Annual recap: Looking back at a great fiscal '19

Somewhere in July 2018, I was having a conversation with Archana Wuntakal (Microsoft) at Inspire. We talked about the first six months of that calendar year and tried to look ahead at what was yet to come. I don't remember the exact conversation, but I do remember making the statement that our joint "Fiscal '19" would become an amazing year.


And it turned out just like that.

Shortly after the summer, we launched Foodware 365. Our Hit Refresh, as Satya Nadella would probably refer to it. A refresh that started with a renewed marketing message. But one that echoed along all different teams within Schouw Informatisering. In this recap, I'd like to share just some of the many highlights that we experienced this year.


As we started banging the drum internally about the new era we as a company were about to enter, people woke up. Suddenly, many of my colleagues started experimenting with Power Apps, Flow, Azure and other technologies, in order to provide refreshing solutions to existing challenges. Together with Microsoft Netherlands, we worked hard on two build-with cases (here and here), in order to explore the possibilities of the platform in a more structured manner.


Sounds good you might say, but that doesn't really mean anything unless you can deliver. Well, guess what, we do deliver. We brought our first solution to AppSource by the end of 2018: Product Specifications for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations (F&O). In addition, we also migrated our F&O customers to the "One Version" of F&O, even those that are running F&O On Premises. 


Parallel to the launch of Foodware 365, we embarked on the final preparations of our Texel project. We put 15 people through six weeks of training material, in order to enable them to rethink, redesign and redevelop SI Foodware, based on Business Central. The actual project started in January 2019, so we’re well underway. We released our first set of apps by the end of March and expect to deliver the next batch early July. We are making progress, so stay tuned here!


One other fresh initiative I'd like to mention are the theme sessions that we hosted with several customers this year. In order to provide a fresh perspective on some existing business issues, we brought together a number of quality managers from Dutch food companies and guided them through several iterations by using the design thinking methodology. Fortunately enough, we were able to run these sessions as we progressed with building the new Quality Control app for the Texel project, allowing us to immediately benefit from the knowledge gained and lessons learned. 


Something that has been on our list of things to do for some time finally became reality this fiscal: we published the first edition of the IT Food Forecast, a publication based on both qualitative and quantitative research, in order to unravel the actual trends within the food industry. The paper was officially published during our IT Food Forecast event, a beautiful day with several interesting keynote speakers. As we speak, we are already working very hard on the next edition of the Trend Magazine - IT Food Forecast, although we will take a slightly different approach this year.


Twice this year, we hosted online Blitz sessions for our partners and customers around the world, to update them about releases and roadmaps around Foodware 365. Since we are on a mission to create the world’s foremost food solution, we considered it valuable to update our customers and partners in a repeatable manner. We did this by hosting two Blitz sessions. One in December, one in May. To me, I guess the most exciting part was the fact that we brought together people from all teams within Schouw and had them join us in this initiative. Stay tuned for the next Blitz, end of November 2019.  


As all these things, and others, unfolded, we considered participating in the Microsoft Country Partner of the Year awards. According to Microsoft, it turned out to be a very close call but, in the end, OrangeNXT received the honour of becoming the Dutch Partner of the Year. Congrats! No doubt we’re going to try it again once more next year.


We did win though, but in a different domain. Early April, we were announced winners of the Dynamics and AI contest as organized by Microsoft Western Europe. According to Microsoft's James Phillips, our Avocado case was one of the two best examples of combining the functionality of Dynamics 365 with the power of the Cloud in order to standardize and streamline processes. Thanks all!


As we are getting close to the end of our fiscal, we are nearing the end of what has been a year of change. A year of doing things differently, trying other ways, reaching new milestones. But above all, this has been a year in which we put down the foundations for the years to come. All that is written above, is just a small piece of all that we have been working on. As an ISV. As a company. But I guess you would not appreciate, had I literally put down all notable facts.

As I am about to leave for Microsoft Inspire in Las Vegas again in a few weeks time, I am grateful for the year that’s behind us and excited for the one that is about to start. During a conversation I had with our CEO Steven some weeks ago, we together concluded that we are currently traveling at an unprecedented speed and we can’t wait to see where we will be in a year from now!