This is not an analogy. It is not hypothetical. It is in fact a true story. Each D365 module has its own unique set of capabilities and experience, but when "assembled" into a unified system, they provide a solid solution for every business requirement. Sounds familiar? Continue reading the article to learn about the covert project Microsoft undertook to develop Dynamics 365.
Each of the products that we now recognize as being a part of the Microsoft Dynamics brand was previously standalone applications that dominated their own markets. They all have their own separate backstories, and they finally joined together to become something better; they are the Avengers of management and business software.
Dynamics customers, and even many IT professionals who utilize Dynamics, feel that D365 is synonymous with Microsoft. We can't envision a period when the Dynamics suite's pillars weren't integrally linked to the tech behemoth. However, Microsoft cannot claim to have invented Dynamics products. They were carefully chosen to create the basis of the company's Business Solutions wing and refined over time. They were initially invented by other companies.
The Origin Stories
The history of D365 begins in the early 1980s, years before Microsoft went public. At that time, Microsoft was still developing the ubiquitous Windows operating system, and the systems that would later become Microsoft Dynamics were being meticulously developed by emerging software companies all around the USA and in Europe.
It was during this time period that personal computing was made more widely available, allowing businesses of all sizes to take advantage of it for financial and operational management. Now that the technology was in place, businesses needed software, and software companies all over the world rushed to provide that need.
Solomon the Fourth
TLB Inc. (short for The Lord’s Business) in Ohio was developing Solomon I, its first piece of accounting software, over 3500 kilometers away from Microsoft's headquarters. Solomon went through a series of modifications in the 1980s, winning several prizes and accolades. TLB, which had subsequently changed its name to Solomon Software, produced Solomon IV, its next-generation software for Microsoft Windows, released in 1994. Solomon IV was the most customizable accounting software of the time.
Great Plains was an independent player in ERP software, based out of North Dakota. Great Plains created the first multi-user accounting program in 1993, and it was named "Dynamics Release 1.0." This program evolved into what later became Dynamics GP. By 2000, Great Plains had come up with Dynamics Release 5.0 and had acquired Solomon Software for $140 million.
The story begins in 1983 in Denmark. PC&C A/S, later Navision Software A/S, was the first to develop a simple accounting IT-solution for a single user. The system was later developed to support many users, procedures, and departments. Over the following two decades, Navision evolved into an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
Damgaard Data (DD) formed in 1984 reached USD 12.5 million in annual sales and 100 employees after eight years of operations. IBM bought Damgaard Data in 1994 to sell its products globally. The company released Axapta - a finance, inventory, and production management system. After a rocky relationship, Erik and Preben (the Danish founders of DD) bought-out the IBM's stake in the company in 1998. Next year the company value hit the billion-dollar mark in three weeks after Damgaard Data went public on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange. Sadly, the thrill was short-lived. Months later, in early December, a sudden drop in revenue caused a drop in the stock price.
Navision Software, the company's primary competitor, suffered a similar fate and the two decided to merge under the name Navision. The corporation aimed to regain market trust by focusing on impressive growth and profitability.
The plan was successful, and Microsoft came calling in 2001.
In 2000, IThell.com recognized the innovative solution from iCommunicate and awarded its first Halo Award to their product. A tiny team of only 10 individuals created a system that allows enterprises to offer live chat, two-way messaging and knowledgebase access without the need for hardware, software or technical skills. Microsoft recognized this and had its eye set on the product. This comprehensive Customer Support bundle costs only 25 cents per case or $200 per month per customer support person, a model that Dynamics 365 now emulates.
Microsoft is S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury came up with the Avengers Initiative (formerly called the Protector Initiative), also known as Phase 1, to develop a reaction team made up of the most extraordinary people the world has to offer: the Avengers.
Microsoft and Bill Gates, saw the potential of these amazing software solutions and brought together the different heroes of the ERP and CRM world together. Come 2001 they began assembling companies for a mega project that was not heard of. Great Plains (with Solomon Software) was acquired for more than a billion dollars, as well as iCommunicate.NET was now under Microsoft. Navision along with DD was also to be enlisted the same year, but due to Bill Gates' opposition and the events of September 11, 2001, the discussions stalled. Finally, in 2002, the agreement was concluded with a cash payment of $1.45 billion.
Project Green (Protectors Initiative)
Initially, each of the products was rebranded as Microsoft products. Microsoft introduced Microsoft Business Solutions Axapta in 2002, Microsoft Business Solutions Navision and iCommunicate.NET-based Microsoft Business Solutions Customer Relationship Management in 2003, and Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains in 2004.
Microsoft began converting its four newly acquired ERP packages (Great Plains, Navision, Axapta, and Solomon) in 2003. None of them were created by Microsoft exclusively. In addition to using its own development environment (MorphX), Axapta uses its own language (X++) and database (Oracle). Known as Project Green, this endeavor aimed to transition four products to Microsoft technology while retaining their unique features.
“When I first joined the team the “application” was … referred to only as the “reference app”.”
Aaron Elder The lead developer of iCommunicate, commented on the humble beginnings of Microsoft CRM development, now Dynamics 365.
Microsoft redesigned each program's user interface to reflect its characteristic style, putting them in line with popular products like Office and Outlook. Unfortunately, they underestimated the difficulty of this massive undertaking. The ambitious initiative of the Microsoft Business Solutions Division eventually collapsed under its own weight in 2006. However, like a genuine superhero narrative, an incredible product line was spawned from this disaster. We now refer to it as the Dynamics 365 ecosystem.
Dynamics 365 (the Avengers)
In the MCU films, the World Security Council canceled the Avengers Initiative in favor of a weapons development program called Phase 2. As a result of Project Green's failure, Microsoft took this uncannily identical action. Microsoft revealed that it will be focusing on Dynamics instead of Project Green.
The news came out of Microsoft's 2005 Business Summit on the Redmond campus, stating the company will focus on the requirements of medium-sized organizations (25-500 PCs). In 2006, efforts were made to market the Dynamics package as the answer they had long desired, but in reality, Microsoft merely rebranded all of its products as "Dynamics."
Axapta was renamed Dynamics AX
Great Plains to Dynamics GP
Solomon to Dynamics SL
Microsoft CRM was renamed to Dynamics CRM.
Microsoft said that it will build its Dynamics platforms as standalone solutions that efficiently serve its individual customer groups. But as time progressed new signs of hope emerged.
Nonetheless, the most revolutionary step had yet to come from Microsoft's Dynamics division.
Finally, Microsoft's dream project was realized, five years after Office 365 was released. It was in 2016 when Microsoft Dynamics 365 as we know it today was created. Customers have the option of purchasing the entire Dynamics package or just the applications they require. Digital transformation is possible for any organization, no matter its size or context, thanks to Dynamics 365. User-friendliness, intuitive-intelligence and mobility are just some of the benefits of Dynamics 365.
The Dynamics 365 Ecosystem as of today
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