Last week Microsoft held its annual Convergence conference for Microsoft Dynamics customers in Houston, Texas. As expected, Microsoft made some significant announcements about the direction of its Dynamics products: AX, NAV, GP, and SL.
This was Microsoft’s 16th annual convention and from the attendance they have come a long way in 16 years. They had 10,000 attendees, which was their biggest Dynamics event ever. One analyst observed that it was bigger than the SAP Sapphire event that took place the previous week.
Ultra was invited to attend by Microsoft to attend. Microsoft is beginning to focus on getting the message out to independent industry influencers such as Ultra.
Microsoft brought all of their major Dynamics executives to talk about the plans for their Dynamics products. Here were some major points of the presentations:
- Microsoft is reporting record earnings as well as record investments in R&D – $9 Billion last year – $3 B more than its nearest technology competitor
- They talked a great deal about how the products “enable people to realize potential” and about replacing “electronic concrete”
- We looked into the future and saw how Microsoft will use existing technologies in future releases
- Kinect (from Xbox) to incorporate gestures
- Voice recognition
- Cloud – being used today for their on line CRM and the deployment of Office 365
Probably the biggest announcement was the availability of Cloud solutions for Dynamics NAV and GP in 2013. They alluded to a Cloud solution for AX but gave no dates. Forrester has said the Cloud industry will grow from $40 Billion to over $240 Billion by 2020. We agree that the Cloud will begin to be a much greater factor in ERP selection decision in the coming years.
The company also made announcements of improvements by vertical industry:
- More focus on ERP for the Retail Industry
- Web commerce
- Social media connections
- Voice recognition
- Better “supply chain visibility” for the distribution industry
- Lean and mixed mode manufacturing for the manufacturing industry
One new key feature we saw was “data animation over a time line”. This new feature will surely get the “wow” comments from CFOs.
Microsoft referred to their mission is to deliver 1st party applications for Office, Dynamics, Live, and Xbox. These popular products then get built out by 3rd parties for specific needs.
Microsoft has more than 15,000 partners worldwide in their Dynamics ecosystem. This conference supported that group as well as customers. The management of this ecosystem is continuing to raise the quality of this channel by raising the bar, incenting the strong and culling out the weak.
The executives also talked about Microsoft Consulting Services. This is a small group within Microsoft and has only been in existence for a little over a year. The group’s mission is to take over large implementations where the Microsoft name, contract and resources are needed with large customers.
In general we saw a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for the Dynamics line of ERP products. While the Dynamics line is only about $1 Billion and by all respects small within Microsoft, it is becoming a big business in the ERP world.