Directions 2016 | Why you should attend, and why I won’t be there

Summer is getting close, which means early bird registrations for the “big” Dynamics NAV events are ending.
There are quite a few events this fall, actually to much, which is why I am writing this blog post. Remember that blogging is personal and that this blog post is my personal opinion.

Directions 2016 USA & EMEA | What you will learn

This release will be all about Madeira and project “Madeira”. This is confusing because Microsoft has choosen the codename of their next SAAS ERP offering the same as the codename of the next version of Dynamics NAV.
Last year the “stuff” we got with NAV 2016 was just amazing. We got enhancements to the application in a way we had not seen in a while. This got many partners very exited about the future of Dynamics NAV. The general thinking was: “They are finished with the techy stuff, now we will get features”. Boy were we wrong.
After attending NAVUG Summit EMEA in Germany it was very clear to me that for this year there is no NAV release. There is only a project “Madeira” release. Project “Madeira” is the new SAAS offering from Microsoft and they are using most NAV resources to make this project happen. This does not mean NAV 2016 R2 (just guessing here) has no value for NAV, but it means it will be different.

So why should you attend?

About 5 or 6 years ago I got together with a few other NAV addicts and we agreed that for various reasons the NAV ecosystem had to change. The model that Microsoft had inherrited from Navision did not work.2009AppDesign I had just finished my first book about NAV Application Design which inspired us to start talking about Design Patterns, being more repeatable and creating techniques to make solutions easier to use and easier to upgrade. It did not take long before we had many meetings with Microsoft in Vedbaek.
If you have been living under a rock, or ignored our messaging and think you can keep on doing NAV the old Navision way, then someone should force you to attend Directions USA or EMEA. The messaging from Microsoft is very clear.

Repeat or die!

Based on Delta files and the Hooks design pattern Microsoft has invented a technology called “Extensions” which will be the mandatory future way of shipping customizations for Dynamics NAV. No more raw source code modifications but “apps” that can be plugged in and plugged out of the product easily.
This journey will not be an easy one. The architecture behind Extensions needs a lot of polishing and our Development Environment is at least two decades behind when it comes to solid product development capabilities and integration to GIT and/or TFS.
The messaging at Directions will be very clear and it will put the majority of the current ecosystem confused. They way we have worked for the last three-something decades will not be there until you retire.
DirectionsUSA
This is a very big issue in our ecosystem. If you walk around at one of the two Directions event you will see a lot of grey hair. Many owners of NAV businesses started in the 1990ies and are a short decade away from retirement. Why should you risk your life savings if the way you have been working still works? Because the ecosystem will change drastically before you want to sell your business.

Will Directions be a technical event?

The changes in NAV Madeira and/or project “Madeira” will not have its biggest influence on the technical side of your business. Yes, your developers will have to ship in a different way making a NAVx file instead of a fob and yes, it will be challenging.
But by far the biggest challenge will be how you sell new projects. Customers will be getting used to subscription software very fast. I can see that with my own end-users. Five years ago they were all “affraid” of hosting and paying a monthly fee rather than flat rate. But smart phones and office 365 have changed that. Who still buys and installs Microsoft Exchange on-prem is a dinosaur.
Directions will have a track on Extensions, or so I’ve been told. This surprises me a little since a “track” means at least 10 sessions. Guys, it is not that exciting and the technology is not finished. It will take Microsft at least one or two more releases to make it work, maybe even longer. Until then we have to work with CRUD events, but I will get into that in another more technical blog.

Why I won’t be there…

When I got my MVP award almost 12 years ago there was not a lot todo about Dynamics NAV. We were front on Death Row waiting to be killed in favor of project Green. Today project Green is project “Madeira” based on NAV. The number of events and opportunities to speak and teach has exploded.
NAVUG Summit
Since 18 months I’ve been traveling accross the globe from Tokyo to Reykjavik and Kiev to Toronto to talk about the product I love. When Directions EMEA is organised I have other obligations. I will be teaching a class for NAVUG adjacent to their Summit event in Tampa and talking about Design Patterns and Extensions from an end user perspective.
I am still in doubt about Directions USA but since nobody has asked me and I am already traveling too much I’ve decided to be home for my youngest daughters 8th birthday. She is after all the reason why I also missed the event 8 years ago.

NAVTechDays

If you have one choice of events or a little budget and you want to prepare your development team for the future of NAV, then I would register them ASAP for NAVTechDays and send them to a pre conference workshop (preferably mine ;-)). The event is rediculously cheap compared to Directions and easy to reach via Amsterdam and a direct train connection.
NAVTechDays2016_BronzeSponsor
The event only makes sense if you are technical. If you want to learn more about Manufacturing, Warehouse or Finance go to NAVUG.
Are you a business owner of a NAV practice? Are you a shy decade away from retirement? Then go to Directions and learn how to get out of your comfort zone.

Microsoft takes over Directions

This is something I wanted to write about for a while. I am expecting that not all partners are going to be happy with the messaging at Directions. I can remember partners being pissed at Microsoft when they told you’ld have to recompile all objects in the database before making a fob file. Moving to extensions as a mandatory way of shipping sounds even worse to me.
Microsoft has highjacked Directions from the community and I am curious if partners are willing to stand up against the idea of “The future of NAV is Extensions” and make sure that also in the long term future we can make raw source code modifications for one off implementations where customers require a flexible business solution that adopts to their way of doing business because lets be honest, that is what Navision has been all about in the last 30 years.

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