BOSTON — June 12, 2006 — At the Tech•Ed 2006 conference, Microsoft Corp. today announced the general availability of Microsoft Dynamics™ AX 4.0, an adaptable, global business-management solution that works like and with familiar Microsoft® software and helps organizations gain a competitive advantage. Through the use of Web services and other enhancements, the highly anticipated new release delivers a complete enterprise resource planning (ERP) package to automate and streamline processes across a company’s financials, customer relationships, business services, human resources and the supply chain.
As highlighted by Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief technical officer, in last night’s keynote address, Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 is a composite application, using Web services to span the boundaries between structured and unstructured data from different sources and tying together formal processes with ad hoc workflows. This capability enables Microsoft Dynamics AX to work across multiple systems to show a complete view of a customer’s business processes, enabling more confident and informed decision-making by users.
The new features in Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0, including radio frequency identification (RFID) and Web services, allow users to create a seamless path from initial trading partner compliance to an RFID-enabled supply chain as well as to facilitate trading controls and automate subcontracting. A new service-management functionality automates manufacturing service processes, enabling efficient scheduling of servicing of complex machines and equipment on a periodic or call-initiated basis. Web services provide many new opportunities for customers and partners to customize the solution to meet individual business needs, including the ability to create RSS feeds that push time-sensitive information to decision-makers within an organization. In addition, new role-based features provide individuals with direct access to the most relevant, business-critical information, driving greater productivity and increasing the impact of employees on a company’s success.
“Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 helps businesses better manage the complexity within their organization and provides business insight so they can compete more effectively,” said Mark A. Jensen, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics AX. “No matter what industry, customer service is a key differentiator today, so businesses need a platform that provides visibility and quickly adapts to the changing needs of their industry. By delivering this flexibility, Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 is transforming business applications to fit the way businesses and users work.”
Over the past year, through the Technical Adoption Program (TAP) for early adopters, Microsoft has worked with customers and their partners to test and strengthen the solution so that all customers and partners can benefit from a high-performance solution on deployment. The customers, spanning the U.S., Europe and China, include Russell Athletic, Best Water Technology Group and Optiroc. Participating partners in the TAP include Avanade, Columbus IT Partner, ECOSOL Gmbh, Ignify, Iteration2, Tectura Corp. and XAPT Hungary.
A Platform on Which to Grow
Some of the most dramatic changes to Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 are within the platform, designed to provide greater integration, flexibility and extensibility so that organizations can eliminate information silos and make better decisions. Microsoft Dynamics AX offers a service-oriented architecture through its object-oriented, metadata-driven customization model, allowing organizations to easily extend the application to fit unique business needs. The solution’s three-tier architecture is designed to ease the upgrade path, and can easily and cost-effectively scale up or down, providing a flexible Web services-based solution tailored to the needs of its customers.
In addition, Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 will deliver an adapter for BizTalk® Server 2006 to enable users to better leverage their existing investments. This adapter will allow Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 users to access various line-of-business applications including those from Oracle Corp. and SAP AG. Contextual business intelligence using Microsoft SQL Server™ 2005 Reporting Services allows business users to perform ad hoc reporting and data analysis. In addition, unlike most enterprise software applications, Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 will expose the entire data model within Microsoft SQL Server, providing total control over and customization of the solution. Finally, enforcement of the security model within the application helps ensure data integrity and compliance with regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, IAS/FRS, FDA 21 CFR Part 11 and European Union directives.
In addition to its integration with SQL Server, Microsoft Dynamics AX is built on Microsoft Windows® SharePoint® Services, delivering valuable out-of-the-box collaboration capabilities. Using Windows SharePoint Services and Web services functionality, Microsoft Dynamics AX creates a single view across transactions, analysis, workflows and documents, enabling employees to do their jobs easily through role-based activity. The business intelligence capabilities gained from SQL Server and collaboration capabilities from Windows SharePoint Services empower companies and their people to act on information and make decisions quickly and confidently.
“When making strategic IT investment decisions, businesses want new solutions that are able to integrate deeply with their existing systems,” said Mike Gillis, chief executive officer of Iteration2, whose full interview can be downloaded at http://blogs.msdn.com/satyanadella. “Microsoft Dynamics AX builds off of Microsoft technology such as SQL Server and Office 2003 and uses standardized tool sets such as Visual Studio®, making it easier for businesses to take full advantage of the power of the Microsoft stack.”
Familiar and Easy-to-Use Tools
Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 delivers on Microsoft’s vision to provide next-generation business value to customers in the form of powerful role-based activity and breaks new ground within the business application market. Recent analyst reports indicate that the majority of ERP seats go unused, often because the system is too complex and users have a hard time finding information relevant to them. With the look and feel of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 gives users a jump-start with a consistent and familiar user experience. The solution allows users to take advantage of Microsoft Office Excel® 2003 to display and analyze information, and integration with business analysis and reporting tools enables users to display reports and analytical results directly within Excel 2003 without the need to copy and paste between applications. In addition, invoices, customer statements and other business documents can be sent directly by e-mail through Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003. Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 will support 2007 Microsoft Office system immediately on release.
“Just because an ERP solution does complex things doesn’t mean that the user experience has to be just as complex,” said Bill Blyth, chief information officer of Oldcastle Precast Group. “Microsoft understands this, and one of the many things I love about Microsoft Dynamics AX is that the system really does work the way our business works, and users immediately feel comfortable on the solution because it is so familiar.”
A Foundation for Vertical Innovation
For customers that want deeply vertical functionality beyond the core solution, Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 provides a platform on which partners can extend the solution with their own particular vertical expertise. A key component of this is new RFID functionality, which will give organizations greater visibility into their supply chain and the ability to better manage their supplier networks from end to end, from raw materials to point of sale. Built on the recently announced BizTalk RFID, this new RFID functionality will reduce the complexity associated with the management of intelligent RFID device hardware by connecting real-time RFID events to relevant supply-chain processes and back-end business applications
Because of the strength of the platform and the industry expertise within the partner community, Microsoft Dynamics AX provides value for key vertical industries. According to a recent Forrester Research Inc. report titled “Microsoft Dynamics Emerges From Wave 1,” analysts R “Ray” Wang and Paul Hamerman said that “Manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, business services, and retail supply chain customers will benefit from Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0.” Currently, more than 6,100 customers use earlier versions of Microsoft Dynamics AX.
Also today, Microsoft announced its strategy for Office Business Applications featuring the 2007 Office system and a preview of LOBi for Office SharePoint Server, new capabilities that will enable the development of high-impact applications that take advantage of the familiar and powerful Microsoft Office environment. The Microsoft Dynamics solutions, including Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0, are built using Office Business Application Services.
Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 is now available in North America and will be localized and launched in Europe and Asia-Pacific local markets later in the year. In addition, Microsoft Dynamics AX can be delivered live to customers via Microsoft partners through the Microsoft Service Provider Licensing Agreement, which enables service providers to offer Microsoft Dynamics AX on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis for a monthly fee and gives customers more choice and flexibility in the deployment of ERP technology across their businesses.
About Microsoft Dynamics
Microsoft Dynamics is a line of financial, customer relationship and supply chain management solutions that helps businesses work more effectively. Delivered through a network of channel partners providing specialized services, these integrated, adaptable business management solutions work like and with familiar Microsoft software to streamline processes across an entire business.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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