XON and Microsoft South Africa, in collaboration with the JSE, recently presented their vision of the future business landscape to key clients of the exchange.

Arnold Fourie, CEO of Pinnacle Technology Holdings, a recent Microsoft Dynamics AX customer, joined the duo to support their view that the future holds a digital work style that revolves around unified communications.
"I know that Microsoft Dynamics will become one of the largest business systems in the world," says Fourie on why he chose Microsoft Dynamics.
"It's an open platform that doesn't lock customers in because it allows them to build their own modifications. When a new version comes out, customers can upgrade the core platform without affecting their specific application, which amounts to fewer consultants.
"It is scalable and will grow with the customer's business; has a familiar interface, which means less resistance to adoption and less time and money training people to use it. It's easily integrated with the rest of the business and there's a good deal of local support."
Michael Bennett, Microsoft Dynamics solution specialist at Microsoft, adds: "There's a persistent need to connect structured and unstructured data in business today. Companies need reliable, flexible and scalable solutions that will fit into their existing environment. Dynamics integrates directly with the user application environment, facilitates rapid adoption through a familiar interface, supports decision making and offers people a 360-degree view of the business to fuel productivity."
Pinnacle's past environment exemplifies many of the issues organisations currently face.
It operates several offices across southern Africa with a diverse range of clients, has acquired several businesses that each had their own operational systems, a proprietary management system that was struggling to maintain pace with its growth, a decentralised server environment without disaster recovery and a decentralised stock and debtors database.
"We've had some stellar growth," says Fourie, "and I ended up with four business systems. I've got a business to run and the systems must control that for me, not rule it. I needed one platform to run the different companies in the group with different cost and profit centres but one view of it all and if I acquire another company
"I want to be able to put it on the same platform, which means that the platform must be able to operate across industries and markets."
Fourie says that, besides the other benefits of centralised data, a clustered system offering redundancy, realtime integrated information, a flexible and scalable system with ongoing research and development, he will get return on his investment in 18 months, including his maintenance contract.
"Microsoft spends a great deal of time working with customers and partners, as well as conducting its own research, to ensure that what we develop matches our users' requirements," says Microsoft's Bennett.  Microsoft delivers the software platform that enables its partner eco system to build vertical, deep vertical and  orizontal applications.
"We joined Microsoft's partner ecosystem in 2003 when it acquired Navision," says Deon Kruger, manager of XON Business Solutions. "The partner network and ecosystem is important for sustainability, and the reason behind XON forging an alliance with Watermark, which gives us access to 25 partners and their associated skills operating in 41 countries."
"At the time that Microsoft came on board we were working on a deal, our
customer recognised the support that Microsoft's partner programme
brings to the table and as a result we were able to positively conclude
the deal, " says Kruger.
"Microsoft's solution for industry philosophy allows us and other
partners to build industry specific solutions on top of core Microsoft
functionality. We can develop products more easily and quickly on the
Microsoft platform than any competitor product.
"Microsoft's continued research and development and engagement with
partners and customers will now enable us to deliver systems where
information follows users according to their role in the business and
that's an exciting vision we're keen to be a part of."