From razor-thin margins and fluctuating commodity prices to strict demands for regulatory compliance and evolving consumer expectations, the challenges facing today’s food and beverage (F&B) leaders are substantial and growing. Staying profitable and competitive in this landscape requires deep visibility into all aspects of the supply chain, ensuring operations across the enterprise are optimized for efficiency, growth, and profit. While providing this degree of visibility has historically been challenging for many legacy systems to achieve, rapid advances in today’s technology make it possible for executives to leverage real-time insights into virtually any area of their business—from operational and team performance, to data from growers, shippers, and front-line retailers—all driven by a connected Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform such as Microsoft Dynamics AX.
Usability and Adoption as Key Success Factors
Yet, regardless of how powerful a piece of software may be, it must be widely used throughout the enterprise to realize its full business potential. To this end, F&B executives must ensure their software solutions are streamlined, connected, user friendly, and encourage user adoption, making it easier for employees to do their jobs faster and with greater accuracy. In today’s Internet of Things era, where massive amounts of business critical data can be acquired through connectivity to almost any device, industry leaders are turning away from disparate, scattered systems (often awkwardly cobbled together), and opting instead for unified solutions that bring together myriad, mission-critical applications, allowing employees access to all the software they need to perform role-specific functions with the click of a button.
Interoperability Connects Data, Applications, and Infrastructure
To achieve this type of unified solution, interoperability is key, and Microsoft is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of F&B executives. For example, Microsoft Dynamics AX provides a single platform that seamlessly integrates with existing Microsoft services, enabling employees throughout the enterprise to take advantage of global business management features without sacrificing access to their familiar Microsoft software. Microsoft application services supported by Dynamics AX include Microsoft Office, with built-in support for Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and SharePoint to facilitate a variety of employee actions—from quotes and proposals to sales presentations and document management—as well as Yammer for social networking, Skype for anytime collaboration, and third-party apps built on the Microsoft .NET framework or ASP.NET.
In addition, the Dynamics AX database allows employees to host existing SQL server-based data across the Microsoft Data Platform, including integration to StreamInsight for complex event processing (CEP) applications, PowerView for data exploration, and Bing, as well as Azure Data Market, and Azure HDInsight, both part of the cloud-based Microsoft Azure platform, with built-in infrastructure support for Windows, Windows Azure, and Windows Phone.
One Platform Meets Multiple Business Needs
By supporting a hybrid of on-premise and cloud-based deployments, Microsoft Dynamics AX allows organizations to meet a range of business needs, ultimately lowering total cost of ownership and maximizing return on investment by reducing the number of devices and amount of hardware required by each user. It also connects systems at a competitive, low cost across initial installation, implementation, and maintenance support, without incremental fees. Additional benefits include ease of manageability, improved team productivity, and faster decision making, all fueled by an integrated solution that features built-in analysis and reporting tools to optimize performance.
Microsoft Dynamics AX: Consolidating and Optimizing across the Enterprise
With access to myriad technologies and devices, today’s F&B leaders have unprecedented potential to harness these tools for success in an unpredictable and highly competitive industry. Moving forward, however, it will be incumbent on them to select technologies and tools that can be brought seamlessly together into a unified, comprehensive enterprise solution that encourages maximum adoption and use. In this space, Microsoft Dynamics AX will stand out as the best of both worlds: robust and capable of optimizing and providing deep visibility into enterprise-wide business processes, while also enabling simple integration with existing, familiar Microsoft technology and tools.
Learn more about the author, Christian Hutter.
“The Dynamic Manufacturer,” Microsoft Dynamics AX PowerPoint, Slide 21.