Yesterday Microsoft announced Project Madeira, a new, cloud based ERP system currently in preview mode, but coming in the fall of 2016. There’s an online web client, iOS and Android clients, and interaction with Office 365 so you could create a customer from Outlook, for example.
Madeira is based on Dynamics NAV, but it’s not quite the same as NAV, and it uses Azure DB as the database.
I played with the prerelease a little yesterday and it’s clearly designed a competitor to the NetSuites, Intaccts, and Xero’s of the world. I’m including a bunch of links at the bottom so you can make up you’re own mind.
Frankly, the announcements have left me with more questions than answers.
Madeira is positioned for companies from 10-99 employees, so clearly a its short step up from Quickbooks or Quickbooks Online and in Xero’s neighborhood. This is a good thing. That’s always been a big step up. It’s also where Microsoft’s last failed attempt with a scaled down version of GP tried to go. I think Madeira is better positioned and by delivering a mostly complete offering (Fixed Assets, Time Sheet entry and a few other things come later) it has a chance to succeed.
But I’m left wondering why Microsoft needs a 5th ERP system? It’s NAV, but not NAV so there will be developmental differences. It’s hosed by MS and I’ve seen comments that its only sold through partner and that it will be available directly and through partners so there’s some confusion there. It’s positioned for companies from 10-99 users, but is it licensed that way?
GP and NAV both have lots of companies using them that don’t fit where they are positioned, so licensing, scalability, and migration will be important.
As I parse the press releases and stories a couple of things stand out:
- NAV is high customizable, Madeira will not be. ISV solutions will be available. That makes it more Xero like and less NetSuity. (Yes I’m making up words, I’m creative that way, deal with it.)
- Interactions with Office 365 will be interesting. If this was all versions of Outlook, I would say it was a gimmick. Outlook plugins can be flaky, but the server component of O365 could change that.
- How does it scale? This is a problem for Intuit and Quickbooks and it’s been a problem for Sage. When a user outgrows Madeira, due to size or customization needs, where do they go? Is there a migration path to NAV since they share code? To AX? If the answer is that they reimplement something else, that’s a problem. Madeira targets “growing” business and many of them have outsized ideas of where they will be in 3 years. Realized or not, those ideas drive decisions.
What does this mean for GP? Which is of course why you are here.
- GP isn’t going anywhere any time soon. It has a massive installed base, a new web client that opens up lots of possibilities, it’s customizable and has a huge add on marketplace.
- By all accounts both GP and NAV are getting additional investment. Combined dev teams mean that new features are appearing in both products. Workflow was in GP first then NAV, the HTML client was in NAV first then GP.
- There will NOT be a GP-like version of Madeira. You’ll be able to run GP via hosting companies with the HTML 5 client, but there won’t be an official MS hosted version of GP.
[Outtake: Oh yeah, one last question, why the heck didn’t they announce this at Envision last week? Seems like a missed opportunity.]