The introduction of microprocessor-based computers dragged through the 1970s until a small software company introduced the first spreadsheet program, a visible calculator that could be run on these small machines.
Suddenly, regular people found real usefulness in what came to be known as “personal computers.” VisiCalc is widely credited with launching the personal computer explosion because it was one of the few software applications available to run on the IBM PC in 1981.
It is said that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” After almost forty years of constant, rapid, tremendous change in the information technology (IT) industry, one thing that has remained the same is the core importance of software applications. Every advance in processor development, clock speed, storage density, operating system sophistication and networking has one common goal — to run software applications more efficiently and more effectively to deliver the best user experience possible.
Starting near the end of 2000, Microsoft acquired four accounting software program developers — Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Axapta — bringing them together to form the new Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS).
Later they would call the series Microsoft Dynamics, with the four enterprise resource planning (ERP) products renamed as:
Each targeted a progressively larger customer. Microsoft Dynamics CRM would soon be added to provide customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities.
At launch, all Dynamics software solutions were installed on servers located at the customer’s premises. As interest in the cloud grew, Microsoft Partners and customers started asking for an online version of the applications. In 2011, Microsoft introduced the online version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online before distributing media for the on-premise version, marking the beginning of a Dynamics march toward the cloud.
At the end of 2016, Microsoft introduced Dynamics 365, calling it “the next generation of intelligent business applications in the cloud. Dynamics 365 unifies CRM and ERP capabilities by delivering new purpose-built applications to help manage specific business functions, including:
Designed to be personalized, enable greater productivity, deliver deeper insights and adapt to business needs, Dynamics 365 applications help businesses accelerate digital transformation to meet the changing needs of customers and capture the new business opportunities of tomorrow.”
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is available in two versions. The Enterprise edition incorporates the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Dynamics AX and is meant for environments of 250 or more users.
Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs), or those considering becoming a Microsoft CSP will want to pay special attention to the Business edition, designed for environments with fewer than 250 users. The Licensing Guide for the Business Edition of Microsoft Dynamics 365 highlights several key values:
While the Enterprise edition is available for purchase via Enterprise Agreement (EA), Microsoft Products & Services Agreement (MPSA), Microsoft Online Services Portal (MOSP) and CSP, the Business edition, is only available through CSPs.
For those CSPs concerned about not having accounting expertise, it should be remembered that partner-to-partner partnering is a cornerstone of the Microsoft Partner Network’s (MPN) strength. This is also a great opportunity to combine your own intellectual property with Dynamics 365 to create customized software solutions that respond very specifically to customer requirements.