Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 and Tablets: Where is Business Analyzer?
Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 is out. Users are past the holidays and deep into year end, after which, I expect to see a much bigger push to GP 2013. This is a great release and it's generated a lot of excitement. But I find myself already asking "What's next?"
There is more to come with Dynamics GP 2013 including its release on Windows Azure, an updated Business Portal and the continued roll out of the web client to more areas of the system. But I want more. I have some thoughts on where Microsoft should head next. Not necessarily specific features, but broader themes and one of the biggest is mobile.
The arrival of the web client opened the door to more mobile options. That is, mobile in the classic sense of "not in the office". I'm really thinking of mobile in terms of smartphones and tablets. I don't think that the GP team needs to be worrying about cutting checks via mobile phone just yet, but there is one piece of low hanging mobile fruit dangling in front of the GP team: Business Analyzer.
In March of last year at Convergence 2012, Microsoft showed off a concept of Business Analyzer on a Windows 8 tablet. It got rave reviews. This product needs to get finished and released, now. On a PC, Business Analyzer is just one of many tools that could be used to deliver graphical reports. It often gets lost in a crowded field that includes SharePoint, Excel and SQL Reporting Services (SSRS). But on a tablet or a phone, Business Analyzer could really shine.
What Microsoft can't do is release this exclusively as a Windows 8/Windows RT/Windows Phone application. They need an iPad and iPhone version. Adding Business Analyzer to iOS will have no negative effect on the number of GP licenses that are purchased. Companies won't buy fewer licenses so executive can look at graphs, but it is sexy enough that it could push some companies into selecting GP. Plenty of GP licenses will still be sold to process AP, receive cash and do all the work that accounting requires. Windows 8 is great on a tablet, but executives are carrying iPads today, period. Microsoft needs to go where their customers are.
Business Analyzer is based on SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) reports. SQL Server 2012 adds options to view these reports in an iOS browser, so it would seem that an iPhone or iPad interface is the place where some work would be needed. Microsoft might even see a little bump by moving more people off of SQL Server 2005 or 2008 and onto SQL Server 2012. Microsoft can do the work or outsource it but if they want Business Analyzer to succeed, it needs to be on tablets and not just Windows tablets. And it needs to be out soon.