Delivering a transformational ERP experience to business
By Mike Ehrenberg, Microsoft
Cloud computing opens up new possibilities for organizations where speed, scale, flexibility and intelligence can redefine how business gets done. We have architected the new Microsoft Dynamics AX, our flagship enterprise-class ERP product, with a clear focus on leveraging the full power of the Microsoft cloud and to change how people think about their ERP business solutions.
The key to successful business software begins with empowering users to work where and how they want to work – the right scenarios with the right experiences on the device of the user’s choice. We have completely rethought the user experience, tapping into extensive usability analysis to come up with an experience that is second to none. An elegant, modern, intuitive HTML5 experience brings the principles of highly visual, immersive applications which today’s modern user expects from their consumer apps to their enterprise business application. We’ve optimized the experience to eliminate unnecessary clicks and pop-ups – bringing the user all the right information, and where they need it, so they can be more productive.
We’ve developed an integrated user training mode — Task Guides – that helps new users complete business processes with on-screen guidance in the client experience, and that same facility can let users drive the application through voice commands to Cortana. In addition to being great on the Microsoft Edge browser, the new solution is also available on all modern browsers. That same modern HTML5 experience will be available in a Windows 10 Universal App, simplifying deployment. With an adaptive experience through Continuum, we’re enabling Dynamics AX users to get the most out of their phone device. The app will also be available for iOS and Android, reflecting our cross-platform commitment.
The payoff for a business application investment is not about putting information in, but it really lies in turning data into intelligent insights and driving actions around those insights to deliver outcomes. In today’s fast moving business environment, that can’t be based on data for yesterday, last week or last quarter, but needs to be about what’s happening right now. Dynamics AX, together with Azure SQL and PowerBI, delivers near real time analytics, embedded pervasively across the application. Users don’t need to leave their work to use a separate analytics tool – the business intelligence they need is right in the application. Dynamics AX uses in-memory BI to give people real time operational insights so they can make informed decisions. It enables people to find, sort, visualize, and use information easily with an intuitive user interface that provides contextual insights through Power BI — embedded directly in the application. A user can now create analytics in PowerBI, publish them to Dynamics AX, and embed them directly in the application UI. Dynamics AX users can see those analytics in context, click through to PowerBI to more deeply explore the data, and even drill back to the underlying transactions.
In addition, we’ve enabled new scenarios, powered by Azure Machine Learning, bringing predictive capabilities built in to the application that, for example, can help a retail seller make more effective product recommendations.
The new Dynamics AX is at the center of Microsoft’s core ambition around the reinvention of productivity and business process. With outstanding Office 365 and Skype interoperability, users have the best productivity and collaboration tools to help them be as effective as they can be. Matching how people need and want to work, scenarios seamlessly flow across Dynamics AX, Office 365 and Skype for Business. For example, in a Budget Formulation process managed by Dynamics AX, budget requesters and approvers get to work with budget data naturally in Microsoft Excel. The new solution also introduces a powerful new concept called “Workspaces,” where users in various roles not only get a different lens on the data, tasks, and activities tailored to their role in the organization, but also an even more focused experience in the application with additional context bringing together all the data, all the processes and everything they need to get a task done.
With the new release we are expanding the capabilities of our cloud delivered Microsoft Life Cycle Services (LCS), focused on continuing to transform the full application lifecycle management of a Dynamics AX project. We are formalizing the concepts of development, test and production and delivering the tools that will let enterprises combine the agility of cloud software upgrade models with the enterprise best practice discipline of managed release promotion and deployment – meaning the customer can have more control over when they get and implement updates that fits their business needs. Building on the experience we’ve already gained with the LCS service and with our operation of CRM On-line, we are confident that we will enable our customers to break new ground making the ongoing upgrade of their business solutions suite quicker to implementation and deploy, more predictable and easier to manage.
It’s all made possible through the cloud and the new Dynamics AX is delivered from the Microsoft Azure Cloud. In building the new release, we drove each architectural choice to optimize for excellence on Azure. The new Dynamics AX focuses on the benefits that the cloud can really drive for a business such as simple sign-up and immediate provisioning to get users up and running fast; reliability with built-in High Availability and Disaster Recovery so businesses can get the information they need and are secure they won’t lose their data at the most critical times; elastic capacity to add resources when needed but not pay for them when they’re not, and transforming the software upgrade conversation. Building on the global footprint of the Microsoft Azure cloud, with its strong commitment and capability to meet diverse data locality and data sovereignty requirements, the new Dynamics AX is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of our global customers. And, building on planned advances to Microsoft’s on-premises technology stack, we will deliver the new Dynamics AX to customers that demand on-premises deployment in 2016.
This is a major transformation for Dynamics AX. At the core remains our proven business logic, surrounded by our proven ecosystem of partners and ISV’s. We have invested in early access programs that have the service in the hands of hundreds of partners and have a record number of ISV solutions ready to go with the new Dynamics AX at launch. We have harnessed the best of Microsoft technology from Azure to Office 365 to Power BI and delivered a solution reinvented for the demands of modern business and maximizing the business benefits of Microsoft’s intelligent cloud. This is the beginning of a new era for Dynamics – and for reinventing business process and productivity.