Artificial Intelligence and Business Central Updates

Directions EMEA 2023 Report

Every year, the world of Microsoft Dynamics® 365 Business Central comes together for Directions EMEA, an event for partners to understand all of the developments in the product and the future of the industry.

Directions EMEA 2023 Report

What is Directions EMEA?

Directions for Partners EMEA is an event that is for Microsoft Dynamics partners, focussed mainly on Business Central and supporting products. So, if it is for partners, why do you care? The simple answer is that this is where a lot of news about Business Central is released, as well as where ISVs launch a lot of the products that help make the product really stand out in the market.

Arriving in Lyon for Directions EMEA

This year, Directions EMEA was held in Lyon, and we sent Tom Jenkins, Stuart Hardman and Catarine Forte to find out all of the latest in the market.

Microsoft Overview at Directions EMEA

Directions EMEA Lyon Business Central Presentation

It is fair to say that Microsoft have been obsessed with Artificial Intelligence (AI), which comes in the form of Chat GPT and Copilot. Normally, this is the point where we all tune out of an article, wondering how on earth our businesses would be able to technically and financially add AI tools to their business operations. However, the investment and obsession with Microsoft, especially through embedding Chat GPT and Copilot means that they are doing the hard work – AI tools are actually part of the product.

Not only are there AI features, Microsoft are looking at how products are even used as a whole. This is where the tech giant really comes into its own.

Stand out sessions

Rather than go through every update from hundreds of sessions over several days, we thought it would be useful to look at the key messages and updates from the event.

Most of the updates around Business Central, aside from the usual performance and partner tools, have come around other technologies being brought into the product and the connectivity with the Microsoft ecosystem.

The Dataverse is the data structure that most of Dynamics is based upon and is the core of a lot of integration between Power Platform etc – it is a centralized data structure. Business Central is not currently based on the data platform, however time has been spent over the last few years to allow seamless synching. Now, Microsoft is announcing the fruits of that synching.

To start with, Dynamics products are being integrated; Field Service has been added to the Attach license list, which means Business Central users can use Field Service at a lower price. This is a precursor to the work that is currently being carried out to integrate Field Service with Business Central, which Microsoft will release in future versions.

There have also been massive investments in to reporting, with better Excel report layouts, and new Power BI standard reports. The Power BI reports will then be available within Business Central, namely in appropriate role centres.

Power BI in Business Central

Further to these integrations is the increased connectivity with the Power Platform through enhanced integration with the Dataverse. This means improved Power Automate and the addition of Power Pages, allowing for integrated B2B portals.

Artificial Intelligence

It is fair to say that Microsoft’s focus is Artificial Intelligence – not just developing AI but developing usable solutions based on the technology. In fact, it was such a recurring theme, almost every session seemed to have a joke about “I don’t know if you have heard of AI”. The first major AI tool is one you will undoubtedly have heard of – Chat GPT. Microsoft are not just creating some content with this tool, but looking at how Chat GPT can change the whole UX of their platforms. This includes the ability to have natural language queries of data and will be a big part of how we use software in the future. Through content creation, it will be able to help with processes, such as writing responses and extracting data.

The other part of AI is something that you might not have heard of; Copilot. This new “tool” is actually a wide range of AI capabilities integrating various Microsoft products such as Teams, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365, and adding out of the box intelligence capabilities. For example, simple tools such as adding availability, to analysing teams meetings and suggesting to-dos and sentiment analysis. From a Dynamics Perspective, Copilot is being led by the sales tools, however it is being continuously worked upon to add capability, and is already having Business Central tasks added. An example of this is marketing text suggestions, which is particularly useful for those with Shopify integration.

Business Central Updates 2023

As well as all of the above, which is very much around the ethos and overriding capabilities of the platforms from Microsoft, Business Central actually has had a lot of features added to it in the last year. Included are new customization features, updates to non-inventory handling in the warehouse and invoice posting policies.

If you would like to see the best of all of the Business Central updates from 2023, please sign up to the following free webinar, which will be held on Wednesday, 22nd November 2023.

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