Ever since Microsoft's announcement in 2005 of the 'Dynamics' brand, the strategy (code named 'Project Green') to homogenise the range of ERP products together into a single technology has been all but been forgotten. This has largely been due to Microsoft's investments in 'mash-up' technologies such as Power BI and integration platforms such as Power Apps and Microsoft Flow. The concept of 'metamodeling' your Enterprise to make integration and consolidated reporting easier is clearly not a new concept but now with these technologies and the prevalence of open APIs it has become a reality that's available to practically any organisation. The investment in the 2016 release of Dynamics NAV to integrate more natively with Dynamics CRM Online was a step in the right direction to bring the products closer together and with the recent Dynamics 365 announcement it seems like there is a concrete commitment to use Power BI, Power Apps and Microsoft Flow to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
The idea of having a single system to drives every single process within a business may seem like nirvana but in reality would become so complex, hard to maintain and inflexible to business changes (such as mergers and acquisitions) that it would quickly prove to be as undesirable as having no system at all. In a previous life as a Microsoft BizTalk Consultant the Service Orientated Architecture was the perceived anti-dote to the monolithic systems of the 1990's. Unfortunately, the fact that the systems being integrated together naturally assumed that they were the only application you ever needed to use and had closed APIs, integration was not only difficult and expensive but also prone to failure.
I really welcome Microsoft's Dynamics 365 strategy and hope it will make the Business Solutions sit comfortably within the promised 'common data model' with ease so that we can also include other non-Dynamics parts of the business into the mix. I suspect that the individual product brands will remain intact as products in their own right (On-Premises deployments are not covered by Dynamics 365) and so much of the investment will be as applicable to third-party integration as it will be for the Dynamics brand applications. I really hope that we are starting to see this 'platform first' approach that the Azure team have always taken under Scott Guthrie's leadership now being applied to the Dynamics Business Solutions.
Why not check out the technologies that are making Dynamics 365 possible:
Microsoft Power BI
Microsoft Power Apps
Microsoft have announced a new promotion called 'Cloud CRM for Less' that targets Oracle and Salesforce.com customers offering USD200 per seat cash back: