Accelerate your digital transformation and break down silos with Microsoft Dynamics 365
It's no secret that running a business involves several complex parts like managing staff, financials, marketing, and operations--just to name a few. That's where Microsoft Dynamics 365, the most profitable business management tool, comes in.
In Microsoft Dynamics 365 For Dummies, you'll learn the aspects of the program and each of its applications from Customer Service to Financial Management. With expert author Renato Bellu's clear instructions and helpful tips, you'll be managing to your fullest advantage before you know it. Let's get started!
* Digitally transform your business by connecting CRM and ERP
* Use data to make decisions across all business functions
* Integrate Dynamics 365 with Office 365 and LinkedIn
* Manage financials and operations
Are you running a dynamic business? This book shows you how!
Renato Bellu is an ERP and CRM solutions architect and hands-on computer programmer. He has architected and managed some of the most complex ERP and CRM implementations ever successfully completed with Microsoft Dynamics, and has created several successful video courses for Lynda.com and LinkedIn Learning.??Ren is also the author of Microsoft Dynamics GP for Dummies.
Floating on a Secure Cloud
IN THIS CHAPTER
Rejoicing in the cloud revolution
Understanding the evolution of Dynamics 365
Knowing what is included in Dynamics 365
Transitioning your ERP and CRM to the cloud
When electricity was first used commercially, a factory that wanted to run electric motors had to build its own power plant on the premises of the factory grounds. Each factory had its own power plant. There were no public utilities for electricity. Nicola Tesla pioneered the first large, centralized, electrical utility company at Niagara Falls, using the force of the falling water for power and converting it to electricity, which would then travel long distances over copper wires to customers using the alternating current (AC) system he devised. Creating a centralized electric utility using alternating current that could travel large distances, instead of Thomas Edison's direct current (DC) system, which was limited to short distances of a few miles, was revolutionary at the time. Companies quickly realized that it made much more sense to simply pay for electricity with a monthly utility bill rather than bother with the trouble and expense of having to maintain their own on-premise equipment for generating electricity.
The same type of revolution is taking place within the computer industry today, where computing power is rapidly becoming a utility that you pay for monthly, and you no longer have to maintain your own local, on-premise computer servers. Rather than buy your own hardware equipment, you pay for a service, and the "utility company" (in this case, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Google, Amazon, or Alibaba, to name the major players) takes care of the physical hardware computer equipment for you at its centralized locations. You connect to its centralized server farms by way of an Internet connection. (A server farm is a collection of interconnected computer servers housed together in a single physical location to provide massive computing power for large numbers of offsite users.)
These service providers not only provide disk space for you to save your files but also hosts applications. The hosted applications are installed and upgraded by the centralized provider, so you no longer need to install and upgrade your software; instead, you create user accounts on its system and then simply log in by way of a web page. These hosted applications are referred to as Software as a Service (SaaS) rather than the software products. SaaS is software you rent rather than buy.
Furthermore, you don't need to buy a new computer if you run out of disk space or database space; you simply ask for more space, and it can be quickly partitioned for your use - for a price, of course. Your data is stored on the cloud provider's computer system in communal computers, but separated by software that partitions your data into a separate area that is referred to as your tenant or your instance. The term tenant is now common usage because the SaaS software is rented rather than owned.
This list describes some of the benefits of the SaaS/cloud computing model:
- You always have the latest software. The hosted application is continuously upgraded by the SaaS provider. You avoid costly upgrades - and the dreaded problem of falling too far behind in application version.
- You can add more capacity and increase performance incrementally. This way, you don't have to purchase, install, configure, and maintain any additional hardware computer equipment.
- Your data is backed up for you by the cloud computing provider. Your IT staff doesn't have to purchase backup equipment and configure backup software and backup plans.
- Your data is more secure from hackers. Though many company executives worried at first about the security of their data in the cloud, nowadays the prevailing wisdom is that the opposite is true: It may be easier for hackers to attack your data if you're trying to safeguard it by yourself on your own small network rather than relying on the sophisticated security safeguards put in place by large corporations such as IBM, Amazon, Microsoft, and Oracle.
