Microsoft's AX ERP (enterprise resource planning) application will be receiving a set of mobile applications that mix connectivity to back-end systems and processes with a social milieu.
The applications, which will be available as part of the next update to AX 2012, offer the sort of functionality applicable to many types of workers within a company, such as expense management, time management and approvals, the vendor announced Tuesday during the Convergence conference in New Orleans. The AX update is scheduled for this calendar year, according to a representative for Microsoft.
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They will also "provide a more relevant experience based on people's roles and devices," as well as "help them connect with their social networks," Microsoft said in a statement.
Supported mobile platforms will include Windows RT and Windows Phone 8, as well as Android and iOS. Microsoft will also provide documentation for its mobile programming interfaces, allowing customers and channel partners to build other apps, it said in a statement.
Microsoft has developed a specialty in ERP for retail companies. To that end, it is planning to release a point-of-sales mobile application for RT and Windows Phone 8.
Dynamics CRM will also get a mobile application in the second half of this year. It will be "optimized" for tablets, namely the iPad and Windows 8 RT, according to a statement. Functionality contained in it will allow salespeople "to manage an opportunity from lead to close," Microsoft said. The mobile application will arrive as part of the next update to Dynamics CRM in the second half of this year.
Microsoft has taken its time to develop mobile CRM capabilities, but is doing so in order to deliver "cleaner," easier to deploy applications to customers, said Kees Hertogh, director of product management, in an interview prior to the conference. Other approaches to mobile force customers to deploy mobile middleware, something Microsoft wants to avoid, he added.
Microsoft as well as its rivals in CRM software, Salesforce.com, Oracle and SAP, seemingly have no choice but to provide mobile capabilities, both due to the explosive rise in the use of tablets and other mobile devices, as well as the fact that many of the salespeople who use CRM software are often on the road and are demanding an easy way to access the applications.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com