reImagine 2016 - Day 1, Part 1

Wow, day 1 was busy! I’m foregoing the eOne Solutions “Smartner Party” to write today’s blog and then hit the hay relatively early, since tomorrow will be an even longer day with the evening pub crawl!

First up was breakfast at the hotel starting at 7:00am. Then, everyone was shuttled up to Microsoft for the opening session, and the sales & marketing streams came back to the hotel after that for the day. The developer & consulting streams stayed at Microsoft for the day, which was fine with me.

Opening Session

The first thing we learned this morning was a short list of the kinds of topics we should expect to hear about this week:

  • GP 2016 and GP 2016 R2
  • HTML5 web client
  • Power BI & OData
  • Management Reporter
  • Jet Express
  • Dynamics 365 Financials

Bob McAdam told us there are over 400 partners in Fargo this week for reImagine, which is a good turnout I would think. (I have no idea what their target would be but that number seems similar to years’ past if I recall correctly).

Some quick hits that I picked up on during the first session were this, in no particular order:

  • GP 2016 R2 release date is expected to be December 1, 2016. That date wasn’t announced in the opening session that I recall but I saw it on Twitter later in the day from Bob McAdam and others. Q4 was the official timing spoken about this morning.
  • GP “Next” timing is expected to be Q4 2017, or approximately 1 year from now. It was stated that the feedback on the 6 month release cadence has been heard and the timing now will shift to something more along the lines of once per year releases. There was no mention of what that means for service packs throughout the year etc., nor if that means no more “R2” releases. I’m sure we’ll hear more on that type of thing at Summit or future blogs from the team in Fargo.
  • GP “Next” is all about the biggest suggestions from Microsoft Connect, so if you think that’s useless, think again! They review it regularly and that is their primary source of improvements for future releases. If you haven’t looked at it for a while, go, search and vote on suggestions you’d like to see in future releases. If you vote for nothing else, please vote for (link removed, no longer valid) to PLEASE provide GP 2016 documentation!
  • An interesting comment from Pam today was (essentially), if you are a GP partner that hasn’t yet looked at Azure, don’t bother, but please contact one of the ISVs in the GP hosting space. If I interpreted this correctly, the gist of her comment is that if you haven’t tried to get into Azure yet, you never will so don’t even bother trying to pretend you’ll get to it. There are at least 3 ISVs who all do an excellent job and have done the heavy lifting on the cloud thing, so leverage them and move on. Her biggest point was we (GP partners) are losing business to cloud providers because we are not having the conversation with our customers. Customers are looking and asking about it, but some of us are sticking our head in the sand and we’re losing deals and customers.

Dynamics 365

In between all of this news, still in the opening session, was Errol’s part of the presentation on the subject of Dynamics 365. I’m sure a lot of partners in the crowd are nervous over this and what it means for GP (if anything) and in my opinion a lot of worry was put to rest. Apparently Errol is tired of hearing the questions about if this means the end of GP or NAV or SL etc.! Here are the key points I picked up on in this part of the presentation:

  • The SMB segment is spending 6x as fast on cloud vs. on-premises for business applications, over the next 3 years.
  • Interesting stat posted from IDC: “67% of small businesses expect to purchase multiple cloud services from a single vendor.”
  • The Microsoft Dynamics portfolio slide looked like this (I didn’t get a screen grab but you can find plenty of them if you search twitter for the hashtag #reimagine2016):
    • Dynamics CRM & AX - appeared as one consolidated timeline starting with Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition with ongoing development into the future. Interestingly enough, they appear together in the “ongoing development” part of the graphic… unsure if that is meaningful or not?
    • Project Madeira - now will be Dynamics 365 Business edition, with ongoing development in the future.
    • Dynamics GP, NAV and SL - all shown separately in their own swim lanes with their historical releases and all clearly showing ongoing development into the future. All 3 products showed “release dots” indicating all 3 products may be on an annual cadence from now on. Obviously I have no idea about SL or NAV, I’m just interpreting that from the graphic, and they didn’t talk about those products other than them being on the slide.
  • In terms of development:
    • GP 2015 mainstream support goes to April 2020
    • GP 2016 mainstream support goes to July 2021
    • GP 2016 R2 is expected in Q4 this year
    • GP Next is expected in calendar 2017
    • GP will continue to be developed and enhanced
  • Their recommendation: upgrade to GP 2016 and take a look at Dynamics 365 Business Edition to get a feel for what they are trying to achieve. The opportunity is there for consulting work.
  • At some point, there will be a data migration option from Dynamics GP to Dynamics 365. That doesn’t mean anything re: GP’s life.
  • Dynamics 365 Business edition is going to be cloud only, 300 seat max, optimized for 10-250 employees.

This post is already getting long and I’ve only covered the first hour of the day! I’m going to break this up into at least 2 parts to make it a little easier to digest. Stay tuned for part 2 etc.

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