We contiune our countdown to general availability of AX2012 with a look at “self service business intelligence”.
We’ll continue Technology Management's countdown to the launch of AX2012 with a question:
What’s the world’s favourite BI tool?
Clue: Hit the windows key, type “exc” and hit enter.
Chances are that you’re already familiar with it, and have been for years. Your colleagues know it, and you can be fairly certain that anyone joining your business- even a school leaver is likely to be proficient.
So wouldn’t it be great if you could directly access your live ERP data from a Microsoft office Excel spreadsheet?
It's easy if your ERP system also happens to be from Microsoft. In a matter of seconds you can pull live data from AX into Excel and view, analyse and update information in AX without ever leaving your favourite BI tool.
Providing you have the necessary authority, you can help yourself to transactional data and use tools such as Powerpivot to drill down to what’s important.
You can then save the spreadsheet locally and because the link with Dynamics AX tables in maintained, you can refresh it with up to the minute data at any point in the future.
Microsoft even have a catchy, Monday morning friendly phrase for it: “Pervasive interoperability”. Meaning Microsoft software is already pervasive within your business, so perhaps a highly integrated (interoperable) Microsoft ERP system is the next logical step.
Will it cost more to license AX2012 than earlier versions? If it does cost more, should you be preoccupied with a figure that comprises just one part of your overall ERP budget?
That is the question we’re all asking at the moment. We won’t have a definitive answer until later in July when Microsoft release their new pricing information. Anyone claiming to know the answer is either speculating, or breaking an NDA they've signed- both of which are ill advised.
Yet it would be reasonable to assume that the most powerful and usable release of AX to date (with over 1,200 new features) will come at a premium over previous releases.
However licensing only comprises a portion of the overall cost of an ERP system and one should consider the total costs of ownership when comparing AX2012 with AX2009- or the upper mid-market competition.
Microsoft have invested a significant amount of their vast R&D budget into scrutinising and simplifying business processes, overhauling the installation process and lowering development costs and risk- thereby reducing the “time to value”- i.e. the time when your investment in Microsoft Dynamics AX starts to pay for itself. With this in mind Dynamics AX2012 will be more cost effective than ever- despite our predictions about increasing licence cost.
However some of the wiliest customers may wish to have their cake and eat it: Taking advantage of a late deal on an AX2009 license, with a view to making an “upgrade” to AX2012 may prove to be a very shrewd decision.
With approximately ten weeks to go until Dynamics AX 2012 becomes generally available, we’ll countdown our top 10 new features from the 1,200 exciting enhancements available in AX 2012. We’ve had some difficulty in boiling down such a huge list of features to the ones we think will benefit our customers the most, but I’ll kick things off at number 10 with a very powerful feature known as date effectivity.
Wouldn’t it be great to travel backwards (and forwards) in time through your business data? Tracking revisions and corrections to pricing, customer information, machine capacity, safety stock, emergency contact information and almost anything you can think of?
Although there were isolated examples of date effective tables and forms in AX2009 and earlier versions, AX developers didn’t have the facility of a consistent, system wide approach when modelling date effectivity. Dynamics AX2012 now allows almost any table and form to be configured with date effective properties; whether this results in the tracking of a single piece of reference data, a collection of data, or a changing relationship between two data entities, for example an employee’s promotion history through various positions in your organisation.
In summary, date effectivity provides a powerful new framework for modelling changes to your data through time.
Microsoft have been quite tight lipped about what’s happening with Windows 8, but today they shared a look at the new touch interface they have developed.
There are some similarities with the Windows Phone 7 “tile” look and feel and with the latest version of Media Centre. Personally I like it, and I love the way as with all PC’s you can do more than one thing at a time. The demo in the video shows this clearly and with the new types of devices that we are using to access data or to do our work, Windows is evolving to take this into account. It of course will work with keyboard and mouse and not just touch.
For a more in depth look and the Microsoft team getting asked a few questions around why and will businesses buy into the new look and feel, click below.
A lot of IT companies are suddenly scrambling around trying to get a “Cloud” strategy. Sometimes this is by re-selling a larger organisations services, e.g. Google Apps or Microsoft’s Office 365 or alternatively partnering with a company like RackSpace that allows them to use Rackspace’s hardware to create their solutions.
Technology Managements solution is a lot more focussed than this, we are a Microsoft Dynamic’s Gold partner and see our cloud offering as an extension of this. We own the hardware we run our software on, which allows us to build the platform to the specification that we know gives the best performance. This only comes from years of experience working with Dynamics products and knowing that attention to detail can make the difference when it comes to speed and performance. To us, we don’t have a preference whether you run the software on premise or in the cloud as we continue to offer both. Its getting the right software and platform for your organisation that drives us on. Having the power of choice is critical for our customers to know they are not railroaded onto the providers preferred platform.
