Recap of Directions 2016 – Figuring It Out

Overview
This is a recap of my experience at Directions US 2016.

NAV Directions is an event hosted by NAV partners for NAV partners. In reality, it’s just a large Microsoft infomercial for partners. Microsoft has giving us what’s to come and the directions (pun?) they’re taking with the future of business software.

Welcome to Directions 2016: Figuring Sh*t Out
The NAV Directions committee should’ve created an appropriate name for this year’s event. The conference featured a lot of cool stuff, but also a lot of questions surrounding its details.

The event highlighted what Microsoft is currently doing as well as where they’re going with the product and the product ecosystem. However, a lot of what they’ve released to do seemed half-baked and left all of us wondering not only when Microsoft will be figuring their stuff out, but how will partners try to figure out what Microsoft is still trying to figure out so they can figure out what to do.

Important Takeaways
AppSource
In case you have not heard of it by now, Appsource is the way of the future that allows all developers to publish their mods for sale on Appsource. This is a welcomed news for independent developers as they can now sell their mods for the general public. It’s good for customers as well; Microsoft has indicated that they will “let the market decide” the pricing and the apps that are popular. Hopefully, we will see an end to outrageously expensive add-ons that are on the NAV channel.

Pros:
– Anyone and their moms and publish apps on the Appsource
– way to quickly get your mod out into the world without doing too much marketing.

Cons:
– You can have people that have no business doing NAV publishing crap on Appsource.
– No monetization?! It’s not a market if you can’t sell anything. Microsoft is still trying to figure this one out.

Extensions
It’s the way of the future. Microsoft has open encouraged all partners to develop their mods on Extensions. I will make a quick video on how to create an extension in a future blog post.

Pros:
– You can deploy it on multiple sites easily quickly
– Deploy it on Appsource for sale to customers that you would never otherwise talk to
Cons:
– Debugging, no one can see the source code. You can easily see the problem here in that users can be held hostage by the app developer for their financial data (this is not Angry Birds we’re talking about here).
– Still a ton of questions on flexibility of extensions. Microsoft and partners are still trying to figure this one out

Dynamics 365
The initial release will be called Dynamics 365 for Financials. It’s built on a Dynamics NAV 2017 platform. It will be part of the Office 365 offering at around $40 – $50 per user per month. The target for this product, as it stands, will be to replace Quickbooks Pro users. Later on, they will release (or unlock) more functionalities.

Pros:
– Appsource. You will get a wide varieties of add-ons that you can quickly buy and deploy.
– It’s cheap and packs the power of Dynamics NAV.
Cons:
– Frankly, I don’t even know who my clients buy their Office 365 from. How will NAV partners compete in this space? How will the NAV pros help in this sector? Perhaps the product will be so easy to use that you will not need a professional to help you. Still trying to figure out how to incorporate this as a VAR.

Conclusion
After leaving this event, I left with more questions and uncertainty than I came in with. It’ll be interesting on how it will all shake out.
  1. Alexander Ermakov

    Indeed I had the same feeling. Also, after release of NAV 2017 it looks like NAV still will be available on-premise for (some?) years, as the demand for complete cloud solutions for our customers is still very low…

  2. Great recap, and indeed … for me it’s also more questions than answers. Specifically about the non defined “new” business models with app source but also CSP seems to be still a “mess” where even the distribution partners have not a clue so far.

    Further on NAV 2017 (released for GA on Oct. 24) is still there but the impression was that’s more important to stick to the D365 business in future. But we should not forget: There is still a bread and butter business and we have tons of customers on old versions to be updated / upgraded …
    The article mentioned “half backed” … this is exactly the right terminus. Microsoft knows the true story behind and I was wondering why they didn’t tell us … more.
    Looking forward to the Directions EMEA now and will see if there are any other takeaways or not … tbd.
    Thanks to the US org team for the event. All in all it was a great event … but the future of this event might also look like different…

  3. David Machanick

    The debugger will show extension code, which means code coverage may show it as well. Code coverage was re-introduced in NAV 2016 as a program you run from the user client.
    I thought it would be highly restrictive on who could develop and have to pass stringent testing and support requirements.
    I am guessing outfits like CDW, Dell, and Ingram will handle sales – though it makes more sense for Microsoft to sell it direct.
    Just think of how little money you will make selling a 5 user system – $50 per month. It will have to be done in volume through a web page.

  4. The problem is even if you found a bug through the debugger, there’s really nothing you can do about it other than to contact with the original developer.

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