Using Dynamics 365 to accelerate business transformation

Organisations are implementing Dynamics 365 alongside Microsoft’s new Industry Clouds to transform customer experiences, create resilient supply chains and pursue sustainable operations. Corporate vice president of Dynamics 365 Muhammad Alam tells us more

Elly Yates-Roberts
By Elly Yates-Roberts on 11 October 2021
Using Dynamics 365 to accelerate business transformation
Microsoft

Among the biggest news to come out of Microsoft’s Redmond campus this past year was the launch of its new Industry Clouds. Muhammad Alam, corporate vice president of Dynamics 365, says these new platforms have been created to give businesses an end-to-end service that encompasses transformation at the infrastructure, data and artificial intelligence layer, through to productivity and business process software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, all tailored to the specific needs of each industry. And Dynamics 365 integrates directly with this offering. 

“Along with Azure, Power Platform, Microsoft 365 and Teams, Dynamics 365 plays a critical part in the transformation of these industries by providing a base of front- and back-office capabilities that are uniquely enhanced for each vertical,” he says. “In Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare and Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, our Dynamics 365 customer engagement applications – along with components built on top of Power Apps – create a set of complete, relevant experiences for our customers in those industries.

“Going forward you can expect Microsoft to continue to bring more industry solutions to the market. Dynamics 365 will be an integral ingredient in powering the SaaS business application layer of those solutions, helping our customers get started quickly in the transformation.”

In many cases, digital transformation initiatives have been accelerated by the pandemic.

“We have seen customers drive their digital commerce plans in a big way across all industries,” says Alam. “Retail customers have adopted new models such as curb-side pick-up, businesses have invested in technology to enable more engagement and real-time connections with their own clients and prospects, and we have seen a lot of organisations accelerate their adoption of mixed reality applications such as Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Guides to help operate in a virtual and socially distanced environment. This rapid adoption of Microsoft technologies powering business transformation took place within a matter of months in some cases, where the original plans were multi-year adoption.”

Many regions are now seeing an easing of pandemic-related restrictions and organisations are looking to the adoption of new technologies to restructure their businesses and rebuild trading positions. According to Alam, the accelerated adoption of technology is showing no signs of slowing down. He highlights two specific areas where change is prevalent: customer experience and creating resilient and responsible supply chains.

“Most businesses are looking to fundamentally transform how they think of their customer experience,” says Alam. “They’re moving towards a more holistic and intelligent set of solutions that allow them to truly understand their customers wherever they are and engage them in an immersive and personalised way at the channel of their choice.”

And Dynamics 365 is part of this. “Dynamics 365 Customer Insights helps organisations accomplish this goal by bringing massive amounts of siloed data into a single store, unifying profiles across customers and then, through AI, determining a much deeper understanding of their behaviours and preferences,” he explains. “Once you know your customer, you need to engage with them, and this is where Customer Journey Orchestration capabilities that we launched with Dynamics 365 Marketing is resonating really well. It allows businesses to reach out to their customers in a real-time, event-driven and hyper-personalised manner.”

In addition to changing attitudes towards customer experiences, the need for resilient supply chains is greater than ever before. The pandemic has exposed the fragility and inefficiencies in all kinds of supply chains. “Hence, we are seeing a dramatic increase in organisations wanting better visibility across their supply chains,” says Alam. “Businesses want to be able to plan in a more real-time and agile way for unforeseen events.”

But this goes beyond resiliency. “Organisations are also now prioritising sustainability,” he adds. “We recently announced Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability that is in direct response to this acute and growing need of our customers to be able to better track and report their emissions and then undertake initiatives to reduce and remove their emissions to become a more responsible organisation. That’s what their customers are demanding of them, and that’s the need we are working to address.”

According to Accenture, 94 per cent of top CEOs cite sustainability as important or very important to the future success of their businesses. “The world faces an urgent need to dramatically reduce its carbon consumption,” says Alam. “Organisations need to be able to record their environmental footprint, report to stakeholders, reduce their resource usage, remove their footprint through carbon offsets or recycling, and replace high-footprint resources with low-footprint ones.

“With the Cloud for Sustainability, we’re creating a whole new category, going beyond capturing data to helping customers aggregate sustainability data in an actionable way. It includes SaaS offerings that can discover and connect to real-time data sources, accelerate data integration and reporting, provide accurate carbon accounting, measure performance against goals and enable intelligent insights for organisations to take more effective action.”

