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Global Platforms Unveiled at Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2013 EMEA

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: December 6 2013

Some of the facts given to industry analysts (under a vow of silence) by Microsoft executives at the recent Microsoft Dynamics Fall Analyst Event (FAE) 2013 in October 2013 were soon after unveiled to the public at the company’s reportedly sold-out Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2013 EMEA conference in Barcelona, Spain in November 2013. There, Microsoft highlighted how some businesses are differentiating themselves in the market with Microsoft Dynamics technology in the opening keynote address, delivered by Microsoft Business Solutions executive vice president Kirill Tatarinov and Microsoft International president Jean-Philippe Courtois. The two speakers focused on how people and businesses can re-imagine the way they engage with customers, build brand relevance, and collaborate to stay ahead of the ever-changing market and business environments.
 
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013
Following the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Global Premiere Event, which was broadcast live from Barcelona a day before the aforementioned keynote address to more than 70,000 attendees and featured customers Metro Bank, Pandora, and Servcorp, the company announced a set of 18 new predefined and configurable process templates that include sports management, healthcare, government, and nonprofit, as well as some specialized areas such as prison offender management. These templates are available for customers to download at no charge from the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Marketplace.
 
Delivering on the promise of giving customers access to their customer relationship management (CRM) information on any device, Microsoft confirmed the availability of new touch-optimized user experiences on Windows Phones, iPhones, and Android phones that give customers functionality and analytics on the go, without a separate license fee. These apps are available today in their respective online stores.
 
To make it easier for businesses to buy Microsoft Dynamics CRM to use with Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft also introduced a new global pricing promotion that lets eligible existing and new Microsoft Office 365 customers purchase professional licenses of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and get up to a 40 percent discount on the price of the CRM license. This promotion runs through March 31, 2014, and is available in the 42 markets where the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online service is currently offered.
 
The above pieces of news follow the recent announcement on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 global availability and partnership with InsideView. As a customer testimony, Microsoft Dynamics CRM was lauded as Metro Bank’s platform for customer engagement. Other banks have also lately been opting for the solution.
 
While the 2013 CRM enhancements focused on new navigation optimized for analysis, search, and engagement and process-centric experience, the 2014 product development will include further Office 365 integration, integrated social listening with marketing, and integrated social community manager view. In addition, one might expect a next Netbreeze release with full Twitter “fire hose” newsfeed tentacles for social listening and geo-mapping and analysis, multi-channel marketing campaign management, and more complete integrated marketing management (IMM) functionality.
 
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3
Microsoft also introduced new capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3, the next update for its flagship enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 delivers new warehouse and transportation management capabilities (based on the recent intellectual property acquisition through the purchase of Blue Horseshoe) to provide real-time insight into supply chain execution (SCE). New lifecycle services available with this release help organizations improve the predictability of Microsoft Dynamics AX implementations by simplifying and standardizing processes, and bringing integrated experiences for serviceability and support.
 
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 also introduces support for deployment on Windows Azure via infrastructure as a service (IaaS), bringing customers a choice between on-premise and private cloud deployments, along with all the functionality and security features that come with the Windows Azure service. With the availability of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 expected in April 2014, the company also shared that it remains on track to deliver this latest version on-premise and as a public cloud service offering. Future releases will likely bring out case management functionality, the ability to quote projects from Dynamics AX in Dynamics CRM (via a connector), fleet management, and human capital management (HCM).
 
Following the delivery of Expense Management & Reconciliation, Timesheets, and Approvals mobile apps for Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft announced an update to the Microsoft Dynamics Business Analyzer app. These apps, designed to be personal, social, and immersive, provide a more relevant experience based on people’s roles and devices, and help them connect with their social networks. They are currently available in the Windows Marketplace.
 
A Dynamic State of Affairs
Microsoft Dynamics continues to be part and parcel (if not the unifying fabric and glue) of the recently unveiled One Microsoft strategy of accommodating consistently all kinds of users on all devices. The Microsoft Dynamics strategy is to enable high-value activities for customers becoming dynamic businesses. The giant has spent a lot of time on perfecting the user interface (UI) and in ensuring it is cross-device ready. The idea is for users to have everything they need at their fingertips—i.e. with no need for wasteful app flipping and pop-ups. With the need for the right user experience on all devices, Microsoft Dynamics is heading to HTML5 as its client-side technology.
 
While Microsoft doesn’t break down the Microsoft Dynamics results publicly, Tatarinov revealed to the analysts at FAE 2013 that the business unit had decent double-digit growth in fiscal 2013. There are currently over 350,000 Microsoft Dynamics customers and over 5 million users, while reportedly 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies are using Microsoft Dynamics.
 
In general, the two global platforms, Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, have been growing in healthy double digits worldwide, and especially in the Americas and Asia. The CRM product’s growth has even been higher in the U.S., the U.K., Japan, and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online has grown near triple digits in fiscal 2013. Two out of three new customers have lately been opting for the cloud CRM solution. In total, there are globally about 40,000 CRM customers and 3.5 million Microsoft Dynamics CRM users.
 
Earlier in the year, the more small to medium business (SMB)-focused Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics GP products have had their latest releases delivered, which focused on web UI’s and being partner hosted in Azure Cloud. As part of the Barcelona event, Microsoft shared that Microsoft Dynamics NAV is closing in on 100,000 customers worldwide, a significant milestone for this product. The company also reinforced the availability of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 R2, which was released in October 2013. This release adds new capabilities to the product such as single sign-on with Office 365 and SharePoint Online, a new user interface for the Microsoft Dynamics NAV Web client and the Windows client, a new foundation for cash management, a new help server, and more powerful provisioning and administration tools.
 
Large Enterprise Push
But again, Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics CRM are Microsoft’s tools for moving into large enterprises. Apparently, the number of larger upper-six and seven figure deals made lately has risen significantly. Microsoft Dynamics has thus become an attractive consulting practice for IBM, Infosys, Accenture, and PwC lately.  Both Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics CRM have recently added nearly 10,000 certified consultants. It will be interesting to watch what Microsoft does and how it competes in this space formerly relegated to SAP, Oracle, and Infor, and how these competitors interact.
 
Related Reading:
The future of business in the era of the customer (November 2013)
Microsoft Nails It...Almost (October 2013)
Delta Uses Microsoft’s In-flight Mobility and Retail Solutions (August 2013)
Microsoft Convergence 2013 Observations (From Afar) (April 2013)
 
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