EMEA 2017 summary

What do we really know 25 days after Marko Perisic’s first Keynote? Over the last couple of weeks I tried to follow each piece of news, webinar and podcast to synthesize all available information. Here are my conclusions…

Four weeks after Directions EMEA the dust has settled and NAV community is busy back at work. For some of the partners nothing has changed, some prepare themselves for Dynamics 365 Tenerife, others got interested in our Development Outsourcing offering (www.nav-developers.com).

So, what do we really know 25 days after Marko Perisic’s first Keynote? Over the last couple of weeks I tried to follow each piece of news, webinar and podcast to synthesize all available information. Here are my conclusions…

Dynamics NAV 2018 will be the last major release under this brand
There will be two more versions of Dynamics NAV: Dynamics NAV 2018 which will launch on December 1st 2017 & Dynamics NAV 2018 R2 which will launch in Spring 2018. Later Dynamics NAV will continue as Dynamics 365 “Tenerife” and will constitute an on-premise part of Microsoft offering. It means Microsoft won’t be cloud-only, but cloud-first provider.

Dynamics 365 “Tenerife” will appear in Spring 2018
Dynamics 365 “Tenerife” will also have an online version, which will appear in Spring 2018. Final name is yet to be decided, so for now the product goes by its codename “Tenerife”. It will be based on Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Business Edition (former Dynamics 365 for Financials) and will offer full NAV capabilities.

Dynamics 365 Business Edition & Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition will discontinue as products
They will be replaced by a single brand: Dynamics 365 Apps. You can already get the first hint of this change at https://dynamics.microsoft.com/en-us/ which no longer provides information about both editions. Some of the apps will be available in two (or more) price points. It will be possible to add Dynamics 365 Apps to Dynamics 365 “Tenerife” and enhance its core capabilities.

Business Management Suite vs Business application platform
Late 2018 we should have the following options:

  • Dynamics 365 “Tenerife” on-premise, which will offer the whole NAV capabilities
  • Dynamics 365 “Tenerife” cloud, which will be a continuation of D365 BE and will also offer the whole NAV capabilities
  • Dynamics 365 Apps – a selection of applications which will mostly be what is now known as D365 Enterprise Edition components
  • Business application platform – a possibility for partners to create their own (vertical) solutions based on Dynamics 365 “Tenerife”. More on that below.

In Microsoft words: “Microsoft will offer a new end-to-end business management cloud solution – an expansion of Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Business Edition adding the full capabilities of Dynamics NAV. It will be delivered as two distinct offerings, which customers can buy through our partner channel:

  • A Microsoft Dynamics 365 cloud application, which enables partners participating in the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Program to deliver a single business management cloud solution to their customers – across key business process areas such as sales, financial management, project management, and operations.
  • A business application platform for ISVs, which enables partners who qualify for the Microsoft ISV Cloud Embed program to build and offer vertical cloud solutions directly to customers to meet their unique needs.”

Handling two code bases
There was quite a lot of confusion (and more will follow for sure) regarding the business application offering. First AX merged with CRM to offer Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition Apps. Now Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Business Edition will emerge as Dynamics 365 “Tenerife” (cloud version) and Dynamics NAV will continue as Dynamics 365 “Tenerife” (on-premise version). All in all, it was confirmed by Microsoft that partners will need to handle two code bases to be able to offer the whole business application set. It might be a bit tricky as partners were used to offer either NAV or AX and now will need to know both, because from the outside customers will see D365 as a single offering.

Future of Sales and Marketing Apps
It seems that Microsoft has been struggling for the last year to deliver the lower price point Sales App and any Marketing App. Anyway, what I saw on Directions this year was very promising. The Sales App seems really simple, truly robust and it has this “online flavor” to it. Setting it up is very straightforward – you only need to connect it with your O365 account (for Outlook and SharePoint integration), then upload some data and you are good to go. When opening the app for the first time, you can watch an introductory video or engage in a tutorial. The interface is optimized for less complex sales processes and there is an editable grid which for many sales representatives will be a killer feature in my opinion.

Offering Services on AppSource
Microsoft made some buzz around this at the conference and in theory the idea is very interesting, but it turns out that it has some limitations. Recently partners got a possibility not only to upload their apps to Microsoft AppSource, but also to offer their services there (as a training package, 2-day workshop, etc. – so basically something small at a fix price). What is more, customers who will be making their first steps in Dynamics 365 “Tenerife” will get a pop-up informing them about such offering (like “Did you know that there are partners in your area who can provide you with a training on the Dynamics 365?”). Sadly, this new feature is only available to US customers and there is no way to complete the order of such services on the AppSource – the customer will be redirected to a partner to finalize such transaction.

O365 running Dynamics 365 Tenant
This one looks really promising, as each business user of O365 will have a Dynamics 365 Tenant available. This way Microsoft is bridging a gap between their ~100 MLN O365 users and their fledgling Dynamics 365 customer base.

Common Data Service
If this one lives up to the hype around it, it will be a massive success. The idea is that some/most/all (?) Microsoft business applications will run on Common Data Service. It means that they will share a common data model, including common entities (as Account, Contact, Product, Sales Order, Case, etc.) Moreover, the data will be stored in a way which will enable many applications to access it seamlessly.

What we don’t know
There are important aspects of the offering that are still not revealed:

  • The system name which is now going by the codename “Tenerife”
  • Pricing and licensing options
  • Transition paths for current NAV/D365/AX customers

My opinion
Microsoft is developing their offering to embrace the whole lifecycle of each company:

  • If you are really small (like 1-2 people starting their dream company in their garage), try Microsoft Invoicing that goes with some O365 plans.
  • Is your product a success and you can’t continue to grow by keeping your prospect data in unrelated Excel files? Dynamics 365 for Sales (probably lower price point) will be ideal for you. You don’t need to purchase the entire CRM/ERP solution just now, surely one app will do.
  • Do you need to upgrade your invoicing process? Maybe go for Dynamics 365 “Tenerife” in the cloud? You probably don’t hire an accountant at this stage – don’t worry, you can always use ‘Accountant Hub’ and have an external accountant access the system.
  • Have you outgrown the “Tenerife”? No problem, we have Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations in store (probably a higher price point).

I’m sure you got the idea. With more than 100M O365 users Microsoft has an excellent customer base for their business applications. Not to mention LinkedIN with 500M+ users and probably close to 1M Premium Users. I’m wondering when it will be possible to upgrade your LinkedIN account so that it offers D365 for Sales features (BTW, it is already advertised as a bundle which goes by the name ‘Microsoft Relationship Sales’).