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Dynamics 365 Shows Microsoft's Bold Vision

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Family of Apps
 
With the release of Dynamics 365, the New Microsoft, under the leadership of chief executive officer Satya Nadella, has revealed its bold vision to not only embrace but to lead new trends in business computing.

Dynamics 365 is a collection of cloud apps and services for business, allowing customers to mix and match the features they need from a lengthy catalog including sales, marketing, customer service, field service, project management, accounting, and more.

Dynamics 365 hits all of today's top computing trends.  It is cloud-based (although customers may deploy on premises, unlike some of Microsoft's competitors). Dynamics 365 takes advantage of machine learning and artificial intelligence, weaving in elements of Cortana and other Microsoft AI work.  Dynamics Connected Field Service weaves in the Internet of Things (IoT) to feed sensor data from devices which triggers service calls and dispatches trucks with technicians if necessary. Microsoft has embedded analytics and Big Data into Dynamics 365, further tightening the integration of the Microsoft analytics and visualization tool Power BI into Office 365 as well as Sales, Field Service and Marketing.

Mobile is also a key theme for Dynamics 365. The launch demo highlighted how integrating all these apps and making them available on mobile devices enables new ways for people to get work done on the run.  The demo showed a sales person generating a sales quote from their mobile phone -- something unthinkable for most companies today.

Dynamics 365 upends software development tools as well.  PowerApps provides connections to the Dynamics 365 Common Data Model not only for Microsoft products but for other cloud services such as Dropbox.  Microsoft Flow and Azure Logic Apps are the workflow automation products to automate business processes which span multiple products.

PowerApps connects multiple Dynamics 365 apps

Microsoft has demolished the concept of software products, abandoning brands that it has built up for years such as Dynamics CRM and Dynamics AX, in favor of functional names for apps under the Dynamics brand including Marketing, Operations, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service and Sales.  The AppSource marketplace will offer solutions from third parties as well as information on Microsoft services partners.  Instead of using unique product names such as SharePoint which allow web searches to easily find answers to technical questions, Microsoft's branding approach puts all its weight behind the Dynamics 365 brand itself so that customers will learn to search for "Dynamics 365 Marketing" or "Dynamics 365 Operations" in order to get relevant results. This change in branding is so disruptive that it requires extensive training for Microsoft's resellers and services partners, as well as Microsoft's customers.

The benefit of abandoning product silos will be freedom of choice for customers, and a "stickiness" of cloud services that will make Microsoft customers more and more committed as they take on more cloud services over time. Customers can start small with only Sales, for instance, and add Marketing or Customer Service later.

Dynamics 365 represents the fulfillment of Microsoft's xRM promise by broadening the software tools and standardizing the data model and workflow products to a far greater extent than before.   The idea of xRM was to build line of business solutions on top of the Dynamics CRM platform instead of starting from scratch with custom development.

My company InfoStrat has devoted itself to building xRM solutions for public sector customers, so now we are enabled with a broader platform and apps that are more complete out of the box (or out of the cloud).  Microsoft partner competencies have been reworked to focus almost exclusively on the cloud, so partners must work hard to achieve technical readiness on new products, technologies and sales approaches.

The boldness of Dynamics 365 will disrupt traditional software sales, and will force Microsoft's customers, marketers, sales force, resellers, and services partners to adapt to a new paradigm.  If successful, Microsoft will have set a high bar for competitors who want to compete with a broad business software platform.

Be sure to watch this blog for more posts on the nuts and bolts of Dynamics 365:

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Pricing: 6 Reasons Not to Panic

Understanding Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business and Dynamics 365 Enterprise Editions

Dynamics 365 and xRM: What Comes Next?

Understanding Microsoft AppSource and Dynamics 365


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