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A Blog Series for Microsoft Dynamics Partners by Kati Hvidtfeldt, US Microsoft Dynamics ERP Cloud Lead.

Kati color 2004Most businesses think of an ERP solution as software to help balance the books, manage inventory, create a budget—all the things you would expect an ERP software package to do. And there are a lot of solutions out there that can help.

But when you can offer your customers a connected experience that combines business intelligence, collaboration, and communication tools embedded across business processes—and accessible from mobile devices—it’s more than just ERP.

This post gives you a taste of what Microsoft Dynamics ERP Director of Product Marketing Errol Schoenfish has to say in his on-demand webcast, part of the new Microsoft Dynamics ERP series for SMBs.

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As a product marketer I work with developers to set product strategy in the business solutions group here at Microsoft. I’ve been in this business at Microsoft 25 years, and I’ve seen lots of change. The constant is that the value to the customer is always the top concern.

Workforce changes are shaping how we see the role of software in the future. Organizations large and small are becoming more and more mobile, in part to drive down costs. By 2013, 1.2 billion workers will be mobile—that’s 1/3 of the overall workforce. And by 2014, 50% of devices used to access business solutions are expected to be smartphones.

This situation presents some challenges. Today 84% of organizations have a remote workforce, but on average 85% of datacenter capacity is idle and 70% of IT budgets are spent maintaining datacenter operations. As a business person, I need more mobile information, I have a distributed workforce, my infrastructure is idle, and I spend a lot of money maintaining it. It’s the perfect storm: workers expecting to be mobile on devices that give them business data, constraints on IT budgets, and the hiring of the just-out-of college millennial generation who will expect mobility from day one when they come to work for me.

Businesses need to think about how people can interact with their solutions. Microsoft has a deep set of products to help deliver on this that spans across business, business/consumer (like Microsoft Office, Skype, and Bing), and devices. We look at the cloud s an opportunity, not an obligation. Customers choose the deployment model, the data center scenario, and the licensing model.

From inside the solution—from the user’s perspective—here are examples of how Microsoft Dynamics ERP delivers.

· Customers struggle when they can’t collaborate with people who don’t have full access to the solution. With Microsoft Dynamics solutions, people outside the solution or outside the organization can be given web access to specific reports, charts, graphs, and KPIs via SharePoint or Office 365. And by refreshing the data, it becomes real-time.

· You can use multiple devices with a common experience. On a Windows Phone you have full access to all of those same reports, charts, graphs, and KPIs. And the Windows RT tablet is just around the corner. This is perfect when you’re getting ready to go on a sales call or meet a supplier.

· If you’re on a laptop or desktop-in a coffee shop, you have web access to financial, HR, and manufacturing information because it’s been automatically deployed to Office 365. And you can have access from anywhere in the world.

· Kinect has a software development kit that enables voice and motion to interact with your application. One of our partners built a front-end pick-pack-ship window to GP that allowed them to do pick-pack-ship simply, using motion and voice.

· Microsoft Dynamics offers a full-featured, cloud-based solution. Some web-based solutions are “flat:” If you’re in a form, you need to exit if you want to do something else because of the browser UI.  With the Microsoft Dynamics ERP solution, you can view and interact with multiple forms open all at the same time within one browser instance.

For SMB customers the cloud offers simplicity, agility, and lower overall IT infrastructure costs—and the benefit of a large and active Microsoft Dynamics community.

To view Errol’s full on-demand webinar, “Business Solutions from Microsoft: It’s more than just Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP),” register here.

To learn more about how to incorporate cloud-based solutions into your business plans visit the Microsoft Dynamics Countdown to the Cloud page on PartnerSource. Go to www.microsoft.com/dynamics/growyourbusiness for resources that demonstrate to customers how Microsoft Dynamics ERP cloud, hybrid and on-premise solutions can benefit their businesses.