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The move from Microsoft Dynamics AX to 365: Building a business case for the future

by James Fleming
Executive Vice President and CIO, Element Material Technologies,

When I joined Element Material Technologies two-and-a-half years ago, the company had gone live on Dynamics AX 2009 fairly recently, in 2010. So when Dynamics AX 2012 came along, there just wasn't much of an appetite for an upgrade.

The task became to maximize AX 2009's capabilities and future-proof it, and we developed a lot of extra functionality for it, between internal developers and our Dynamics partner.

We are now at the point of moving forward, if for no other reason than heading off the expense of extended support for Dynamics AX 2009. But alongside that there are a ton of really good new features in Dynamics 365 for Operations that we could take advantage of, and that is the version we'll migrate to.

The features aside, I really like the whole ethos behind Dynamics 365, the whole client story that Microsoft is building. In the cloud upgrade path, it's all quite incremental and small, and no new major version ever comes along.

With Dynamics 365 comes the Microsoft stack.

For us, a lot of the value proposition of Dynamics 365 is around cloud enablement, Azure Machine Learning and other Azure functionality that we'll have access to out-of-the-box, and the integration of Power BI.

It's an ambition of mine to enable our end users to consume data more easily, which they will be able to do with Power BI, just in terms of easy-to-use dashboarding. They must be able to drill down into our data, and whilst there are plenty of tools that can do similar things, the fact that this will be built into the application has great pulling power for me.

As for how we, as an engineering firm, will use the Microsoft stack, a lot of that's still under investigation.

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About James Fleming

James is currently an Executive Vice President and CIO for Element Material Technologies. He started working with Dynamics AX (Axapta) in 2006 using version 3, and has implemented the product numerous times, in different organisations, over the ensuing years. Having been CIO for a number of FTSE250 organisations, James is an expert at guiding an organisation through selection and implementation of ERP and CRM systems, alongside managing multi-million pound IT organisations. He talks at numerous Microsoft events, alongside chairing the UK chapter of the AXUG, and was a founding member of the UK Dynamics Advisory Board. He was also the recipient of the Business Visionary Leader of the year award at the Microsoft Convergence EMEA conference in 2014.

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