Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics NAV EDI, Microsoft Dynamics Community, Dynamics ERP Integration, Convergence 2011, Convergence 2012

Kevin Turner, Chief Operating Officer, and Kirill Tatarinov, President, Microsoft Business Solutions, led the opening keynote at Convergence 2012 on Monday. They quickly confirmed what we had all guessed, that this is the biggest Convergence ever, with over 10,000 people and almost 270 companies presenting on the expo floor. Wow….

Kevin opened with the theme of a “New Era:” a new era for technology, a new era for business, a new era for Microsoft and a new era for Dynamics. Kevin went on to discuss the key components that are driving this new era:

 

  • Cloud: “…A year ago it was sort of talked about as a trend, now it's in full mainstream. We're seeing tens of millions of customers move to the cloud in very, very rapid ways. And if you look at this particular quote from Forrester, it's going to go from a $40 billion industry to a $240 billion industry just by 2020. We actually think that number is light, maybe even by 2, at the speed that we're seeing the cloud take hold.”

 

  • Consumerization of IT: “…Microsoft will be this year the first company on the planet to be able to have a consistent user experience from the smartphone to the tablet, to the slate, to the reader, to the laptop, to the rich client, and to the television, with our Metro UI.”

 

Kirill followed on Microsoft’s vision, the vision that they project to business customers, is what they call Dynamic Business. “When we think about Dynamic Business, business of the future, business that is edge out, business who takes advantage of all of the technology trends, as that business overcomes the challenges of the economics and grabs onto all of the opportunities. There are a few things that we really believe are important. First and foremost, Dynamic Business is the one that takes an intently people-centric approach.”

As part of Kirill’s keynote, he highlighted how in business applications with Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft is truly changing the game and highlighted some of what’s to come in 2012:

 

  • Two updates to Microsoft’s CRM online service, the 1st one coming later this spring

 

  • Announcing Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013, the first cloud-enabled ERP solution for Windows Azure

 

  • Formal naming for Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 which will be cloud-enabled for Windows Azure and is expected to release by the end of the calendar year

 

  • Update to Dynamics AX 2012 with an R2 release later this year

 

And in the true spirit of Convergence opening keynotes, Kirill also celebrated success of customers who have achieved excellence in their field, industry, approach or other categories in which Microsoft recognizes their customers. This year Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada and DENTSPLY, an international leading manufacturer of dental products for the professional market and now for healthcare, were highlighted for their transformational success with Microsoft Dynamics.

For More Information on the Keynote and Announcements check out:

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics NAV EDI, Microsoft Dynamics Community, Dynamics ERP Integration, Convergence 2011

Microsoft has confirmed that US-based Dynamics reselling partner (and valued Data Masons partner), Tribridge will be the third Master VAR in the new program that recently rolled out in the US, following Socius and SBS Group who were previously named. Tribridge has invested heavily in their private cloud offering for Dynamics ERP and CRM, Concerto, in the past year with expanded visibility. At Convergence 2011, Tribridge managing director of cloud computing Greg Pierce, estimated that as many as 80% of new clients are at least considering a cloud option for their Dynamics ERP or CRM solutions. You can tune into the Dynamics AX Day of Decisions Fall 2011 on December 5th for Pierce's session where he'll be discussing his latest views on the understanding the total cost of ownership of cloud-based ERP.

Read why Microsoft selected Tribridge and the outlook for the Master VAR

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics AX 2012, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Convergence 2011

I thought Convergence was busy, but this past week back in the office post-Convergence has proved to be even busier, just with less walking and unfortunately, fewer parties. As Kirill Tatarinov noted in his keynote, this conference was the 2nd largest Convergence with over 9300 attendees and I definitely felt a positive impact of having a larger group as compared to previous conferences.

More attendees, more opportunities to connect face-to-face with my peers that I only get to speak with occasionally, if even that, as more often it’s hearing through the grapevine what new endeavors our colleagues are taking on. And then there are all the new connections. I have to say, having attended more conferences than I sometimes can remember, this conference was one of the most successful ones in terms of meeting new professionals within the community. So this past week, follow up from the conference included everything from partner prospect meetings, perspective client product demos and responding to social media messages.

