ORLANDO, Fla., March 12 /-/ -- Microsoft Corp. kicks off Convergence 2008, the semiannual Microsoft Dynamics users' conference, today with keynote addresses by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Microsoft Business Solutions Corporate Vice President Kirill Tatarinov, demonstrating how the company is delivering customer-driven advancements across its business software.
Ballmer and Tatarinov will preview -- to more than 10,000 customers and partners -- powerful new people-ready innovations across the Microsoft Dynamics products, address the power of choice through software and services demonstrations, share new research techniques that are helping Microsoft continue to lead in software usability, and introduce enhanced integration with online payment services and marketplaces.
The executives will also announce an expansion of Microsoft's long-term alliance with EDS, a leading global technology services company, to extend Microsoft Dynamics CRM further into the call centers of midmarket and enterprise companies. EDS is incorporating Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a key offering in its global CRM practice. The expanded alliance includes joint solution development, marketing and sales.
"Microsoft Office-like usability, business process agility and a modern, service-oriented architecture platform are among the core strengths of the product that solidified EDS' decision to grow its offerings around Microsoft Dynamics CRM," said Sean Finnan, global vice president of CRM Services at EDS. "With this expansion, we will provide great value and choice to customers whether they deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM on-premise or utilize EDS hosting and business process outsourcing services. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform will modernize EDS CRM solutions and underpin a new set of industry-specific offerings."
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Preview
Convergence attendees will get a sneak peek into powerful new capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 (code-named "AX '5.0'"), scheduled for release in the first half of 2008. It is the latest release in a strong portfolio of Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions for midmarket customers that includes Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics SL.
The new release will dramatically sharpen businesses' ability to manage their compliance obligations, and allow them to streamline their processes and facilitate work across geographically scattered employees, a growing imperative in today's communications-intensive global workplace. Underscoring Microsoft's unique customer-driven design approach to its business software, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 enables customers to benefit from the following:
-- Compliance Center, a one-stop shop for compliance-related information
-- Integrated Workflow Framework, which improves the agility and
flexibility of business processes
-- Enhanced global capabilities, such as support for multiple languages,
sites, time zones and shared-service scenarios. International
businesses will benefit from real-time visibility into daily
operations, including supply chain and inventory, as well as order and
fulfillment management, of all locations worldwide.
-- Integration of Microsoft unified communications platform to enable
real-time communication and collaboration within Microsoft Dynamics
Desirable RoleTailored Design
According to industry analysts, ease of use remains a leading concern for organizations deploying ERP systems. And yet most companies focus on usefulness and usability instead of exploring the impact of desirability and relevance on productivity. The Microsoft Dynamics user experience team, in collaboration with students at the IT University of Copenhagen, initiated "Desirability Studies" and created the "Feel IT" methodology to explore customers' reactions to software design.
A key element of Microsoft's approach to software design is the concept of RoleTailored experiences in its family of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ERP applications. Rather than forcing customers to conform to generic templates, Microsoft Dynamics applications are designed to cut through the clutter to deliver information relevant to each employee's specific functional roles.
Accordingly, the upcoming version of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 features more than 30 Role Centers, including two Executive Role Centers. Executives can see, in real time, how compliance issues are tracking against key performance indicators, drill down into specific areas for a deeper dive, get ahead of issues early on to take corrective action, and drive timely, informed decision-making.
Not only are Microsoft Dynamics product teams using the aforementioned research to shape future products, they are soliciting user feedback directly with Microsoft Connect. This new online, interactive portal enables users to submit suggestions and feedback directly to the product development team and vote on features that others have submitted, and users are guaranteed a response to their online submissions.
Flexibility and Choice
Microsoft Dynamics customers can choose between the rapid scalability, low upfront cost and quick setup of hosted offerings that deliver business processes over the Internet or the control of on-premise software that runs behind the company's firewall. Alternatively, they can use a hybrid approach to deliver the optimal deployment of business processes that meet their needs.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides deployment choice of on-premise, partner-hosted and Microsoft-hosted on-demand offerings. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live is planned to be broadly accessible in the spring of 2008, offering a subscription-based on-demand service, managed from secure Microsoft datacenters. The single, multitenanted code base of Microsoft Dynamics CRM enables businesses to switch seamlessly between on-premise and on-demand models as their IT and business needs dictate.
"We're migrating from Salesforce.com because we saw greater structural capabilities and significant process improvements in Microsoft Dynamics CRM," said James E. Soto, president of Industrial Strength Marketing Inc. "With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we'll be able to launch our new Web development initiative and, with the familiar Microsoft Outlook interface, watch our training costs go down."
Extending the power of choice, Microsoft is introducing the first of a series of rich online services that extends existing Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ERP applications to the Web as online solutions. Initial offerings include the following:
-- Payment service. Industry-leading fraud prevention technology from
PayPal and Chase Paymentech Solutions, for those using credit cards
-- Marketplace service. Seamless integration with eBay allows customers to
easily sell their products on eBay as well as through their own Web
stores and offline channels
-- Keyword marketing service. Comprehensive campaign tracking and
management for search engine marketing
Designed for Growing Businesses
Microsoft announced a new set of tools -- a combination of software and best-practice services -- to help companies that have outgrown their QuickBooks software move to Microsoft Dynamics GP. These tools make it easy for customers to migrate quickly and affordably by simplifying data migration, installation and training.
Microsoft Dynamics will also be key add-in applications manageable within the administration console of Windows Essential Business Server 2008, Microsoft's integrated server infrastructure solution designed and priced for the unique needs of midsize organizations.
About Microsoft Dynamics
Microsoft Dynamics is a line of financial, customer relationship and supply chain management solutions that helps businesses work more effectively. Delivered through a network of channel partners providing specialized services, these integrated, adaptable business management solutions work like and with familiar Microsoft software to streamline processes across an entire business.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.