Yesterday, Microsoft was slated to release the newest version of its flagship Dynamics NAV ERP suite. Several of us just returned from the annual “Directions” partner/reseller conference in Phoenix, so we thought we’d share a few of the things we learned there about the latest in NAV.
- On-Premise vs. Cloud: In a keynote address, Microsoft GM Paul White acknowledged that a lot of clients still want their ERP systems (i.e., NAV) to be “on-prem.” No surprise there, as we find the vast majority of our clients feeling that way as well. The new cloud NAV version seems to be getting positioned as a lower cost, lower function alternative, aimed at folks coming off a low-end system like, say, QuickBooks, and looking for what is predominantly a ‘financial’ solution.
- And to that point, expect to hear a lot more about Dynamics 365 (formerly codenamed Madeira). Debuting in November, the “Business Edition” of the new cloud product will be a low priced offering with NAV roots that provides financials and, in later editions, sales and marketing capabilities as well. It promises to be well integrated with Office 365. The “Enterprise” edition will be a mash-up of Microsoft CRM and Dynamics AX.
- Microsoft aims, especially for cloud installations, to move developers away from pure code modifications into the world of “extensions,” whereby code objects are largely rendered outside of core NAV, lending themselves to easier upgrades and better interoperability with 3rd party applications. It’s a “goal” for now, and very much a work in progress.
- Those extensions will then be available as “apps” in the new APPSOURCE store. So, expect in time to see lots of add-on extensions courtesy of NAV developers. Microsoft will allegedly not “endorse” any of these; rather, they will vet them for inclusion by ensuring certain standards are upheld, and then let the marketplace decide (5 stars, anyone?) what are the best apps.
- Also in the development arena, it will now be “Visual Studio Code,” utilizing NAV’s current CA/L language running V.S. code. There will be on the-the-fly screen and form modifications via the Visual Designer, and they’ll be available for PCs, tablets and phones as they are published to the app store.
- The Power BI (business intelligence) tool will be embedded in NAV 2017, giving more advanced users a powerful tool for advanced data analysis and deeper insights into your business details.
- Also coming is the first integration of Microsoft’s Cortana intelligent assistant, an early foray into the realm of artificial intelligence, a hot topic for tech firms today from Amazon and Google to Apple and Microsoft. Expect to see a long evolution of AI development in the versions and years to come.
One thing’s for certain: when it comes to business, technology and ERP – things never stand still for very long.