With the release of AX 7, the increased industry focus on IoT, AI and automation, release of Power Apps and Flow and the launch of Dynamics 365 it is probably safe to say that this is one of the most eventful years in Dynamics AXs history. Let us take a closer look at the events.
Launch of Dynamics AX
On March 9th we had the official launch of Dynamics AX. Branding wise we should only refer to it as AX and drop any type of version reference like iPad once did with. It is to be a service that will be updated continuously with both platform and functional updates.
The solution was redesigned from the ground up to work as a web first application based on the proven AX business logic. A big leap in the application concept and put AX on the bleeding edge of technology. Exciting times for those of us loving technology, but daunting for those with a more traditional viewpoint on business applications.
It was launced as a SSaS only solution, hosted and managed by Microsoft and had a 50 Enterprise users minimum. The on-prem story was in development awaiting the general availability of Azure stack. It was on the roadmap to be available in Q3 of 2016.
After the launch in March we had multiple platform updates. Update 1 released in May, Update 2 released in August and Update 3 released in November. The most profound change was probably the separation of the platform and application making it possible to do updates to the one without the other. This also hints to the separation of multiple applications running on a unified AX7 platform.
We also saw a lot of features and general application upgrades being added and also implemented on AX 2012. Two Cumulative updates where released for AX2012; CU11 in June and CU12 in November.
Dynamics 365 for Operations
The next chapter in Microsoft Business Solutions saw a unification of ERP and CRM solutions. Merging them together in a “marketing package” called Dynamics 365. Mostly being a rebranding and refocusing of their business application suite to focus on business processes rather then the different platforms. The idea is to integrate the different applications into a common navigation and let the data flow between the solutions through the master data managment service named “Common data service”.
Though it is a mouthful, the new designation for the ERP system formerly know as Dynamics AX formerly known as Axapta, is a pretty understandable direction if you look at the success that they had with Office 365 and that Microsofts “365-brand” is a synonym with cloud. Off cause the issue of calling the SMB suite “Financials” and the Enterprise suite “Operations” is kind of confusing. I would hope they would call it “Business” and “Enterprise” instead.
It is early days, but I thing that it is a change of mindset that Microsoft is looking to achieve with this rebranding. I’m looking forward to see what they have in store for 2017.
On-prem story changed
During the summer months the on-prem solution was silently removed from the roadmap and we were waiting for an explanation to what the alternative was to be. We had to wait until November and the launch of Dynamics 365.
The second day of AXUG Summit 2016, Christian Pettersen and Sri Srinivasan showed us the hybrid solution for Dynamics 365 for Operations. It would be adding new possibilities with multiple on-prem installations for specific workloads and a synchronization to a cloud hosted main application. Some partners and customers expected a 100% on-prem solution and understandably was disappointed, but in my opinion this does bring the best of both worlds and is a much more versatile solution.
Dynamics 365 was released with support for retail workload on-prem, but other features will be available during 2017.
Flow and Power Apps
A multitude of business power applications was released and made GA in November along side the Dynamics 365 launch. They are still early applications, but introduce the same conceptual user story that Power BI did for reporting.
This empowers the power- and end users to create solutions based on published data sources. Flow is an “if-this-then-that” solutions for automating processes while Power Apps is a solution to create applications and user interfaces in a very simplified way that should be available to end users.
Along side the Dynamics 365 release, Microsoft also introduced the AppSource. This is a market place that contains custom applications developed by third party vendors on the individual platforms; Azure, Office 365, Power BI, Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365.
This gives the customers the possibility to find and try out third party applications available to them without going through their partners. This will empower users, but also could give some partners headache. It is also important to note that this is a combination of VAR and ISV solutions. All partners should make sure to have their standard solutions available in this store as soon as possible.
LinkedIn and Microsoft
In the last months of 2016 the EU finally approved the LinkedIn purchase and this will be a great asset to many different applications in the Microsoft Suite as this network contains most of peoples business relations and professional resumes.
I’m looking forward to see what Microsoft will do with the LinkedIn data and how they will differentiate, insight and automation of the CRM and HRM processes.
IoT and AI
In 2016 there was a great deal of leaps done within the IoT and AI scene. Most of the big conferences had large focus on the area and they introduced some very nice solutions on the CRM platform at the end of the year.
A lot of IoT stories are coming to life at the end of 2016 and I think that this will be the number 1 focus area in 2017.
On a personal note…
This has been a very hectic year with the MVP title received in the very beginning, a newborn girl in February and A LOT of things happening on the Dynamics AX scene.
I achieved my goal to get a larger series of blog posts in March with one post each day. I also got a lot of things to write about with the new AX solution being released. Between my activity and probably most because of the MVP title I saw a 10x increase of hits on my blog.
I started a podcast together with co-worker and fellow MVP Tommy Skaue in November. Only a couple of hundred views for each episode at the time, but I hope that this will increase and grow over time. We have a great deal lined up for the next year.
I start my year with 10 weeks of paternity leave which I’m really looking forward to. I’m hoping my MVP status to be renewed in 2017, but it is a tough competition and a lot of VERY competent people contributing… Mostly because it is a great honor, but also because I want to go to the MVP summit which was not easy to do this year with a newborn in the family. Fingers crossed! Have a great new year.