Directions North America is an annual conference bringing Microsoft Dynamics Business Central partners and ISVs (independent software vendors) together. Once a year, the greatest minds and solutions in the industry can exchange knowledge and ideas to drive the world of Microsoft ERP forward.
This year in Orlando, Directions had the highest turnout yet, perhaps a correlation to skyrocketing demand for cloud technology and the experts who deliver it. Over 1,100 people gathered to network, learn, and share about the current state and future of the industry, helping partners deliver the perfect fit cloud business management solutions for their customer’s needs.
Partners came to Directions North America looking for better ways to deliver a complete cloud experience (and its promised performance), while finance executives once again demonstrated the standing demand for Excel-based reporting and analytics solutions that work with Business Central Data.
And that’s exactly why Cosmos was there.
One year after launching into orbit as the first and only cloud reporting product in the market built specifically for Business Central, we came as a Directions Silver Sponsor to give Partners the answer to all-cloud solution delivery.
By reinforcing the capability to ditch on-premises reporting and analytics entirely, Partners received the good news that they can now deliver the cloud-centric solutions customers demand in a highly reliable, scalable, and repeatable way.
Whether you were a Microsoft Partner overwhelmed with conference info overload or a Business Central user interested in the inside industry scoop, here’s the lowdown on all the Directions and Cosmos reporting and analytics buzz from Florida in April.
The Onpremasaurus is a DinoSORE
Since Microsoft’s move from on-premise license and provisioning options to fully cloud with Business Central, Partners in the Dynamics delivery community have been challenged to offer a fully-cloud business management environment. Why? While Business Central has flourished as an all-cloud ERP, even discontinuing licensing for net-new on-premise installations in October of 2022, the community of add-on products that users and partners rely on for advanced, specialized functionality hasn’t entirely caught up.
Important capabilities, especially around tailored, user-friendly reporting or industry-specific analytics, are most often handled and delivered through these third-party solutions. In fact, the ‘best-of-breed’ model is what Microsoft has long leaned on so they could focus on innovative development of the core ERP platform, office applications, and data visualization tools like Power BI.
Becoming compatible with Business Central cloud typically takes a complete development overhaul for a standing or legacy software solution – whether transitioning to becoming an ‘extension’ or making the product connect to, perform, and operate entirely in the cloud.
The most widely used and known third-party reporting tools were never designed or built for Business Central cloud, and it shows. They were made to run on-prem and on legacy ERP systems. Many are incompatible and experience incredibly strained performance, with reports taking hours to run, tying up Excel, lacking congruent capabilities, and delivering poor user experience.
Which is archaic.
Cosmos evolved to fill this gap entirely with lightning-fast, intuitive reporting and analytics in a single, centralized platform that leverages the Excel environment users know and want. Best of all, it’s born for Business Central cloud, can be installed in 30 minutes or less, and integrates completely with Microsoft’s Power BI visualization tools.
At Directions this year, the overall theme was Don’t be an Onpremasaurus! Customers are widely demanding a full cloud experience and environment to fulfill their needs in scalability, mobility, flexibility, security, performance, and lower maintenance and cost overhead – and now they can get it. Partners can finally deliver on the cloud-first promise with advanced, custom reporting and analytics for Business Central that runs directly on Microsoft Azure!
Direction from Directions: Cosmos Then and Now
Cosmos Data Technologies was founded in 2019 by three industry veterans who saw an opportunity to provide a cutting-edge reporting, analytics, and data management solution specifically for Business Central cloud. Designed for business users, not technical resources, Cosmos is lightning-fast, easy to use, secure, and fully cloud-based via Microsoft Azure – reports are known to run at least 48x faster than other Excel reporting solutions.
Released in March 2022 on the eve of last year’s event, Cosmos was celebrating just over one year in the market during Directions 2023. In their conference session, Cosmos documents the incredible product evolution and emphasizes how much of it was influenced in collaboration with feedback from their rapidly growing customer community and partner channel.
Below is a summary of product updates and major feature releases showcased in the popular reporting and analytics session hosted by Cosmos, many of which were the result of direct feedback from those at Directions and in attendance of the presentation.
Cosmos Product Updates:
- Major feature release: Power BI integration
- Major feature: Report Scheduling and Automation
- Major feature: Drilldown
- Added the ability to hard-code values for lookup joins in the data model
- Improved how Cosmos auto-fits columns when a report is run
- Added report security
- Added the ability for report editors to set a default operator for report options
- Improved interface to know when pipelines have completed publishing and running
- Added a search bar to the reports section so users can easily search for reports
- Improved use of sorting throughout the Cosmos platform
- Upgrades to key Cosmos infrastructure components
- Added notifications for report run failures in the portal and report preview mode
- Improved user interface for when reports are deleted or imported from the gallery
- Admins can force a report to be checked back in from a user
- Ability to rename tables, fields, and relationships in the data model
- Upgraded Cosmos platform infrastructure
- Improved workflows when deleting objects in data management
- Miscellaneous improvements
- Archived report runs are now shareable with other users
- Improved process for cleaning up existing report runs
- Updated branding in Cosmos portal
- Improved process for canceling report runs
- Contextual awareness added to Cosmos report editor
- Improved report run speed for larger reports (6x – 12x faster)
- Users can check out or edit reports directly in Excel desktop
- Added filename constraints to match SharePoint requirements
- Added validation for field lookups
- Added validation for fixed values
- Added validation for SQL script data sources
- Data model validation
- Users can discard changes in checked-out extensions
- Run pipeline and purge pipeline are disabled when publish pipeline is running
- Publish pipeline will show error if process did not complete successfully
- Users are shown confirmation dialogs when removing transformations or source tables from reporting tables
- Users are prevented from removing tables or fields from the staging area when used in the data model
Although Directions came and went in a flash, the buzz and demand around cloud reporting for Business Central isn’t taming down, and Cosmo’s is committed to delivering the fastest, easiest, most user-friendly, and flexible reporting and analytics solution in the market.
For Business Central VARs, start your Cosmos’ partner journey today so you don’t stay an onpremasuarus any longer. It’s time to deliver what your customers want; we’re here to help.
For Business Central users, we invite you to see how Cosmos can bring you incredibly fast, incredibly powerful, and incredibly easy custom reporting and analytics in Excel, built for your cloud ERP.
Until next year partner channel! See you in sunny San Diego!