Microsoft Dynamics AX at Microsoft Convergence 2014

At the Microsoft Convergence 2014 conference, Microsoft Dynamics showcased its chosen global and top-of-the range enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform—Microsoft Dynamics AX (see TEC’s article). The previewed Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 release is expected to be available May 1st, 2014. In tune with the “One Microsoft” strategy, the upcoming ERP release was touted as a significant step for the entire industry toward the future of ERP, with mobile apps, devices, and services in the cloud as cornerstones of the product’s new capabilities.

Mobile and Cloud
The upcoming update will introduce a new comprehensive apps and services framework, allowing businesses to develop and distribute modern apps for specific scenarios and mobile devices that can easily and securely connect with Microsoft Dynamics AX. Adding to the growing number of mobile apps that were introduced in 2013 (e.g., timesheets, approvals, expenses management, business analyzer, etc., see Microsoft’s blog post), the company announced a new app for shop floor operators that allows them report on production jobs with touch-enabled Windows Mobile devices. For more on Microsoft Dynamics AX apps and mobile capabilities, see Microsoft’s blog post.
To more rapidly serve more customers in new segments and emerging markets, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 adds support for deployment on Windows Azure via infrastructure as a service (IaaS). This capability delivers high data availability and disaster data recovery, as critical business data is stored in the cloud and needs to be retrieved by businesses virtually anytime, anywhere. While not yet a true multitenant public cloud ERP offering, the solution can come in handy for custom single-tenant private cloud environments. In other words, preconfigured environments are also available on Windows Azure for demonstration, development, testing, and production usage instances.

Dynamics Project Lifecycle Management
Powered by Windows Azure, this release of Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services (see video) introduces new solutions for serviceability and support to help organizations improve the predictability of implementations and provide them with the agility required to keep up with ever-changing business environments. Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services, which has subsumed the former SureStep implementation methodology, provides a cloud-based collaborative workspace that customers and their partners can use to manage Microsoft Dynamics AX projects from pre-sales to implementation and operations.
Based on the phase of a particular project and the industry vertical, the site provides checklists and tools that you can use to help you manage the project. It also provides a dashboard so that you have a single place to get up-to-date project information. Early adoption of this service has demonstrated that customers have been able to significantly reduce time spent to define, develop, and operate their business application. For example, in cases where early-adopter customers needed incident support, more than 65 percent of them were able to address issues and questions on their own through the use of this service.

Multichannel Retail Bolster
During Microsoft Convergence 2014, Junction Solutions, a provider of vertical market-specific on-premise and on-demand software applications and services for the multichannel retail, food and beverage, and life sciences sectors, announced that it has completed the sale of JunctionMCR, a suite of multichannel retail software solutions developed for the Microsoft Dynamics AX platform, to Microsoft Corp. JunctionMCR is an enterprise application suite designed to extend Microsoft Dynamics AX for direct marketers and multichannel retailers, providing cross-channel visibility between stores, Web site, and catalog/call center operations.
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The acquisition took place several months ago quietly, but was just announced at the conference. Most of the JunctionMCR functionality is already available in Microsoft Dynamics AX. JunctionMCR was built directly in Microsoft Dynamics AX and includes advanced functionality for managing merchandising, pricing and promotions, customer service, call center operations, inventory management, high-volume warehouse pick-and-pack operations, small parcel order fulfillment, and direct store delivery (DSD) operations. JunctionMCR will be part of the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 release and will be available through the broad network of Microsoft sales and reseller channels.
During the product keynote at the conference, the vendor showed how individual e-commerce order lines can be each delivered in a different manner, based on the customer preference. These retail capabilities have put Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail in the same league as IBM, SAP, Oracle, JDA Software, Epicor, and other global multichannel retail commerce players.
A salient Microsoft Convergence 2014 message is for the market to think of Microsoft Dynamics as a global ERP and customer relationship management (CRM) player à la SAP, Oracle, Infor,, etc. The advancements Microsoft Dynamics AX offers in business logic and data model, cloud and new apps, and services and devices scenarios speak to that regard. They all set the stage for continued future innovation evolving directly from the functionality delivered thus far.
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