Microsoft Dynamics 365

The flagship of Microsoft’s intelligent business applications, Dynamics 365 is a range of enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management applications with which ZAP integrates seamlessly. With expert commentary from IDC, here we explain how ZAP transforms the collection, organization and visualization of data, ultimately delivering data driven business insight and decision making.

The business brief

Businesses can improve financial and operational performance by using ZAP to speed up and simplify the collection, organization and analysis of data within Microsoft’s cloud-based CRM and ERP offering, Dynamics 365.

A data-driven business makes confident decisions quickly, based on truth, and ZAP automates the collection and integration of data from Dynamics 365—and associated applications and data sources—to provide a business-wide view of all performance and activity.The ability to integrate hitherto-inaccessible or siloed data strengthens business decision making, by unlocking previously hidden insight.

Relevant information is delivered, on any device, via personalized dashboards specifically aligned to Dynamics 365 domains: finance, supply chain, manufacturing and retail. ZAP’s powerful self-service reporting, visualization and dashboarding capabilities enables secure data exploration.

Conscious of short- and long-term IT overheads, ZAP is rapid to deploy and simple to administer. TCO is reduced, ROI is increased and business insight is delivered immediately thanks to 500 pre-packaged, Dynamics 365-specific calculations, analytics and role-based dashboards. Such automated and ‘out-of-the-box’ capabilities vastly reduce setup and maintenance costs.

ZAP can extract Dynamics 365 metadata (localized captions, descriptions, relationships, data types, enumerations), financial/inventory dimensions, and organizational hierarchies. It can handle multi-company and multi-currency data—including multiple date calendars—and merge multiple instances of Dynamics 365 itself.

Security and data governance are integral to ZAP for Dynamics 365, with dashboard-based and dashboard-integrated permission setting, access regulation, usage monitoring and auditing.

Overview from IDC and Aston Martin 

IDC Logo

“In addition to development and management features,” stated in the IDC Market Note, ZAP: Improving Time to Insight for Midsize Firms (doc #EMEA43048517, SEPTEMBER 2017), “ZAP provides support for line-of-business users. For instance, the offering supports prebuilt metrics and KPIs, role-based dashboards, interactive charts, and access to a drag-and-drop function library. Likewise, for Microsoft Dynamics users the company provides its own tailored BI solutions with out-of-the-box analytics.”

For renown luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin, ZAP for Dynamics 365 is, quite simply:

“A brilliant app that has helped cut down month end reporting from two weeks to three days.”

Six key facets

Businesses with cloud-based CRM and ERP data on Dynamics 365 become information-empowered with ZAP thanks to six key facets: hybrid scalability, automated data integration, pre-set flexible data models, built-in governance, analytics and visualizations.

Hybrid scalability

ZAP for Dynamics 365, or any of its elements, can be deployed either in the cloud, on-premise or as a hybrid combination of the two. Its architecture is specifically designed to flex and scale as both the volume of users and the volume of data in an organisation increases over time. Private or public cloud deployments can be set up on either AWS or Azure. And a data gateway provides straightforward, optimized access to on-premise data sources via the cloud or across existing networks and firewalls.

Automated data integration

Connection to—and collection of—Dynamics 365 data is automated by ZAP. Out-of-the-box connection to other cloud and on-premise data sources is provided, too. All data collected is integrated quickly and simply in a secure, highly governed central hub of business-wide insight. Further data sources can be added at any time in the future.

Pre-set, flexible data models

ZAP has a pre-packaged Dynamics 365 data model that delivers immediate reporting across all areas of the application. A user-friendly modeling interface with drag-and-drop UX allows data to be customized to meet even the most demanding reporting requirements. IT overheads are reduced as users of all levels of expertise can prepare data for reporting in a secure accurate and governed way. Technical effort is further reduced by ZAP’s data warehouse and semantic layer automation, which remove the need for a manual data warehouse project.

Built-in governance

Data governance is at the heart of ZAP. Our systems have strong, comprehensive system administration and data governance tools built-in. Enterprise-class security controls set permissions, regulate access and protect data at any level of granularity. ROI is maximised as usage can be both monitored and audited via specific dashboards, which keeps performance optimized and costs minimized. TCO is controlled as upgrade life-cycles can be actively managed via a pre-packaged tool set to ensure consistency of data and business continuity at every turn.

Analytics and visualizations

Self-service reporting is delivered via both enterprise-class analytics and data visualization tools. Our responsive, touch-friendly user interface—for ready-to-use, role-based dashboards—adapts to any device, which ramps up user adoption across the business. Easy-to-adapt, dynamic analytics systems enable drill-down data discovery and information sharing, while powerful data modelling capabilities are accessed via an intuitive, user-friendly UI. Data can be safely and securely customized to meet any reporting demand, with no specific requirements for high-level technical expertise.

With more than 500 pre-packaged calculations, analytics and role-based dashboards, every major Dynamics 365 domain is catered for. ZAP works with data from the general ledger, accounts receivable and accounts payable from the finance module; sales, procurement and inventory data from the supply chain module; and production (discrete or process) data from the manufacturing module. It also covers all areas of the retail module: POS, market basket, promotions and merchandising.