This has meant that we would be involved with many different layers of an IT ecosystem:
- The presentation layer, where the interactions happen in the form of a hybrid website, portal or ecommerce application;
- The middle layer (also called integration layer, or service bus), where data is fetched, integrated, and transformed;
- The data layer, where data is stored.
Traditionally, we would build custom presentation and integration layers, in order to give life to the designs and business strategies defined with the customer. In the data layer, we would mostly set up custom databases and CMS’s such as Drupal and WordPress, and only connect with existing ERP and CRM systems such as SAP, Navision (Microsoft Dynamics NAV), Axapta (Microsoft Dynamics AX), Salesforce, and more.
A step forward
We now believe that the time has come to offer a more integrated service to our clients, in order to be able to enhance their organisation along all of the digital supply chain. This means that, as of 2020, we will start offering our customers additional services in the form of support with the implementation, maintenance, and integration of business solutions in the broader digital transformation. We have started improving our offering in the Microsoft ecosystem, given its tight integration between multiple different services such as CRM, ERP, CMS, and the many more Azure services that come with it.
In addition to our existing capabilities with excellent and versatile CMS’s such as WordPress and Drupal, we are happy to announce that we will also support headless SharePoint websites, both SharePoint Online and on-premise.
Even though SharePoint enjoys a mixed reception in the market, we believe that in headless form most of the objections against slow, heavily customised SharePoint environments will dissipate: by leveraging almost two decades of excellence in backend and editor’s experience (especially with the new modern editor, which looks absolutely stunning and works like a charm). But also using top-of-the-line templating systems such as TypeScript and React to present data fetched via the API with beauty and high performance, we will be able to reap the benefits of all worlds: great integrations, great editing experience, and a fantastic custom frontend that is unrecognisable as a SharePoint for end users.
CRM/ERP: Microsoft Dynamics 365
The beating heart of an organisation, the core of the digital transformation, is the combination of CRM and ERP, and the journey of leads through to (recurring!) customers along these tools and the various interaction and marketing channels.
We are delighted that as of 2020 we are officially a supplier of Microsoft Dynamics 365, with a special focus (for now) on Business Central. Business Central covers a lot of ground as an all-in-one unified business management solution, both as a CRM and an ERP system, with an excellent API. We strongly believe in Microsoft’s proposition of a headless CRM/ERP, where the basic package is used with relatively little customisation, and most of the specific work is done outside of the software, in the form of portals and other accompanying software. This will lead to the benefits of standard software (easily maintainable, updateable, and upgradeable, without huge sunken costs), plus the flexibility of custom software, in a single package.
Thanks to the Power Platform, it is possible to build simple applications, and especially data integration flows, with little to no programming knowledge. This means that for many scenarios, such as the automation of minor repetitive tasks, we do not need complex custom software and we can deliver quickly and effectively.
The ability of the Power Platform to augment other applications within the suite, for example synchronising Business Central with SharePoint or Teams, or any other application of the Office 365 ecosystem (and outside of it: Slack, Salesforce, Gmail, and more are also well supported) means that a lot of conceptually simple work does not require dealing with complex APIs, authentication, and more. For example, ‘send me a reminder on Teams whenever a new Sales Quote is created by a junior account manager in Business Central’ requires only a few clicks, and literally within a few minutes of work, we are done and we have added business value to the customer’s ecosystem!
We are quite aligned with Microsoft’s vision on an integrated platform, and where the boundary lies between tailor-made software solutions and integration with top-of-the-line existing tooling. For this reason we are investing heavily in our relationship with Microsoft, and are in the process of becoming a Microsoft partner on the areas of application development and Dynamics 365 (Business Central) supply.
This does not mean that Microsoft is the only provider of software we integrate with. We already often integrate with SAP, in order to create portals that connect with the underlying ERP, and even more often do we connect with Salesforce and HubSpot in order to build websites that integrate with the rest of the sales and marketing pipeline of the customer’s organisation.
We see interesting developments in the world of integrated business solutions, especially when it comes to Salesforce and its ecommerce platform. Stay tuned for more news on this exciting topic!