Microsoft Shows Off Improved ERP Navigation

For example, its next release of Navision—now Dynamics NAV in Microsoft parlance--will sport a "breadcrumb" feature to help users retrace their steps in the course of their computing.

"In CRM we learned you could quickly get into a situation where you'd opened up a lot of pages and it was hard to traverse back, the breadcrumb bar will make for easier rewinds and re-tracks," Satya Nadella, corporate vice president Microsoft Business Division told a group of reporters and analysts Sunday at Convergence 2006 in Dallas.

Nadella showed screen shots of the upcoming Navision 5 interface, which he said will be further demonstrated in tomorrow's keynote by company chairman Bill Gates. Nav 5.0 is due in the first half of the year.

A major focus of the most recent Dynamics CRM 3.0 release, was a drastic reduction in the clicks needed to perform common functions. With the first two releases, Microsoft partners and customers said even simple tasks required far too may clicks and led to a maze of on-screen windows that made productivity difficult. Some referred to that problem as "click abuse."

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The next wave of ERP apps will share some interface conventions of Office 2007 including the updated ribbon" bar, he noted. These tightening connections between the Office productivity applications and servers and MBS ERP applications are a major theme at this year's convergence.

Nadella stressed the need to push cross-training between Information Worker and MBS competencies among partners.

Earlier in the day, Microsoft Business Division President Jeff Raikes recapped the group's progress over the past year during which it launched CRM 3.0 , Dynamics GP or Great Plains 9.0 and Dynamics SL or Solomon 6.5.

Axapta 4 is expected out in June, Nav 5.0 to follow. Great Plains 10 and Solomon 7 are "coming this year," Raikes said.

His keynote focused on what Microsoft hopes will be seamless integration between its Outlook 2007 (and other Office 2007 applications) and its ERP and CRM lineups. Specifically they showed off Microsoft CRM and Outlook 2007, Sharepoint, and Excel Services all working together in an "end to end" demo.