This week we've reached an important milestone – disclosure of the details of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 to our technical community. If you’re @ the AX Technical Conference you have a unique opportunity to learn about these details firsthand. I am also happy to share that general availability of this release to our customers and partners is planned for December 1, 2012.
What’s new in R2? We’ve made a significant investment to expand the capability of AX across the application footprint. When I think about the enhancements made in this release, I’ve grouped them into 4 focus areas, which are highlighted below (we'll continue to provide more specifics on each of the areas in subsequent posts on this blog):
- First and foremost, continued investments in new functionality for our focus industries and administrative processes. We are expanding functional capabilities to help customers address business issues, for example:
- Manufacturing - Improve manufacturing operations for process manufacturing. In this release we'll introduce new capability for management of potency, traceability and product batch sequencing to help our process manufacturing customers streamline their operations. Potency management enables management of the concentration of an active ingredient through the entire manufacturing process. In addition, the improvement of traceability where important attributes are generated and captured during the manufacturing process can also be transferred to subsequent lots.
- Retail - Manage your assortments across channels in your retail operations. New multi- and cross-channel capabilities for retail organizations, including catalogue management, cross-channel workflows, and integrated sales channel management will include a new “out of the box” web storefront offering based on the new version of SharePoint 2013 which enables our customers to provide modern and integrated web commerce experience across different devices to their customers and is fully integrated into Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.
- Public Sector - Simplifying the financial budgeting process in public sector organizations. By combining the power of Microsoft Excel with the power of the workflow engine inside of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, we will support new capabilities in budget formulation with workflow approvals, flexible tracking, and reporting. R2 will enable complex budgetary requirements using Microsoft Excel as well as integration with financial budget transactions, position and payroll data to enable budgetary control.
- Professional Services - Improve utilization of resources across your organization. Improvements in the intercompany scheduling capability of project resources will specifically benefit services organization with resources and projects across multiple entities and will improve utilization of your resources.
- All - Gain efficiency in workforce management. We continue to invest in the Human Capital Management (HCM) capabilities to improve employee lifecycle management, including enhancements in position control with tighter budget integration. In addition, we'll include support for payroll in the US, ensuring compliance with US taxation and payroll reporting regulations.
- Improve business insights for all users in the context of their work, which has been a key focus for us over the past couple of releases. This ranges from easy operational reporting, to measuring business performance through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and benchmarking as well as to providing deep analysis and actionable insights powered by new rich visualizations technology. Specifically, in this release we focused on:
- New and updated KPI content - where we deliver a set of new and updated KPIs that will come with the SQL BI cubes shipped with the release. These KPIs will surface on the different role centers.
- Enabling the usage of the new Power view technology introduced in Microsoft SQL Server 2012. This will help users to discover new insights through a highly interactive and familiar data visualization technology.
- Increase global reach and simplify international operations – Microsoft Dynamics AX is being used by customers across geographies - customers that themselves utilize Microsoft Dynamics AX to manage their operations across many different geographies. In this release we've:
- Increased the global reach of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 by adding localization for 11 new markets (Brazil, Czech Republic, China, Estonia, Hungary, India, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Russia), extending the reach for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 to support 36 localizations worldwide.
Figure 1: Arabic and Japanese UI
- Reduced complexity for those organizations that increasingly operate their business throughout multiple countries by simplifying centralized deployments. Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 already supports sharing of data, but now (as we talked about in a previous post) we've introduced the concept of data partitioning, which enables our customers to isolate data of individual units/companies, while still reaping the benefit of a shared infrastructure.
- Continue to simplify the application lifecycle for our customers. This goes from simplifying single instance international ERP deployment scenarios up to simplifying setup and functional implementation with new and improved lifecycle services. Parallel to this release we will update existing lifecycle services (including updates to our RapidStart services) as well as provide new services to our customers and partners. Some other examples:
- Code Analyzer will help analyze the performance of custom code based on rules in the design phase of an extension by customers or partners.
- Data Migration Framework will support import, export and migration of data to/from Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 in the deployment phase. It will cover over 20 scenarios including customer, vendor, product, employee, BOM, open sales and purchase order data, which can be extended by partners and customers.
- Diagnostics Framework will assist by analyzing data collected from the installation’s servers based on rules in the maintenance phase of your Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 environment(s).
Just covering these highlights of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2, you start to realize the significance of this release, as it brings value across the board for many customers, both in their existing as well as new markets. I am specifically excited to see the release of these innovations in countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China, not only to serve our many great customers in these countries but also to help our customers in developing markets with their international operations.
I read a recent McKinsey research showing that the largest companies headquartered in developed economies currently derive only 17% of their revenues from emerging markets, even though these markets represent 36% of global GDP. Moreover, despite advantages in scale, technology, and access to capital, multinationals often lose out to more nimble local competitors. There are huge opportunities still untapped – significant growth predicted, GDP expanding from $12 to $30 trillion by 2025 – and 2 billion new consumers to enter the world market!
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 is an excellent solution to help you tap into this opportunity. Are you ready?