We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in April 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold. With no sign of that rapid pace of change abating, Microsoft and its partners continue to help customers adapt to meet the challenges of an unprecedented business landscape.
For many organisations, Microsoft Dynamics is at the centre of such change. “Sales organisations across industries are leveraging our customer engagement applications to create more cohesive and streamlined customer journeys, as well as rapidly shift to 100 per cent digital selling models and deploy solutions for remote workforces,” says Muhammad Alam, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Accountancy firm Grant Thornton, for example, has been able to move to a remote selling model and keep sales teams connected with customers. Its solution uses the latest artificial intelligence capabilities in Dynamics 365, as well as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Teams and Power BI.
“Service organisations have also turned to Dynamics 365 to quickly create distributed and remote service centres,” says Alam. “These enable them to deliver always-on service, to empower teams with the tools and insight to effectively engage with the customer across any channel, and to provide a personalised response in an expedient fashion.”
Alam and his team are supported by a global network of partners that play a vital role in delivering on Microsoft’s promise of digital transformation and add value to the Dynamics 365 offering.
“Our partner ecosystem is key to our success; if it wasn’t for our partners, we would not have been able to achieve outstanding year-on-year growth rates for our Dynamics 365 applications,” he explains. “While the ecosystem comprises a diverse set of organisations, we have a shared goal to make the digital evolution of our customers real and deliver success.
“Our partners are extremely critical in deploying our products for our customers, and this requires that they are experts in our products and our roadmap. To help them achieve this and get the support they need to enable our shared customers’ success, we have programmes such as FastTrack to provide training and guidance. We also have a new holistic measure of partner impact to ensure that credit is given to partners where it is due.”
Alam also believes that Microsoft’s partners enable the organisation to meet more specific industry needs by incorporating independent software vendor (ISV) solutions.
“We are very fortunate to have a very large and active ISV ecosystem across our product portfolio,” he says. “We see apps coming from different kinds of partners – some completely new to Microsoft’s Business Applications ecosystem, as well as many of our long-standing partners like Seismic, Annata and Flintfox. Software provider Mazik Global, for example, has launched six new products in eight weeks, and recently deployed its MazikCare Covid-19 Screening app, using a combination of Microsoft Power Apps, Dynamics 365 and Azure.”
In the 2020 financial year, Microsoft Dynamics revenue surpassed $3 billion, with over 60 per cent from Dynamics 365. More than 4,500 organisations now use Dynamics 365 Commerce, Finance and Supply Chain Management, making it one of the fastest growing software-as-a-service solutions. But Microsoft is not resting on its laurels; it continues to make improvements to better meet the needs of Dynamics users.
An October 2020 update included enhancements to the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Connected Store, which will now offer store traffic and curb-side queue features, increasing shopper safety as stores reopen with Covid-19 precautions. These capabilities help retailers remain below capacity limits, design store layouts so that customers can maintain a safe distance, and improve the curb-side order experience.
Security remains a top priority. New capabilities for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection help protect users – including retailers, public sector entities and credit issuers – and their customers against fraudulent activities.
Microsoft has also introduced new Cloud and Edge Scale Unit add-ins for Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, which Alam says will “bring the power of the intelligent cloud to the edge, to help solve latency and connectivity issues when running operations in remote facilities”. The add-ins allow organisations to run critical warehousing and manufacturing workloads on the edge using Azure stack devices to improve resilience and ensure 24/7 operations, even when temporarily disconnected from the cloud.
“Our focus going forward is to meet the most pressing needs of our customers,” says Alam. “You can expect to see more capabilities from us in helping customers make their supply chain more resilient, in enabling digital selling and digital commerce, and through continued investments across the portfolio.”
This article was originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.
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