DynamicPoint, which specializes in developing applications to extend SharePoint, released its SharePoint Customer, Vendor and Employee Portal v2.0 this week.

Long Beach, Calif.-based DynamicPoint is describing the release as a “significant milestone.” The release includes a SharePoint Add-In that can be deployed in either SharePoint on-premises or Online, which makes it easier to use Dynamics 365, AX and CRM.

According to Kiril Genov, the product architect, with this new version users can publish any information from Dynamics 365, AX, GP, NAV and CRM in a SharePoint portal.

For enterprise workers, this means easier document, data and information sharing and management around things like sales orders, customer contacts, or any other information stored in Dynamics 365, AX and CRM.

DynamicPoint customers also have the option to add on capabilities which allow users to make edits and flow them directly back into Microsoft Dynamics.

Third-party suppliers and partners continue to push out complements to the Microsoft portfolio, even as the company has made strides under the leadership of Satya Nadella to close gaps in its offerings. 

SharePoint Customer, Vendor and Employee Portal v2.0 is a good example of this and if it works as the company claims, it is definitely worth a look.

Microsoft Moves Into Africa

Also this week, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft announced new expansion plans. With the increased demand for its Office 365 and Azure services, the company is looking for ways to expand its cloud infrastructure. Microsoft recently claimed that Office 365 has 100 million commercial users while Azure is snapping at the heels of both Amazon Web Services and Google.

With that in mind, it announced it will open two data centers in South Africa — in Johannesburg and Cape Town — with initial availability in 2018.

In a statement, Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud and Enterprise Group said it will offer Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 to enterprises from these centers and will also guarantee data residency for companies concerned about compliance.

“Few places in the world are as dynamic and diverse as Africa today. In this landscape, we see enormous opportunity for the cloud to accelerate innovation, support people across the continent who are working to transform their businesses, explore new entrepreneurship opportunities and help solve some of the world’s hardest problems,” Gutherie wrote.

With the two new centers, Microsoft will have 40 cloud regions globally and will give it an entry point into a continent that is still relatively underdeveloped in terms of enterprise computing.

It has beaten both Google and Amazon to the punch here. Neither company has set up a presence in Africa yet, though AWS is present in 16 regions encompassing 42 zones globally, while Google has eight regions with plans to expand before the end of the year.

Google Unveils New Gif Maker

Meanwhile, Mountain View, Calif.-based Google unveiled a Data GIF Maker which allows creation of data visualizations based on any two sets of data. 

Google News Lab developed the new Data GIF Maker. For the moment it is a very basic offering that can be used to compare stats about different sets of information as that information evolves. Simon Rogers, data editor at the Google News Lab explained in a blog post:

“Data visualizations are an essential storytelling tool in journalism, and though they are often intricate, they don’t have to be complex. In fact, with the growth of mobile devices as a primary method of consuming news, data visualizations can be simple images formatted for the device they appear on.”

The tool is available for anyone to use. And judging from a quick search of the Google Keyword site they do offer some useful graphics.

“We typically use the tool to represent competing search interest, but it can show whatever you want it to — polling numbers, sales figures, movie ratings,” the blog post continued.

This is not Google Data Studio ‘Lite’ (Google Data Studio turns data into easy to read and share dashboards and reports) but it's interesting move and in the hands of Google, could go a long way.

PandaDoc Raises $15 Million

Finally this week, San Francisco-based PandaDoc announced it raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Rembrandt Ventures Partners, with participation from Microsoft Ventures, HubSpot, EBRD and Altos Ventures.

PandaDoc develops an all-in-one platform that supports document creation around sales activity, including quotes, proposals and contracts.

A newcomer to the enterprise documents space, PandaDoc was founded in 2013 and set itself the target of helping organizations, “close more deals.” On its website it claims to have been instrumental in closing $16 billion worth of deals.

To do that it developed a suite of tools that includes document templates, editing, document tracking and e-signature smarts, as well as offering integrations with the likes of Salesforce.

In 2015 it raised $5 million in a funding round by Altos Ventures with additional participation from TMT Investments and other unnamed investors.