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I want to share my thoughts on Dynamics F&SC changes Microsoft announces and on those technologies that will be in demand in the Dynamics world down the road.
But first, a history lesson.
In the early 2000s, Microsoft acquired several ERP products: Solomon (now Dynamics SL), Great Plains (now GP), Axapta (now AX) and Navision (now NAV), and started their own CRM system. These solutions were combined into one product line called Microsoft Dynamics.
After that, Microsoft began to promote and develop more promising ERP systems while simultaneously pushing customers to move to the more promising ERP offerings available in the Dynamics product line.
Generally, Microsoft never keeps secret which way technology will follow. Instead, the company announces in advance and explains in detail where the technology will move in the future.
For example, back in 2003-2005, after Microsoft acquired Navision Axapta, the company announced several massive changes, like moving all documentation to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN), moving AX development to Visual Studio, disabling system code for customizations, and introducing a new development approach via extensions. Back then, it sounded utterly far-fetched.
So, what happened in 2015? Working on one of the Global ISV projects, I got access to the pre-release version of a new product called Microsoft Dynamics AX 7.0. I was surprised to learn that the changes were implemented in the new Dynamics AX version.
Then, in February 2016, a new version of the Dynamics AX solution was publicly released as Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations (now known as Finance and Supply Chain Management), which is widely used and proved the viability of all those vast changes announced 10 years before.
When it comes to the path that Microsoft offers to technology and professionals today, we can either passively observe any changes or actively adapt, follow these changes and learn new things in advance. Hopefully, this information will help me and others prepare and adapt quickly to new realities.
Please keep in mind, I am not the ultimate source of truth. You may see things differently and are welcome to reach out to me with your views; I will read everything and answer whenever possible. Ideas thrive on conflict.
Microsoft has no current plans to sunset Dynamics F&SC. The hundreds of hours you spent learning the standard Dynamics F&SC functionality won’t be lost and will be valuable in future Dynamics implementations.
However, Microsoft announced that the development of modifications and customizations would be gradually moved from Dynamics F&SC to Power Platform. Cloud systems are easier to automatically update and support in case of minimal changes or without modifications. Consequently, new implementations will have less and less X++ customizations, while all needed adaptations will be implemented via Power Platform.
A Power Platform environment is automatically provided for every Dynamics F&SC implementation today. Power Apps may be used for an alternate user interface, while Power Automate may be extensively utilized for business-wide automation and real-time data integrations. This means that the future of a Dynamics F&SC developer lies in Power Platform.
The capabilities of Dynamics F&SC customizations in Power Platform will expand, while the capabilities of X++ customizations will be more restricted. Consequently, in the ideal Microsoft world, all Dynamics F&SC customizations will be moved to Power Platform. I don’t think this will happen shortly, but I fully admit that this is entirely possible one day.
Therefore, the first piece of advice is to learn Power Platform. Not only will this work for developers, but also functional consultants can benefit from the low-code/no-code tools Power Platform offers. Ideally, functional consultants using low code Power Platform capabilities will be able to implement small to medium Dynamics F&SC customizations by themselves. So, learn it.
Another promising area to develop our skills in is Microsoft Dataverse. While Microsoft is limiting access to SQL data and development capabilities, the dual-write infrastructure looks quite interesting from the integration and data exchange standpoint. With the increasing spread of Cloud systems, questions regarding data integration will become more and more relevant. In this case, the capabilities of Microsoft Dataverse with its dual-write possibility will be appealing to clients. Dataverse is also applicable for both developers and functional consultants.
I also can’t imagine this article without a few words regarding machine learning and elements of artificial intelligence (AI). I am sure that there is a great possibility for business applications using these technologies.
IT giants are known to build their businesses on elements of AI. Facebook’s AI analyzes user preferences to give users the content they need. Google’s AI keeps statistics about every user and sends them ads they may be interested in, as do Netflix, Spotify, Yandex and so on.
Artificial intelligence has already been very closely integrated into the development of different user applications. I am confident that it will also be deeply integrated into every aspect of business applications shortly. If you are interested in this technical area, consider studying the Microsoft Azure AI technology and take the certification exam as a first step in this journey.
That’s all that I have for now. Should you have any questions, concerns, compliments, you are welcome to reach out to me.
Pavel Tseranidzi, PMP – F&SC Practice Leader at Enavate – is a seasoned Microsoft Dynamics Expert with more than 15 years of experience in Microsoft Business Applications domain including full cycle of building and implementing Dynamics ISV solutions in different regions all over the globe. Having deep knowledge of full stack of Microsoft Business Applications, his primary focus is on the technical delivery of global Dynamics 365 solutions, exceptional quality technical services for partners and project management processes of Dynamics implementations. You can reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org