Blog by Robin Coles, Product & Technology Lead.
Dynamics AX 2016 is the ‘indestructible force’, available in the cloud at the touch of a button, delivering the previously intangible notion of Software as a Service (SaaS). Finally, the reality is that businesses are able to simply subscribe to an entire platform of hardware and software, covering all of their operational business, forecasting and analytical needs. The premise is that they can aim to be up and running quickly and painlessly, much as one does with a new internet service provider. It’s an enormously attractive proposition, it can’t be resisted, it is the ‘indestructible force’.
However, lurking around the corner is the ‘immovable object’, being the traditional ERP (Enterprise resource planning) project. This is the implementation of a series of sophisticated software applications into a business, including the adoption of numerous complex business processes. Key to this is the ability to spread a company-wide vision to a diverse group of people, in different departments and locations, with different skill sets and conflicting objectives.
Historically this really has been the ‘immovable object’. Projects are run by documenting a series of business process blueprints, produced from a lengthy series of workshops, discussed and eventually agreed by a group of business sponsors. This lengthy and time-consuming process is required before the software can be used, indeed before the training can start, and it’s costly and challenging for all parties.
As we all know though, you can’t stop an ‘indestructible force’, so there must be a solution. Perhaps the force will simply go round the object or maybe they’ll call it a draw and settle it through penalties.
For the Retail industry, I am often asked by my US colleagues “Do you have an organisation that acts on behalf of UK retailers, considering industry trends and providing solutions?”. In North America the National Retail Federation is the body that does this, enabling businesses to debate their approach. We simply don’t have an organisation like this in the UK.
So perhaps the answer to our question is closer to home than we think, requiring businesses to collaborate, something that of course tends to challenge our UK culture. Clearly for software to be implemented as a service, there needs to be a common approach to business processes, more technical standards for integration, and even a set of industry led KPIs. With this in place, perhaps the ‘immovable object’ will simply have budged a little!
Then one of the challenges of the universe will have a chance of being solved.