How will Microsoft Integrate it's ERP Offerings ?
Microsoft has four different ERP Products in the market today :
It is obvious that with the global ERP Market consolidation, Microsoft will need to integrate and unify the above four different ERP products.
How will they do it ?
Based on a published Computer World interview given by Satya Nadella, Microsoft's person in charge of the same, some of our thoughts on their proposed ERP Unification and Integration Strategy are as follows :
We call it Microsoft's 3-4-5 Strategy.
In short, via XML(Extensible Markup Language) based Web Services mapped to common business and technology frameworks.
For a detailed perspective, read below.
The Strategy would consist of :
1.0 - XML based Web Services mapped to a common technology framework encompassing or wrapping (in plain jargon free English) the above 4 ERP Products - Great Plains, Axapta, Solomon and Navision plus any other ERP product that they will acquire in the future.
Our assumptions for 1.0 are as follows :
1.1 - Not necessarily a new database. Existing ones will do just fine.
(Remember, we are talking of Small Medium Sized Business Organizational Volumes, not Daily NASDAQ or NYSE Trading Volumes needing large Databases).
1.2 - Not necessarily new code for the existing 4 ERP products.
They will probably not touch the codebase of the above four products unless they really have to, but build wrappers around the same.
In our opinion, only the XML wrapper code as per the SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) Requirements could probably be new.
2.0 - XML based Web Services mapped to a common technology framework for the above 4 MS ERP Products (Transactional Data) and the rest of the MS-Office Product Family - eg. Excel, Outlook, Word, Access, etc.
(Satya talks about Bridging the gap between the User's more structured transactional work (read MS 4 ERP products) and the adhoc communication (eg. Email, Messenger etc)
3.0 - XML Based Web Services for a Common Business Framework that satisfies all the following (as mentioned by Satya) :
3 elements of Microsoft's customer Model (3.1).
4 Customer wants (3.2). and
5 horizontal attribute requirements (3.3).
These are further detailed below :
3.1 - The 3 elements of the customer model developed by Microsoft are as follows :
First, people need to work with both the structured ERP transactional applications as well as the other unstructured work in the areas of communication (Email), Document Preparation (Word processing), Presentation, etc.
Second, The Business Process in the organization.
Third, the Business Processes Complexity in an organization based on the number of people involved in the same.
3.2 - The 4 key customer wants mentioned are as follows :
Simplicity, Flexibility, TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and Feature Completeness within a specific Business domain.
3.3 - The 5 Horizontal Attributes are :
Simpler User Interfaces to access Existing Data.
'Management By Exception' Reporting Tools and Alerts. The ability to spot patterns and generate insights.
Easy connections between all applications - ERP, Non-ERP, Legacy Systems and so on.
Ability to easily change the software code when the business process in the real world changes.
Also, switching between software code and higher-level easy to understand business models that are integrated to (and changeable from) each other.
Ensuring that all current and future Microsoft application Design considers the 'Business Process' as a fundamental Architectural Building Block.
Obviously, the 3-4-5 Requirements stated above are not easy.
I think, the Key Issue (or Holy Grail as Satya says it) is the Model To Code and Code To Model Transformation Capability in a Dynamic Business Changing Requirements Environment.
If any software company is capable of cracking the above 3-4-5 Difficult Requirements Puzzle, it is probably Microsoft.
If not, then someone from the Open Source World or elsewhere will do it.
More on Microsoft's ERP Unification Strategy....