Overshadowed this week by Microsoft's splashy Windows 10 device event was the official launch of Dynamics NAV 2016, the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software platform for small and midsize businesses.
In keeping with the Microsoft's post-PC, "cloud-first" product strategy, the latest version of Dynamics NAV features deeper ties to the Redmond, Wash., software giant's Azure-backed cloud services slate. "Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016 offers significant new capabilities in mobility, business insight, and cloud services, as well as deeper interoperability with Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Office 365," said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Wayne Morris in an Oct. 5 announcement.
The cloud is the great equalizer, enabling SMBs to stand their ground against larger enterprises, according to Morris. "SMBs worldwide are looking to lower costs and compete more effectively with larger organizations, and are turning to technology to help streamline processes, empower workers with insights anywhere and on any device, and to scale securely through the power of the cloud," he said.
Accordingly, Dynamics NAV 2016 works in tandem with several Microsoft cloud services to enhance SMB business processes with enterprise-grade capabilities. They include new business analytics capabilities, courtesy of Power BI, Microsoft's cloud-based business intelligence software offering.
Customers can glean business insights "with pre-built Microsoft Power BI dashboards and data connections that give teams instant access to key performance indicators in an intuitive environment designed for secure collaboration," stated Morris. Dynamics NAV 2016 also features native integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, allowing organizations to link their customer service and sales operations.
Customers can also skip on-premises installs altogether. "Take advantage of enterprise class scalability, security, and availability in the cloud with the new option to deploy Microsoft Dynamics NAV on Microsoft Azure SQL Database, Microsoft's industry-leading database-as-a-service in the cloud offering," urged Morris.
Coinciding with the software's release is the general availability of Microsoft's Dynamics NAV managed service for partners, which has been in preview since April.
The program is aimed at firms "interested in providing multitenant Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions built on Microsoft Dynamics NAV and deployed in the cloud on Microsoft Azure," noted Morris in a separate Oct. 6 statement. The offering provides a Web services application programming interface (API), a new management portal, and simplified licensing and billing along with a financially backed service-level agreement of "four nines" (99.99 percent) availability.
Naturally, mobility factors heavily in practically all of Microsoft's business software efforts of late. Dynamics NAV 2016 supports "mobile workers on any device with new streamlined, easy-to-use native apps for all form factors of devices—phones, tablets, and mouse and keyboard—running Android, iOS, or Windows," Morris said.
Microsoft isn't the only software maker seeking to popularize ERP software among SMBs.
Earlier this year, open-source enterprise software maker ERPNext launched an ERP suite for small businesses that takes its cues from popular consumer apps. "People's expectations from how software should be designed are based on their use of smartphones' popular applications like Facebook. Also SMB clients don't have time for training, so there is a very small window by which they can get hooked to the application," Rushabh Mehta, founder of ERPNext, told eWEEK's Nathan Eddy at the time.