If you missed out on the Convergence experience, there are a good amount of online resources that highlight the major topics and announcements delivered at the conference. I’ve provided some brief highlights below for the Dynamics AX, GP and NAV ERPs:

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

Dynamics AX 2012 (beta version) was announced and demonstrated, showcasing its highly-customizable design that unlike previous versions, does so without the need for writing any code. To exemplify the benefits that AX 2012 can deliver, Hydra-Power Systems, a Microsoft TAP participant and a Data Masons Vantage Point EDI customer, was highlighted during the keynote to give a client’s perspective on AX 2012. Some of the features found in AX 2012 designed to help customers such as Hydra-Power simplify decisions include:

  • A powerful foundation through pre-built industry capabilities and comprehensive ERP functionality for financial, human resources and operations management. Delivered in a single, global solution, it gives customers rapid time to value and enables partners to easily deliver packaged vertical offerings.
  • A new level of agility through a set of Unified Natural Models, which serves as a library of business processes that reflect real-world situations, and enables customers to easily modify their organizations and processes to meet their changing business needs.
  • Simplicity across the board, through the intuitive Role Tailored experience and access to context-sensitive business intelligence (BI) that’s relevant to the work at hand. The familiar Microsoft Office user interface drives adoption, and the enhanced BI capabilities help customers uncover fresh insights that can lead to faster and more informed decision-making.

Other Resources:
The Word on AX 2012 Coming from Convergence 2011 - It’s ERP for Everyone:
http://www.datamasons.com/blog/388/the-word-on-ax-2012-coming-from-convergence-2011-its-erp-for-everyone/

Focus on Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012: Understanding Updates for Verticals, Architecture, and 1,200 New Features: http://msdynamicsworld.com/story/focus-microsoft-dynamics-ax-2012-understanding-updates-verticals-architecture-and-1200-new-fea

Keynote Recording: http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/presskits/dynamics/liveevent.aspx

Keynote Transcript: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/steve/2011/04-11convergence2011.mspx

Hydra-Power AX 2012 Case Study: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Microsoft-SQL-Server/Hydra-Power-Systems/Industrial-Equipment-Company-Advances-Its-Business-on-Innovative-ERP-Solution/4000009577

Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 R2

Prior to the official start of the Convergence program, Doug Kennedy and Anders Spatzek kicked off the GPUG PreGAME event hosted by GP Partner Connections, leading a discussion on the partner channel and how it’s been different from other Microsoft partner models. This conversation rolled over into the keynote where Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 R2 was the anticipated topic for the GP install base.

Like AX 2012, Microsoft is excited to deliver a product that is for everyone in the organization, offering a greater depth of capabilities in the world of business analytics, giving users the ability to analyze data, to get more insight into what's going on within the organization, and to access the data with greater ease through simplified interfaces. During the following two days of the conference, several GP-focused sessions were help, including GP’s general session presented by Pam Misialek, Senior Product Manager of Microsoft Dynamics GP presented GP’s general session where she shared that GP 2010 R2 is releasing May 1st, 2011.

Other Resources:

GPUG PreGAME at Convergence is a double-hitter with Doug Kennedy and Anders Spatzek: http://www.datamasons.com/blog/383/gpug-pregame-at-convergence-is-a-double-hitter-with-doug-kennedy-and-anders-spatzek/

Inside Dynamics GP blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/gp/

Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Convergence’s keynote included a focus on Microsoft Dynamics NAV as one of the largest products in Microsoft’s portfolio. It was also noted that in December 2010 that Microsoft delivered a NAV solution ahead of schedule that strengthened the business intelligence capabilities. The release also connected NAV with Microsoft products such as Dynamics CRM and the Cloud, and enabled “a new, broad set of scenarios for [Microsoft’s] existing and new Dynamics NAV customers, scenarios like online payment processes, scenarios like running Dynamics NAV from the partner-hosted cloud,” said Steve Ballmer.

Other Resources:

Microsoft Unveils New Functionality for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2010/may10/05-18nav2009r2pr.mspx

What's New in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 R2:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg502505.aspx

How was your Convergence? Share your thoughts and takeaways and let’s keep the conversations going. And if we didn’t get a chance to meet in Atlanta, hopefully I’ll see you next year for Convergence 2012 in Houston.

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Convergence 2011

Apart from AX 2012 and all the celebration around 10 years of Dynamics ERP growth, Monday’s keynote was slammed with other hot topics and announcements coming from Microsoft. The common thread pulling them all together according to Steve Ballmer - Microsoft comes to work to be focused and help you WIN!

