dashboards using Visio 2013.

The session covered all the topics an administrator needs to know to start creating BI dashboards in Visio for use in either SharePoint 2013 or Office 365.

The slide deck contains images that are copyright so can’t be reproduced without permission, but here you can view the slides.

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I’m Participating in European SharePoint Training Week from the 25 – 28 of November

European SharePoint Training Week (http://www.sharepointeurope.com/content/european-sharepoint-training-Training-Week-Graphicweek ) from the 25 – 28 of November will bring together some of the best speakers and trainers from around the world direct to your computer for FREE! With four days of live interactive webinars, educational eBooks, a wide range of unique blogs covering all SharePoint topics, don’t miss this one-off chance to hear the latest cutting edge content on SharePoint 2013 and chat online with these global thought leaders.

I’m delighted to be involved and am presenting a webinar on Monday, 25th November on “Installing SharePoint 2013 – Step by Step http://www.sharepointeurope.com/content/installing-sharepoint-2013-%E2%80%93-step-by-step .

Join me on Monday, 25th Nov at 03:00PM GMT and learn about service accounts for SharePoint 2013; how to install SharePoint 2013 using best practices for lowest privilege installations and about the installation of workflow server & Office web apps and how they interact with SharePoint 2013.

Register Now>> https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/127176071

With other live webinars from Agnes Molnar, David Martos, Liam Cleary, Mike Fitzmaurice, Michael Noel and Symon Garfield

Be sure to check out the agenda here>> http://www.sharepointeurope.com/content/european-sharepoint-training-week

On Thursday, 28th Nov, their will have a range of superb eBooks and insightful blogs by some of the leading experts in the SharePoint industry. Contributors include: Edin Kapic, Asif Rehmani, André Vala, Jeff Fried, Wouter van Vugt, Thorbjørn Værp, Geoff Evelyn, Bill Ayers, Eric Riz, Christian Buckley, Paolo Pialorsi, Mikael Svenson, Abi Onifade and Oliver Wirkus.

Join me at European SharePoint Training Week, 25 – 28 November

Register Now>> http://www.sharepointeurope.com/content/european-sharepoint-training-week

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Upgrade your Windows and get a new view on your world!

In all my time working in the IT industry one of the main things I enjoy doing is writing and using timagehat writing to pass on the knowledge and experience that i have gained over the years.

One of those writing examples can be currently found on the TechNet blog site about upgrading to Windows 8.

You can read it here.

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