- Your employees can connect to the cloud applications using an Internet connection from anywhere in the world. They aren't restricted to getting on a virtual private network (VPN) connection. Most often, cloud applications are mobile enabled so that employees can use them on their smartphones and tablets as well.
Microsoft's cloud service, Azure, is a leader in cloud computing. Public companies such as Microsoft and Amazon don't always break out their revenue numbers in consistent and comparable categories when reporting financial results, so it's hard to tell exactly who is in the lead at any given time. Nonetheless, Microsoft is typically listed in the top three of cloud providers, with IBM and Amazon. As a leader in providing cloud services, with Azure, Microsoft has a powerful and extensive cloud hosting environment. In other words, it has massive computing resources in data centers throughout the globe. When you get Dynamics 365 for ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management), you also get the scalability, performance, security, and tight integration with other Microsoft cloud technologies that comes with Azure. Also, because Microsoft has its own cloud service infrastructure with Azure, it isn't dependent on another company to provide it - and so it isn't affected by another company catching it off guard and changing the rates or technology. That decreases your risk of a compatibility problem between the hosting company and the application development company. With Dynamics 365, the cloud provider is also the app developer.
Getting Under the Dynamics 365 Umbrella
Microsoft Office is the name of the suite of common business productivity applications that includes Word for word processing, Excel for spreadsheets, Outlook for email and scheduling, PowerPoint for presentations, and SharePoint for document management, among other applications. This suite of applications has become a common standard: Most people in the business world now use at least some part of Microsoft Office - especially Outlook - every day, 365 days a year. Microsoft has migrated Office to the cloud, as a subscription-based online Software as a Service suite of applications, and has branded it Office 365.
This move of Microsoft Office from on premise to in the cloud has proven to be extremely popular, as many organizations have now already transitioned their users from the desktop version of Office to Office 365. The computer network managers at most organizations prefer the online version because it's much easier to manage a link to a website than to install and troubleshoot applications on the individual desktop PCs and laptops of users.
As a follow-up to Office 365, Microsoft came out with a cloud version of its ERP (again, enterprise resource management), which is financial, accounting, and operational software, and combined it with its CRM (again, customer relationship management), which is sales, marketing, and customer service software. It has branded this combination of ERP and CRM in the cloud as Dynamics 365.
The 365 in Dynamics 365 emphasizes that the software plays nicely with Office 365, and it sure does - it's highly compatible and integrated with Excel, Outlook, and SharePoint, especially. Of course, 365 is the number of days in a typical year, so the name also imparts the constant availability of the software, every single day (even on the 366th day of a leap year).
Gaining a little historical perspective
The Dynamics part of the name Dynamics 365 has quite an interesting history. Once upon a time, two college buddies, Steve Ballmer and Doug Burgum, were roommates at Stanford University. Steve went on to become the CEO of Microsoft, replacing Bill Gates, and Doug founded his own accounting software company in North Dakota called Great Plains. Doug would eventually become the governor of North Dakota. Great Plains started out with a popular character-based (in other words, nongraphical) version that ran on IBM compatible PCs on the old DOS operating system. When the Windows operating system was first introduced in the early 1990s, Great Plains created a new software called Dynamics, which was a graphical-based software (you used a mouse and clicked graphical icons) that ran on Windows and, believe it or not, also on Apple Macintosh at the time. (Today's version no longer runs on Apple.)
The original Great Plains Dynamics was written in a proprietary computer language invented by the Great Plains developers called Dexterity. Dexterity was written in the C programming language and was invented to speed up the creation of Dynamics. As it turned out, Dexterity was never used for anything other than Great Plains Dynamics and add-on products designed specifically for Great Plains Dynamics. Therefore, Microsoft has no future plans to continue developing new products using it.
Years later, Great Plains was acquired by Microsoft for over a billion dollars. When Microsoft acquired Great Plains, it picked up Solomon, another popular accounting package. Solomon, well regarded for its project accounting and job costing features, had been previously acquired by Great Plains, before Microsoft acquired Great Plains. Acquiring Great Plains along with Solomon...