Cloud
As expected, taking Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions to the cloud was a hot topic. Instead of reiterating all of the points discussed, both during the keynote and later among attendees, you can read Brandon George’s blog post on cloud computing for AX and the MSDynamicsworld.com post for a more comprehensive look at the technical challenges and partner considerations surrounding cloud-based ERP environments.

Microsoft Innovations
Steve delivered highlights from all of the Microsoft product lines: Devices / Entertainment / Search (Bing) / Business Applications / Cloud / Productivity

  • Kinect for the Xbox 360 is the fastest-selling consumer electronics device; sells quicker than the iPhone and iPad (8 Million devices in its first 60 days!)
  • Bing – The little engine that you should make as your default!
  • Office 365 – A little more/few links; Dynamics ERP Online solutions are expected to take advantage of advances in Office 365
  • BI – Ballmer: "Traditionally BI was just a bolt on for ERP systems whereas with Dynamics AX 2012, BI is integrated with the solution."

Other Announcements

  • Dynamics SL 2011, gives businesses a faster time to value through integration with Project 2010, is now generally available.
  • The on-premises version of Dynamics CRM 2011, which delivers familiar, intelligent and connected experiences to users across an organization, is now generally available. Over 27,000 customers and 1.7 million users are benefiting from Dynamics CRM worldwide. And 100 percent of Microsoft, this year runs on Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
  • Dynamics NAV 2009 R2, offers customers built-in integration with Dynamics CRM and enhanced data visualizations capabilities, was delivered ahead of schedule in December 2010.
  • Dynamics GP 2010 R2, increases customer agility through significant business intelligence capability enhancements, will be generally available May 1, 2011. (Dynamics GP is the largest install base for the Dynamics line of ERPs in use and it’s still growing. With Dynamics GP2010 R2, users can expect to see deeper business analytics being added.)

Related Blog Posts:

Ten Years and Going Strong: Convergence 2011 Keynote’s Focus Balances Microsoft’s Commitment to Dynamics with Customer Successes

The Word on AX 2012 Coming from Convergence 2011: It’s ERP for everyone

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics AX 2012, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Convergence 2011

Thanks to my wife, I’m double-booked and had to head out before the close of the conference. As I wait to board my flight, my feet are tired, very tired, but I’m feeling great about this successful event, both from a partner and an attendee perspective.

I’ve talked often about the growth of the Dynamics User Groups, but during Kirill Tatarinov 's keynote on Monday he presented some pretty impressive stats for Microsoft’s growth as well:

  • Microsoft has been in the ERP space for 10yrs – GP started it all!
  • 2nd largest Convergence conference in history with over 9,300 attendees
  • Millions of users log into Dynamics each day
  • Over 1,000 people have worked for Dynamics for over 10 years

(And I must say, in regards to the attendance at this conference, the expo hall was rocking, tons of people looking for solutions. For me this was a huge change from the last few conferences I attended.)

And it wasn’t all about Microsoft’s growth within the past 10 years. Kirill also highlighted two customers that have been with Microsoft during this time. The first customer highlight was Black Box Network Services, a leader in communications and infrastructure products, who started with Microsoft 10 years ago by acquiring Dynamics SL for just 56 users. Since then the company has experienced insane growth, and has also purchased Dynamics GP for some parts of their organization, and at Convergence 2011, they’re looking at the latest version of Dynamics AX to deploy for the global part of their company.

The 2nd company Kirill highlighted was another 10-year Dynamics user, NK Parts, a global supply chain leader who selected Dynamics NAV as the backbone for their operations. Through the growth of new offices, changes in business, etc., Dynamics NAV has evolved to support their evolving business needs. Still using NAV today, they have been able to virtually eliminate all of the discrepancies from their inventory processes, which has helped them stay in business through recent economic challenges.

Dynamics customers Patagonia, Amax and Hard Rock also spoke via video about how they became dynamic, and how they use innovation coming from Microsoft Dynamics. Kirill mentioned that “Amax deployed GP in under 12 weeks, and now everybody at Amax can run the product. Hard Rock, three people supporting over 3 million in the audience, and they're running Dynamics CRM, a kick-ass product for a kick-ass service. And Patagonia, Patagonia continues the exciting experiment started by their founders 30 years ago, and continues to tweak and improve their business processes by running Dynamics AX as the backbone of their operation.”

