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  • Enhancements to Dynamics 365 Higher Education Accelerator now available

    In October 2018, we announced the Microsoft Higher Education Accelerator, enabling ISVs and other solution providers to quickly build industry vertical solutions tailored for higher education. Since then, we have updated the accelerator with new scenarios to help institutions transform how they engage with students and their constituents and improve student outcomes.

    Our latest version, now generally available, extends the Common Data Model scenarios to include new entities, sample apps, and analytics for business partner management and student accomplishments. The accelerator also includes entities around internships, scholarships, grants, and more.

    About the industry accelerator

    One of five industry accelerators currently available, the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Higher Education Accelerator provides a new higher education data model and sample apps allowing you to easily build applications, workflows, and processes and go to market quickly with solutions. The Higher Education Accelerator also allows you to implement the higher education data model in Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and in Azure Data Lake Storage.

    It can assist with day-to-day operations or act as a stand-alone data model for developers. The model provides a shared and consistent metadata definition for common higher education entities, allowing customers and partners to build on the same data model. This common schema allows for new interoperability and improved processes and insights.

    The accelerator contains installable solutions that include standard entity attribute extensions, new higher education entities, pre-built dashboards, sample data, sample apps, plus other tools to help customers and partners build and deploy new solutions. What's even better? The Higher Education Accelerator is open source and available on GitHub.

    What's new?

    • Student portal: The student portal is a Power Apps portal that we created to preview what a student can see and do within the portal. Students can view courses, events, and view a history of courses and applications. They can also view available grants and scholarship opportunities and submit their own applications. Use the sign-in functionality to sign into the portal and try out additional features like notifications, internships, scholarships, and grants students have applied for. Use these credentials to test the portal: Username Antonchew, Password Pass@word1.
    Student Portal highlighting resources such as courses, lectures, events, internships and scholarships.
    • Business partner dashboards: A business partner can work with a university to plan events, hackathons, internships, scholarships, and grants for students. With the native dashboard and Power BI dashboards, business partners gain insights on student interest in opportunities and applications for grants and scholarships.
    Business partner dashboard providing insights into all business partners and their application status.
    • Grants phone app: By using a phone app, faculty members can easily view grants and submitted applications, as well as view the students who have submitted applications and the status of those applications.
    Grants phone app displaying available grants to apply for.
    • Internships, grants, and scholarships: All personas including students, business partners, and faculty members have access to rich reporting regarding students applying for internships, grants, and scholarships.
    Internship application tracker within Power Apps.

    These updates are a step in an ongoing commitment to refresh the data set with the most relevant schema to build transformative solutions for higher education institutions. Our partner community plays a big part in helping to evolve and refine the Higher Education Accelerator. Case in point, KPMG Australia shared insights based on the development of Higher Education solutions on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE platform that support the student journey.

    "When building our solution, we reviewed Microsoft's existing industry accelerators and data models and saw immediate value. We were able to leverage their assets into our broader higher education data model including their Not-For-Profit accelerator that supports our fundraising and donation management capabilitiestweaked for the Education sector. By leveraging Microsoft's accelerators, we're able to capitalize on the underpinning Common Data Model, which helps future proof our solution and support our joint customers by incorporating continuous updates Microsoft release on their Dynamics 365 platform and industry accelerators. We're also able to benefit from the Open Data Initiative being undertaken with Adobe and SAP to improve Marketing Automation and Finance integration. The insights and lessons learnt from our University engagements are also helping to refine and evolve Microsoft's accelerators." -Blake Burningham, KPMG Higher Education Product Specialist

    Get started

    We encourage you to register and test drive the Higher Education Accelerator. You can access GitHub to try out the solution, data samples, Power BI examples, and more.

    If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. If you're a partner working in the higher education space and want to use the accelerator and help shape the next version of it, please reach out to us.

    Read more

    The post Enhancements to Dynamics 365 Higher Education Accelerator now available appeared first on Dynamics 365 Blog.

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  • Five ways nonprofits can benefit from marketing automation

    Nonprofits (or not-for-profits) exist in a highly competitive world. According to a report from Giving USA, the sector is large and with one crucial exception, growing:

    • Donations. American organizations and individuals provided record-breaking levels of support in 2017. Strong support continued in 2018, with total giving from individuals, foundations, and corporations exceeding $427 billion. That's a rise of 0.7 percent from 2017 giving or a 1.7 percent decrease after adjusting for inflation, and a 9 percent increase from the $390.05 billion in donations in 2016.
    • Organizations. In Fiscal Year 2018, the Internal Revenue Service recognized more than 1.7 million tax exempt organizations under section 501 (c).

