Directions EMEA 2021 – Day 1

This week was special for many of us – we finally were able to meet. For me, it was fantastic since I was able to chat with so many great people face to face. I was tweeting a lot those days but I hope you would like to read the blog as well since I tried to summarize below the things I have seen and that I think need more attention than only a quick tweet.

Please remember that I was not able to be at all sessions so check also others summaries to get an even better picture.

Keynote

Market condition

A few important things from the keynote that I have fresh in mind were that Business Central is growing extremely fast in the cloud. First of all number of Apps on AppSource reach over 1800 from the previous event. And a number of customers growth even faster – 20 000 is hard even to believe to be honest but assuming it is true (why not?) that this is quite a big market.

New countries coming soon

Business Central will be available in new countries – in near future few countries from Africa will be added. Also, Asia and South America are on the radar. We will be able to say soon that our system is available globally in SaaS.

Performance and user experience improvements

Microsoft invested time and improved the user experience in the system. Now the insert data should be much faster – personally think it finally reached the Windows Client level in terms of fast input the data. Also posting documents in version 19 improved – at some level 30% faster than in version 18.

Mike’s vision

Mike Morton on stage showed the vision and direction in which Business Central will go in next years. The idea is to make it the easiest to use business application. That is also the direction in which Microsoft already going – I think one of the key topics in the many session was onboarding. How to do it faster to implement more customers at the same time.

The next point of the vision is connecting Business Central with modern apps and the outside world. One of the steps for it is the Shopify Connector that has been announced a few days before.  

The last point is using AI in the system. The idea is to be more predictive software instead of reactive. I remember that last Directions Microsoft already was starting to talk about that.

Lesson Learned from localizing Business Central

This session was not only about doing localization but show the pitfalls that each app developer could have. From development/consultant point of view those were the key takeaways:

  • Store the sensitive data in the Azure Key Vaults
  • Use change log and sensitive field monitoring
  • Remember about retention policies
  • Do not use a copy of the company during working hours – it does the lock on all tables
  • Do not create multiple copies of the production company
  • Use partial records where you need them to avoid long-running queries
  • Develop smaller apps

Later I listen to the partner responsible for the Hungarian Localization and one thing which I think is worth considering is, that they as the partner responsible for localization, does not do implementations – means do not compete with VARs. I think that can be a solution in some countries.

Another thought to consider is that development takes less than 50% of the time. Even if he was talking about localization app I would say that this is valid for other AppSource apps as well (maybe translation would not have so many percentages). Please look below at the graph.

I need to admit I loved the format of the session – it showed the root of the problem and what are lessons learned – I will think in the future to structure at least some sessions that way.  

OAuth Authentication with Business Central API

I need to admit that this is not an easy topic for me but I think it was very well explained in the examples. The idea is that the authentication is done either by the user or application. In the case of the application, it needs to be registered in the Azure Active Directory and have own account directly in Business Central.

It is another important topic that can be used by many of us soon since basic authentication will no longer be available. I think the best source of understanding all details is just to visit AJ’s blog about it https://www.kauffmann.nl/.

Onboarding customers to Business Central

Microsoft presented the Guided Experience that uses the checklists and also the profile for the evaluation company. We have seen the teaching tips which additionally show now also platform specific things such Share in Teams or Edit in Excel.

The onboarding topic was present whole 3 days also during the keynote. It is like that this for next releases will be one of the areas of the system which will be growing – means we will get more tools to onboard new customers. What I am missing at this moment is focus on the ISV solutions but that is also under the Microsoft team radar.

Boost your troubleshooting using telemetry

Except for a lot of fun that I had during the session, it gave me more ideas on how to use the telemetry. We have seen how to monitor the environment using aggregated data that allows us to see:

  • Performance of pages
  • Performance of reports
  • Which of the pages or reports load longer and when does it have an impact on the customer

Additionally, I have seen a good example of troubleshooting the web services calls with the full traceability of the reason why the call failed.

I believe that telemetry will be one of the most important tools for us in the future to help and support customers better so I always enjoy the sessions about it.

More to come…

I planned to do only one post for the whole conference but when finished day 1 it turns out that it would be too long to fit all in one. So stay tuned for the next few days soon.

I also did not mention one session that I was attending – ask MVP. This topic I would like to talk about separately. 

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