Later Steve Ballmer highlighted Hydra-Power Systems and their experience with AX 2012 as part of the TAP program. Although Data Masons didn’t experience the excitement of having Steve Ballmer recognize them, it's exciting that both Patagonia and Hydra-Power Systems also use Vantage Point EDI for Microsoft Dynamics to meet their Dynamics EDI requirements. Participating in the TAP program along with Hydra-Power, Data Masons’ EDI/XML processing solution is ready to roll with AX 2012 day one, while also supporting all previous versions without any ERP customizations required.

By including a healthy group of customer highlights, which promoted the growth of all the Dynamics ERPs, Kirill and Steve delivered a well-balanced presentation that sent the message home – Microsoft’s commitment supports customer growth and success.

Other Resources:

Keynote recording available at: http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/presskits/dynamics/liveevent.aspx

Keynote transcript available at: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/steve/2011/04-11convergence2011.mspx

Hydra-Power AX 2012 Case Study available at: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Microsoft-SQL-Server/Hydra-Power-Systems/Industrial-Equipment-Company-Advances-Its-Business-on-Innovative-ERP-Solution/4000009577

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics AX 2012, Dynamics ERP Integration, Convergence 2011

Behind the “Cloud” of Monday’s keynote featuring Steve Ballmer and Kirill Tatarinov, the speech ended with the announcement and demonstration of Dynamics AX 2012 (beta version). Although the version is not cloud-based, it’s designed as a highly-customizable solution that unlike previous versions, does so without the need for writing any code. Kirill stated that “Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 frees customers from the electronic concrete that has plagued the ERP industry for so long. Customers want flexible yet cost- effective business apps that work the way they do instead of being forced to adapt to the software."

As part of his speech, Kirill focused on Microsoft’s commitment to helping people become more productive, with agile, flexible business processes. He highlighted several customer success stories to better demonstrate this commitment and the AX 2012 wins scored as part of Microsoft’s TAP program. One of the wins highlighted was that of Hydra-Power Systems, a leading manufacturer and distributor of custom hydraulic systems. While we all know Microsoft’s spin on AX 2012, let me give you a snip-it of Kirill’s remarks on Hydra-Power so you can hear the client’s perspective on AX 2012 and the benefits it’s delivering:

“…Dynamics AX 2012 is giving Hydra-Power the ability to easily integrate Web services, such as UPS and vendor invoicing. It automates manual tasks that used to take a lot of time…because of the deep integration with SQL Server, with SharePoint and Office, Dynamics AX 2012 is simple, it's intuitive and it's powerful…it gives Hydra-Power the edge that only a really big company could have had in the past.

…During the last six months, business is really up. Hydra-Power is growing and hiring. And Dynamics AX 2012 makes training new employees much easier than ever before. In fact, before AX 2012, the only place they weren't using Dynamics was on the shop floor. And now, [Hydra-Power] has touch screens down on the shop floor to facilitate real-time timekeeping. That greatly helps them with their costing, and [Bob Jablonski, Operations Manager] says that now his Dynamics ERP system really is for absolutely everybody at Hydra-Power…” Read the Hydra Power Systems AX 2012 Microsoft Case Study

What Microsoft expects is for Hydra-Power’s experience to be every AX-based organization’s experience as well. The public beta version of AX 2012 is available now and the product’s scheduled GA date is set for August 2011. Here are some of the features found in AX 2012 designed to help customers simplify decisions:

  • A powerful foundation through pre-built industry capabilities and comprehensive ERP functionality for financial, human resources and operations management. Delivered in a single, global solution, it gives customers rapid time to value and enables partners to easily deliver packaged vertical offerings.
  • A new level of agility through a set of Unified Natural Models, which serves as a library of business processes that reflect real-world situations, and enables customers to easily modify their organizations and processes to meet their changing business needs.
  • Simplicity across the board, through the intuitive Role Tailored experience and access to context-sensitive business intelligence (BI) that's relevant to the work at hand. The familiar Microsoft Office user interface drives adoption, and the enhanced BI capabilities help customers uncover fresh insights that can lead to faster and more informed decision-making.

Other Resources:
Keynote recording available at:
http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/presskits/dynamics/liveevent.aspx

Keynote transcript available at: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/steve/2011/04-11convergence2011.mspx

Hydra-Power AX 2012 Case Study available at: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Microsoft-SQL-Server/Hydra-Power-Systems/Industrial-Equipment-Company-Advances-Its-Business-on-Innovative-ERP-Solution/4000009577

Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Convergence 2011, Dynamics User Groups

If you missed Mark Rockwell's viking outfit on Sunday at Convergence, then you must have missed the GPUG PreGAME event, hosted by GP Partner Connections. This event, like the AXUG and NAVUG DayONE events, are some of the best events as they occur before the Microsoft agenda kicks off, giving us partners the chance to dive right into ERP-specific content and take part in discussions with key Microsoft personnel.

