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Microsoft Dynamics ERP Past, Present and Future

by Jack Boyer
Founder, Boyer & Associates, Boyer & Associates
January 23 2012

When Jason Gumpert asked me to create this article, at first I thought it was great. I love being overly dramatic, and a bit trite for the sake of good reading-and I believe that was Jason's thought too.

In short, 2012 is turning out to be the perfect time to look to the future of the Microsoft Dynamics ERP product line and try to start drawing some assumptions of where its future lies.  I'll start below (briefly) with my twenty years of Dynamics SL and GP experience that got me to this point - and this point of view. What I believe the Dynamics ERP ecosystem is looking at now, and in the future, is a product management strategy that is truly dominated by the technology, features, and roadmap of Dynamics AX. 

No, I'm not predicting the demise of GP, SL, or NAV; but it's hard to ignore the scope of improvement between AX 2009 and AX 2012.  Simply put - AX is catching up to, and surpassing, Dynamics GP and SL in a variety of areas, and from where I sit, that progress will continue to make it the company's flagship ERP product, no matter what your perspective.

Dynamics Past

Dynamics Past for me was the 20 year battle that Dynamics SL and Dynamics GP slugged out from 1980 to 2000. Dynamics SL, then called Solomon IV, was put on the map in 1985 when then product reviewer from Price Waterhouse, Pat Fitzhenry blessed Solomon with "Editor's Choice". Dynamics GP, or Great Plains at the time was always a serious competitor despite their lack of depth in the project accounting area and development tool area. They won lots of deals due to their rigorous standards for testing their code-it was usually very clean ...

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About Jack Boyer

Jack founded Boyer & Associates in 1994 with a vision to create a firm that could attract and keep the area’s best ERP consultants, developers, and business development people.

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Jack’s career began doing application and sales support for Solomon Software- the firm that created Dynamics SL. Jack was promoted to regional manager when the firm moved him from Philadelphia to Chicago in 1988.

Jack believes that finding the right software is only a piece of the challenge in implementing software. Without the right people to implement it, you only have half a solution. You need the right business analyst to flush out a company’s requirements and you need the right consultants to make the software align with those needs.

Jack has an honors degree in accounting from Penn State (1984) and passed the CPA exam while at Boyer & Associates.

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Submitted by mgomezb on Mon, 01/23/2012 - 16:35 Permalink

Agree! Investments have been noticeable across all products of the Microsoft Dynamics ERP stack. Dynamics AX mostly has seen these investments due to strategy and not necessarily favoritisms among products. The strategy is simple: make it the best darn ERP product in the market giving Microsoft a shot to compete with the Oracles and SAPs of the world - not said by me, but by Microsoft in its various one liners at various conferences. Dynamics GP is seeing one of the largest overhauls in its next release - codename GP "12": more powerful web services with the introduction of multi-tenancy, more standard SSRS reports (get this, Report Writer is being phased out as the primary report delivery tool!) and Metrics, and if I am not mistaken, it's the first of the 4 products to outline a cloud computing strategy with the introduction of the web client and support for several named system databases on a single SQL Server. In short, the best darn ERP for the middle market segment! My crystal ball is made up facts. Take a look at my articles: Microsoft Dynamics GP Web Architecture Series… Codename GP "12" Preliminary Features Series… While the ERP future is bright now, take this for what it is: a simple guess, but Microsoft will need to continue to make the business case to its shareholders as to the need to have 4 ERPs. For now, the numbers support the business case, but when they no longer get the point. Very interesting article and certainly provocative thoughts. Mariano Gomez, MVP

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Submitted by Mearnsman on Tue, 01/24/2012 - 04:25 Permalink

.. Microsoft would sell NAV back to the original developers and let it fight its own marketing battles. It's increasingly relegated behind AX in Microsoft's marketing collateral and that is a huge itch for dedicated Navision resellers that needs constant scratching.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Submitted by emxgarcia on Wed, 02/01/2012 - 08:30 Permalink

First, thanks for an interesting article. Although I agree with your overall assessment and believe that Dynamics AX is Microsoft's solution to compete with SAP R3 market, I don't think that we will see it enter the SMB market that GP / NAV covers precisely because "AX also takes a bit more to configure.... so the implementation costs can be quite a bit higher." In essence, the same reason why SAP has B1. This is not just a perception as I have spent a decent amount of time on this subject including off the record interviews with... well you get the idea. I believe that partners should evaluate their market and ponder the opportunities and decide if they want to commit to AX based on this. If not, then they should not allow themselves to enter a FUD state, which is what Microsoft has, unwillingly?, done.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Submitted by ritz_sa on Wed, 02/01/2012 - 08:40 Permalink

I remember an official Microsoft announcement from a few years ago that they are consolidating their products over a period of time and that we could expect only one or two ERP systems instead of the four (by 2015). I guess it also makes sense to have one mid-tier ERP and one top-tier ERP. Do you perhaps have any more recent feedback on this? Thanks, Ritesh

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)