    The same report by Giving USA also noted that giving by individuals declined slightly by 1.1 percent in 2018. This represents an opportunity for growth to farsighted nonprofits.

    The competition for donors is challenging

    Even though smaller nonprofits tend to be more focused in terms of cause or geography, they still must compete for funds and donors with larger, more established entities. Moreover, the number of competitors is increasing. In 2018 alone, the I.R.S. approved nearly 84,000 applications for tax-exempt status.

    How can nonprofits successfully compete?

    For many nonprofits, the tools and techniques of marketing automation offer a way to reach and embrace new donors.

    Because many nonprofits get their start as a response to an emergency, disaster, or an unmet community need, their cause is often promoted through free media coverage. Marketing is an afterthought. But marketing is crucial to long-term viability.

    Recognizing this, the industry has been looking at the changes in marketing that for-profit businesses have made and are adopting many of these to their own situations, creating the specialty of nonprofit marketing.

    With adjustments to accommodate the target audience of donors as opposed to customers, marketing automation brings powerful capabilities to nonprofits:

    • Speak with one voice. Standardize the voice and messaging of the organization and personalize communications using data the app gathers.
    • Create and strengthen loyalty. Help steer new donors onto a path of greater generosity, participation, and advocacy.
    • Improve productivity. Empower the staff to move from routine tasks to improving relationships with key donors.
    • Energize involvement. Automated communications can point donors to matching gift opportunities, volunteer needs, and other organization sites.
    • Content marketing tells your story. The mission of a nonprofit involves issues that people care about and provides unique opportunities for motivating storytelling.

    Marketing automation advances your message

    A nonprofit's advantage in gaining attention to its cause and work, and the sense of emergency, is not as much of an advantage in the regular rhythm of its existence. After answering the call, people can settle back to ordinary life, except for the nonprofits themselves.

    In the absence of a rallying cry, nonprofits return to a normal voice and that is the voice they use for ongoing communications with donors and prospective donors.

    Communication leads to loyalty

    Marketing automation solutions make it much easier for a nonprofit to establish and maintain its voice, personalize messages, create more effective outreach schedules, and track responses.

    A model for building a member base for a nonprofit is to attract single donors and nurture them to become loyal members. From there, those loyal members can take on additional roles within the nonprofit such as a volunteer, influencer, recruiter, advocate, fundraiser, or a combination of those activities.

    Deployed strategically, marketing automation can bring both consistency and flexibility to this process. Consistency of voice, message, ask, and other touchpoints reinforce elements that may have attracted the donor in the first place. At the same time, insights from information gathered throughout individual communication and response interactions help to personalize communications and reach donors where they are most receptive.

    Keep in mind that while marketing automation offers new levels of communication, nonprofits are still driven by human connection. Organizations should be alert to the possibility of allowing automated reach vs. the personal touch swinging out of balance and losing donors who feel slighted.

    Improve your team's productivity

    As with introducing any type of technology, an organization can expect to spend significant time in both planning how to use its marketing automation capability effectively and in training people how to use it well.

    But once that's achieved, marketing automation nurtures donors through regular communications, freeing staffers to concentrate on one-to-one donor relations and other productive tasks.

    Energize everyone's involvement

    Automated communications can point donors to matching gift opportunities, volunteer needs, content marketing of human-interest stories, and other organization sites. Staffers can shift to individual donor prospecting and servicing. Administrators can develop long-term plans and have them set up on the app in advance.

    Content marketing: Stories worth telling

    In the effort to attract engagement, nonprofits can share important, impactful stories of challenges, misfortunes, and metaphorical hills to climb. These are stories that people want to read and are the heart of a nonprofit's appeal. Automated marketing can make it faster and easier to reach out to donors and prospective donors and alert them to new stories on their sites.

    Marketing automation expands the nonprofit reach

    The objections to adding marketing automation to nonprofits, including ramp-up time, product cost, and potential staff resistance, are falling away as organizations see the long-term benefits of an active, customizable donor relationship tool. Marketing automation software such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing offers extensive capabilities from advanced email features to event management tools to collecting in-depth information on donors to help you personalize communications.

    The investment in marketing automation increasingly seems to be essential to keeping today's nonprofits active, growing, and fighting for their share in an environment with more that 1.7 million competitors.

    Read the Top Signs You've Outgrown Basic Email Marketing eBook to learn how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing can help you improve your company's marketing efforts.

    The post Five ways nonprofits can benefit from marketing automation appeared first on Dynamics 365 Blog.

