Smartphones to control combine harvesters? Not quite, more a case of electronic loans for the agricultural sector of Mexico — Image credit: Microsoft
Business transformation and (positive) digital disruption is everywhere. Yawn, yes we know, you’ve already gone to sleep. These terms have been over-used, over-hyped and hackneyed into a clichéd quagmire of unimaginative hogwash.
What transformation really means
Is it possible to talk about business transformation and stay awake? Possibly, but only if we can uncover what transformation really means today in 2016. So deep breathe then…
Business transformation describes the operational steps a firm takes to apply modern connected web, cloud, mobile, social, data analytics etc. technologies to do what it used to do before, but in a new faster and more efficient way. Essentially, this is a case of using new digital technologies to perform old business functions.
Business transformation can also describes the operational steps a firm takes to enter completely new markets. This act is sometimes (but not always) facilitated by the actual presence of digitization. Intel switched from memory chips to microprocessors, IBM switched from desktops to services, supermarkets starting to offer credit card services and so on.
It is not of course an a) and b) or 1. And 2. Conversation. There is a c) and most of the rest of the alphabet to finesse this argument in more complete terms, but this is a start.
Why the clarification here? Because Microsoft is getting ready to release it’s oh so ‘transformative-centric’ Microsoft Dynamics 365 product this fall — and to talk about it without some tangible grounding in business transformation feels like surrender to the hogwash quagmire. That’s why.
Microsoft corporate VP for cloud and enterprise Takeshi Numoto suggests that Redmond wants a world with applications where you don’t have to pay extra for capabilities like visualization, workflow automation and predictive insights. So how is Microsoft going to give us those functions, inside our apps, some of which we already use?
Connecting structured & unstructured workflow
Reflecting Alex Konrad’s report here on Forbes, Microsoft Dynamics 365 is essentially a piece of software that aims to unify both current CRM and ERP cloud solutions into one cloud service with new purpose-built apps to help manage specific business functions such as financials, sales, operations and customer service. The technology will integrate with Office 365 to connect the ‘structured workflow’ of business apps with the ‘unstructured workflow’ of collaboration and productivity.
“For example, a sales person receives an email and can respond directly in Office with a quote that is created based on information from both finance and sales apps, stored back to the right app, with right pricing, discounting etc. All without the user having to leave Outlook,” explains Numoto.
Microsoft is also working to natively embed its Power BI and Cortana Intelligence technologies to provide analytics insights and prescriptive advice to users. For example, Cortana Intelligence will enable cross-sell recommendations to help sales reps predict which products and services a customer will need.
“Access to IoT data inside Dynamics 365 for Field Service will enable preemptive action from field service agents by connecting asset monitoring and anomaly detection so they can take action before failures occur, avoiding customer service issues,” said Microsoft, in a press statement.
Redmond is rolling out Dynamics 365 this fall 2016 — it will sit alongside its Microsoft AppSource offering which is available already. This is positioned as Microsoft’s new destination for business users to find and try out line-of-business SaaS apps from Microsoft and its partners. At launch AppSource contains more than 200 business SaaS apps, add-ins and content packs.
One transformation tool to rule them all?
Is this one tool (or one software suite) to rule them all? Microsoft might have given its product a 365 every-day-of-the-year nametag, but it faces perennial market competition in this space from Salesforce, Oracle and (with ERP in mind specifically) SAP and a clutch of others. It will also have to work hard to make sure there is connected integrated compatibility throughout the evolution of Dynamics 365.
No, it seems we’re all going to be talking about business transformation and digital disruption for some time to come.
We will do this while also leveraging innovative better-empowered actionable embedded end-to-end user-centric mobile-first insight experiences, obviously. I hope you are well.