AI, Apps, and Office 365: Why NAVUG Summit boosted Microsoft Dynamics NAV optimism

By: Maher Malki

Three highlights emerged from last week’s NAVUG Summit Nashville event – the huge turnout, the technology roadmap for the upcoming releases of NAV, and the push for users to start adopting Power BI.

Now in its tenth year, Summit continues to draw a strong crowd. Dynamics Communities reported that over 6,500 people attended the full event, with 1,000 NAVUG attendees making the trip. The success of these conferences and their continued growth are generally good indicators of the overall health of the Dynamics community.

From a technology standpoint, Microsoft announced last week that NAV 2018 would be released on December 1st followed quickly by R2 and the next core release, code-named “Tenerife,” in the spring of next year. These will be huge updates, and there was a positive reception from users about the new list of features.

A few of the new capabilities really stood out for me. First is the introduction of Extensions 2.0, which represents a new way of developing for NAV. The Extensions model moves all the custom code outside of the core NAV implementation, making code modifications easier and simplifying the future upgrade path. Extensions 2.0 is just part of Microsoft’s commitment to rebuilding the developer tools for NAV and we think that these improvements will have a big impact in driving higher efficiency for NAV developers, users, and enterprises.

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Microsoft also made it clear at Summit that it continues to focus on AppSource as the marketplace for third parties to deliver new applications for NAV, Dynamics 365, and the full line up of Microsoft business applications and platforms. ISVs and service providers will continue to leverage AppSource to provide and promote new solutions that deliver industry-specific capabilities or horizontal productivity enhancements. Earlier this month, Microsoft also mentioned on their Power BI Blog that they would begin using AI with AppSource to provide a list of applications that “will be ranked in order of how relevant they are to you.”

One of the best demos we saw at Summit this year also revealed the more sophisticated ways in which NAV can be integrated with Office 365, with the help of AI-driven analytics. The demo showed new integrations to Outlook through NAV that use Cortana’s AI learning engine. As an example, a customer sends an email placing an order, then Cortana provides the price details and attempts to create a sales order in NAV. Cortana AI could be applied to almost any workflow or business process managed by NAV, and as the systems learned, more functionality could be handed off to AI and surfaced in simpler ways for users within Outlook.

Lastly, we saw a big push this year for Power BI. In fact, the top piece of advice that I would give to a company running an older version of NAV and considering an upgrade is to make the move to Office 365 now if they haven’t already. With Office 365, they’ll get Power BI and can begin to learn it and connect it to their existing NAV environment. Power BI almost immediately unlocks more value from your system by helping your company to get the right insights from the data to the right people who can act quickly.

Overall, we continue to see that the Microsoft’s cloud-first approach is taking shape. The industry is going in that direction and people need to embrace it. Actually, it’s our customers who keep asking for it and who are also helping the whole industry move.

As we headed home last week from another exciting Summit, we were enthusiastic about the direction of the products, feeling the excitement from the users we met, and ready to help customers implement Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365.

About Maher Malki

Maher Malki is a Dynamics NAV Program Manager at Western Computer. With over 16 years’ experience leading ERP implementations, Maher is focused on partnering with Western’s current and prospective customers to successfully implement their vision for Microsoft Dynamics in their organization.

If you were unable to attend Summit and speak to Maher in person, see Western Computer’s recap of the event and feel free to contact them with questions.