Yet whenever we call on prospects in need of software solutions, it becomes abundantly clear that most business folks have little idea what “Dynamics” really is. People are constantly surprised/confused/enlightened when we attempt to explain the different solutions that make up the line.
When Microsoft went on its buying spree at the turn of 21st century, it seemed to pay little heed to the branding requirements that would invariably follow its acquisition of so many disparate, competing products. They’re making up for that today.
A good example is a recent full page ad in the Wall Street Journal exhorting business managers to take a look at “Dynamics.” That kind of advertising doesn’t come cheap, and we’ll see more of it. Few companies in the SMB ERP space other than Microsoft have the marketing clout, or more specifically the budget, to do that. In fact, Microsoft’s marketing budget alone dwarfs the entire revenues of most other companies selling accounting software today. That’s a big hammer, but it supports a suite of products that, while best-sellers in their field, collectively are not well known or understood.
So in our next series of posts, we’re going to take a look at what Microsoft “Dynamics” really is, and break down the parts for you.
First of all, let’s look at what it’s not. Dynamics is not one product. Rather, it’s the branding representation for four completely unrelated business management software products. Each was formerly an independent company that was bought, for a very large sum of money, by Microsoft in the early 2000s.
The best car analogy (because we software types always seem to use car analogies) might be this: There is one General Motors, but within that, you have separate product lines like Chevrolet, GMC and Buick. Similarly, there’s one Microsoft Dynamics, but within it fall four separate, different and distinctive products. A couple of those products are “old guard” products, steeped in legacy (but also often chained to older technologies) and a couple are “newer guard” products, built on more modern infrastructures.
The line up looks like this:
- There’s Dynamics “GP” which was formerly the product known as Great Plains, once the leading accounting product (by sales) in the U.S. Microsoft bought the company in late 2000, for over $1 billion.
- There’s Dynamics “SL” which was formerly the product, and company, called Solomon. Solomon was actually purchased by Great Plains in 2000, which in turn was acquired by Microsoft shortly after.
- There’s Dynamics “AX” which was formerly a product called Axapta. Axapta was owned by a Danish company called Damgaard. Damgaard merged with another Danish company, called Navision (see next item) shortly prior to being purchased by Microsoft in 2002.
- And finally, there’s “NAV” for Navision. This Danish firm with its namesake product, after merging with Damgaard in 2000, was bought by Microsoft in mid-2002 for nearly $1.5 billion.
That’s the short version of what (or who) comprises Dynamics. We’ll take a very high-level look at each of these pieces, and see what fits where, in our next four posts. Stay tuned…