by Dann Anthony Maurno, Assistant Editor
So, what can Microsoft Dynamics customers expect in 2016?
The company released its predictions for 2016 (and beyond), compiled from Microsoft’s top researchers. Aside from a few nods to security, the predictions were light on business utility, heavy on idealism (e.g., the world will realize the potential for technology to avert the 6th mass extinction; cloud platform technologies will transform and empower patients’ lives).
But of course, Dynamics users also live in the here-and-now and are looking to their Microsoft partners for real-world business answers. Experts from Sikich LLP, Arbela Technologies, and Real Dynamics told us about their predictions for 2016 and what they are advising clients.
Keep your eye on Power BI, and expect industry casualties
John Kleb, partner in the strategic technologies practice at Sikich LLP foresees a future in which Power BI is a front-of-mind application, both in Dynamics and in the productivity tools.
“Microsoft entered the BI user interface space officially with the launch of Power BI last July. The product had been around for about a year before that, but since the official release, millions of users have signed up worldwide. I expect Power BI to be as ubiquitous as Excel within three years. The Dynamics products are all incorporating Power BI into their coming releases. SQL Server 2016, Office 365, Excel 2016, Power BI and SharePoint are all joining forces around business analytics.”
The pace of new releases of Power BI, in addition to its freemium model will put pressure on some existing BI vendors, Kleb believes. It also could reshape the relationship of organizations with their service providers.
“Those of us with traditional sales and deployment business models in this space will find our world quite different. Customers are already saying, ‘Cool, thanks for showing me Power BI. We can take it from here.’,” he says.
Jason Weidenbenner, a principal consultant with Real Dynamics similarly predicts that “Organizations will start taking Power BI seriously in their BI vendor selection processes. Microsoft has demonstrated a commitment to rapidly mature this analytical platform; it is becoming a viable alternative to some of the established pure-play vendors.”
Self-service BI will lose some of its charm
Kleb also predicts “a pendulum swing away from today’s totally self-service options and back toward yesterday’s data warehouse work. I believe folks who think they can manage data with Power BI alone will realize that they do need a ‘data kitchen’ to ensure their data is clean, efficient, consistent and has integrity. One version of the truth is still important.”
Weidenbenner believes that the potential is huge, but potentially limited by availability and data quality. He explains:
“Company leadership will realize that though the ability to rapidly mash up data from heterogeneous data sources to provide compelling visuals/analytics has never been greater, comprehensive data management will be the key to these new analytical capabilities, providing lasting value to the entire enterprise. Ad-hoc analysis needs to become repeatable and automated, or availability and data quality will become big stumbling blocks.”
Get to know the cloud
“Turning our attention to 2016, we would advise our clients and colleagues to truly understand the advantages of cloud computing and how it can benefit their ERP and CRM systems,” says Amir Khoshniyati, a sales and marketing executive with Arbela Technologies. “2015 was a milestone for cloud computing as the market saw it mature and beceme the turn-to platform for many enterprise applications and data.”
He continues, “Many companies turned to the cloud for its flexibility, scalability, and lower capital expenditures in comparison to their in-house data centers. Looking at 2016, we are predicting better cost-savings for many companies when turning to cloud, as horror stories of ‘mismanagement’ -ordering too much computing power, tracking server usage, etc. – have since been understood and became lessons learnt.”
Expect demand around IoT
Microsoft has tapped the Internet of Things (IoT) with its Azure IoT Suite, aimed chiefly at improving efficiencies and driving operational performance. As Microsoft describes it, “It’s a world where the connected smart assets and sensors that matter most to you-whether that’s trains or elevators or vending machines or payment terminals-can collect and share data.”All well and good – but someone’s got to integrate it.
Khoshniyati predicts for 2016 that “IoT growth and the speed at which cloud providers need to address customer requirements will demand next-generation solutions and will open a whole new market for integrations, upgrades, and migrations to trusted next-level solutions such as Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM.”
Establish firm business goals (and find technology to match them)
“We are advising our clients to reach out to their management teams to understand what their goals are for the new year and how they would like to streamline various processes throughout their various business silos,” says Khoshniyati.
If purchasing a solution is the answer, “We are recommending looking into solutions that are scalable, easy to learn and manage, as well as reputable. For the clients that have solutions such as Dynamics AX and/or CRM we recommend reviewing the latest features/functionalities and aligning them with their business objectives to understand if an upgrade path is needed or an integration to the many new solutions can be considered.”