The PreGAME kicked-off early with Kim Peterson of GPUG opening the session, with Doug Kennedy and Anders Spatzek following with a discussion on the partner channel and how it’s been different from other Microsoft partner models. Some interesting points from the keynote:

MPN (Managed Partner Network):

  • Over 65% of partners in the old version had Gold Status
  • They may have received the status from a non-Dynamics product, thus the need for certification to show customers their expertise

They have been facilitating 4yrs of sales surveys:

  • Win rate has not been what was expected: Even the people who knew of Dynamics, when polled, the deals were lost more from domain expertise.
  • Sure Step was a way to get partners to think of an implementation methodology to help failed implementations.
  • Not having certification is “like not having a driving license, so would you get in the car with that person?”
  • To Microsoft/clients it’s extremely important to show that you have an investment in what you’re doing.

Doug also noted that they're working on getting more educated pre-sales and sales people onboard. Together with Anders, another whole conversation focused on why verticalization is important for partners as they don’t want to see partners dabbling in all verticals. Instead, PAMs are trying to work with VARs to really find out what their key verticals are and better define what they should be, not just by industry but according to domain experience as well. And of course, Cloud was a big piece of the discussion as everyone anticipates announcements coming from Convergence.

Doug and Anders delivered an engaging keynote and excited all of us for what’s coming next at Convergence 2011, which by the way, is shaping up to be the second largest Convergence conference ever. Stay tuned.

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Convergence 2011

One of the great things about the Microsoft partner community is that all of us in it are truly part of a tight community of professionals. So last night’s partner-only reception hosted by Microsoft was a relaxing opportunity to meet up with the connections that we’re always working with or hearing about, but rarely see face to face. I think I can speak for others when I say that although it’s not always easy travelling for business, sharing evenings like last night with colleagues, and friends, makes home feel a little less far away.

I caught up with many folks that I had been looking forward to seeing, such as Bob McAdam (@4mcadam) and Mark Polino (@mpolino),as well as many members of the Dynamics Communities crew including, Andy Hafer, Frank Vukovits, Kim Peterson and Heather Williams. I also had the opportunity to talk with John Kleb of Sikich, Steven Gregory from Metafile and Mark Rockwell of Rockton Software. And there were many new introductions thrown in the mix for me as well, such as meeting Dave Musgrave (@Dev4DynamicsGP), who writes a blog for Microsoft Dynamics GP Developer and Consultant community.

It’s kind of funny, as much as we all talk and work together throughout the year, for most of us we couldn’t pick each other out in a crowd. For example, last night I introduced Kim Peterson of GPUG to both Bob McAdam and Mark Polino as they had never meet personally! I was joking that as long as they’ve all been involved with GPUG, it was funny that a newbie like me brought them together, finally, for an introduction.

During all these handshakes and introductions, the band BANG provided some great tunes in the background and the Data Masons team joined me in enjoying all of the evening’s food. Between bites we discussed social media with some folks and as a result, I started trading tweets with other people attending CONV11. In fact, we even tried getting together a #Tweetup for Sunday morning at 7:00am for social media participants attending Convergence. Probably a bit ambitious after a long night, right?

If you haven’t yet followed @datamasons and @jon_rivers, or other members of the Dynamics tweeting community, like Bob McAdam (@4mcadam) and Mark Polino (@mpolino), you’re missing out on some great tidbits coming from Atlanta. If you’re on Twitter, you’ll also want to follow the hashtag #CONV11 to stay up-to-date on Convergence goings-on. For a short overview on using Twitter hashtags to locate information quickly, checkout this blog post: Using Hashtags to Benefit the Microsoft Dynamics Tweeting Community.

And as my friend @4mcadam tweeted, “@jon_rivers will enjoy seeing everyone wearing their name badges with the @datamasons name sponsor on them.” That said, stop by booth #1121 to say hello!

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Convergence 2011

While researching ideas for future blog posts I came across the recent post titled, EDI is HOT. No, really!” by Benoit Lheureux of the Gartner Group. With a title like that, it definitely got my attention. I did a double-take before I was able to continue reading his post, but even then I was shocked to come across additional words such as “sexy.” Now, I’m in the trenches when it comes to EDI integration for Microsoft Dynamics AX, GP & NAV but “hot” or “sexy” are not the first words that come to mind when I think of EDI, but instead words more like “necessity” and “dictated.”

