Microsoft Releases Dynamics NAV 2018 ERP Suite With Dash of AI

Microsoft's small and midsized business customers can now automate more business processes with the AI-enhanced release of Dynamics NAV 2018.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018

Dynamics NAV 2018, Microsoft's enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for small and midsized businesses, is now generally available.

James Phillips, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Business Applications division, announced on Dec. 1 that the software giant had officially released the new version, complete with improved interoperability with Office 365.

Like the rest of Microsoft's application and cloud service portfolio, Dynamics NAV 2018 is also gaining some new artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities that promise to help automate repetitive and tedious tasks.

Building on AI features in Dynamics NAV 2017, the latest version of the software ships with "with new out-of-the-box Microsoft Excel report templates (for example, Trial Balance, Cash Flow statements and more), as well as deeper utilization of Microsoft Cognitive Services for image recognition of inventory Items and contacts," all of which help streamline business processes, said Phillips, in a Dec. 1 blog post.

Microsoft Cognitive Services is a collection of AI-enabled APIs that developers can use to build intelligent applications that can pick out objects in photos, automatically transcribe audio and detect sentiment in video content, among other capabilities. "We've also added improvements to the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capabilities with the Kofax Invoice Capture Service, for process improvement with digitized purchase invoices," Phillips added.

The upgrades arrive just as the AI-enabled business software market is heating up.

In September, Salesforce announced several major enhancements to its Sales Cloud CRM offering, all powered by the company's Einstein AI software. Among them is an automated forecasting tool that helps CFOs predict future sales with increased accuracy. 

During its OpenWorld conference in October, Oracle announced new AI-enabled Adaptive Intelligent Apps for its cloud-based enterprise resource planning, human capital management (HCM), supply chain and customer relationship management (CRM) products.

In terms of getting started with Dynamics NAV 2018, it's much easier this time around, according to Phillips. The latest version of the ERP offering includes automated setup guides that simplify initial configurations and enables customers to integrate the product with Dynamics 365 for Sales, the company sales process management and insights-gathering application.

Along with infusing AI into practically all its business software and cloud offerings, Microsoft has also been feverishly embedding analytics capabilities into its products. In Dynamics NAV 2018, this effort manifests as charts and reports regenerated by Power BI, the company's cloud-based business intelligence and analytics software.

Finally, Dynamics NAV also features new integrations with Microsoft Flow, the company's task automation application. First unveiled in April 2016, Flow allows users to take a more hands-off approach to day-to-day tasks that require multiple applications to complete.

Flow connects to other Microsoft's services and many third-party software-as-a-service  applications, automatically finishing tasks that would otherwise require users to juggle a handful or more applications.

For example, Flow can be used to automatically copy a new Salesforce lead into an organization's CRM system and other tasks that would otherwise require a user to copy and paste the information from one application into another.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...