Microsoft on Monday began offering Dynamics AX 2009, the upgrade to one of its four ERP applications, with new business intelligence capabilities.
Microsoft plans to extend those capabilities to its other ERP offerings in future releases. And in a nod to Microsoft's "software plus services" strategy, Dynamics AX 2009 will include direct connections to online services such as eBay and PayPal, credit card processors, and logistics services from DHL, FedEx, and UPS.
Dynamics AX 2009 includes a "Role Center" that gives access to BI tools based on 30 types of job roles in different departments, such as finance and human resources. They include key performance indicators (KPIs) developed for each role that run against predefined BI cubes in Microsoft SQL Server. "This is the first major release [of AX] that has a deep role center investment," said Chris Caren, general manager of product management for Microsoft Dynamics, in an interview. "The plan is to take this innovation and spread it across all Microsoft ERP solutions in subsequent releases."
Microsoft's other ERP apps, gained through acquisitions, are called Dynamics NAV, Dynamics GP, and Dynamics SL. All of its ERP offerings are designed for small to midsize businesses.
Dynamics AX 2009 also offers a "Compliance Center" where a CFO or other manager can track internal controls, KPIs, and other data necessary to stay in compliance with government rules and regulations, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft adds that it's enhanced the security, reliability, and scalability of AX through integration with SQL Server 2008. That means, for example, AX 2009 can via SQL Server 2008 compress the database size by up to 60%. Advanced planning and reporting capabilities are offered through integration with PerformancePoint Server, Microsoft's core BI product.