Ready your business today for tomorrow's challenges

In the era of the smart customer and a rapidly changing economic environment, organizations that are committed to deliver amazing customer experiences will likely be more profitable.

In the November 2014 update to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, we showed our continued investments in retail and supply chain, with features that allow representatives to engage with customers on their terms across web, social, mobile, and in-store experiences. These changes also help companies run dynamic operations that deliver on promises made to customers. And, with Dynamics AX on Microsoft Azure, we show our commitment to the pervasive use of cloud services for business applications, which offers IT a way to positively impact business.  

Turning IT teams into assets

You can use the cloud to contribute to the flexibility and efficiency of a company or organization’s IT foundation while freeing up your team to focus on supporting new business initiatives. You can also help company leaders consider appropriate new models and processes that the cloud can efficiently support. For instance, expansion into new markets can easily be facilitated with a hyper-scalable, global cloud infrastructure. Costs of new business initiatives like this one become operational rather than capital and can be executed faster. More importantly, because the cloud essentially lets you outsource those operational tasks, such as the acquisition and maintenance of infrastructure, your team can better participate in growing and transforming the company.

While the cloud is often called a disruptive technology, your journey to the cloud should be anything but disruptive. Cloud infrastructure and services is easy to add to on-premises systems, and you can choose and change the mix of deployment scenarios in a hybrid environment over time. For example, if you have a multi-site, single instance on-premises ERP solution, you can:

  • Extend that infrastructure by adding development and test environments in the cloud for specific projects.
  • Reduce the risks of data loss by adding disaster recovery.
  • Increase agility by supporting business operations in an emerging market with a cloud environment in addition to current on-premises deployment.   

To make it easy to deploy Dynamics AX on Microsoft Azure, we offer topologies through the Azure deployment portal in Lifecycle Services. Watch the demo and development/test topology. And, coming in 2015: a topology for a production environment. More information on Dynamics AX on Azure, you will find in the whitepaper.

Reimagining business applications through the cloud

The cloud computing conversation today often centers on reduction of costs and increased flexibility. We believe the cloud can do more than that. At Microsoft, we see the cloud as an opportunity to reimagine business applications that deliver rich experiences with services, information, and capabilities from cloud and on-premises solutions in ways that might seem impractical today. How can the cloud impact business processes and models? Read on.

Faster and easier deployment. Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services (LCS) already provides a cloud-based collaborative workspace that customers and their partners can use to manage Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 implementations worldwide. We will continue to invest in LCS and provide a smooth journey from digital discovery through trials and test drives, sign-up and provisioning, simple deployment, and seamless technology updates. Because of the cloud technology, the rules rules-based engine that LCS uses to check customizations can be updated more frequently. Plus, learnings from support can be made available as a best practice to organizations worldwide rapidly.

Empower a mobile workforce. The cloud also enables a distributed workforce to be more productive and connected. In this release, we have enabled an easy and security-enhanced communication between apps on modern devices through the Azure service bus and Dynamics AX.

Predictive analytics. In a world where sensors and big data provide a richness of information, empower employees by combining these with the structured information in the business application in order to provide better customer experiences and therefore become more profitable. At Convergence in Barcelona the food retailer JJ Food Services shared how they are using Microsoft Azure Machine Learning services and Dynamics AX to predict the customer’s next purchase to minimize the time spent on the website as well as an increase in order volume. JJ Food Services combines click-stream analysis with historical transaction data from the business application to predict the next order.

But you can take this even further. Use these cloud-based technologies to help sales and marketing teams to find new channels and connect with new customers. Let product development rethink products and services and shift the portfolio to digital services.

What’s behind this cloud innovation? To enables new business scenarios, we are extending the integration currently available with our leading business and productivity applications, including Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Microsoft Office 365, and services from Microsoft Azure SQL Database, the Internet of Things, and Microsoft Azure Machine Learning.

Learn more. Watch the Convergence general session for more to hear how other organizations like Carrefour and Kodak Alaris use the cloud to ready their organization for future challenges. If you want to share real-life examples about organizations using Dynamics AX and the cloud, please let me know. I would love to continue this dialogue.

Stay tuned for more …….