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Convergence: Tatarinov Talks Usability

Microsoft gets it. One of the main roadblocks -- probably the main roadblock -- to a successful ERP implementation is usability, or, more specifically, users simply refusing to navigate the eye-glazing, brain-scrambling screens in front of them.

Knowing that, Microsoft is hammering the message at Convergence that Dynamics applications are easy on the eyes, and, by extension, on the brain. In his keynote today, Microsoft corporate vice president and still new Dynamics honcho Kirill Tatarinov spent the bulk of his stage time showing screen shots and getting into the nuts and bolts of how easy Dynamics is to use. His speech was short-ish on talking about new functionality and very long on waxing about the apps' user-friendliness.

And that's as it should be. Sure, ERP and CRM applications have to be useful, providing all the requisite functionality that companies need and what not, but they're fairly useless if, well, nobody uses them. Nobody in the ERP market understands that quite like Microsoft, what with Redmond's many years of experience in designing and selling broad-use applications such as Microsoft Office.

"What we're delivering here is a very rich visualization technology that allows you to view very complex data," Tatarinov said in his speech. "Just like people love their Zune, they love their smart phone, we want people to say, 'I love Dynamics!'"

Hmm. (Pause for laughter -- well, your editor laughed, anyway.) Uh, Kirill, are you sure that you wanted to use the Zune as an example of something people love? Well, anyway, we understand what he means: Enterprise software should be something that's pleasurable -- or at least not torturous, as we doubt that too many people actually enjoy using ERP applications -- to use. It's a strong message for Microsoft and one that should continue to carry Dynamics into more and more companies.

Tatarinov also talked about Microsoft Connect, the portal through which users can suggest changes to Dynamics interfaces and vote on favorite or least-favorite features. Further to the theme of connecting with users, Tatarinov reinforced that Microsoft is now publishing the "direction" of forthcoming Dynamics suites -- as in, what they're going to do -- 12 to 18 months before the suites' release dates.

The Dynamics dynamo also went over the roadmap for the years to come. He said that AX 2009 would be available by the end of the year -- although Microsoft has also told us first half 2008. (A PowerPoint slide also listed the date as Q2 2008, so we're guessing that Kirill made a small mistake in his speech.) Beyond that, expect this release schedule:

AX 2009, Q2 2008
NAV 2009, second half of 2008

2009-2010:
POS (Point of Sale) 2009
GP 11
SL 8
CRM 5

Not to be forgotten, Tatarinov also mentioned that all Dynamics suites now include support for Windows Essential Business Server, the version of Windows Server 2008 for midsize businesses.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 12, 2008 at 11:54 AM


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