Retail Realm 2016: Microsoft Touts Benefits of New Dynamics AX on Azure in Changing Retail Environment

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By:  Valerie Miller

Microsoft is mapping out the road ahead for Dynamics AX in the retail industry this week at Retail Realm 2016 in Las Vegas.

On Monday, most of the about 300 conference attendees packed the keynote speech by Microsoft’s Balaji Balasubramanian, principal group program manager for Dynamics Retail, to listen to him map out the product vision and strategy of the new AX (aka AX 7) in the context of retail.

The new Dynamics AX, which was introduced earlier this year, allows users to utilize AX through the Microsoft Azure cloud. This differs from AX 2012, which can run on-premise, through hosting providers, or via public cloud IaaS services like Azure. With the new AX, Microsoft completely handles all elements of the public cloud deployment.

And Balasubramanian pointed out that attitudes toward the cloud have changed as well. “Fifty-two percent of organizations are confident that cloud apps are as secure as premise-based apps. That’s up from 42 percent a year ago,” he noted.

As of now, AX 7 users do not have the option of deploying their solution on premises. That will change with a future release of AX 7 and is dependent on the availability of Azure Stack Technology, which has been delayed to at least mid-2017.

Tony Winters, director of quality assurance for Retail Realm, praised Microsoft’s innovation with the new AX, including upcoming updates like greater use of Cortana Intelligence Suite. “Microsoft is leveraging their key IT and Cortana [to] soak up historical information and purchasing trends,” he said.

Microsoft’s keynote at the Retail Realm event showed just how far it has come in the retail space from a few years ago, when audience members loudly voiced their complaints to Microsoft speakers and looked to the company for much-needed guidance on the future roadmap. In 2016, conference attendees were welcoming, loudly applauded, and some offered praise after the keynote.

“I was intrigued,” said Robert Lowe, the vice president of point-of-sale for Las Vegas-based Heartland. “The move to a completely cloud-based store is exciting.”

Lowe was eagerly waiting to see what comes next. “The question is: ‘Can Microsoft pull it off?'”

Balasubramanian promised great things ahead for AX 7 users.

“You can optimize your forecasting to react faster, and harness the power of your data to get a competitive edge,” he said.

The days of brick-and-mortar store dominance are becoming a thing of the past, he added.”It’s no longer that somebody walks into a store and decides to buy something. It is decided at home.”

Retail Realm 2016 runs Aug. 21-23 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas.

About Valerie Miller

Valerie Miller is an award-winning Las Vegas-based journalist who can be reached at (702) 683-3986 or [email protected]