Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Business Central is the current generation of Microsoft’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) services. While both of these capabilities have existed under the Dynamics brand, the move to Business Central represents two big moves for Microsoft’s strategy.
The first is the move from on-premises installations to the cloud. Instead of needing to worry about hosting space and server capabilities, businesses now can deploy immediately and scale as needed. Removing the need to evaluate hardware is an immediate improvement for many small and mid-sized businesses.
The second change is the move from up-front licensing to a monthly subscription model. At first this might not seem to be an improvement for some businesses, especially if they are used to giving everyone in their enterprise the same level of access. But by evaluating the needs of each individual user, they can then assign the right license level, at the right cost, to each user. The total of all this typically is much less than the previous on-premises licenses.
Finally the monthly payment alleviates the need to budget these license fees all at once, and makes them easier for businesses to spread them throughout the year, and better match payments to their cash flow.
D365 Is Truly an All-in-One Solution
When Microsoft moved their Dynamics platform to the cloud, they also improved the backend. Data objects can now be shared more seamlessly between both ERP and CRM programs, and integrated with more internal and external programs.
With these common data objects, businesses can now track, manage and optimize all the “back end” parts of their business. This long list includes inventory, financial status, invoices, payments, regulatory status, flow of goods, customer interactions, sales status, supply chain status and the timing and budget of different projects.
With Dynamics 365 (which is the cloud version) properly set up, the applications will automatically handle accounts receivables and payables, and can even be customized to reconcile accounts to be closed, generate real-time reports on your financial metrics, and monitoring all transactions for full regulatory compliance. You can even make financial forecast models that analyze data across multiple dimensions.
Microsoft Leveraging D365 to Win the Business Applications Market
With the move to Dynamics 365 Business Central, Microsoft wants to be the mission critical infrastructure for all 21st century business. This includes everything from hardware to software to services to the cloud and the apps that run in the cloud.
D365 Business Central was developed on the existing NAV (Navision) platform, so upgrading is as easy as any recent Dynamics upgrade. Right now, companies can run D365 on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid version. But anyone watching Microsoft will understand that their focus, and potential future customer benefits, will result from moving to or launching in the cloud.
Dynamics was initially conceived as a combination ERP and CRM system. But anyone who has watched the CRM market recently knows that the boundaries of what is considered a CRM have been blurring. So Microsoft has moved it’s Sales, Service and Marketing CRM functions into an offering they call Intelligent Customer Engagement (awkwardly abbreviated as “ICE”). With ICE, D365 creates a dynamics feedback loop between products, employees and customers.
Taking advantage of all this data are business intelligence tools such as PowerBI (of course). But Microsoft also released a tool for customers to build their own custom apps from scratch called PowerApps. Easy to use, visually appealing, and nearly intuitive, Microsoft is betting that PowerApps will get customers to see the entire value of their D365 platform and put Microsoft in the top quadrant (as they say) of business applications platforms.
With these launches Microsoft has put together a … can we say … dynamic end-to-end business management solution. D365 cuts across a dozen verticals in the BA space, blurring the traditional lines defining product segments and pointing them towards their vision of being the infrastructure of future growing businesses.