Once in a while, it is a good idea to take a step back and look at something with fresh eyes to get a new perspective on how we work and how things are changing, and that is what I will try to do in this blog post.
In many ways when I look at the mindset in the Business central consulting world it reminds me very much of the mindset of blockbuster, we keep doing everything the same way that we have always done because we know it works, and all our competitors do everything the same way, but at some point, we may be facing a market disruptor in the same way that blockbuster did when Netflix came along, and it just might come sooner than we expect.
Imagine that a new player enters our field, with the mindset that they will make sure that the solutions that they deliver are always created with user test cases that are written together with the customer. All their features are coded with the principle in mind that they can be enabled and disabled by the customer and all features have automated tests as part of their requirements. Imagine if each customer had the ability to see if their extensions can compile and that all their automated tests still pass on the next release of Business Central. Also imagine that every time Microsoft releases a new feature, this feature can be turned on in a build pipeline and you could run all your automated tests to see if they still pass and if they do, a new sandbox could be automatically created with the new feature turned on and the customer’s extension installed, so the customer can run their manual tests to verify that it is safe to turn on the new feature. What if the customer themself could run their release pipeline so they did not need to pay a partner every time something needed to be pushed to production, that would not only save them money but also give them control of when something should be released.
All of the things above are something that we can already do today but we choose not to, mainly because it would cost money to implement and many people have the mindset that we have worked like this for the past x amount of years; why should we change that, and yes they are correct many people have worked a certain way for many years and it has worked for the most part, but the same could be said for Blockbuster they were also the top of the food chain until they weren’t. It feels like we have been given a lot of new tools and possibilities in Business Central but we are not willing to adopt them, the problem is however that unlike before; where only partners could support NAV customers, now the world is open to everyone and at some point, a new player is going to see a hole in the market and at that point, it might already be too late.
Another thing that we need to at least have a made a decision about is the introduction of AI, because how things work now at a lot of companies is, if a customer has a question then they will call their consultant who will try to answer the question, however in the future, we are going to see more and more AI integrations we have already seen it with Chat GPT which at the time of writing this is in version 4, and soon we will also see Bing Chat (which is also built on Chat GPT) become widely available to all, and on a more Business Central specific side; we are now seeing something like CentralQ created by Dmitry Katson, and while at the moment it is not perfect at some point it will learn enough to be able to answer most questions about Business Central work flows, and at some point, someone will create an AI extension to Business Central that can analyze all the installed extensions on the tenant and thereby let the customer know just how everything is put together and thereby give the customer a unique answer for their solution and what they are trying to achieve.
At some point AI will also be able to write the customer’s extensions without needing a programmer, however, I do think that there will go sometime before an AI will be able to write all code for Business Central, but one day it will, I do however feel that it might not be to fare in the future were a customer and a consultant can use AI to help write their solutions with test cases, which then can be handed over to a developer who can write the code and use AI to make sure that the code lives up to the test cases, and maybe even let the AI write the unit tests, and perform the manual tests.
The point of this post is not to paint a picture of our demise but more to give people a nudge in the right direction and to tell you guys that we might have to change some of the ways that we work before it is too late and we are forced to change rather than we choose to change.
I know this post is not one that many of you will like or even agree with but nonetheless, I do hope that you found it interesting until next time stay safe.