Errata, or maybe not

Few days ago, when I wrote about Navision, I made an on-purpose mistake: I kept talking about, well, Navision. It’s wrong. And it’s not.

The story is not very short, but let me strip it down to the bone.

Navision was a Danish company, whose flagship product, also named Navision, was the European ERP market leader for small and medium sized companies. In 2002, Microsoft has acquired it for $1.3 billion, in an important milestone towards establishing a new division: Microsoft Business Solutions, or MBS. At the time of the acquisition, Microsoft has already owned Great Plains, ERP leader for small and medium businesses in North America, and had plans in place for next steps. To make it aligned with the strategy, Microsoft has renamed Navision into Microsoft Business Solutions-Navision.

With this acquisition, Microsoft not only got one product, Navision, but also another very important one: Axapta. Axapta was an ERP targeted at large and enterprise customers, which many have seen as a threat to SAP, but which Navision company failed to position correctly in the market, resulting in lower penetration rate than could have been expected from such a big and important product. This one got a mouthfull of a name too: Microsoft Business Solutions-Axapta.

Then a few other acquisitions followed, more or less successful, and together with the single Microsoft’s very own product, Microsoft CRM, the portfolio of Microsoft Business Solutions was completed somewhere in 2004.

An important step happened in 2005, when Microsoft announced a change in strategy, renaming the Microsoft Business Solutions into Microsoft Dynamics, at the same time re-branding all the MBS products. At this point, Microsoft Business Solutions-Navision became Microsoft Dynamics NAV. At the same time, the product line was narrowed down to NAV, AX (formerly Axapta), GP (formerly Great Plains), SL (formerly Solomon) and CRM (the only one lucky enough to keep its own name throughout).

That’s the short story.

However, most of people still refer to it as Navision, for a simple reason: everyone is used to. The customers are used to the name Navision, because it went under that name for nearly a decade and a half. Microsoft partners are used to the name Navision because they have been using the name every day from 9 to 17 and extra. When I first heared the name Microsoft Dynamics NAV, it reminded me of Borland changing its name to Inprise, only to roll-back very soon.

There is another reason why people still say Navision: it is simply much easier to say Navision than to recite Microsoft Dynamics NAV litany (which is still much shorter than Microsoft Business Solutions-Navision).

But the reason why I used the name Navision throughout my first post falls into none-of-the-above category, and it is much simpler. When the events I described happened, the product was called exactly that way. So, the reason is purely historic.

Today, almost two years after the re-branding, the old brand still keeps on keeping on. But things are about to change, and soon. If everything goes as planned, and so far it has been going as planned, some time soon Microsoft may converge the disparate solutions into a single product named simply Microsoft Dynamics. This process, called convergence, is very important to the customers, and I hope I will find time to blog about it, since it is the single most important thing going on within the Microsoft Dynamics brand at the time.

So, I sincerely hope that nobody really minds me using the name Navision in my previous post.


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