The IT industry is nothing if not predictably unpredictable. The predictable part of the IT industry is that it is by its very nature revolutionary and these revolutions take place every decade.
Be it the switch from mainframes to thin clients to achieve better firmware capabilities like virtualisation, and the operating system were carefully designed to achieve very high processor utilizations and fast response times to high volume transactions, as well as very high reliability,
Or the amount of information available that is now available to companies as data has meant there have been advances in data storage, transmission and processing have transformed Business Intelligence and Customer Intelligence from a consultancy led industry to a staple of every SME.
What is unpredictable is what will be the next revolution, it would have been impossible to predict that the rise of social media would allow companies to capture data from those that are not even clients and to integrate this within Dynamics CRM.
But we now stand on the cusp of the next revolution in ERP, which for once is predictable. The successful move into Cloud-based CRM is the use of Internet technology to deliver a software solution for data management. Has shown the way the thinking has always been that a CRM system should embrace data that includes all your business activity past, present and future which for most companies means your customers and clients and all your sales prospects and leads. A CRM system should enable the client to be able to have an easy way to access all of this information.
If you think about it this from a logical stand point all of this information should to a lesser or greater extend also be present in your ERP system. While most clients do not utilise an ERP system to monitor and access sales prospects or leads the business activity will exist in an ERP system. So if the cloud works for CRM then it will work for ERP.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM has the advantage that when used as a cloud based solution it seamlessly fits in with the clients existing systems like Office, SharePoint and LINQ. The same can be said of Dynamics AX 2012 and the soon to be released Dynamics NAV
The benefits of the cloud are numerous and when set against the on premise alternative the majority of them are financial, by ensuring that the start-costs are reduced without the need for upfront licences or hardware investment, this has the advantage that because the hosting partner will be responsible for hardware investment you will be able to ensure that your hosting partner will invest in the latest hardware ensuring you have the advantages that this entails. You also have that advantage that you will be able to utilise one of the prime advantages that of scalability that fits to your organisations exact needs and can be adjusted as your needs change.
There have been fears in the past that security can be an issue or that you will be reliant upon your hosting company, yet are they justified? I am yet to see a story supports the theory that the cloud in unsafe in the context of Dynamics CRM. Security may have been a fear 20 years ago but with the advances in security this is now minimised. Given the speed in which you can set up as a new client with a hosting company it follows that movement between hosting companies is as easy as it is to move between any IT provider.
Hosting is not a panacea and the advantage that Microsoft Dynamics customers have is that Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics NAV have been built as systems that work both as an on-premise solution or hosted solution. Many of the competitors have solutions which drop functionality to offer a hosted solution, not a problem you have with Microsoft Dynamics.
DynamicsWorld have been working with a number of VARs, ISVs and end clients as well as hosting companies and we will continue to try and demystify the process and will be looking to bring more recommendations to you on who can deliver these options for you.