Whether or not you find EDI “hot” or “sexy" as Benoit’s post describes, let’s at least talk about some of the various EDI subject lines that he mentions:

EDI Standards

ANSI ASC X12 (X12) is predominant in North America.
UN/EDIFACT is the only international standard and is predominant outside of North America.
TRADACOMS standard developed by the ANA (Article Numbering Association) is predominant in the UK retail industry.
ODETTE or VDA standard used within the Automotive Industry.
VICS standard is used by the general merchandise retail industry across North America.

Help with EDI Translator Upgrade

From a Microsoft Dynamics ISV who just specializes in EDI this is where “apples to apples” becomes “apples to bananas” as not all EDI ISV’s are the same with regards to how they handle translator software. Now some ISV/EDI vendors will have an OEM agreement or reseller agreement to sell another translator software solution, so that leads to a question you should always ask when evaluating is who owns/builds the translating and then of course ask them who do you turn for support when needed. And then you have our solution, Vantage Point EDI, where the translator is 100% our product and is part of a complete turn-key solution. So when choosing to upgrade, consider who you’ll turn to for help as you may have to deal with different vendors to resolve your EDI issue.

SaaS Model

SaaS (software as a service) and hosted EDI solutions have generated a lot of buzz in recent years. These solutions have several advantages over traditional on-premise “tool-based” solutions such as Sterling Gentran®, Inovis TrustedLink® and Microsoft Biztalk®. On-premise “managed compliance providers” make up a third category of EDI solution providers. Examination of the relative advantages and disadvantages of these solutions can help you make the right decision for your business. Click to read more..

One other area I want to address is that of EDI being a relatively old technology which has been around for over 30 years. But as technology has changed the landscape of IT, for example the Internet, EDI continues to evolve and remains one of the most efficient tools in transferring documents between companies. I believe that EDI will be around for a long time to come and it will continue to adapt to the markets as companies try to automate and improve processes.

You’ll have to decide for yourself if these topics are “hot” or “sexy”, but EDI is here to stay and will continue to evolve as companies look to streamline their business processes and be more efficient.

See you in a couple of days in Atlanta, GA for Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2011. I’ll be at Data Masons’ booth (#1121) – hope to meet you there!

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics NAV EDI, Microsoft Dynamics Community, Dynamics ERP Integration, Convergence 2011

When we launched our Twitter account, I needed to explain #hashtags and how to best use them to my colleagues. While doing so my brain started to run-off into all different directions (nothing unusual there) about how ISVs, VARs, Subject Matter Experts, User Groups (e.g. AXUG, GPUG, NAVUG), Conferences (e.g. Convergence 2011) and of course, Microsoft benefit from using consistent #hashtags in their Tweets.

If you’re unfamiliar yourself, the # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages. Read "What are Hashtags" for more information.

So why should you care about #hashtags? If you use #hashtags then your message is categorized according to each tag, which makes it easier for someone to find information on a specific topic. As members of the Dynamics community, we can help potential prospects, partners, consultants, etc. navigate to relevant information by making sure we categorize our Tweets with the appropriate tags. For some of you, you might narrow that objective down even further and use tags more focused on a specific Dynamics platform, or even a type of product. Remember though, that hashtags are included within a Tweet’s 140 character limit, so choose wisely.

What #hashtags we should use? That’s not something I can decide, but I’ll help by initiating that discussion. From my own searches, I found the following tags most commonly used within the community:

Has anyone seen other ones being used? If so drop me an email at jon.rivers@datamasons.com or just leave a comment on this post. I also think it might be worth creating additional tags to further help categorize content within the community. Suggested tags:

Those are just a few suggestions, but what about vertical markets, such as retail, for example? The list could go on and on, but hopefully this will make you think about how you Tweet so that the right people have the right information at their fingertips. By categorizing Tweets, not only is information easier to find, but it also drives awareness within our Microsoft Dynamics Community.

And with Convergence on the horizon, don’t forget to use #CONV11 on your conference-related Tweets so that your followers can easily stay in-the-know on the latest news coming from the conference! Another tip on hashtags: When it comes to conferences, most of us in the Tweeting community use as few hashtags as possible as it makes it easier to follow the entire conference conversation. So at the very least follow #CONV11 and then go from there!