11 December 2016

A lot of people out there will tell you that moving your organisation's ERP and CRM functions to the Cloud is a long-term project with a ten-year roadmap that lets you get there slowly while you try to manage organisational change using your existing solution.

The fact is that Microsoft Dynamics 365 has the potential to let you move to the cloud immediately, not to mention easily and affordably. In my view, this is a game-changing package that very few enterprises can afford to overlook.

Naturally, many financial institutions and the like will remain wary of the security implications of a move to the Cloud; though research shows that confidence in the security of Cloud-hosted services is growing year on year. After all, there is no Cloud: just physical hosting in another building somewhere, with an expert team looking after server maintenance and security.

Yet I genuinely believe that most enterprise-level businesses and organisations will find the arguments for an immediate switch to Dynamics 365 to be irresistible.

In essence, Dynamics 365 brings Dynamics CRM and Dynamics AX together, and puts them in the Cloud: providing - for the first time - seamless integration of Microsoft's ERP and CRM solutions.

What Makes Dynamics 365 Such A Game-Changer?

Anyone who has ever been involved in the implementation or maintenance of CRM and ERP systems will tell you about the endless complexities of making each solution bespoke to their enterprise's needs in the first place, and adaptable to legislative and organisational changes in the long term.

Naturally, there are many AX and CRM specialists available to help manage these issues; yet few people would take the matter of upgrading to a whole new system lightly, or wish to write off the considerable amount of time and money they have invested in the implementation, maintenance and integration of their existing ERP or CRM solutions.

I'm pretty sure that's why Microsoft has waited until it had created a solution that is truly 'plug and play' - not to mention entirely integrated - before launching Dynamics 365 to a waiting world.

Just as importantly for every IT Director that needs to convince the Board and the FD, Dynamics 365 for Sales (previously MS Dynamics CRM) is also extremely good value for money: with a cost of just £50 per user comparing very favourably to competitors' cloud-based solutions, which are typically £250 per user for CRM functions alone.

What Will Dynamics 365 Mean To Recruitment And Staffing?

While Microsoft Dynamics 365 is plainly a good news story for enterprises, it's going to be bad news for integration specialists, simply because Dynamics 365 offers complete integration of ERP and CRM, right out of the box.

There's also very little to do in terms of configuration with Dynamics 365, as it comprises some 20 fully integrated modules for everything from HR to Supply Chain Management functions, none of which require, or permit, very much in the way of customisation.

However, while this is clearly bad news for integration specialists, the news for AX and CRM specialists is positive. That's because the sheer scale of Dynamics 365 means that no one will ever be able to describe themselves as an all-round Dynamics 365 expert with any degree of honesty. So while it's absolutely true to say that Microsoft has totally integrated AX and CRM in Dynamics 365, I'm convinced that AX specialists will continue to work on the ERP side of Dynamics 365 while CRM specialists will continue to work on the CRM side. The only big change is that they will now have to call themselves “Dynamics 365 Operations” specialists and “Dynamics 365 for Sales” specialists respectively.

In short, it's going to be about re-branding not retraining for AX and CRM specialists. Obviously, for the first six months or so, they may find the changes hard to adapt to; but in this industry the very best people have the ability and the patience to adapt to step changes like this. Ultimately, while this is going to hit integration specialists hard, Dynamics 365 is going to lead to even more demand for the best AX and CRM experts.

In the next six months, Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM will largely disappear, as they are replaced by Dynamics 365. So it's going to be an exciting and challenging six to twelve months for all of us. Some IT Directors will be wary of a move to the Cloud, but I honestly believe that the biggest problem they're going to face is in deciding what to do with the room they used to keep all of their servers in.