Dynamics 365 is being touted as the next generation of intelligent business applications – a big claim for what promises to be a game-changer.
Essentially, Dynamics 365 combines CRM and ERP capabilities into a variety of applications that work together seamlessly, such as sales, customer service, field service, operations, financials, marketing, and project service automation. In contrast with separate ERP and CRM models of the past, organisations will now be able to enjoy the benefits of a seamless experience across all applications.
What makes Dynamics 365 notable? It’s all about the ecosystem.
Microsoft have developed on their flagship ERP product, Dynamics AX, to create Dynamics 365 for Operations. Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been divided in to specialised applications for Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation and Marketing. There is also a Dynamics 365 Financials application that is based on Dynamics NAV.
Now, with Dynamics 365, these specialised intelligent applications are hosted on Microsoft Azure as services. This simplifies the integration with other enterprise application offerings such as Office 365, PowerBI, Cortana Intelligence, Azure IoT Suite and so on.
The technology stack & ecosystem that Microsoft have built around Dynamics 365 is indeed notable, with key applications and services including:
A process automation app that allows users to create workflows to connect multiple applications and services. Imagine customers using Flow to capture social media feeds in marketing tables, create notifications for field staff, and share info between Dynamics 365 and other cloud applications.
PowerApps is a service for creation of custom applications for specific business tasks and day-to-day activities such as Time and Expenses, Stock Checks, Questionnaires and more.
Microsoft have also announced a new scalable and secure database for managing business data called the Common Data Model (CDM). CDM allows us to use standard and custom data entities across applications. This reduces the integration time and risk, improves the unified view of data across the business and in turn improves the operational efficiency.
And finally, the Common Data Service provides the templates to connect organisation data across the applications. Moving data between ERP modules, social media and CRM has never been so simple.
A more complete picture of how all of these elements come together can be found in the diagram below:
Editions and Licensing
Dynamics 365 has two editions; Business and Enterprise which are outlined in the below table.
Business (10-250 employees)
- Financials app – sales and marketing to come
- Comprised of financials, sales and marketing
- Maximum 300 seats
Enterprise (over 250 employees)
- Comprised of sales, customer service, field service, operations, financials, marketing, and project service automation
- Minimum 20 seats
The licensing model has also been simplified and is based on plans. Plan1 includes Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation, PowerApps and Flow. Plan 2 includes all Plan 1 apps plus Operations which includes manufacturing and supply chain, retail and commerce, and finance. The user licensing has been simplified to have two tiers – light use team members, and full use for individual apps.
The move from on-premise infrastructure to public cloud means that the customers will largely be subscribing to the applications rather than owning them. This also means that busy and quiet times of operations can be handled more effectively by adjusting the user subscription to only pay for what is necessary. Furthermore, the move to the public cloud can create advantages for customers including greater agility around server deployments, flexible storage, faster backup and recovery and more.
The server and solution sizing and deployment will be based on Microsoft standard templates that will reduce the errors and subsequent performance issues that we have seen very often in the past. There will be greater emphasis on adhering to the industry standard processes and the out of box functionalities that are offered by these applications.
The opportunity for businesses
So, what does it mean for any business that is looking to implement a new ERP or CRM system, or is planning to upgrade their existing systems? Firstly, it means that the way systems have been implemented in the past is changing and this brings an opportunity for clients.
The best part that is unique to Dynamics 365 is that you can start with just what you need to run your business (such as Operations or Financials) and then add different apps as your needs evolve – creating greater opportunities for businesses to be more agile.
Time to get used to the new pace!
So, there are significant changes happening. They are happening for good reasons but they are also happening very fast. It is critical that players in this technology space are prepared to evolve at the same pace.
At KPMG Crimsonwing, we have a close relationship with Microsoft. KPMG’s global strategic alliance with Microsoft empowers us to be at the forefront of technology adoption. This, combined with our strong consulting and management experience has enabled us to help many organisations embark on and successfully complete IT transformation programmes, including TGI Friday’s who were early adopters of Dynamics 365.