The recent Microsoft Partner Days UK event gave City Dynamics an unrivalled opportunity to explore Microsoft’s insights into the intelligent workplace. On the 25th April, the tech giant revealed to a select audience of UK Microsoft Dynamics partners how its business applications can support companies as they undergo growth and transformation.
Microsoft inaugurated the day at their keynote with an inspirational video on the impact of technology:
“You have more power at your fingertips than entire generations that came before you”.
This stems from Microsoft’s core mantra that it’s not about what technology can do, it’s about what technology can empower people to do.
Joe Macri, VP, UK Commercial Partner at Microsoft, continued this train of thought. Joe observed that there has been an incredible change in our society. Industries are being disrupted. Adaptability will be key in the future, but technology will drive growth.
The Four Pillars of Digital Transformation
A recent report from the International Data Corporation (IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Digital Transformation 2018 Predictions) predicts that by the end of 2019, digital transformation spending will reach $1.7 trillion worldwide – an increase of 42% on 2017. There are four key pillars that truly enable digital transformation, said Angela Evans, Microsoft Office Business Group Lead UK:
- The modern workplace
- Business applications
- Apps and infrastructure
- Data and AI
These four pillars allow businesses that are disrupting their industry to empower their employees, engage their customers, optimise their operations and transform their products.
The Intelligent Cloud
The intelligent cloud is the driving force for growth behind this transformation; a cloud where systems are wholly and seamlessly integrated across the whole business, a cloud that can use AI to predict and notify users of upcoming issues or opportunities. The immediate outcomes for businesses using this technology include transparency, productivity and efficiency. The business outcomes are obvious – clearer insights, better performance and smoother scaling up.
The cloud is to be Microsoft’s “North Star” going forward, guiding businesses towards their goal of transformation. Industry 4.0, which includes new technologies such as AI, big data and the cloud, was the number one trending topic at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos. Despite Industry 4.0’s growing importance, Angela highlighted that cloud adoption has been slower than one might expect, judging by the IDC’s recent Digital Transformation MaturityScape report:
Increasing Cloud Adoption
This is where the role of Microsoft Partners will be crucial in future. A key focus of the Microsoft Partner Day was Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. As one of the most hotly anticipated releases from Microsoft’s Spring Launch in early April, Business Central has been a topic of much animated discussion amongst Dynamics partners. Chris Rothwell, Dynamics Business Group Director at Microsoft, explained that the UK launch of Business Central holds great potential for Microsoft, Dynamics partners and their customers:
“This is our shared opportunity. An opportunity for you as our partners to meet customer needs and business requirements, and to enable a shift within your customer base.”
The shift intended here is to help on-premise ERP clients move to SaaS ERP in the cloud. Whereas Dynamics GP and NAV provides a high-quality on-premise ERP experience, Microsoft and partners alike are keen to support their customers in moving to the cloud. And Business Central can provide exactly this high-quality integrated ERP experience customers receive from Dynamics – but in the cloud.
Integration, AI and Accountancy
A principal advantage of the Business Central cloud ecosystem is its unrivalled integration. Which other ERP can you name that integrates as seamlessly as Business Central does with Microsoft tools? Business Central connects not only with Dynamics 365 but with Office 365, Flow (a workflow app that works across Office 365, Dynamics 365 and many popular cloud Apps) and Power BI (for data visualisation and reporting). Plus, being in the cloud means it can run on all devices, from desktop and laptop to mobile and tablet.
What makes Business Central truly intelligent, though, is its AI capabilities. Jannik Bausager, Principal Program Manager for Dynamics 365 Business Central, revealed that Microsoft has been gradually bringing more and more AI capabilities into the product.
These AI benefits are particularly powerful for accountants using the solution. Businesses will be able to make vital decisions based on cash flow predictions and inventory forecasts on their integrated Power BI dashboard in Business Central. And a Making Tax Digital functionality for Business Central is also reported to be in the works to dovetail with timings from HMRC.
All in all, this was an incredibly insightful event from a Dynamics partner perspective. The potential of Business Central and the cloud to drive growth for businesses in the UK and all over the world is significant. But, as Satya Nadella himself said at Microsoft Inspire last year, “our success is in our customers’ success”.
At City Dynamics, we aim to embrace this philosophy every day. If you want to find out more about how Dynamics can support business transformation and moving your financial system to the cloud, contact us today.