Dynamics 365 Business Central integration capabilities: Using an Arduino with Azure Functions

February 12 2019

From version to version, Microsoft has increased the integration capabilities of Dynamics NAV. With the release of Dynamics 365 Business Central, the integration options have gotten even better. But with the added the potential of the Microsoft Azure platform the integration capabilities become literally limitless.

In the old days, when there was a need to apply non-standard business processes inside the system, it was the standard functionality that got modified. Now we can avoid that and jump out of the system to use ready services, provided by Microsoft Azure platform. For example, we can use Microsoft Flow instead of programming complex approval routes inside Dynamics 365 products. We can use PowerApps to provide access to business data to multiple users without the need of a developer. Building up Power BI reports gets many times faster than trying to program the report with standard NAV tools. There are hundreds of Azure services that can be utilized to cover the needed business processes – limited just by imagination.

One of our customers came to us one day and asked if we could create a solution that would tell him what the market thinks about his products. To fulfill his request, we integrated his ERP system with Twitter using  Flow, and each time there was a tweet mentioning his product name, we took that tweet and put it into  Azure Cognitive Services to recognize the emotional attitude of the text (to what extent it is positive or negative), and returned the result back to the ERP system. Within a few months our customer could see directly in his list of items how the market was reacting to each item. What is most interesting, our solution did not require much programming, except raising up the API in the ERP system. All the rest was done on a user level by just by setting up the connectors.

Having that power in our hands, we strongly advise you to first look at the set of Azure Services available before you go customizing your standard Dynamics application.

There are great integration possibilities which we can utilize, and IoT is no exception. As an example, my colleague Andrey Baludin and I were presenting a sample case, demonstrating how easy and powerful the integration with IoT devices through Azure Functions is at the latest NAV TechDays conference in Antwerp.

As a business scenario, we took imaginary requirements to prevent a Business Central user from posting a sales invoice if the user was too drunk, by automatically triggering an extra level of approval.

For that purpose, we used the following equipment:

1) Arduino Uno controller with USB cable (you can use analog, price is around five to seven dollars) to control the measurements.

arduino_uno

2) Ethernet shield for Arduino Uno and ethernet cable (price also is around five to seven dollars) in order to get connected to the network.

3) MQ3 meter with connection wires (three to five dollars) – a sensor that measures fraction of alcohol in the air.

mq3_meter_with_connection

4) Any alcohol for tests (price depends).

vodkaWith several easy steps, we built a solution that fulfills the requirement of the business process. Here the power of Azure function gets applied. As Microsoft says, "Azure Functions provide a serverless development experience supporting a robust set of event triggers and data bindings. Functions are billed based on total number of requested executions each month for all functions.” That is, you can create your own function and put it to Azure serverless environment without complications.

How does that relate to Business Central?

About Alexander Ermakov

Microsoft Regional Director in Russia, Microsoft MVP in Business Applications, inspiring speaker, MCT, MCSE, MCSA, MOMS, MCP, MBA, Certified Auditor, Partner at Awara IT, beloved husband, father of two and just a good guy.

Alexander has over 25 years of experience working with IT, last 14 were tightly dedicated to Microsoft technologies in Business Applications. He had sold his heart to Dynamics NAV (now Dynamics 365 Business Central - besides he does sometimes Dynamics 365 F&O projects), and for many years in a raw evangelizes Dynamics platform inside Russia and across the board - with a focus on Russian localization and compliance with local legislation requirements.

Having graduated in two degrees - in Economics and Mathematics - Alexander got MBA in 2000. Alexander has accounting background, being certified Auditor (since 2009) and working as Chief accountant before he dedicated himself to IT. This makes him not just a perfect D365 functional consultant, especially in Finance, but a person who exactly knows the problems and fears of the users and can address them accordingly. His credo is to always use the standard functionality and avoid customizations where possible. Starting from 2012, he is also MCT and lectures customers as well as public community in seminars all over the Russia.

Since 2006, he works for one on the most efficient and competitive IT companies in Russia that deals with implementation of ERP systems and business consulting. Awara IT is a part of Awara Group, a well-established consultancy holding that provides a variety of services to foreign companies in Russia. In IT it supports international companies that develop their business in Russia, sharing unique knowledge. They are especially good in automation of fin administration processes, compliance with local Russian accounting and taxation, automation of management reports based on IFRS and GAAP principles.

Awara IT is Gold Microsoft partner for Business Applications. It is Microsoft Country Partner of the Year 2019 in Russia, as well as Dynamics 365 Business Central, Power BI and Teamwork Partner of the Year. It is working on the edge of technologies, providing its customers the best innovative solutions. Implementations on Dynamics NAV 2018 and Business Central in Russia, Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, plenty of Power Platform and Azure solutions. Complex BI solutions, a lot with Microsoft Power BI. Database performance issues and SQL optimization. Awara IT is also 1C partner in Russia, and uses benefits of offering customers the best options from both vendors.

Alexander is networking with foreign partners who might need local support of their customers when they expand to Russian market, and he is a reliable local partner in Russia for many partners already. If you would need an assistance in understanding Russian market and its specifics, please feel free to contact him.

Awara IT has offices in Spain, Germany, Finland, US, Kazakhstan and continues its expansion.

Specialties: Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365, Russian Accounting, Taxation and Audit, IFRS

ERP systems: #MSDyn365BC, #MSDyn365FO, 1C, SAP

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