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Reflections about Microsoft technologies by Anna Lahno, Inna Hrasevych, Oksana Hryshan, and Yuliia Ilchenko

Xpand had the opportunity to attend this year's EMEA Directions conference with a rather broad group of colleagues. For some of them, the trip to Lyon on November 1-3 was the first opportunity to attend this particular event and meet the Microsoft community in person. So we asked Anna Lahno, Inna Hrasevych, Oksana Hryshan, and Yuliia Ilchenko about their impressions of the conference and the approaches they were inspired by and will implement at Xpand.

Anna Lahno, Business Analyst

Frankly speaking, the scale of the conference struck me immediately. Allow me to share some remarkable numbers that left a lasting impression:

  • Approximately 3000 attendees joined EMEA Directions.
  • My average walking activity during the conference day reached almost 10 km.
  • More than 240 sessions were offered by Microsoft and its partners during the three conference days, and I was able to attend 10 of them.

My personal goal in attending EMEA Directions 2023 was to find answers to questions that accompany me in working with customers: How can I improve the customer's experience of using the system? How can I reduce time spent on routine tasks? How can I increase efficiency and productivity using the technologies offered by Microsoft?

Among the sessions I attended, the session "Introduction to the Global E-documents Tool" and its content helped me find answers to some interesting questions. The era of digitization brings new challenges for companies. It brings us the new acronym CTC - Continuous Transaction Control. This term indicates the requirement of authorities to view real-time or near-real-time financial data relating to business activity. This model ensures compliance with tax legislation, minimizes fraud, and enhances operational transparency.

Therefore, recognizing global trends toward the adoption of electronic invoicing, Microsoft unveiled a universal e-documents tool. This solution serves as a framework for building e-invoicing applications that already cover the standard requirements of e-invoicing process. This solution prioritizes country-specific requirements, rather than a core build, increasing productivity.

The main idea of this session, and, in general, the technologies offered by Microsoft, demonstrates the future: less time on routine tasks and more focus on creativity.

In conclusion, the conference has provided me with immense motivation and inspiration to enhance both our work and that of our customers. I would like to quote one of our partner company's employees, whom I had the opportunity to meet: “I take pride in how Ukrainian companies are developing in these challenging times, their thirst for knowledge, and their desire to enhance services for customers by introducing new ideas and technologies. I hope that someday we will have the opportunity to visit the EMEA Directions hosted in Ukraine.” Personally, I share this hope as well."

Inna Hrasevych, Software Test Engineer

Directions EMEA 2023 was filled with lots of knowledge, new experiences, and interesting acquaintances for me. As I deal a lot with the functional part of Dynamics 365 Business Central, I have a keen interest in every new feature available to make the user experience smoother and more productive

It’s incredibly inspiring to witness the rapid evolution of the Cloud solution, which is becoming more stable and predictable in handling loads. Dynamics 365 Business Central Online stands as a mature service, effortlessly scaling performance to accommodate any load.

The Governance and Administration tips for Dynamics 365 Business Central Online, presented by Microsoft, enhance the possibility of flexible and comfortable management of both the Sandbox and Production environments. Several options are available in update scheduling.

The implementation of Test Automation in Dynamics 365 Business Central Online is becoming increasingly profitable. Foremost, it offers a reusable quality assurance tool. When integrated from the start, it contributes to better code quality. Even after the successful deployment of the application and continued functionality of base features, a new update released by Microsoft could potentially disrupt the functionality that has been working since early versions. Therefore, Test Automation serves as a proactive measure to ensure sustained functionality and minimize risks associated with updates

These innovations are just the tip of the iceberg, yet they motivate me to continue exploring the latest trends and integrate them into Xpand's operations.

Oksana Hryshan, Project Manager of Upgrade Team

Overall, the sessions and topics revolved around Copilot, designed to simplify global business processes. However, it wasn't just about tech, it was about people, stories, and preparing for the future. From Copilot in Business Central, various tips and tricks, the advantages of migrating to the Cloud, to fresh ideas for upgrades — the EMEA conference offered a glimpse into the exciting world of innovation

At the same time, I was thrilled to engage in face-to-face discussions with our clients. The gratification of exchanging feedback about our cooperation serves as a reminder and reinforcement of the right direction Xpand is headed.”

Yuliia Ilchenko, Application Consultant

My main goal at the Directions EMEA 2023 was to gather insights into the latest changes and updates that I could apply to simplify my customers' lives, improve their business and elevate their overall experienceAll this became true and as I reflect on these two conference days, I’d like to share my thoughts.

In the earlier versions of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, I faced limitations compared to Microsoft Dynamics NAV. I missed the ease of correcting data, debugging, and customizing options. Now I couldn't be more thrilled about the upcoming changes that can make my job more independent and offer enhanced functionalities, allowing me to take charge of our projects.

I noticed numerous UI improvements that may appear minor but significantly speed up everyday work, making it more productive. These include adding or removing all fields available in a table, making them editable or not, and even checking the code behind them, exploring their properties and validation logic.

When a user encounters errors, Business Central now suggests recommended actions and even offers to automatically resolve multiple problems where possible.

Exciting changes are also happening in reporting tools. Microsoft changed the philosophy of working with data reporting and now it's better to use visible built-in pivot mode, rather than resorting to developers or requesting complex queries. These options are now accessible from the UI, simplifying pivot-based operations.

Furthermore, consultants, and mainly end users, can now execute a variety of tasks autonomously with innovations like Copilot. And one of the most desired features that I am eagerly anticipating is debugging which will be accessible directly from the client.

In conclusion, the Directions EMEA 2023 conference marked a transformative journey for me. As we step into this new stage of independence and efficiency, it's an exciting time to be a Business Central consultant.

We are very pleased that our colleagues from Xpand enjoyed the conference and, most importantly, were able to learn something new about Microsoft technologies and consolidate their knowledge to provide even better services to the company's clients and partners. It's not for nothing that they say that you live and learn, and for us in Xpand, it is very important to keep our focus to keep moving in a dynamically developing world.

If you are interested in Eric Robbeets impressions written as part of #MicrosoftTechnologyInsightsMonth, we invite you to read them here. Moreover, we expect several more articles from our experts with their expert opinions about Directions EMEA 2023, so, stay tuned.