Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The future of Dynamics AX?

As I am getting ready for my vacation later this week I decided to invest a bit of time starting up my blog again.

For those who may have read some of my previuos blog posts through my employment at Microsoft, TIA and ScanJour, this time around I will try to take a broader and more personal approach to blogging.

Although I am now in a position as Head of Product Development at EG A/S this blog will represent my personal opinions and viewpoints. I will still try concentrate on the professional aspects of my job and life (all the rest I guess is more appropriate for Facebook...)

For this first post I am asking a fairly broad question which I think is highly interesting these days. I will not claim to know a lot about all of the ERP's of this world, my primary experience being with Dynamics AX. However, I do think the future of Dynamics AX the coming few years are about to change significantly. Obviuosly - it's hard to try predict the future. Accidently, I stumbled across an artice from 2009, which claimed that the traditional ERP approach is dead (

For all of us working with ERP, we know the last 4 years have shown that it was hardly the truth - so what will be different the next 4 years? Well, I do not believe ERP will be dead, but I do believe the business model around implementing and deploying ERP systems will change significantly. I have three claims which I believe support this,

First claim: Customization is going away

Ouch - being employed at a company which makes it's living partly by implementing and customizing ERP's this is a tough thing to realize. And of course this will not happen tomorrow. But it is my true believe that the level of customization which have happened to ERP's such as Dynamics AX over the last decade will vanish during the next decade.

  • Standardization
    Dynamics AX now contains so much functionality that enough is enough. Most companies could choose to "live" with the standard solution and instead get the benefits of continuous improvements without the upgrade nightmare.
  • Accessibility
    In order for the systems to be accessible across geographies and different user groups (roles) the architecture of Dynamics AX need to be changed drastically. The three-tier architecture implemented in the beginning of the 00's is not how you would do it today. The best way to achieve this is making the functionality available through a thin client web based experience. The optimal way to achieve this is a cloud based deployment. Microsoft is probably working on this already, and it will mean a lot to the customization capabilities of the solution (as in "they will not be there")
  • Competencies
    It is my impression that the average age of people working with Dynamics AX implementations are increasing. Or in other words, those who have worked with this product since we invented it in the mid 90's will continue, but what is the incentive for young people to enter the business? I predict that there will be a significant lack of AX skilled resources in the near future. Simply because the original technology of AX is begining to show sign of age.
  • Cost reductions
    Companies are beginning to realize that having their own iron in the basement and the people above them to service it may not be sufficiently cost efficient. Especially in the mid-market it is problematic for companies to keep staff with the competencies needed to support the traditional on-premise solutions. Thus, solutions will slowly move to the cloud.
  • Upgrades are becoming too costly
    As Microsoft continues to speed up the release cycles and amount of innovation put into the solution, it's getting harder and harder to keep up for partners and customers. The trick will be to isolate customizations as much as possible from the standard solution in order to upgrade them swiftly at a low cost. This means customizations will gradually change into add-on integrations instead only leveraging (more stable) API's.
To be continued in following posts...
Second claim: All-in-one (single instance) is NOT the future
Third claim: Users expect more