If you’re at all attuned to the world of ERP software, which is how businesses keep their books and plan for the future, then you’ve probably heard of Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Released last November, it had some growing pains out of the gate. Recognizing this, Microsoft decided to re-release a new, updated version with wider functionality and greater stability. This new version is known as Dynamics 365 Business Central, and it comes into General Availability on 4/2/2018, and it is probably the most advanced, easy-to-use ERP on the market right now, especially from the perspective of the younger user.
Dynamics 365 BC, as it shall now be known, is easy for millennials to use because:
Microsoft Brings ERP to the Cloud
A lot of ERP systems today are pretty clunky and legacy-looking – while they have the benefit of having been around for a long time, they also have the detriment of having been around for a long time. With Dynamics 365 BC, Microsoft aims to capitalize on both aspects of experience and new technology. They are taking a well-established ERP system, Dynamics NAV, and giving it a major update, bringing it into the cloud and integrating it across the rest of the MS software-verse, meaning it’s going to mesh with the rest of the productivity apps out there from Microsoft. SharePoint, Flow, Excel, Word – everything comes together to make for a great user experience.
There’s been a huge shift over the last ten years that has seen an explosion of startups to handle just about everything under the sun (and some of it over the sun – looking at you, Elon Musk). A huge issue for many startups is that, if successful, they often experience dramatic growth. You often start out with open-source or home-grown systems that fit the need of the moment.
You need to cut checks, send invoices, and keep a basic record of what’s going on in the business so that you can file taxes and update investors. Once you have half a moment to step back and breathe, or perhaps when the subject is forced because the old system is failing, you realize that the bookkeeping solution you started out with just isn’t going to cut it any more.
The cloud capabilities of Dynamics 365 BC mean that no matter how quickly or how big you grow, your ERP system will be able to keep up, no sweat. As a cloud-based system, it’s highly scalable, meaning that you can easily adjust your licenses and boom – it’s done. No need to worry about upgrading the on-prem servers just to handle a periodic software upgrade for legacy ERP – the cloud means that you’ll have near-instantaneous upgrades, no expensive hardware purchase necessary.
These enhancements to the way software updates are provided improve deployment time and the reliability of servicing and will also lead to significantly reduced downtimes. Christmas order rush? No worries, you’re in the cloud now, baby.
Mobile is the Name of the Game
Another huge advantage of D365 BC is that it can be accessed from pretty much anywhere. Your tablet, your cell phone (hurrah for BYOD) and even your Mac can access Microsoft’s latest ERP with just a few clicks or taps. Microsoft is working hard to make sure applications are automatically optimized for mobile and tablet devices. Microsoft has made a point of designing for a cloud-first, mobile-first world, and this new release is no exception. The release notes make mention on numerous occasions of enhancements to mobile capabilities for D365 features, making it more than obvious that this is a main focus for Microsoft.
You can even create low- or no-code solutions using PowerApps that integrate directly with D365. Here’s a pretty cool video of Satya Nadella demoing how this works with Lorissa Horton of the Dynamics team.
This means that if you have someone who understands some business and maybe just a little bit of coding, they’ll be able to put together an app to help fulfill the unique needs of your business, all without having to worry about being an expert in .NET. These apps can then be accessed from just about anywhere, on just about any device. You can even optimize them for specific devices, depending on what your employees are most likely to use.
Bringing it All Together
One problem that seems to be a perennial question in today’s business world is how to bring all of the unique business data from different platforms together into one cohesive whole. One of Microsoft’s biggest competitors in the business cloud, Salesforce, recently made an acquisition of Mulesoft, a software company founded to solve one singular problem: how do you integrate all of your data from dozens of sources into a common format?
Rather than looking for someone else’s solution, Microsoft is ahead of the game and has built out its own Common Data Model platform from the ground up. This means that data will be stored and integrated with other business apps from the Microsoft family (Office, Talent, Sales, Project Service, etc) virtually seamlessly, in addition to improving the way that it integrates with non-Microsoft apps. This is built based on Power Query, the same technology used in Power BI and Excel.
Imagine being able to take a prospect’s LinkedIn message, convert the information into an opportunity record, and generate a quote based on their inquiry – all at the click of a few buttons. Or how about being able to take that same opportunity’s Outlook message with a signed order attached, converting that order into an invoice, and recording this in D365 while simultaneously sending the invoice out to the customer?
All of this and more will be possible with D365 BC. The idea is that with the multifarious different definitions of data, Microsoft is bringing it all together in a way that allows you to capitalize on it. What’s more, Microsoft is making a point of being GDPR-compliant, meaning that with all of this sensitive data, the “right to be forgotten” is taken very seriously.
As you can see, the day of going through window after window after window on an old desktop just to get invoices out are long gone. With D365 Business Central, users can look forward to a streamlined approach to their business operations that utilizes the latest technology available, integrating across a wide spectrum of apps and data sources from within and without Microsoft. This allows the millennial user to focus on what really matters – building the business and achieving the goals they set out to accomplish, making the world a better place because of it.