The first conference of 2023 is over. That was a great 2 days for me and I learned a lot. Even doing pre-conference workshops I always try to get something new for myself – so one more time who join thank you for that day. I want to share with you some of my thoughts after that lovely stay in Birmingham.
Over those days I had thought that keep coming back to my mind at almost every session.
The implementation of Business Central needs to be more flexible than it used to be. I am not talking only about the project management aspects of it. I believe (even more importantly) in the development approach.
Almost during each session, I have seen solutions that have been developed not only using AL but with additional stack: Power Pages, Power Apps, Power BI, Teams adaptive cards, Power Automate approvals, Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Bus, and Azure Functions. Those are just some of the examples I have seen and a lot of them were already used in production and not just a concept.
This made me think
We, the developers, need to change. In the past, we had to learn how to change the license in Business Central, how to add or change the parameters of instances, and much more. Do not get me wrong, I understand there is still quite a big number of onPrem installations and still for some time will be with us but… this knowledge in the long term will be (to be polite) obsolete. (to be honest, I would need to read how to change the license since didn’t do that for almost 5 years)
I also know that those tasks should be reserved for administrators mostly but… in smaller companies, you need more hats than just one.
So what do I think about the future?
We still will have more hats than just doing AL development. Of course, one way to go is to keep working only with AL. But would it give the best value to the customers? In my opinion, we can take some new ways.
A Power ERP Developer
I believe, one of them is being a combination of AL developer with Power Platform knowledge. This can give really good results. Creating Power Automate flows, using some of the features of PowerBI or even PowerApp can give customers a great experience using ERP such as Business Central. I can see Microsoft is doing a lot to push integration with Power things and Teams, but also showing the great value of this combination
My takeaway after the Days of Knowledge (where a lot of sessions were showing Power stuff) is I need to learn more about Microsoft Teams adaptive cards, check the abilities of Power Virtual Agents, and how to create my own templates in Power Automate that I will be able to use in many customers just out of the box.
I also thinking to go to some Power Platform conferences to get some ideas and bring them to our World.
A Heavy Stuff Developer
The other path that I see for the Business Central developers is learning how to leverage Azure features. Creating Azure Functions seems to be the easiest from it but that requires knowing other languages such as C# or others. There are more Azure components that AJ Kauffmann showed during his session. He said he last months spent more in C# than in AL. What he showed was an eye-opener for all onPrem solutions how to be cloud ready even using heavy integrations.
I must say, even if I know how to make simple Azure Functions, and use some other features of Azure Portal, I believe there is a lot that I need to learn and this will be my take from the conference – see what is the landscape of Azure services.
I would love to see some sessions at Business Central conferences that show the basic landscape of the Azure platform and how to use them in combination with Dynamics 365 BC.
Will that be the future?
No one knows. However, for me and my team that will be a direction to grow. That also gives some more possibilities in terms of recruitment – looking for new developers don’t think only about C/AL or AL knowledge but try to find people who have skills in Azure or knowledge about Power Platform.