The cloud also integrates with Dynamics 365 to allow users to bring in real-time data from the supply chain and other operations for further real-time insights.

But Microsoft is not working alone to deliver new opportunities to its customers. “Partners are an immensely critical part of our strategy and value proposition,” says Alam. “No business on the planet can ever realistically claim to provide complete solutions for any single customer, let alone any single industry. That’s where a robust, healthy and growing partner ecosystem comes in.

“Partners help us provide solutions and capabilities that build upon the Microsoft cloud to provide the last mile specificity to unique customer and industry needs. Our apps and our platform enable independent software vendors (ISVs) to build solutions in a way that maintains the SaaS promise we make to our customers yet provides out-of-the-box capabilities that customers need so that customisation can be reduced as much as possible.”

Microsoft continues to foster this collaboration to ensure the end-consumer has the best tools for the job. “We take supporting our partners very seriously at Microsoft and have ISV programmes as well as FastTrack programmes that are specifically designed to keep our ISVs very close to our engineering teams from a product roadmap and technical architecture perspective, as well as advise our consulting partners on best, most efficient ways of deploying our solutions.”

Partner perspectives 
We asked a selection of Microsoft partners how they are building on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform to bring value to their customers and address business challenges. Below are extracts from their responses, which you can read in full from page 64 of the digital edition of the Autumn 2021 issue of Technology Record.

Steve Farr, vice president of solutions and marketing at Experian Data Quality, said: “Our strategic focus is to improve the data flowing through and around enterprise applications.”

Mike Rogers, private sector commercial director at Formpipe, said: “Extending the Dynamics platform has been a key goal of Formpipe for 10 years now.”

Sanjay Parthasarathy, chief product officer of Avalara, said: “The Dynamics 365 platform and ecosystem provide Avalara with a solid foundation to seamlessly integrate our global compliance solutions to deliver a unified experience to customers.”

Johannes Linder, lead technical evangelist at dox42, said: “dox42 is a one-for-all software to automate documents that use data from Dynamics 365, SharePoint, Teams and other systems.”

Eric Blanchet, chief technology officer of Verosoft Design, said: “Our decision to base TAG’s maintenance management software architecture on Dynamics 365 was an easy one, as Dynamics offers rich functionality and capabilities, as well as flexibility, ease, speed of deployment and a competitive pricing structure, all of which are perfectly suited to our users’ needs and expectations.”

Joachim Schiermacher, CEO of ClickLearn, said: “ClickLearn ensures adoption by providing in-app guidance as well as training materials and documentation in seven formats to address the different learning contexts of Dynamics users.”

Alyssa Putzer, marketing communications specialist at Metafile Information Systems, said: “MetaViewer tightly integrates with Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations in order to provide customers with intelligent technology and scalability that allows businesses to grow at their own pace.”

Jonathan Paul, director of content and communications at Vena, said: “Vena is built on the Microsoft 365 platform with integration into Dynamics 365, letting users seamlessly secure, store and share data across the business, creating stronger connections between people and empowering business plans for future success.”

Jason Read, chief strategy officer at Versapay, said: “Versapay is supporting the Dynamics 365 ecosystem with this critical business function, providing AR automation including collections, cash applications and payments solutions to empower businesses that depend on Microsoft and its partners.”

Jan Arendtsz, founder and CEO of Celigo, said: “By natively supporting Dynamics, we provide the infrastructure to quickly integrate Dynamics to third party applications, with development tools and pre-built integration templates with embedded business logic to accelerate the time to integration.”

Michel Delvaux, senior marketing consultant at Ferranti for MECOMS, said: “Dynamics 365 allows us to offer high reliability to our customers and the ability to adapt quickly to changing market demands.”

Lax Gopisetty, vice president of Microsoft business applications practice at Infosys, said: “Infosys’ Microsoft Business Application Services Practice enables enterprises to become resilient by building intelligent business operations on Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.”

Michael Medipor, CEO and president of SignUp Software North America, said: “As ExFlow AP Automation is embedded into Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations and Dynamics 365 Business Central, we extend on standard Microsoft functionality at our very core.”

Arun Raghavan, product manager principal at Vertex, said: “. Vertex’s seamless integration to Dynamics 365 improves accuracy and reduces audit risk by using the latest product taxability rules.”

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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