Directions EMEA 2018 Review
The annual Directions event is aimed at partners to provide the latest updates in technology centered around Dynamics NAV and more recently Dynamics 365 Business Central. As a knowledge hub for Microsoft business software, we sent a number of our team to find out all of the latest information.
Business Central Updates
For users of the software, there are not a great deal of completely new features; rather a wide range of tweaks and improvements to the latest technologies. Microsoft is really pushing the Artificial Intelligence (AI) functionality and the Outlook integration is leading the way in saving time and driving productivity.
The AI recognises email content, such as requests for quotes, and allows the user to create and send documents (a quote in this example) in Business Central, all without leaving the email in Outlook. If it recognises a document number it allows you to open the document, to perform tasks such as converting a quote to an order. Incoming documents on an email can also be attached to the records.
Utilising Microsoft Flow, Business Central users can build on this functionality by setting up workflows, as well as automated chasing emails, etc.
Excel integration is a massively underused tool, with two-way integration. It is really useful for applying mass updates, for example, if you wanted to change the credit limit for a large segment of customers, you can copy the details into the linked spreadsheet and then load it back into Business Central.
There was a large seminar to explain and discuss licensing changes, with clarification on routes to upgrade from NAV licensing, as detailed in our previous blog. Our Business Partnership Manager, Catherine Ross, is a long-standing and respected member of the Dynamics Community and has an in-depth understanding of the market from a customer perspective. As such, her comments on changes that could be made to the plans received a large round of applause and we are expecting some un-confirmed updates from Microsoft in the near future as a result.
With the 1st April deadline for purchasing NAV 2018, new entities of existing NAV customers will be able to buy NAV2018 after 1st April. Furthermore, it seems that NAV licenses bought now will be credited and used to purchase named users at the time of upgrade (Rather than 1 to 1 as per previously announced). More information on licensing updates will be released as they are confirmed.
Tom wins and Xbox!
Anyone who has been to a conference in the last two years has probably had access to an app that allows them to view the available sessions, create an itinerary and even review the sessions. For Directions EMEA, a solution was built upon Business Central, to show the flexibility of the solution. All of those who entered used the app and left feedback were entered into a prize draw, which our director Tom won!
Field Service is part of the CRM suite, providing a solution for managing and operating field service engineers. Some of the key features are as follows:
- Contract management
- Opportunity Management
- Quote / Contract
- Service Agreements
- Schedule / Dispatch
- Balance Workloads
- Optimised Schedules
- Best Technician
- Inventory management
- Write-off reduction
- Remote Inventory access
- Parts Management
- Connected Field Service
- Issue detection – IoT
- Predictive Maintenance
- Work Order Creation
- Customer Centric Experience
- 360 deg view
- Outbound communications
- Technician Visibility
Built on the common data model, integration with other Dynamics tools is part of the future of the product.
Powerapps had previously been limited by the need to build it on a single tenant. This meant that partners would have to build each one individually. You can now export and import a PowerApp into another tenant (currently in preview). This gives partners the ability to build “off the shelf” solutions and decreases the price per app.
You can add a PowerApp part to a PowerBI report and embed the PowerBI report into Business Central; the part can even use the same data source as the report. The reports are also record-aware so that you can provide a personalised report for the individual records that your users view. PowerApps can have a button that when pressed runs a flow, which opens a lot of functionality.
Thoughts from the team
"Directions EMEA 2018 was an amazing experience. I was eager to network and make myself a familiar face in the industry. The number of people I met with the same passion for the product was overwhelming. I took away a lot of insight into how Microsoft wants us to work in the future and also what is truly possible with good business practice in this quickly changing industry. On day 3, Microsoft said ‘The world will never be the same’ - it’s true. We are currently on the edge of change. This SaaS model Microsoft has adopted and pushed is big. They have big goals and they are giving us the tools to match those goals." - Tom Harper, Support Consultant
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I find their approach to our relationship very professional whilst being refreshingly realistic. We now consider them to be part of our teamTechnical Director, Bainbridge International