Partying on the Azure stack. Cortana, ML, Power BI and Azure Functions…

At Fred we pride ourselves on innovation and one of the key tenants of this is our annual Geekend. This is a 36 hour intensive hack fest in which we smash out a retail workflow using as much cool tech as possible in the interest of leveraging it in the coming year. This year I was playing with machine learning and attempting to use it to provide a demand forecasting solution for Dynamics AX.

The idea was to utilize an Azure ML model to predict and generate a list of items to order based on past sales. This was provided thanks to my co-worker and all round machine learning wizard, Praveen.

With the prediction engine in place we attempted to use as many other features provided by the Azure platform and came up with a pretty sweet story to tell. The components involved were:

  • Azure Scheduler
  • Azure Functions
  • Azure Machine Learning
  • Azure SQL
  • Power BI
  • Cortana Intelligence Suite

Although the final product set to be ordered would ultimately be consumed by AX master planning, for the sake of the demo we were just surfacing these results in a Power BI visualization.

Buckle up…

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Log me off damn it!!!

One of the coolest new features in the Retail POS for AX 2012 R2 is the ability to host custom controls and entirely change it’s look and feel. These custom controls implement IPOSCustomControl and import a reference to IApplication using MEF. That way you have access to the transaction and can effectively run any POS operation you like. Shane Erstad has written a great introduction to Adding a Custom User Control to the POS if you require further information on the topic.

The problem arises when you first try to use the Log Off operation…

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