Microsoft Dynamics 365 is now available for purchase and use, a release that follows months of hype and speculation. The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Edition – as opposed to the larger, costlier Enterprise Edition geared toward large organizations – is a major advancement in terms of CRM and ERP solutions for all size businesses. The new release from Microsoft melds features of CRM and ERP platforms together to provide a suite of functions that are especially relevant and desirable for businesses. Let’s review what’s recently been announced about this business solution since its release and consider what it means for the companies in its target market.
Still growing and developing
On the surface it appears Microsoft put more of its focus on initial development into the Enterprise Edition, as that version of Dynamics 365 launched with more features and options fully in place. ZDNet pointed out that The Business Edition currently has only Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Financials released, but the name is deceiving because it actually includes accounting, distribution, and project functionality as one new cloud-based solution for small to mid-sized organizations. Enterprise, on the other hand, is really more like a rebranding of Microsoft Dynamics AX (now Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations) and Microsoft Dynamics CRM (Now licensed as several solutions, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, Dynamics 365 for Marketing, Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, Dynamics 365 for Field Service, and Dynamics 365 for Professional Services Automation.)
Microsoft has said dedicated sales and marketing modules are actively under development and will be ready in 2017 for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Edition. Integration with both Azure machine learning and Cortana, Microsoft’s intelligent personal assistant that’s already incorporated into its desktop and mobile device operating systems, are both currently in the preview phase.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a new and notably unique solution, one that was only fully unveiled and given its final public designation in terms of name and function during summer 2016. With a release timeframe for the Business Edition’s sales and marketing modules currently pegged for the first half of 2017, companies should begin investigating the benefits of the platform now so they’re ready to understand what these new components will bring to the table.
What Dynamics 365 For Financials offers
Microsoft called the Dynamics 365 Financials component a complete business and financial management solution that’s expressly for organizations with between 10 and 250 employees. One of the Financials module’s major advantages is the level of integration it provides. This critical piece of the Dynamics 365 Business Edition offers a single source of information for financials, sales, projects and operations. That’s a major advantage over many of the approaches previously used by SMBs, which include many silos of information systems that create gaps in organizational knowledge and blind spots that can harm a business.
The Dynamics 365 Business Edition also integrates with Microsoft Office 365, pairing business productivity and business process software through connections created by the developer of both solutions. For SMBs, the ability to control so many critical components of daily operations and workflows through just two related solutions is a major advantage. Integration with Microsoft Outlook is another big plus, especially in terms of speed and accuracy in making quotes, invoices and orders.
The easy availability of information is another benefit provided by Dynamics 365 for Financials. Microsoft said the reporting functions included in the solution address a number of areas, including customer service, inventory, purchasing and project tracking. Because Dynamics 365 serves as the single source of this information, it gives companies an edge in terms of up-to-date data and reporting. Sharing reports and incorporating predictive analytics and digital intelligence aspects are also benefits touted by the software developer. Microsoft also highlighted the ease with which SMBs can onboard employees to the new solution and get them trained on the solution, noting the Dynamics 365 interface is very familiar to users of Office 365.
While still a new solution that doesn’t yet have the sales and marketing modules in place for the Business Edition, small and mid-size businesses need to be aware of the benefits Dynamics 365 provides and the relatively short timetable for the release of sales and marketing modules. If the Dynamics 365 For Sales functionality is required, the Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Financials also integrates with the CRM components of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition.