Burgum: Microsoft Hones Business App Integration

Microsoft's "Project Green," an effort to create a new code base to unify Great Plains, Navision, Axapta and Solomon, will bring greater integration than ever to the company's business apps, says Doug Burgum, Microsoft Business Solutions divis

ORLANDO, Fla.—For a typically cynical reporter, particularly at a Microsoft conference, Doug Burgums keynote address this morning to kick off Microsofts Convergence conference was, well, refreshing. In one sense, at least.

While he touched on Microsofts technology, Burgum, the senior vice president of Microsofts Business Solutions division and former president of Great Plains, also talked about the necessity for attendees to step outside their typical business boundaries to look at the world with a sense of curiosity and discovery.

All well and good when one doesnt have a packed, 12-hour conference schedule.

The key message through Burgums speech was realizing potential, both personally and in business. He talked about customer pain points and where Microsoft is focusing its efforts.

"Our goal is not to set up separate, unrelated organizations," said Burgum, who heads a division with four Enterprise Resource Planning products. "[Microsoft] has invested $6.8 billion on integrated innovation … theres never been anything like this, the deep focus as an industry to advance the state of the art."

Burgum described integrated innovation as bridging Office, Windows, development tools and Microsoft servers that span across the Business Solutions group.

"The core idea is for us to have this stuff work really, really well together," Burgum said.

Microsoft of Redmond, Wash., is also in the midst of an effort to integrate its Business Solutions offerings. Dubbed "Project Green," Microsoft developers are creating a new code base to unify Great Plains, Navision, Axapta and Solomon. Its completion is expected sometime in 2005 or 2006.

On a smaller scale, driving the integrated product effort are new interfaces and integrated customer relationship management (CMR) capabilities that will be available across the companys core ERP lines. While Great Plains 8.0, announced this morning at Convergence, has a new user interface, its not clear when the other ERP suites will have that and the CRM capability.

Microsoft is also adding a technology called Dr. Watson to the ERP packages. An online error-reporting system that sends error feedback to Microsoft internal development teams, Dr. Watson enables Microsoft developers to incorporate fixes into upgrades that they definitely would not have caught during internal test cycles, according to Burgum.

With a slide screen and little else, Burgum also touched on new functionality for the ERP suites. Axapta, Great Plains and Navision will have Demand Planner 8.0. Axapta will have the next version of the FRx reporting software, Navision will have new business analytics and Solomon will have CRM integration.

Each of the suites is upgraded to the next version for announcement at the conference, and support for each has been extended until at least 2013. Shipping this summer are CRM Mobile, version 1.2 and Great Plains 8.0.

Nearly at the end of his keynote, Burgum again shifted from technology specifics to the bigger picture.

"When you think about changing the world, [remember] were living in a remarkable time with optimism for the world to be different, based on the observation that there is so much going on in so many fields," Burgum said. "There is a coming together of capability and ideas. Its a time of convergence."

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