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  • Introducing Dynamics 365 account protection and loss prevention

    Process efficiency is key to growing an e-commerce business. To meet this goal, retailers need better intelligence to better monitor discount, return, and account fraud, helping to protect and improve revenue, reputation, and customer service. As a premium solution partner, Microsoft has deeply invested in artificial intelligence (AI) based systems to help retailers increase process efficiencies in both on premise and online channels.

    As e-commerce revenue grows, merchants are facing a drastic increase in fraud, resulting in reduced profits, increased operational expenses, and potential wrongful rejections. Fraud impacts retailers on a local and global scale, ultimately contributing to a suboptimal experience for many of their customers. Retailers' revenue and reputations are at stake as a result of increased fraudulent account creation and account compromises.

    Additionally, although retail is increasingly moving online, it is still predominantly done in brick and mortar stores, where there are other distinct fraud challenges around in-store returns, discounts, and other types of shrinkage. These problems are exacerbated by the new trend of omnichannel commerce, where the customers are completing transactions across channels, such as buy online and pick up in store (BOPUS). For retailers dealing with these challenges, there is often no automated way to understand which store or terminal the fraud is rampant. Moreover, there is also a lack of no exception-based reporting in place for loss prevention investigators that can enable them to zoom in and readily understand these patterns and take corrective actions.

    With this in mind, Microsoft is expanding Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection to provide merchants with much needed AI to make processes more efficient and protect merchant's omnichannel revenue.

    New capabilities in Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection

    Back in April, Microsoft announced Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection, a cloud-based solution developed to provide fraud protection to fulfill both Microsoft's and their customers' needs.

    To combat common challenges around account fraud and losses from in-store returns and discounts fraud, we are broadening the scope of the fraud protection portfolio with two new capabilities, account protection and loss prevention respectively. These two capabilities utilize Microsoft's fraud protection network, which maintains up-to-date connected fraud activity data and incorporates artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) capabilities. This is the key feature that supports all our new capabilities for account protection and loss prevention.

    As the Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection team, we want to protect customers from fraud across the entire spectrum from e-commerce to brick and mortar retail and cover not only purchases but also account related activity, as well as prevent leakage of revenue in stores due to loss of inventory.

    Account protection

    Retailers have invested in account creation to provide protection and build loyalty with their customers. To combat fraudulent account creation and account takeover, retailers fraud strategies should assess risk at the point of payment and throughout the customer journey.

    With the use of artificial intelligence, account protection for Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection helps retailers recognize patterns related to fraudulent e-commerce activities during account creation or attempted hijacking. Account protection aids in decreasing the costs of account fraud by helping reduce the number of fraudulent accounts, in turn protecting the businesses' reputation and improving customer experiences and satisfaction. Account protection provides retailers with the following benefits:

    • Improves the bottom line by reducing fraud activities and friction throughout the customer journey
    • Improves business reputation by preventing negative exposure due to fraudulent activity
    • Increases customer satisfaction by protecting customer authenticity and privacy

    Loss prevention

    Merchandise returns are offered to customers by retailers to keep customers coming back and to encourage them to continue making new purchases. While returns are good for customers, they can hurt the bottom line with return fraud posing a real risk to retailers, particularly in physical stores that may have a limited view into in-store fraudulent activity patterns.

    With loss prevention for Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection, retailers can increase operational efficiency and revenue by identifying loss patterns in their physical stores. By using data from Dynamics 365 Commerce systems and the power of AI, loss prevention helps merchants decipher patterns of losses from returns, improper discounts, merchandise mishandling, and inventory turn-over. Loss prevention provides brick and mortar stores with these benefits:

    • Helps increase your revenue. Increased revenue through reduction in losses that arise from returns, and deregulated discount sales practices.
    • Enables business intelligence. Provide anomaly reporting and actionable insights that allow you to gain visibility into specific business functions that require additional controls.
    • Automation and operational efficiency. Help reduce manual effort to determine the business entities and functions that are the risk of losses and enable readily consumable reports and insights that are actionable.

    Global retailers have already proven the benefits of Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection through timely and accurate identification of potential fraud situations across their stores, reducing discount and return fraud, resulting in millions of dollars in savings for their companies. Through adaptive AI technology, loss prevention identifies transactional patters and inventory data in order to highlight potential instances of fraudulent activity across an entire network of stores, while safeguarding confidential information and supporting privacy controls.

    Next steps

    As a global e-commerce leader, Microsoft cares about the bottom line just like you, and encourages you to learn more by visiting the web page Microsoft Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection and viewing the product video. Account protection and loss prevention will be available on 3/2/2020 for preview so you can request to try the new capabilities.

    The post Introducing Dynamics 365 account protection and loss prevention appeared first on Dynamics 365 Blog.

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