by Richard Thompson on 06/05/12 at 2:21 pm
Some 900+ Microsoft Dynamics NAV Professionals assembled in Rome at the end of April to discuss all things Dynamics NAV and in particular, the long-awaited announcement of the launch of NAV 2013.
Unlike the other main Microsoft events, Convergence and WPC (World Partner Conference), Directions EMEA is organised by NAV Value Added Resellers and the like and not by Microsoft. This provides noticeable differences: the conference is extremely honest, a forum for partners to openly discuss strengths and weaknesses away from end-users and from the ever-cheery Microsoft hype. The NAV partner community consists of a die-hard group of passionate people, dating back to the early days where there was an element of “shareware” approach to product development; attracting both the type of pony-tailed geeks typically never to be found near the “M” word and business people who recognised that getting software to match process was not a trivial task. These are people who recognise that whilst nothing is perfect, NAV can get you damn close. NAV 2013 proved how close to perfection Microsoft is aiming and what can be achieved with Microsoft R&D.
Although Microsoft does not organise the event, it is the Platinum sponsor and has a high profile, providing most of the key note speakers and many product experts (dividing NAV into areas of specialism such as assemblies, queries etc). The opening key note speech was delivered by Paul White and Dan Brown, along with some NAV product managers (all from Microsoft); the speech was rather cheesily entitled “The Magnificent 7”; not because NAV can save villagers from marauding bandits, more that actually on closer inspection NAV version 7 is magnificent; this is not Microsoft hype, this is proof of where the money has been invested.
At this moment we’re not allowed to share details about the new features and functions; however, we can say that Microsoft has clearly spent a lot of time and money on enablement technologies. NAV 2013 boasts a SharePoint client, a web client and improvements in the PC client interface. This means the solution is infinitely more accessible than previous versions.
No wonder then that with this improved accessibility the focus was all on how this truly launches NAV into the Cloud. Of the 95+ sessions of the two day conference, over 10% related to the Cloud, emphasizing the importance of Cloud computing for Microsoft. As one conference attendee noted: “I believe that the word Cloud or Azure must have been said more than a thousand times during these presentations,” Peik Bech-Andersen NAV blogger.
Overall we believe NAV 2013 is a fantastic product. Enhanced technology, better potential integration, ‘cloud enabled’, in colour, end-user queries and charts which are simple enough for the least technical user to be able to use, true Web Client, SharePoint ‘Client’ all of which look good.
We’re thinking ‘private’ and not ‘public’ cloud as personal end-user security will become the big challenge.
The launch of NAV 2013 shows Microsoft’s commitment to the NAV platform and looks like it’s the start of a big push from Microsoft as they must have spent a fortune on it; there are further releases planned, possibly annually, for v8, v9 and v10 to track / react to where ‘Cloud’ is going.
The cloud may be the big new opportunity for product expansion, but the mood of the conference was very much that the standard web client can still be improved and products like NAV web desk will continue to add value. Good news for organisations such as Silver Sponsor Anveo and others ISVs who offer web / mobile clients for NAV.
Microsoft is keen that NAV 2013 is positioned at the small to medium enterprise market. With some 4 million plus organisations globally within this category, Microsoft could be forgiven for thinking that’s share enough for NAV. However, this may be driven by a desire to differentiate its positioning with Dynamics AX; again it is aspirations of Microsoft rather than any major technical reasons that separate the two products. When it comes to customer choice, our view is that IT / Finance / Order Processing, everyone will want what NAV 2013 can do.
Microsoft has really thrown down the gauntlet and NAV 2013 looks to us as though it will be a great technology platform with loads more to come so long as the costs of further developments don’t frighten Microsoft. Furthermore, NAV stays true to its roots; enabling the partner channel to continue to add value, extending the solution with development tools that now include web services and external access to Codeunits to add to the Forms / Pages and Reports used internally.
So a Microsoft solution that is infinitely more accessible, more cost effective to deploy and supported by the most stable partner network of the four Dynamics ERP solutions. Watch out competition, users will want to upgrade to it whatever version or product they’re on now.
About the Author: Richard is Managing Director of TVision Technology and one of its three founders. Founded in 1999, TVision Technology has always focused exclusively on the implementation of Dynamics NAV solutions, working for mid sized organisations across a wide range of sectors. http://www.tvisiontech.co.uk