Having this clear goal on what we are doing results in Technology Management delivering fast, safe and reliable Dynamics solutions in the cloud. After all we have been offering these services for over 3 years, one of the first Dynamics partners in the UK to offer ERP and CRM solutions in the cloud. Having just started another installation of additional hardware at our hosting centres we continue to invest in the future to make sure our customers continue to have a great experience.
The more I see other partners rushing to have any form of cloud offering on their websites the more I fear that the customers signing up for them will not get the benefits that they should. Its important they know the platform and the application.
Test drive Microsoft Dynamics AX today from your own desk…
When choosing a new car, most of us welcome the opportunity to take an unaccompanied test drive.
Without a salesperson in the passenger seat, you feel more able to check the car meets your specific functional needs and performance requirements. Essentially, you can review the product on your own terms.
The same principles hold true when selecting an ERP system. In recognition of this fact, Microsoft have placed an entire fleet of high-powered Dynamics AX machines at your disposal. You can either follow the guided demonstrations or you can go "off-road" and explore Microsoft Dynamics AX in depth.
There are no further obligations and it only takes a minute or two to register, so where's the catch? Well Microsoft will only give you an hour to play, as demand is high. However if you like what you see, Technology Management can offer you an extended test drive on our own hosted Microsoft Dynamics AX platform.
So click here to fire up Dynamics AX and hit the open road.
We are pleased to announce that Technology Management have now been awarded the Microsoft Hosting Competency, this has involved individuals passing the relevant exams, case studies being verified and agreeing to Microsoft’s SPLA (Service Provider Licence Agreement)
Having offered hosted solutions and selling SPLA for 3 years now, its great to see companies with the stature of Microsoft start to recognise companies that are reaching high standards in this new area of Cloud computing. Along with high levels of security, penetration testing and uptime levels of 99.9% we continually strive to provide a great value service for our customers. We are currently adding more infrastructure to our hosted platform as Dynamics CRM 2011 is launched in the coming weeks.
We currently offer the following products on our hosted platform:
Microsoft Exchange Microsoft Dynamics AX Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics NAV Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Pegasus Opera Hosted Desktop (Office 2010, Exchange, SharePoint)
Well we’ve not blogged about our NAV solution for the Food and Beverage industry for quite a while, so time to put that right I think as we now have several customers live on the solution and quite a few more in the pipeline.
Since we launched SI Foodware, a Microsoft certified add on for Dynamics NAV, back in September 2009, we’ve worked hard on making the industry aware of it and the additional functionality over and above standard NAV that it brings to the party. We think we’ve done a good job – you’ll now find us at the top on Google if you enter a phrase such as Food ERP.
We’ve had several exciting upgrades since the initial launch right up to the current R2 Role Tailored Client version, along with the Graphical Production Planner.
Undoubtedly one of the main reasons people look at Foodware over and above a standard ERP system is the integrated Quality Control modules featuring QC Registration, Inspection Status, Product Specifications and Non Conformances. We ran a webinar on this today and will be recording downloadable snippets from this shortly.
We are also planning another event around May to let people have a proper look at the latest version but we are more than happy to come and see you in person if you can’t wait until then!
Yet again we are seeing travel disruption, schools closed and people struggling to get to the office due to the weather. And if the forecasters are right its here to stay for a while..and we are only just entering December!
We had all this early in 2010 when the country came to a halt for around a week, with massive impact on industry. Yet technology allows us to overcome these problems for many office users and allows us to be more productive and flexible what ever the weather. So I thought I’d list 4 ways we can all work remotely, paying special attention to email access as this really is the life blood for many organisations.
1) Cloud based systems The cloud or hosted systems, really do you give you complete access as long as you have a PC with an internet connection. It may be a particular application, such as a CRM or ERP package or a complete hosted desktop. But if its truly in the cloud its available to you wherever you have an ok internet connection.
3)Outlook Anywhere /Outlook Web Access Outlook can be configured to talk to your Exchange server even if you are out the office. Using the internet as its connection it will synchronise for mail, calendar and contact items as though you are at your desk. And for the user they just fire up Outlook. A great way to work with Outlook and Exchange wherever you are. If you don’t have your laptop with Outlook on with you, you can still use any internet enabled machine and connect to Outlook Web Access through a browser. With Exchange 2010 you get a feature rich experience even allowing you to see multiple colleagues calendars on the screen. Very fast, very reliable and very safe. Great products. If you use hosted Exchange you get these features as standard..
4)SharePoint If you use SharePoint to store data, use electronic forms, workflow etc then as long as its been made accessible over the internet or via VPN you can access it from home through the browser. Everything works as normal and document management rules apply no matter where you are. Its your business available to you. If your interested in seeing the benefits of SharePoint 2010 we have a webinar scheduled in the middle of December. Details coming soon on the blog.
If you are interested in exploring any of these technologies further, please feel free to either drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 01902 578300.