What I learned in at Directions US 2016
Two weeks ago, I attended the Dynamics NAV partner conference Directions North America 2016 in Phoenix, AZ. This post is a mockup of all the things, I learned during these awesome days.
Erik Hougaard (b|l|t) kicked off my Monday program with his session “Functional programming in NAV.” The session was partly a historic overview of the Dynamics NAV product, and partly an overview of (functional) programming constructs with analogies to C/AL, which is the programming language used in NAV. As a newcomer to C/AL and an experienced functional programmer, I found that it was an interesting approach to present C/AL concepts, and it was nice to be reminded of the good old days programming with Standard ML at IT University of Copenhagen.
Read more about Erik Hougaards session here:
Next, went to a partner session to learn more about the eco system around NAV. I chose to attend Fastpaths (www) session “Security Audit and Compliance Solutions for Microsoft Dynamics NAV,” because of my general interest in security and because I had a couple of slides on auditing in SQL Server in my session. Especially one thing struck me as being very interesting in their product: they had compiled a knowledge base of possible vulnerabilities, not based on technology, but based on combinations of privileges. An example could be
rights to create GL accounts
rights to post to GL
The combination of these two privileges could enable a crooked employee to create unofficial accounts and to transfer funds to them. Super cool idea combining knowledge about security technology (security roles) with domain knowledge on auditing.
Read more about Fastpaths session here:
Then it was time for some machine learning with Cortana Intelligence… My colleagues Klaus Marius Hansen (l) and Andrei Panko demoed the new NAV extension in their session “Dynamics NAV 2017, Cortana Intelligence.” Here they showed how to integrate Azure ML (now rebranded as Azure Cortana Intelligence) to the NAV application and database to produce sales forecast based on previous sales records. Part of their work also includes C/AL functionality to interact with Cortana. It will be interesting to see how the first partners will utilize this for customers. If you are a NAV partner, I suggest you take a look at
(some free content, some you need to pay for).
Or go all in and do one or more university-level data mining courses at Coursera:
to get some inspiration. Even though the videos involve data mining with technologies such as SSAS and/or R, the techniques and algorithms are the same in Cortana.
See Klaus’s and Andrei’s abstract here:
On the second conference day, I started with a Sherpion partner session on “Real Life – Upgrade Best Practices.” Sherpion (www) is a consultancy company with many thousand hours of experience in NAV upgrade projects, and it was interesting to see their structured approach, with planning session, test runs and upgrade windows.
See Sherpions abstract here:
Then, I stumbled over Kevin L. Ameches (l) little gem of a session “Real Life Partner Experience: The “real-world” journey to an industry Vertical.” The session was the story on how he and his company developed from a five man NAV shop to a 25+ people software development company. Along the way, he taught us about various production methods and products in the steel industry, and told us how he went from learning this domain from one customer to building a NAV vertical called RealSTEEL. No, not the movie… :)
See Kevin L. Ameches abstract here:
At last, it was my turn to present. I delivered a completely new session called “Dynamics NAV on SQL Server 2016, New Database Features,” where I highlighted new SQL Server features in all supported versions 2012, 2014 and 2016. Features, I picked for their relevance in a NAV context. I got some feedback after the session that people couldn’t easily see the connection to NAV, and I promise that I will make this part of the presentation clearer, when I give the presentation again in Prague for the Directions EMEA 2016 in Prague in October.
See my abstract here:
On the last conference day, I attended two great sessions, one on business intelligence and one on NAV extensions. John Kleb’s (l|t) session “Selecting the right BI Solution” was a truly excellent overview on visualization techniques ala Steven Few, how different BI product types cater for different BI needs, and a little bit on data warehouse architecture.
Check out Steven Few’s website here (he is awesome): https://www.perceptualedge.com/
Read John Kleb’s abstract here:
The last session for me was Eric Wauters’s (b|l) session “My First Extension” on… NAV extensions. In a gentle pace, he took the audience through the inner workings of an extension, covered deployment, installation and upgrades. Since I’m new to the world of NAV, this introduction session was just right for me.
Read Eric Wauters’ abstract here:
Great sessions, great networking and great poisonous animals (scorpions in hotel rooms and rattle snakes in the hotel lobby...)