On November 1, Microsoft officially released not just one new version of Dynamics, but two. And there’s the element of moving away from 4 different products and toward one entity or umbrella that has two different offerings, but more importantly, Microsoft Dynamics is moving to the cloud. What does it all mean for the traditional, on premise implementations of Microsoft Dynamics AX, GP, NAV, and SL? How do other Microsoft products factor into this development? What should customers know about connecting some on premise systems, like Business Intelligence applications, to Dynamics 365? I had the opportunity to have a hearty cup of coffee and conversation with Solver CEO Nils Rasmussen about this major development from Microsoft and the impact it will have on both the technology and business worlds.
Watch the interview below – or read on for the transcript of our conversation.
Felzke: Let’s jump right in – what is Microsoft Dynamics 365 – and how would you differentiate the two versions for customers?
Nils Rasmussen: Very good question – there’s been a lot of confusion around Dynamics 365 this year, as Microsoft has gotten up to the launch point, which was November 1st. Dynamics 365 is really two ERP systems. One is the lower end version of Dynamics 365, based on the NAV product in its structure. The higher end version of Dynamics 365 is based on Dynamics AX and is for the higher end of the market. Both of them – and this is the biggest deal as part of this explanation – are for the cloud, and it’s all managed and hosted by Microsoft.
Felzke: How is this different from how Dynamics has traditionally been delivered?
Rasmussen: All of the four Dynamics ERP products – so, Dynamics SL, NAV, GP, and AX – were traditionally client server products that were installed on premise or privately hosted. With Dynamics 365, it’s the real deal: multi-tenant, all web-based cloud solutions.
Felzke: How does Power BI fit into this new version of Dynamics?
Rasmussen: That is my favorite topic actually that you’re touching on now. Power BI is Microsoft’s entry into the Business Intelligence space, which has so far in the last few years been dominated by well-known brand names, like Tableau, Qlikview, Domo, and so on, so, now that Microsoft has entered that space – actually, that was last year in 2015 that they entered – they are quickly catching up. They might still be another year or two before they have all of the core feature sets that enterprise customers want at least. It’s a very powerful analysis and dashboard solution, and it comes with numerous integrations, not just to Microsoft products, but also to numerous other CRM products and machine learning products, and big data – and so on and so forth.
Felzke: What does a shift like this, from Microsoft, mean for the bigger picture of data management analytics and/or business software generally?
Rasmussen: Well, first of all, Microsoft not only wants to be a cloud player, but they now are one of the top two cloud players, in terms of offering a public cloud. Of course, by delivering some of their own key products in that cloud, being Azure, they are able to control all aspects of the delivery – not just the platform, but also the actual business solution that’s sitting in there. And now, also the analysis component with Power BI.
Felzke: How does a product like BI360 work with Dynamics 365?
Rasmussen: BI360 is focused on budgeting and forecasting, financial reporting and consolidations, so typically, at its core, something that’s sold into the office of finance versus Power BI, which is very complimentary to BI360, is focused on anyone in the company that wants to do analysis, to have dashboards, and such. BI360 is complimentary. It actually has an integration to Power BI, so that you can use Power BI as a dashboard for the data you collect in BI360. And also, BI360 is a business data warehouse, so you can mix your Dynamics 365 with any other data source – and then, again use it in the budget process, in the reporting process, or in the dashboard analysis.
Felzke: Is there anything customers should know about, in regard to their own financial and BI analytics roadmap, in the context of Dynamics 365 emerging?
Rasmussen: That’s a great question, too. I see that many customers that have done big investments in customizing their ERP systems will probably take some more time before they’re ready to move up to a new ERP in the cloud. They will probably sit and wait a little bit, specifically watching Dynamics 365 as it matures and then move when they’re ready – and when they have gotten ROI on their on premise ERP implementation. Others that are switching ERPs anyway, that might have a little bit more basic needs that don’t require massive customizations in the ERP – they should absolutely look at Dynamics 365. Again, there are two versions: there’s the low to midmarket version and the higher end version of the product, so depending on the size of the company, they should find what they need in Dynamics 365. But you’ll see two waves of companies moving: the ones that are switching anyway today to a new ERP and those that are going to sit on the fence for a while and see what happens.
Hopefully, this conversation was as helpful to you as it was for me. Nils Rasmussen’s tenure in the world of Microsoft products and Business Intelligence solutions continues to lend itself as a source of education and innovation as technology continues to grow in importance to workflow and ultimately, achievement. Solver, Inc. is happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s web-powered, easy-to-use Excel and mobile BI tools with both real-time or data warehouse integrated analysis, budgeting and dashboards as a way to accelerate company performance management beyond Dynamics.