Microsoft Sketches Out Dynamics Roadmap at Convergence
- By Gladys Rama
- March 04, 2014
Microsoft on Tuesday kicked off its Convergence 2014 event in Atlanta, Ga. by spotlighting several key Dynamics releases expected this year.
Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions, presented the event's opening keynote. He said Microsoft's aim with its products is to help people perform "high-value activities," which in recent months has become a catch-phrase for company executives when discussing Microsoft's direction.
Tatarinov also said the business world is entering the "era of the customer," and that customers now expect to be able to interact with businesses quickly and through a variety of channels. They also expect to have the ability to access information whenever they want.
"It is amazing to me that in this era of the customer there's still so little knowledge around the world about the customers that organizations serve," Tatarinov said (transcript). "And really, the role that yet again Microsoft and Microsoft Dynamics will play in the future, and [are] starting to play today, is to help you transform and enter that era of the customers by understanding who they are, where they are, where they want to be tomorrow very deeply, and in a very powerful way."
Dynamics AX 2012 R3
The R3 release of Microsoft's Dynamics AX 2012
enterprise resource planning (ERP) product will become generally available on May 1, Microsoft announced, slightly later than the April release that the company predicted at November's Convergence EMEA conference, where it first described the product.
According to Microsoft's announcement, Dynamics AX 2012 R3 will bring "a new end-to-end apps and services framework, allowing businesses to develop and distribute modern apps for specific scenarios and mobile devices that can easily and securely connect with Microsoft Dynamics AX." This MSDN blog explains the new framework in a little more detail:
The framework uses the cloud (Windows Azure) for communication between the mobile devices and Dynamics AX, with identity provider Microsoft ADFS. The organization does not need to set up separate middleware. The Application Integration framework in Microsoft Dynamics AX publishes that "listen" for incoming messages through the Windows Azure Service Bus.
To help organizations quickly build their own apps, Microsoft announced the beta of Project Siena, which will enable business users to create mobile, touch-optimized apps with no coding. Users need "little more than PowerPoint- and Excel-level skills" to create apps through Project Siena, according to Microsoft.
In addition to being available as an on-premises product, Dynamics AX 2012 R3 will be capable of being deployed as a Windows Azure-hosted service by partners. Two other Dynamics ERP solutions -- Dynamics GP 2013 and Dynamics NAV 2013 -- are also available on Windows Azure via Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.
GP and NAV
Microsoft also briefly announced forthcoming updates to Dynamics GP and Dynamics NAV.
An update to Dynamics GP will arrive sometime in the second quarter of this year, bringing "new identity management and workflow capabilities, together with new self-service companion apps." A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that this update will be Dynamics GP 2013 R2.
A Microsoft blog from early February indicated there are two planned updates for Dynamics GP in 2014 -- first is the now-confirmed Dynamics GP 2013 R2, and second is Dynamics GP 2015, which is expected sometime in the second half of the year. Microsoft did not say anything about Dynamics GP 2015 during its Convergence announcement, however.
Microsoft also announced on Tuesday that Dynamics NAV will be updated in Q4 with mobile improvements. The latest release of Dynamics NAV was Dynamics NAV 2013 R2, which became available in October. Presumably, this Q4 update will be R3, but Microsoft has not confirmed this.
Microsoft reiterated on Tuesday that its customer relationship management (CRM) product will be updated in Q2. Microsoft described this update in February, indicating that it will be focused on delivering social networking- and marketing-oriented improvements based on technology acquired from MarketingPilot, Netbreeze and Parature, each of which Microsoft purchased over the last two years.
For the core Dynamics CRM Online product, the update (code-named "Leo") will introduce a new Unified Service Desk feature that lets users choose the medium and device through which they interact with customers. Additionally, the update will also launch two new Dynamics CRM features, which were demonstrated in the keynote: a marketing-automation tool called Dynamics Marketing and an online data-tracking tool called Social Listening.
According to this Microsoft Dynamics CRM blog, the Social Listening feature will be free for organizations with 10 or more Dynamics CRM Online Professional licenses, which cost $65 per user per month. For organizations using on-premises Dynamics CRM, the feature will cost $20 per user per month.
Microsoft has not yet revealed the pricing for Dynamics Marketing, or said whether it will be available as a standalone service for on-premises users. However, the company introduced the new Dynamics CRM Online Enterprise license on Tuesday as one way for users to access Dynamics Marketing, in addition to the benefits of the Professional license, at a cost of $200 per user per month.