REDMOND, Wash., July 10, 2007 – It’s no secret that the right business application can help increase worker productivity and boost an organization’s bottom line. To extend those benefits to the increasing number of people who work outside of the office, Microsoft has developed Microsoft Dynamics AX Mobile Sales and the Microsoft Dynamics Mobile Development Tools, a new solution and a set of tools for customers and partners to develop mobile applications that work with Microsoft Dynamics AX.
The solution -- Microsoft Dynamics AX Mobile Sales, enables a field sales person to place and track orders, look up sales history and campaigns while on the road visiting customers.
The tools -- a scalable, componentized platform for developing and customizing mobile solutions for Microsoft Dynamics AX, include a set of deployment and integration services that enable easy mobile deployment to workers across the globe. Partner solutions built on this framework will help fulfill the promise of business applications to offer better value where work is often done, away from the desk and on the go.
In addition, and to offer customers a complete mobile solution in both hardware and software, Microsoft has joined forces on these mobile solutions with Motorola, which will provide a global, market leading line of mobile devices that enable barcode scanning and other mobile features on Windows Mobile. With common events for partners and co-marketing activities, Motorola and Microsoft seek to enable their channels to work together to deliver a complete mobile solution to customers.
To learn more about how this mobile offering will help today’s businesses work smarter, PressPass spoke with Microsoft’s Mogens Elsberg, general manager of Dynamics AX/NAV and Bjarne Schon, product unit manager, Mobile Applications Group.
PressPass: What is Microsoft announcing at Worldwide Partner Conference 2007?
Mogens: Today Microsoft Dynamics announces the availability of mobile solutions for Microsoft Dynamics AX, including a new mobile application and software development tools that extend the value of the Microsoft Dynamics AX business management solution. As part of strategy Microsoft Dynamics is also announcing an additional partnership with Motorola, with the goal of helping the partner channels of both companies collaborate to deliver complete mobile solutions that include both mobile line of business software and mobile devices.
The solutions we’re announcing today are only the first step. We know that the mobile workforce needs flexible, familiar solutions that help them be more productive, and we’re going to demonstrate increasing focus on extending our business applications to the mobile environment. Mobile solutions for Microsoft Dynamics CRM are already in the market and in use by customers; with this announcement, we’re bringing the benefits of mobile technology to our Microsoft Dynamics AX customers. Over time, we’ll continue to bring new mobile solutions and technology to all the Microsoft Dynamics business solutions.
PressPass: How does this mobile solution cater to the needs of the mobile employee?
Bjarne: By delivering role-tailored, task-oriented mobile applications, we’re enabling mobile workforces to work more quickly and more efficiently. They now have the data they need when they need it on the road and not stuck back at the office. We’ve targeted the mobile applications specifically to the form factor of the mobile device, making them intuitive for people to use.
For example, consider a mobile salesperson that is making sales calls. That person may be talking with a customer and need to check sales history for the customer, then take an order. Microsoft Dynamics AX Mobile Sales lets them do that, providing immediate answers to the customer and improving the order to cash cycle for the company.
Also, we are not only releasing applications: we have extended the Microsoft Mobile platform with tools and frameworks that enable customers, partners and ISVs to build specialized applications for Microsoft Dynamics AX, which means that customers are able to quickly produce high-quality solutions that meet their specific needs. We’ve invested heavily and followed stringent design principles to ensure an excellent mobile experience for both the user and the developer.
PressPass: How will these benefits impact customers?
Bjarne: For example, Masterplast, a building-material wholesale company working with partner XAPT of Hungary, is already using mobile solutions to improve its field sales efficiency. Wherever they are, Masterplast sales representatives can enter and modify real-time customer, sales and inventory data: review sales orders, on-hand inventory data, payment status, credit availability and access Masterplast’s special loyalty system. Then they can immediately transmit sales information back to the head office. In just a short time Masterplast is already reporting that this solution is allowing sales representatives to spend 20 percent more time on customer service rather than error prone administrative tasks.
PressPass: Can you tell us more about the partnership with Motorola?
Mogens: The partnership with Motorola for this initiative is an extension of the overall Microsoft-Motorola partnership and is designed to help our channel partners deliver a complete mobile solution in both hardware and software. It’s natural for Microsoft’s channel to work with Motorola’s channel, because customers need devices as well as software in any mobile deployment. Microsoft and Motorola will be engaging in a number of co-marketing activities worldwide to encourage even greater channel cooperation to happen. For example, we’ve designed events to bring these channels together, so that both types of partners can contribute their unique expertise: Microsoft Dynamics partners contribute experience in implementing business applications to fit their customers’ business requirements, and Motorola partners contribute skill in deploying devices and designing mobile business processes.
PressPass: What is the opportunity for Microsoft Dynamics AX and Motorola channel partners?
Mogens: These mobile solutions enable Microsoft Dynamics AX channel partners to provide new value for existing customers, as well as target a whole new set of customers for whom mobile is a strategic element of their business. They can do this in one of two ways:
Microsoft Dynamics AX partners can team up with other partners who have expertise in mobile technologies to deliver the complete solution to customers. In this case, the Microsoft Dynamics AX partners would provide the expertise in integrating and customizing the mobile solution to work with Microsoft Dynamics AX.
Or, Microsoft Dynamics AX partners can provide the complete mobile solution and all related services, including the integration to Microsoft Dynamics AX. In this case, partners would need to develop expertise in mobile devices and technologies.
Motorola channel partners will now also be able to work with solutions that integrate seamlessly to Microsoft Dynamics AX, meaning they can spend more time developing or implementing mobile solutions for customers. They can also work with Microsoft Dynamics AX partners to deliver a complete solution.
PressPass: What about independent software vendors (ISVs)? How can they take advantage of this opportunity?
Bjarne: ISVs can use the Microsoft Dynamics Mobile Development Tools to build end-to-end solutions for Microsoft Dynamics AX, create vertical applications quickly, and reduce the application development time for mobile implementations. This is possible because of an open architecture that enables out-of-the-box integration with Microsoft Dynamics AX. In addition, ISVs will be able to sell their solutions in partnership with both the Motorola and Microsoft Dynamics channels.
For example, Spectra Interface, a Microsoft partner with offices in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, is already developing two solutions using the Mobile Development Tools, including one focused on the aged care market in the healthcare industry. They report that these tools have enabled them to cut development time of their mobile applications by approximately 60 percent. This gives them the advantage to get to market faster and to offer the solutions that customers want and need.
PressPass: What’s next for mobile solutions and Microsoft Dynamics AX?
Mogens: We believe strongly in enabling the mobile workforce, and we will continuously bring out additional mobile applications for Microsoft Dynamics. For example, we’re working on a mobile business intelligence application for executives, as well as other role-tailored solutions. We’re also planning to add more languages and country localizations for major European countries by end of year 2007. In addition, we plan to next enable Microsoft Dynamics NAV with mobile solutions. Finally, and probably most importantly, we believe partners will build a large number of great solutions using this technology to extend the value of Microsoft Dynamics to mobile workers.
To get ramped up on these solutions, training for channel partners and ISVs is available from Wirtek Mobile Academy, an independent company focused on training Microsoft and Motorola partners in the Mobile Development Tools and Mobile Sales.