Directions EMEA 2021 – conference summary

The 14th edition of the Directions Conference took place in Milan from 27 to 29 October. Over 1,600 participants took part in this event. As every year, the Directions EMEA conference was a very good opportunity to learn something new about Microsoft’s plans and strategies for the future. This time EIP Dynamics sent a delegation of 15 people. Below is a summary of this year’s conference.

Business Central Momentum

Comparison of data from Directions EMEA 2019 to data from Directions EMEA 2021:

  • The number of Partners selling Business Central increased from 1,400+ to 3,300+.
  • The number of apps on Appsource increased from 450+ to 1,800+.
  • The number of customers increased from approximately 2,000 to 20,000

Country availability

In Business Online, each production environment can only have one local version.
You can read more about the available locations here.

Directions 2021 photo showing the list of available locations.

Business Central Roadmap

Information from the Directions 2021 conference

Topics related to sales and strategy: 

  • Microsoft begins selling Web Direct in 2022.
  • Difficulties for those companies that choose on-premises versions can be expected – among others, companies that will not move to the cloud may face higher and higher fees.
  • Some functionalities (e.g. integration with MS Teams) will only work in the BC online version.
  • Launch of “SaaS Managed Services”.
  • Relatively quick and, if possible, repeatable implementations are recommended.
  • Using Business Central on projects of the right scale. This means that it is recommended not to use Business Central in projects that should be processed using other solutions, eg Finance & Operations.
  • Focusing on integration with other solutions and the use of Power Apps (Dataverse, dataflow, power automate, chatbot, integration with MS Teams).
  • It will be important to use the applications available as part of AppSource.

Topic related to features: 

  • The update in version 19 introduced (fixed) the functioning of the “keystroke” – this means that the F8 button, which was known from older versions of Dynamics, is working again.
  • The panel for control and management of Business Central environments is constantly being developed. The directions of development mentioned include:
    • Azure Application Insights.
    • Access groups per Environments – limiting access to environments outside BC.
    • Creating and copying environments – theoretically simple recreation of the environment.
    • Udpate Window.
  • Updates in the online model happen automatically. Big updates come out twice a year. As a rule, you have to prepare for these updates and plan tests according to the following scheme: Planning the service window -> tests 1 -> tests 2.
    2. TESTS 1 (some tables and existing functionalities are changed from version to version, e.g. changes in Sales Prices).
    3. TESTS 2 (testing extensions compatibility with the new version of Business Central).
  • Complete discontinuation of support for Basic Authorization. This is a very important change that is to enter into force as part of the 2022 Wave 2. Thus, Microsoft is enforcing the use of OAuth.
  • Onboarding is a solution thanks to which the user is informed how to navigate the system. This is a new feature that can realistically help in the initial stages of getting to know the system. Currently, this is quite limited functionality, but is expected to be heavily developed in the future. Interestingly, you can use the tutorials created by Microsoft, and at the same time you can also create your own tutorials to facilitate the learning of the system.
  • OneDrive integration and Reports view.

  • Extended Posting Preview – there is a new posting preview view that can be enabled in v19.
  • Sandbox for Partners – Microsoft announced that partners will be able to access the sandbox environment. Probably using the sandbox will be associated with fee.
  • Performance improvement over Business Central 18 Wave 2.

Photo from the conference showing the performance improvements.