WPC 2016 Recap - Dynamics 365, Technology Highlights, and More

This year’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2016 in Toronto was full of opportunities to connect, learn, network and be inspired.  Our favorite part of WPC is always sitting down with our partners, and discussing how we can help them impact the customers and communities they serve.  This year, we joined (at least) 16,000 of our Microsoft friends to engage with Microsoft and learn their biggest priorities for the upcoming year. 

WPC 2016 - Welcome Partners

The central theme for WPC 2016 and into Microsoft’s Fiscal Year 2017 is Digital Transformation and the fact that every business must become a digital business. Modernization of ERP and CRM was a major focus among WPC topics, and with that, we wanted to recap some of the notable technology and innovations shared:

Dynamics 365

One of the primary focuses of WPC was to reinvent productivity and business processes – really driving to answer the question, “How can we transform how work is done?”  Today most people work in several applications to stitch together what they do using their business applications and collaboration tools, and via their professional network.  Dynamics 365, which Microsoft is aiming to release this fall, will bring together what has formerly been Microsoft Dynamics CRM, field service, project service, financial and collaboration software in the cloud as a more intelligent experience. 

Image from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY1rgWoR72M.

Image from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY1rgWoR72M.

Dynamics 365 will be available for purchase via business applications by role and via plans and there will also be a couple editions available.  Up to this point, we’ve seen what’s been in preview as Project Madeira, which will be a part of the Dynamics 365 Business Edition.  In his keynote, Satya Nadella highlighted that what is most transformative is that the data—everything from leads, orders, shipment, field service—is in the cloud, exposed to extend.  This, of course, provides a lot of opportunity from an automation and integration perspective, which we are excited about.

HoloLens and Augmented Reality

If you haven’t seen HoloLens, you should.  Though it’s not a technology that we focus on at eOne Solutions, it’s a pretty fascinating product and seems like it has the potential to impact a lot of different scenarios.  Microsoft HoloLens is a headset that allows you to view and leverage digital information and images—really providing a “mixed reality” being able to access scenarios and Microsoft technology.  General Manager, Lorraine Bardeen demonstrated how Japan Airlines is using this technology to train engineers both to be able to work in detail with airline engines and access productivity tools (Microsoft Office 365) in the same session.

WPC 2016 HoloLens Japan Airlines

Azure and the Intelligent Cloud

Microsoft Azure is the only hyper-scalable computing platform across the globe and differentiates in its hybrid capabilities, level of trust (aka security, privacy and compliance) and the productivity gain it allows.  As momentum continues to grow in the cloud, Microsoft noted that they see an average of 120,000 new subscriptions of Azure per month and during the conference, also announced the general availability of Azure SQL Data Warehouse.  This will provide real-time analytics for all your data—unstructured and structured — and if you’ve used BI solutions like Qlik or Tableau, this is something to keep an eye on.  In an interview with Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, he highlighted that the power of Azure has allowed GE to globalize quickly and to build platform on platform—definitely one of the primary reasons we’ve chosen Azure as the platform on which we’ll deliver a fully-hosted SAAS-based SmartConnect.  Watch for more details from us at our upcoming fall events.

WPC 2016 Satya

The next phase of the Cortana Intelligence Suite

Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Bots are areas Microsoft is investing heavily in. With the next phase of the Cortana Intelligence Suite, Microsoft strongly encouraged adoption of cognitive capability in application and highlighted 22 cognitive service API’s that allow for infusing speech, computer vision, and natural language. One example Satya shared was how Microsoft is working with McDonalds to improve the efficiency of the drive through. Through the app developed, they were able to refine the experience of the interaction with the McDonald’s employee to incorporate the natural ambiance of ordering your cheeseburger—voice inflection, background noises and all, using bot technology. For a different example, Nadella asked Cortana for details about an upcoming sales meeting where the sales assistant pulled in information from CRM as well as from LinkedIn profiles.

Cortana sales forecast

Enabling “Conversations as a platform” with Cortana and the Microsoft Bot Framework makes it possible for businesses to use computers to understand and respond appropriately as people interact with them.  Specifically, Microsoft is making strong bets around chatbots making notes in their investments around Skype, Facebook and Slack.

WPC 2016 - Onto the MTCC

Looking forward

Of these technology announcements, Dynamics 365 will certainly have a significant impact on the conversation it drives around the Microsoft story.  ERP, CRM and ensuring those systems are connected will be a more prominent part of the conversation in the way we’ve seen previously with Office 365 and from a CRM perspective, giving people the option to purchase by business role makes a lot of sense. Implementing sales, service, marketing, field service, etc. is usually a phased approach. Right now the Dynamics 365 Business Edition (what we know as Project Madeira) is in preview in both the United States and Canada, and we’ll look forward to more clarification as Microsoft rolls out information around pricing, partner enablement, and their new common data model.

Especially as the offering around the small and mid-market evolves, we look forward to continuing the conversations with our partners and discussing our plans in the Microsoft channel around Dynamics 365, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV, and Project Madeira.  Here are a few opportunities where you’ll be able to connect in-person with eOne Solutions this fall:

As always, let us know if you’ll be at any of the events listed above and what we can do to better partner with you! We look forward to another successful fiscal year!