Overcoming Cloud ERP Misconceptions: Your Guide to D365

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Microsoft is ending support for Dynamics AX (AX). What’s the right next solution for your business?

You may object to exploring enterprise cloud solutions because Dynamics AX meets your needs right now. That hesitation is natural. You shouldn’t feel obligated to blindly leap at the next cloud solution without first gaining a solid understanding of key differences and enhancements to the platform that could help your business function better than ever.

The best way to address any misconceptions about migrating to the cloud is to take a closer look. Let’s review the objections and then explore the truths and fallacies behind them. After that, we will focus on how Microsoft Dynamics 365 can re-energize and — dare we say it? — transform how you do business.

Obstacle #1: Will D365 Fit My Needs?

We’ve all seen the dreaded announcements on the Microsoft website: You’ll need to update your solutions, or you’ll be left behind. Microsoft is ending mainstream support Dynamics AX 2012 R3 on October 12, 2021.

To support AX users, Microsoft has offered security hotfixes for three versions of Dynamics AX. Extended support, which includes security hotfixes, for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009, Dynamics AX 2012, and Dynamics AX 2012 R2 continues through October 12, 2021. R3 extended support ends January 1, 2023.

After those dates, you can still technically use AX, but you’ll be on your own if you encounter any errors or critical issues. Unless you have the expert resources and budget to make a soon-to-be-obsolete platform work, you should consider an alternative – a cloud enterprise solution.

Quick Translation: There's still time to move to a cloud solution before AX support ends.

What You Need Now and in the Future

If you’re already using AX, you may think nothing will be better than your existing system. Think again. You’ll be blown away by the next-level functionality and opportunities for customizations available with Microsoft D365.

Microsoft D365 is a portfolio of integrated business applications that give teams – like finance, sales, customer service – the functionality they need to work, manage, and innovate. With this focus on the user experience, there’s a good chance that the customizations you made to AX are already part of D365 or are on future release plans.

But, you don’t have to trade in the unique-to-you customizations just because you’re migrating to a cloud ERP. With Dynamics 365, Microsoft provides clearly defined extension points and API. You get the capability to respond to or generate the events that these points use. Microsoft can add new extension points to enable almost any scenario. That said, D365 might already do what you need it to do – and in a more precise, comprehensive, and cleaner way.

Obstacle #2: Why Move to the Cloud? Is it Secure?

Ironically, feeling insecure about data security can cause you to overlook the numerous benefits of moving to the cloud. Only a couple of years ago, Gartner predicted that over 92 percent of businesses would move to the cloud by 2020. Now, most online transactions take place through cloud platforms.

While we were using cloud solutions for everyday transactions before the pandemic, COVID-19 accelerated mass cloud migration. Over the many months of lockdown, many, if not all, business leaders realized that moving to the cloud was the only step toward an agile and successful future. Cloud technology gives your business the capability to evolve as business conditions change.

Cloud Based Platform

D365 Security

Through Dynamics 365, you can stay compliant with top industry standards and give your workers access to important information – no matter their work locations. You’ll be better equipped to manage security threats through a trusted and cohesive network of applications. D365’s security framework can be visualized as four different levels: authentication, authorization, data security/encryption, and database – with each level representing differing accessibility to your business information.

Authentication. Authorization. Data Security. Database.Authenticated users with user rights are the only people with access to an established connection with your business. Users are authenticated through validated accounts via the primary identity provider, Azure Active Directory (AAD), which takes advantage of the Azure platform. The next layer, authorization, is a combination of role-based and row-level security and is managed in the application to function.

To say that the Azure Security Center is a cost-effective security solution is putting it lightly. According to a 2021 Forrester report, Azure reports a 219 percent return on investment. With Azure platform security, you’re no longer responsible for the cost and energy of implementing your own security measures – including IT expertise, monitoring, and maintenance of all physical components (like servers and office space). You’ll breathe a bit easier with the solid security framework of D365 supporting your business needs.

Obstacle #3: Implementing an ERP is Expensive and Time-Consuming

Let’s face it, implementing a new ERP is disruptive and time-consuming for any business. But as with any transformative business improvement initiative, it takes time to properly implement a cloud enterprise solution.

You must choose: Do you want to stay the course hoping your legacy solution doesn’t break or are you ready to transform your business? Microsoft’s D365 platform can revolutionize your business processes, data, customer information, and supply chain in a way that works with your unique business needs.

Mitigating Risk 

When implementing a new platform or even updating your existing ERP, disruptions happen. But think of disruptions as a matter of scale. On one side of the scale, you have a phased D365 cloud migration with planned and managed interruptions to your operation. On the other side of the scale, by staying on AX, you face the disruption of another worldwide catastrophe that closes off and diverts supply chains for months or years without the support of an agile and trusted enterprise cloud solution.

Mitigating Risk with Phased Approach

With disruptions and evolving consumer demands, agile companies with agile ways of adapting to change and doing business don’t just survive but thrive. By migrating to the cloud, your business is resourceful and resilient while also potentially subverting the pitfalls of another pandemic.

Even in the context of a worldwide pandemic, a short disruption can sound scary and costly. Risk mitigation starts with building an implementation strategy that minimizes disruptions to your business.

