Announcing availability of machine learning based Recommendation API for Dynamics AX 2012 R3


We now have the Recommendation API integrated with Dynamics AX 2012 with cumulative update 12.

You don't need CU12 to have this working. If you have CU8 or higher and have the entity store hotfix, this will work. Download the hotfix here or search in LCS for KB3201875.

This is the first time that we bring insights derived from Cortana intelligence suite components using machine learning right within Dynamics AX2012. We have provided demand forecasting Azure ML experiments integration to Dynamics AX in the past, however with this capability we provide not only integration to a specific API but an integration pattern in general to any other Azure based intelligent services that you may want to leverage in future.

We have also released this integration for Dynamics 365 for Operations, however with AX2012 R3 integration you have richer customization options. You will find this API will provide you a lift of 1-2% within a couple months of going live. Various customers like JJ Food, Bunzl group use the API in production and other customers and partners are in the implementation process. The API is targeted for any distributor or retailer with a call-center or e-commerce operation.

In this out-of-the-box integration we provide foundation elements that help you interact with the API right within Dynamics AX without need to make any investment in learning data science or other big data technologies. But we do not provide consumption scenarios, i.e. we do not provide UI and code support for actually calling recommendations inside a call-center or AX for retail storefront or E-POS or M-POS or a simple sales order processing. We do not do this because first of all, it's fairly easy to do this on your own for a AX professional (so value add we bring will be limited) and secondly, because each customer scenario is different so even if we did provide it will need to be customized. However, if you will like to use some readymade code to inject into such business processes, please let us know what you will like. In the meantime, there are some additional artifacts in our GitHub repository that will be useful to you here.

Pricing

As a customer you chose the pricing tier for this API when you sign up for Microsoft Cognitive services in Azure portal. You pay directly to Microsoft based on the API calls you make from your systems. There are several scenarios where you will need partner support for instance to ensure products recommended are in stock before they are shown to the customers. These and other such requirements are not something API by itself can manage and you need to query your systems in order to achieve this. You can read more about solutioning on a previous post here.

What you can do with this integration is as follows:

Capability What you can use it for?
Cortana Intelligence services management
  • Connect to your Cognitive services account from within AX
  • Upload data to the recommendations API
  • Trigger machine learning model creation
  • Manage machine learning models and builds
Data management
  • Use two new published DIXF data entities as part of this capability to send data to model
  • Create your own entities
  • Upload data manually
  • Check history and status of all data jobs
  • Setup automated data sync
Model management
  • Create ML model from within AX
  • Synchronize models between recommendations API service and local AX instance
  • Delete models
Build management
  • Trigger build creation for any ML model
  • Change default build parameters
  • Set active builds
  • View existing builds per model
  • Automate build creation
Data entities Two new data entities have been published as part of this integration

  • DMFRetailProductCategoryEntity
  • DMFRetailProductTransactionEntity

 

Definitions

Cortana intelligence suite

Microsoft Cortana intelligence suite is a collection of technologies for information management, big data storage, machine learning and analytics and data visualizations. Cortana assistant on Windows 10, Chabot made with Bot framework, Cognitive services and many other applications utilize one or many technologies marketed under the brand of Cortana intelligence.

Microsoft Cognitive services

The Microsoft Cognitive Services APIs are a suite of several general-purpose Machine Learning APIs that are made available in Microsoft Azure and can be used for any number of applications. These APIs simplify the whole process by abstracting away the complex machine learning models and the operationalization aspects so that users can focus on real business problems. There are several categories of Machine Learning APIs and the Knowledge category includes the Recommendations API.

Recommendation API

The Recommendations API  – exposes a general-purpose recommender system capability wrapped in a simple to use REST API.

Case studies

There are many customers using this API and many partners integrating the API into their e-commerce systems. Here are some published case studies.

  1. MEO
  2. DutchCrafters
  3. JJ Food

Why did we do this?

We did this to provide you with a reference implementation of an integration with machine learning services from Cortana Intelligence to Microsoft Dynamics AX. We want to bring these new technologies to you in the shape you can relate to them. This, we believe lowers the bar for entry into use of advanced analytics for partners and customers in Dynamics ecosystem.

Whitepaper

Please use the whitepaper on customersource here to learn more about how to get maximum out of this new capability.

Contributors: Krishnan Duraisamy, Sampath Victor, Luis Cabrera-Cordon, Akshey Gupta

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