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Event Report: Directions EMEA 2021 welcomes back Microsoft Dynamics partners, sets future plans

by James Crowter
Managing Director, Clever Dynamics

Directions EMEA 2021 not only happened in-person but it's passed by in a moment. The overwhelming feedback from almost everyone I spoke to was that it was “excellent to be back” and that they had “missed it more than I remembered”. Held this year in Milan, Italy, the event was close to the 1,600 declared capacity. That’s over a thousand down on Vienna in 2019, but with social distancing regulations enforcing that every other seat was blocked off and attendees from some countries unable to travel, it still represented a great result in the circumstances.

Microsoft’s product team from Copenhagen were there in force and in fact delivered the day one and day two keynotes, stepping in for their commercial colleagues who were unable to travel from the States on day two. It was Dynamics 365 Business Central general manager Mike Morton’s first Directions, but he stepped up to play a key and very busy role: two keynotes, two Q&A’s, and two dinners on top of numerous meetings.

As positive as I can remember

The sentiment seems to be as happy as I can remember it, with most regarding the SaaS platform as fully fit for purpose and aspects like performance really making progress. That doesn’t mean everyone is now as SaaS-focused as Microsoft would like. Legacy bases still are holding partners back, but increasingly it is not just ‘born in the cloud’ partners that are seeing the majority of their new business go SaaS.

This acceptance of change even extended to not putting any aggressive questions back when Microsoft announced that from next year fees for objects for add-on’s not AppSource-compliant will start to increase steeply. In all honesty though, companies who sell a C/AL based solution to a new customer in 2021 are verging on unethical in my view.  

It’s not quite perfect

I guess the complaint I heard most was that while Microsoft are focusing on the top voted BC Ideas submissions for the improved functionality, they are all relatively small changes. There is a fear that Business Central is trading on its largely twenty year old history and that others are fast catching up and may be close to going past in terms of standard functional capability. While D365BC ISV solutions can easily put competing ERPs way back behind, it comes at a cost if you add too many.

The other outstanding issue is monetisation via Microsoft for AppSource apps, something Mike Morton did address in the Q&A. He said that they were actively working on it and that he hoped that 2022 would see some announcements so maybe we are not too far away now.  I guess after so many years of not having it we need to wait just a bit longer.

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About James Crowter

I'm passionate about how businesses can improve their efficiency by getting process optimal more of the time. For the last twenty five years I've worked to help organisations of all sizes and types implement the ERP & CRM software that typically they decide they need when things are going wrong. I've seen that work unbelievably well and enabled those organisations to rapidly grow but I've also had some hard projects over that time where it's felt more like warfare at times.

Since 1996 (and version 1.01) I've been working with a small Danish product called Navision that's now become Microsoft's Dynamics NAV and I've also been using and consulting around Microsoft CRM since 2005. As managing Director of one of the longest established first Navision and now Microsoft Dynamics partners I've been involved in the complete history including numerous product councils and system design reviews. It's my privilege to know many of the key Microsoft executives and product designers and have insight into both where the products are now and their future direction.

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