Microsoft Dynamics 365: what it is, who it’s for, and why it matters

Written by Giada Pezzini | 05 March 2019

Microsoft Dynamics 365: what it is, who it’s for, and why it matters

In today’s fast-paced retail environment, productivity is critical to success. Yet, too many businesses are still using yesterday’s tools – and unsurprisingly, they are finding it harder and harder to stay on top. Three years ago, Microsoft set out on a mission to increase business agility by reinventing business processes. Enter Microsoft Dynamics 365. The idea was to do away with the siloed, badly integrated business apps most businesses are using, and which kill productivity day in, day out. To make work quicker and more efficient, all these disjointed apps should be united into a single experience. The unified view helps simplify management, cut the time spent looking for data across multiple systems, grant a better overview of the enterprise and its customers, and speed up change and innovation.

The business solution for the modern workplace

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is an intelligent cloud platform that combines all of Microsoft’s most popular and advanced technology, from Azure cloud services, to Office 365, to the Dynamics ERPs, to CRM, AI, Business Intelligence, and more. All of this is offered as a single experience linked by a common data model. Since its release in 2016, Microsoft Dynamics 365 has launched not only a new way to be productive, but also a fresh approach to how business software is sold and consumed. Microsoft Dynamics 365 has brought the ERP to the cloud, and tied it to all the intelligent tools available there: think advanced analytics, Business Intelligence, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence tools. Today, retailers can choose if they want to run their ERP on-premises or in the cloud, and no matter which deployment option they choose, they can tap into the resources that run in the intelligent cloud.

Built for growth and speed

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is built upon the concepts of scalability, enhanced productivity, and intelligence.

Scalability

One of the reasons behind the success of Dynamics 365 is its flexibility. The system is designed as a series of plug-and-play business apps, where you can use only the capabilities you need, when you need them, and pay only for what you require. Then, as you grow and your business needs evolve, you have the option to extend the system. Microsoft AppSource, the official marketplace for Dynamics business apps, lists hundreds of vertical and horizontal extensions and add-ons built by Microsoft partners. Dynamics 365 users can pick and mix the apps that best fit their business needs (for example, if you were a small retailer you would want to extend your ERP with a Point of Sale app like LS Express). And as business processes across all applications are integrated by a Common Data Model, you can add extensions quickly and easily, without any disruption to your business.

Productivity

Dynamics 365 is seamlessly integrated with Microsoft Office 365, PowerBI, Flow, PowerApps, and the Microsoft intelligent cloud. All of these tools now work together in a single environment, accelerating collaboration and speed. Yesterday, a retailer or restaurateur might have had to look for a bill in Outlook, copy it onto an Excel file, compare the information to the one in the ERP, edit the figure if it didn’t match, and then copy the data into another email in Outlook. As a result, a lot of time would be wasted on a simple task. Today, with Dynamics 365, the same business manager can access a sales order inside an email, amend it, and resend it without ever leaving Outlook. As Office 365 is integrated to the Dynamics 365 platform, the intelligent system takes care of finding the sales order in the ERP and making the requested changes. The ability to accomplish daily tasks like these in a single environment saves users a lot of time, and drastically decreases the risk of errors. Dynamics 365 is also accessible on any type of device. This means you can stay productive and engaged with your business, keeping track of orders, approving quotes, and viewing your Power BI dashboards wherever you are, whenever you want.

Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is embedded in the whole Dynamics 365 solution stack. AI enables businesses to transform their data into actionable insights, predict outcomes, and simplify daily tasks. For example, AI tools can be used to forecast delays in deliveries or payments, so a retailer or restaurant manager can better predict and manage cash flow. AI can also improve productivity, for instance with software that understands what you are looking for, and helps you find the information you need quickly and easily. Thanks to machine learning algorithms, these systems also learn from experience, becoming more and more efficient – and indispensable to the bottom line – the longer you use them.

Two versions

The Dynamics 365 ERPs are available in two versions: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, designed for the enterprise market, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, for medium-sized to larger businesses.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations

Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations is the latest incarnation of Microsoft Dynamics AX, and it is generally suited for complex business requirements and global financial management. This is a large, scalable solution which can be customized with a variety of modules. One such module is LS First Hospitality, our powerful food service solution for QSR and fast casual restaurants, which is showcased on AppSource as an extension for Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Dynamics 365 Business Central is the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, one of the most installed mid-market ERP systems in the world. Business Central is available both on-premises and in the cloud as a single product, with the same codebase. The shared codebase also opens the possibility of hybrid implementations, whereby businesses can design their preferred mix of on-premises and cloud-based tools. The hybrid way enables retailers to leverage the benefits of a true cloud solution, while maintaining their current on-premises infrastructure. “The hybrid deployment is a great solution for retailers that want to explore the advantages of the intelligent cloud, while limiting risk and keeping control over their data,” says Martin Kleindl, Product Director at LS Retail. “A retailer might decide to run the system, and maintain their business data, on premises, while leveraging intelligent tools and services in the cloud such as PowerBI, machine learning services, Flow, and more.” The latest version of LS Central (previously known as LS Nav) was released in January 2019.

Moving to a new way of doing business

Business is changing. To keep up, you need to equip yourself with tools that enable you to use the data you collect to understand your customers, get a unified view of your business, and take quick, smart decisions. The Dynamics 365 stack represents a great opportunity for retailers and food service businesses: they can now upgrade to a modern solution which has the same flexibility of use and rich functionality they are used to – and with automatic upgrades, more intelligent tools, and better performance to boot. And with our unified commerce platform LS Central, there is no reason to wait at all!   Are you evaluating Dynamics 365 and need help figuring out if it is the right solution for your business? Then join us at our conference conneXion in Munich, Germany, on April 3-4. You will be able to attend sessions on LS Central and more, get one-on-one demos, and ask all your questions to our retail experts – as well as to the people behind our unified commerce solutions. We hope to see you there!

 

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