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Microsoft’s roadmap on track

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IT appears Microsoft’s foray into the manufacturing sector several years ago is now paying dividends for the software giant, with Australia leading the charge.

Steve Vamos, MD of Microsoft Dynamics in Australia, formerly Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS), said that while Microsoft’s overall global revenue for the last quarter grew a healthy 13% over the same period last year, Microsoft Dynamics rose 21%.

“And locally we are doing even better,” Vamos told Manufacturers Monthly.

To prove his argument, Vamos pointed to IDC research which reveals the Australian ERP and CRM markets grew on average 11.8% between 2003 and 2005. However, the markets are expected to slow to 5.8% in the period 2006 to 2010.

According to Vamos, part of Microsoft Dynamics’ success has been due to its ability to build an integrated platform. “Siloed information, with a high number of mis-connects and dis-connects, is still a major problem for SMEs,” he said.

“We are removing fragmentation; the enemy of business,” Vamos said.

Flemming Beisner, local business group leader with Microsoft Dynamics, said the name change, made December last year, was more than just marketing, “It’s was a streamlining of the division; aligning products with the R&D roadmap,” he said.

The roadmap, announced about 18 months ago, will see Axapta (now AX), Great Plains (now GP), Soloman (now SL) and Navision (now NV) combined into one ERP Dynamics product, with CRM to remain a standalone, as Dynamics CRM.

Starting in 2009, after Waves 1 (2005-2007) and 2 (2008 – 2009), customers will be moved to ‘Transformational Assurance’, though Beisner says Microsoft will continue support through to at least 2013, with lifecycle support extended to five years.

According to Beisner, the move to a single code base for the ERP system will be “painless”, following a number of smaller upgrades.

“The ERP system will also retain its focus on the mid-market, while the CRM system will be suitable for SMEs and large companies,” he said.

For the present, Beisner highlighted a recent independent study which portrayed Axapta (AX) in positive light when it came to ROI.

Results from Nucleus Research’ study, The Real ROI from Microsoft Business Solutions-Axapta. showed 75% of customers had achieved a positive ROI from their Axapta (AX) deployment with an average payback period of 23 months.

According to the study, companies cited four key benefits leading to a positive ROI: staff reductions, reduced IT costs, improved customer and partner satisfaction, and improved operations and visibility.

As well, over half (56%) were able to reduce staffing costs, 44% were able to reduce IT costs, and 75% reported improved operations and visibility.

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