Recap of Directions US 2010 for Dynamics NAV (Navision)

This is an overview of my experiences at Directions US 2010. Again, Directions US 2010 is THE place to be at if you’re interested in learning any new for Dynamics NAV (Navision).

The biggest difference that I noticed on this conference is Microsoft’s presence. But the biggest presence is not about showcasing the latest technology, or talk about how good the product is. Rather, it’s open forum where you can meet and interact with the product team, managers, AND executives! I have to say that I’ve never attended a Microsoft conference where you can so freely interact with all levels of the NAV team. We get to hear opportunities and concerns from all levels in the NAV organization; which is pretty cool!

KeyNote:
Let’s start with the Keynote. As may of you may know from my last blog post at Directions, I got in trouble because I posted some numbers that were not meant for the general public. So this year, they were a little more careful abour releasing the numbers. Here are the key points on Dynamics NAV:

– Dynamics NAV is the #1 Revenue generator for the Dynamics product family
– It has the largest presence for ERP partners on the Partner Network
– Despit the economic downturn, the growth of NAV has been on a steady increase!

The last point just blew my mind! Even in an economic downturn, companies are still investing in ERP software, and more specifically, into NAV. Not just that, NAV grew in the economic downturn! This just shows you what a great product Dynamics NAV is and how good the parnter network that stands behind it is.

One other huge point is that Kirill (the head guy for Dynamics) is not under the business solution division anymore. He now reports directly to Steve Ballmer (the head of Microsft). This means that the Dynamics business is now significant enough that now warrants Steve Ballmer’s direct attention.

Product:
The demo on Dynamics NAV 2009 R2 has been showcased. There are couple of interesting things:

– Visual representation of data – The demo they showed is the new Item Availibity screen. It’s a visual representation on the stock level. You can click the chart and have the system generate a new purchase order based on the user input. In addition, this screen now takes into account forecast as well!

– RTC (Role Tailor Client) over the WAN – With R2, the users can now use the RTC over the WAN. This means that you can have remote offices and sales people take advantage of the the full functionalities of the RTC without the limitations of using remote desktop and/or terminal server.
There was an image of Dan Brown using the FULL RTC on an airplane 38,000 feet above ground.

– Most of the add-ins in the demo video are now in the base R2 product. Frankly, this should’ve been in there in SP1.

Interesting ISV:

Jet Reports – They’re an adhoc reporting tool using Excel. The Jet 2010 product has been greatly enhanced and there are a lot more templates and a easier user interface to start using the product. Some may even make the case that you don’t need to be good in Excel anymore to create nice reports in Jet. Comes with some very nice standard reports.

Centerline Pivotier – They’re a reporting tool as well. However, their approach is very different from Jet Reports. Their approach is to leverage the existing Microsoft product in SQL (that you already own and use) to generate nice reports. This product is a little more techincal, but easy enough to train end users. Also comes with some very nice standard reports.

Software-as-service (SaaS) companies – The whole concept of going to Cloud Computing. Believe it or not, NAV has a cloud model. And some of these SaaS companies that have booths at Directions are showing how it can be done.

Session of the Conference:
I have to say the sessions I enjoyed the most are the interactions with all levels of the Dynamics NAV team. From product managers to executives. It’s very valuable that they ARE taking into account on what we are saying about the product and ARE putting our input into releases.

I also got answers on why the tougher new MPN requirements. As a small partner, it seems that they’re trying to get rid of me, along with other smaller partners that has really been the lifeblood of why NAV was successful int eh first place. However, upon getting into a deeper conversation with an executive, I now fully understand why (my next blog topic).

Interesting Note:
I got more than a few people coming up to me. Not because they saw my blog or saw my posting on mibuso or dynamicsuser.net. They know me because because I was the “dissonant” voice in these Microsoft sessions. I spoke what, in their opinion, needed to be said. I guess when you’re really passionate about something, you fight tooth and nail to preserve it. Or make it better.

  1. Good summary – I might add one thing that really stuck out for me: the lack of RTC based development and solutions.

    I really had not thought about it for the last year, but when discussion some ideas with a co-worker, they asked the question; “Will all of this work with older versions?” My answer was, “No.” Somehow I felt guilty saying this – like I was leaving out the customers who had not yet upgraded.

    And then my brain kicked in.

    Aren’t we trying to sell customers on why RTC is good for them? How can we, if we as solution centers keep putting our ideas on the same technical level as we have for the last 15 years! I did not see a single ISV offering a Role Tailored only solution (I did not look very hard – I just know most of the ISV’s). This means no web services, no built-in visual elements, more difficult and less dynamic forms, no graphs (easily), no … no … no technology unless it was available in 1995.

    So in short – a good addition for me was time I spent really in depth with some knowledgable people getting into what I can really do with the RTC. Things I already “knew” but had not put in terms of how it can help my customers.

  2. I totally agree. A lot of people asked “what were the new releases announced at Directions?” From all the blogs and review, the universal response was: not much more new things are going on.

    However, I do think we’re just beginning to scratch the capabilities of what RTC can do and how it can translate to end users. Right now, the partners are just shown a lot of things that CAN be used, but partners (like me) just don’t know how to translate those benefits into real value for customers yet. Of course, as I mentioned before, more examples from Microsoft would help.

  3. David Machanick

    The labs were a good start. Microsoft should turn them into downloadable self-study courses.
    Navision also needs to look at the amount of effort required to develop for RTC, and get it back to the simplicity of Classic.
    As far as ISV solutions go, it is sad to see how some ISVs are still pushing solutions they developed with message queues and NAS when they could have migrated them to using web calls and the application tier.

  4. NAV was an application for business users to business users. It was designed initially for non-technical consultants to translate the business logic for end users.

    At certain point, NAV has turned into more of a techie software. However, the core base of NAV people are still not hard-core techs.

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