In the dawn of 2017, Dynamics customers and partners were still confused about the Microsoft Dynamics 365 brand. What followed for some months was confusion in the market with customer and partners alike.  I have personally had several Dynamics Partners ask me, in the last year, if the new price for NAV was EUR 210 per user per month, simply because they looked up Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (Dynamics AX) pricing on Microsoft.com.

Today, I think we are all a bit more clear that there are really different products behind the Dynamics 365 offerings. There is also a roadmap for what will happen with Microsoft Dynamics 365 in the short to medium term.

Dynamics 365: The Future of Business Solutions

Even though we had some confusion in the short run - long term, the brand Dynamics 365 will become much stronger with this decision, driving more market share, leads and opportunities to the whole Partner eco-system.  I also think that if we, as a Dynamics Partner Community, talk about Dynamics 365 being synonymous with what the business solution of the future should be, this will create a very strong brand – and in fact, we would not be lying.

2017 Aligned Microsoft Dynamics Solutions Platforms

Technologically, we also saw big strides from Microsoft in aligning technologies across their business solutions platforms.  This year was the first year, ever, that we were successful at transplanting AX developers into NAV projects and vice-versa (in the areas of Extension development and report development). Yes, you still need to understand the different data models, but at some point, that problem dissolves, as designed with Microsoft’s common data model.

The Extension technology will make it much easier to upgrade customized solutions. While, even though we are moving to more uniformity, there will still be the possibility to customize, but with much less consequence to the future upgrade costs of the business solution than what customers have previously experienced.  In addition, all Apps for Microsoft Dynamics 365 are now built on Extension technology.

And What About Microsoft Office 365?

Another notable Microsoft release in 2017 was that of Microsoft Office 365 Apps. In reality, these Apps are based on business solution technology.  Office 365 has an invoicing App (see here), which is really built upon Dynamics NAV.  We have also seen many other Apps released both from Microsoft and the Dynamics Partner eco-system.  It is very impressive. Check out Appsource to see more: https://appsource.microsoft.com/en-us/marketplace/.

Today there are hundreds of apps are being marketed on Appsource. Appsource was almost empty a year ago. This will only continue to grow in 2018.

The End Game for Microsoft Dynamics 365

What it is that Microsoft wants to accomplish exactly with Dynamics 365?  Well, while I am no fortune teller or psychic, my view is that Microsoft wants the Dynamics 365 and Office 365 business solutions to become as flexible as the existing App market is in general. This means an app or combination of apps fulfills the needs of any customer, no matter what industry or what size.

Microsoft does not want the customers to be worried about what technology that solution is built on or infrastructure it runs on as it is all Microsoft technology (the infrastructure of choice for Dynamics 365 and all the apps is, of course, Microsoft Azure).  With Dynamics 365, the customer only has to focus on their needs and which business apps suits these needs best. 

What About Traditional CRM and ERP?

 The year 2017, really marked the end of the old Dynamics NAV, AX, CRM, GP (Great Plains) and SL (Solomon) brands, as these are really segmented and archaic technologies. For example, Dynamics CRM is now Dynamics 365 Sales, Marketing and Field Service (3 different but integrated Business Apps) that corresponds better with how end users perform their work. 

The Future of Business Solutions with AI, BI, Analytics,…

Microsoft will ensure that all the functionality that business solutions users need will be integrated.  That, of course, starts with Office 365, but also Cortana (AI) and PowerBI (Analytics).  

This is the business solution of the future and it is a peerless offering: Dynamics 365 on Azure, with PowerBI and Cortana and an app or combination of apps that will give the users the functionality they need,  even with options for easy customization that will not ruin the future upgrade path.

I can’t think of any software company that will be offering such a comprehensive and integrative business solution moving forward.  So even though 2017 started with a bit of a messy beginning, though it has been said the Big Bang Theory started as such, we are now moving into 2018 and that will prove that Microsoft’s strategy for business solutions is what the customer really wants, a business solution to sustain them into the future! And that will make 2018 very successful year for all of us.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us here at 1ClickFactory!