AX Technical Conference 2014 – Day 1

Posted: February 8, 2014 in AX Technical Conference

The Microsoft AX Technical conference (#AXTech2014) started on Monday 3rd February, but before that we arrived on Saturday evening, and Sunday was Super Bowl XLVIII between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. Microsoft kindly put on a large screen in the grand ballroom but we decided to head into Bellevue and located an excellent bar not far from the Hyatt called Earls ( which did fantastic burgers and had great service, but more importantly they were showing the game on multiple screens. I had purchased a Hawks shirt (well we had to support the home town) and as history showed the Hawks won the Super Bowl 43-8. The town was pretty electric as they celebrated late into the night in bars and on the street, which lead to a slightly fuzzy head the next morning!

The conference started with the opening Keynote split between Hal Howard, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics ERP research and development, and Christian Pedersen, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics AX. A boisterous affair with references to the SuperBowl and some general talk about ERP trends, the AX Roadmap, general innovations (DIXF in CU7 and LCS advancements) and some introductions to the Retail options spoilt by the loss of connection to the Redmond servers.

My first real session was “A Day in the life of a Microsoft Dynamics AX solution architect” with Dan Orgen and Matt Sheard. The idea was to explain the roles and responsibilities of a solution architect and apply to the different phases of an implementation project. This was a really interesting run through for the role I currently undertake. The MS vision is a much freer role with a great dependence on deep product knowledge and experience, the issue for the reseller is how to position this from a budget perspective to the customer. Some of the greater considerations were single versus multiple instances and legal entity modelling. The focus on goals, and the mapping of these to the different stages of the plan throughout the implementation was discussed along with understanding the roadmap and TAP options. A really informative session.

The next session was after lunch. I went to Introduction to warehousing and transportation functionality with Program Manager Aco Atanasovski, Karina Normann Jakobsen and Mirza Abdic. They closed the doors on this session because the room was full. A really interesting taster to the new functionality. The transportation offering looked very similar to a huge specification I wrote in AX2009 and therefore felt familiar. There are routes for transportation definition and a clearly complex rating engine to return options. There is a freight reconciliation but disappointingly the self-billing concept was absent. As a note the transportation system ONLY works with the new WMS offerings and not WMSII. The warehouse elements showed the RF device emulations which in release 1 have no offline capability. There is now the concept of “soft” reservation rather than the locking of locations which caused so many issues in WMSII. There were location directive to enable the flow of goods which looked pretty flexible with hierarchical needs defined. There is also a new inventory status dimension, batch item extensions, batch disposition support, QMS inbound and outbound, simple cross docking and a WMS flow for Retail. There was also the concept of License Plates (potentially replacing Pallets but it was unclear). Overall the changes here look huge and the impact on the standard offering is significant with the path between WMSII and the incorporated Blue Horse Shoe functionality for R3 a little hazy until we get into the detail of the software.

I then tried to get into the detail overview of the new warehousing functionality but the session closed early with the room full, so I hopped down to the demand forecasting session where I also found the doors barred to be due to demand – clearly the conference was popular! I then went into the Streamline HR processes session. I was not expecting much value from Darin Kramer and a focus on the US, especially after it was stated early that R3 was not a major HR release. However the US gets some “New Hire” reporting functionality and there are personnel actions for the in and out of employment processes (although I believe the process is finalised when you enter the new worker :-)) There is a new cube and some budgeting changes that look quite good if I ever needed them. There is also a HR blog at which we were encouraged to look at (so I encourage you).

My final session was the detailed overview of the transportation management system. A disappointing end to the day with the first 15 minutes being a repeat of the overview from earlier in the day and then the session descended into an uncontrolled random Q&A session. There was a round of applause when a guy asking about question 15 asked “Can we stop the questions and return to your session?” 🙂

A great opening day, meeting lots of people and seeing some really interesting sessions. For context it was stated that the number of changes made in R3 are the same as the number made when AX4.0 moved to AX2009. A truly huge release. This was further emphasised by the need to make the next release a UI change and all of the concepts and major functionality in R3 will be built upon. In essence R3 is the first major stepping stone to the next release of AX.



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