Directions EMEA 2018 are over. That was a very special event. 

First, for Directions itself - 2248 attendees! That was the biggest Directions EMEA event ever.

Second, for me - I was here for the first time.

Third, once again for me - I had a session here - Machine Learning for Business Central.

Only Web. Only AL

Seems, that was the main message to the community.

 mentioned that  

  • On the First Keynote
  • On the Second Keynote
  • On the Third Keynote
  • During Q&A sessions
  • ... during parties :)

C/AL and Windows Client will not be supported in 12-24 months.

I spoke to many people during the event, trying to understand if they are Ready for the shift, or not? And you know what - most of them are not. At least those with whom I had such discussions.  

Yes, they understand that they need to learn. Yes, they even try to learn. But their current implementation projects and support tasks take all the time.

Trainees can teach partner development teams how to use AL, but after that partners need start to use it! Without practice, will be no movement forward. If you (who read this) share the same experience - please, start to convert your IP from C/AL to AL, use test automation - invest in repeatable IP, not in resources. 

On the second day, Microsoft showed - Business Central as an AL app itself - not the future, but a reality. 

  

ISV Partners

My impression - they are more prepared for the shift to AL. But they struggle with another problem. Their solutions are old and big. Simple conversion to AL - is not the right way. It's not the way how Microsoft will convert the base app into AL, also. It will be split into several apps, based on end-to-end functionalities. 

This is a difficult, but exciting journey. You should balance between minimum dependency, app complexity and app counts. 

Build apps... Smart apps

Last years Microsoft invested much in the platform: new Web Client UI and new extensions possibilities where the main investment areas. During Q&A session with , he underlined that Microsoft will keep investing in the platform and less on functionality. But, even more, Microsoft will invest in the AI features for Business Central. 

That ideally correlates with my mission, as I see it: "Help partners and customers build not just apps, but smart apps". 

"As we, humans, train Machine Learning models - we need to take into consideration not only good prediction result but also an ethics aspect " - think for me, that was the main takeaway from that Keynote.

Add some magic to Business Center with Machine Learning  

That was my session. The goal of that session was to give answers on the next questions:

  • What is Machine Learning?
  • Why Machine Learning?
  • How to use Machine Learning?

The demo was based on my real life scenario. We built a model, that predict how many of each menu item will my customer's order next week in my restaurant? 

at the end we got:

  • A various number of Power BI charts, with different insights about the restaurant business.
  • Prediction model and web-service
  • Restaurant Sales Forecast App for Business Central, that extend the basic Sales & Inventory forecast app. Not replace, but extend. 

     

 was my co-speaker, and he did an excellent job in Power BI.

On the next picture, you will see the training process of 6-th different algorithms, and predictions from Business Central and Power BI. 

I want to be honest with you. We wanted to show all this in 60 minutes and failed. It took us 75 minutes and still was too much and too fast. 

This influenced the session feedback, that I've got:

For those of you who read this, and been on this session (are there any? :)) - Sorry, if you did not understand something. In the next couples of weeks, at NavTechDays, we will have this session once again. We will restructure it a little bit, so it should be more clear. 

And thanks, for the feedback! Very valuable and reasonable. 

  

While discussing this topic with many partners, I founded that interest is huge, but they don't understand how and where to implement AI in their solutions.

If you feel I'm talking about you - just ping me. We can sit together and make good old brainstorm. 

Meet your MVPs

 organised an excellent session. Partners had an opportunity to ask questions directly to MVPs. Had a pleasure and honour to share a stage with all them us. With many, I met for the first time (in person) - a really strong family. 

Key takeaway: use Business Central ideas portal to request new features.  promised to implement everything most voted, from the first page during the next 6 months :)

Many more...

With 188 sessions, going 11-12 in parallel, it's just in impossible to be everywhere. I visited 20 sessions (included my own:). Got new knowledge about:

All these will be structured, tested and packaged in the new online web class. Stay tuned.