Digital Transformation

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Obstacle #4: Won't Moving to the Cloud Break my Supply Chain?

Rather than wait for the next interruption to your supply chain, Microsoft offers a bevy of solutions to make supply chain management accessible to those who need it regardless of work location.

D365’s Supply Chain Management application accelerates your pace of productivity by giving you the added capabilities to manage warehouse and transportation operations. Using your cloud data, you’ll have access to reporting in real-time and optimizing your demand forecasting, production, and inventory.

You can extend those capabilities even further with the Blue Horseshoe Supply Chain Cloud.

Extending capabilities with Blue Horseshoe Supply Chain Cloud

The [Other] Unforgettable Benefits of D365

Beyond the misconceptions, Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform offers so much more. D365 provides one source of data with purpose-built, scalable applications. You can enjoy business transformed with D365, with all the benefits that come with that—ERP functionality, single source of truth, AI capabilities, and so much more. D365 can help you better manage your entire enterprise while providing insights and reports that are robust, reliable, and real-time.

Full ERP Symbiosis

Catapult your organization into a new world, where, as your business grows, you’re scaled fully to the cloud, with the standard-bearers of collaboration, connectivity, and accessibility.

With cloud ERP functionality, you don’t have to migrate all at once. Blue Horseshoe tailors the migration to your needs and pace. As your business grows and becomes more successful, you can move more business applications to the cloud.

Single Source of Truth

Does your data come to you in real-time? One of the worst scenarios for a struggling business is if workers are working with days – or months–old data from one or more databases. Managers waste time trying to resolve errors and reporting inconsistencies rather than trying to fulfill their role’s responsibilities. From finance and operations to customer service and supply chain, having cloud ERP functionality places all your information in a single data source.

D365 uses Azure architecture to connect data from every business interaction and give your team access to one source for their business applications. By using Azure’s data lake, you’ll get a 360-degree view of your customers, clients, partners, and prospects.

The more accessible, transparent, and agile your data is, the better your insights will be
– catapulting you into a forward-ready organization.

Added AI Capabilities

Artificial intelligence within cloud solutions, like D365, improves the reliability of your data by providing you with deeper insights in real-time, like demand forecasting, which predicts demand for sales orders based on historical patterns. This insight could prove game-changing for your supply chain.

Even more, AI improves customer relationships – hands down. AI drills into your customer data to report back on insights that improve the customer journey. With AI capability, your data is more truthful and easier to access, so you can provide better customer service. It’s no wonder that Microsoft’s D365 platform has massively invested in AI and analytics.

Microsoft’s AI capabilities are powered by two equally formidable components–Azure AI and Power BI.

Microsoft’s Azure AI is an absolute powerhouse, capable of bringing real insights to businesses and empowering employees to be proactive and prepared. Better visualize your data with Power BI. Power BI offers enterprise data analytics within one platform.

Want More?

There are countless side benefits to migrating to the Dynamics 365 cloud. If, at this
point, you’re still undecided on whether D365 is right for you, please take a closer look
at the following list of as-yet-unmentioned benefits of moving to the Microsoft cloud:

  • Unending business applications
  • Better feature functionality
  • Fewer requirements for customization (applications have replaced specific
    customized components)
  • Industry-recognized: Recognized as a Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant winner
    and Nucleus Research ERP Technology Value Matrix 2020
  • Peer-reviewed (Note: There are no critic reviews available)
  • Continuous updates and added capabilities

Why Blue Horseshoe?

The right partner will help your business transform. Blue Horseshoe is an award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with services including system design and implementation, business intelligence and optimization, as well as distribution design and material handling equipment for companies in the Food & Beverage, CPG, Retail, Manufacturing, and Transportation industries.

In 2018, Microsoft turned to us to help fine-tune their advanced D365 supply chain functionality by licensing Blue Horseshoe’s Advanced Warehousing and Transportation Solutions. This technology will help Microsoft enhance advanced supply chain functionality within Microsoft Dynamics 365.

This wasn’t the first time Microsoft integrated Blue Horseshoe’s supply chain and development expertise. In 2012, Microsoft purchased Blue Horseshoe’s warehousing (WAX) and transportation (TRAX) products. These products became the core warehousing and transportation modules within Dynamics AX 2012 R3. They remain a cornerstone of the Dynamics 365 warehousing and transportation feature set. And you can extend the supply chain capabilities in D365 using the Blue Horseshoe Supply Chain Cloud.

When you’re ready to move to the cloud, we can get started by talking to you about your needs, circumstances, and customizations, and then we’ll create a custom solution map. Blue Horseshoe solution architects know how to design a migration strategy from legacy to the cloud that includes clusters of incremental wins without losing sight of the entire project or the finish line.

As Vice President of Digital Transformation at Blue Horseshoe, Steve, guides businesses through their digital transformation journey. Steve has 20+ years of experience as a Program Manager/Design Lead/Project Manager implementing both Microsoft Dynamics AX / Dynamics 365 as well as tier I and tier II warehouse management and transportation software solutions. Steve's deep knowledge within the distribution industry and his innovative approach to solution architecture are the backbone of the solutions being implemented and deployed by Blue Horseshoe.

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