What You Missed at Dynamics Community Summit

Wow! What a week at Dynamics Community Summit in Charlotte. A short blog post cannot do all the great content and presenters justice – so I’ll try to summarize a few of the key themes I saw.

Let me start with the most valuable piece of advice on attending Summit that I can give you: if you plan to carry a laptop or anything beyond pen and paper, bring a backpack. Carrying a laptop bag all over the Charlotte conference center took quite a toll on my back.

Now for the overarching themes.

There is a TON of curiosity around the Dynamics 365 Business Central platform

There was no shortage of “Business Central 101” material geared toward customers using one of the legacy ERP platforms from Microsoft, such as Dynamics GP, Dynamics SL, Dynamics AX or Dynamics NAV (less so NAV). I attended four sessions on this topic, two of which were standing-room only. The hype is real. Many of these sessions spent a lot of time focused on the “quality of life” features in Business Central.

There was a good mix of titles, industries and current ERPs in attendance. Of the GP customers whom I had a chance to speak with, about 98% were actively planning their migration to Business Central. There were three main questions GP and SL users were trying to answer:

  1. How does the reporting work in BC?
  2. What are the functionality gaps between my current system and BC?
  3. What about _____ (fill in 3rd party add-in solution here)?

All the Dynamics NAV customers that I spoke with were planning a migration, too. The challenges these customers were facing were slightly different:

  1. Should I migrate all my historical data or treat this project as a new implementation?
  2. What should I do with all the customizations that we wrote? Do we need to rebuild all of them or are some of the features we built part of the product?

I was excited to see the partner and user community beginning to embrace the idea that Business Central is not just an “SMB” accounting platform. I spoke with CIOs and CFOs from $1B+ organizations who were investing heavily in the Business Central platform over its “enterprise” cousin F&O.

In 2024 and 2025, I expect to see larger organizations continue adopting Business Central. The platform is extremely mature at this point (in fact, it evolved from Dynamics NAV), and if your organization has less than $3B in annual revenues, you should not assume that you require a “tier 1” platform like F&O or S/4HANA. 

If you have questions about your journey to cloud ERP, please reach out to us. We can perform an initial assessment of your Dynamics deployment and make recommendations on the best approach for migration, no strings attached.

The partner community is growing rapidly

The Microsoft partner ecosystem has always been and continues to be an extremely friendly and helpful bunch. I had many insightful and engaging conversations with other consultants and leaders in the community who, on paper, would be considered competitors. If you are considering the Microsoft platform as your next ERP home, know that the people you speak with genuinely care about you and your business.

The demand for D365 implementation work is also quickly outpacing the supply. The partner ecosystem is vast and growing every day. You should focus on finding a partner that fits your needs in terms of culture, industry experience, personalities and average customer size.

For example, if you run a $500M manufacturing business, you should look for a partner with platform experience, industry experience and a portfolio of clients where you are in the 75th – 90th percentile in terms of size and complexity of needs. This helps ensure your project will be a priority, that you’ll get access to the “A” team and that the infrastructure is in place to support you after going live.

With over 10 years of experience on the NAV/BC and GP platforms, we have the experience to get things done right the first time – and we have the humility and honesty to know we may not be a fit every time. If you are looking at potential partners, reach out to us today. 

In the meantime, check out this blog on how to select an ERP implementation partner.

AI and Automation are still the buzz

Across the entire conference AI and intelligent automation seemed to weave its way into nearly every conversation. Many organizations are eager to adopt the technology, while others are more hesitant. The majority of the booths on the expo floor were offering some form of automation or AI capabilities. Nothing I heard or saw surprised me. It is what I did not hear that was a little worrisome.

Before embarking on an automation journey or incorporating AI into the process, it is important to fully understand what the output should look like and have a clear understanding of what areas need to be automated. The first step toward thoughtful and responsible use of AI is to write a policy, then create a playbook. Most importantly, do not expect to become an automation-driven corporation overnight. The process takes time and requires careful change management.

In the meantime, check out this blog on some of the privacy concerns around artificial intelligence.

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To learn more, visit our dedicated Technology and Data Services page. 


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