Why Did DENTSPLY, A $2 Billion Dollar Global Company, Choose Microsoft Dynamics AX Over SAP and Oracle?

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DENTSPLY is a global manufacturer of dental products for the professional market with distribution centers in over 120 countries.  Last time you were at the dentist you most likely used their products.

In 2008 the company set out to solve a growing problem.  Despite their global presence, they had a local problem. They were running local ERP systems, local invoice systems and local email systems. For example, 75 different email systems were being used by the several thousand employees around the world.  This type of separation was a barrier to growth.

A key area that needed to be unified was the company’s ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems. In a private interview during Convergence 2012, Bill Schlageter, the Vice President and CIO of DENTSPLY, explained why they chose Microsoft Dynamics® AX over other Tier 1 enterprise solutions and how he feels about that decision.

When choosing a new ERP System what products did you look at and how did you decide on Microsoft?

“In terms of competing products we looked at “all of them” (including) SAP and Oracle. We were running a bunch of stuff from Infor. The reason we chose to go with Microsoft is that we did not just have an ERP project we had a communication, collaboration, centralization project to allow us to collaborate across locations AND we had an ERP project. So we really had a strategic refresh. We needed not just an ERP system, we needed an ecosystem. When we made decision it was “a bit of a flyer”. We were betting  that Microsoft would support us. We were sure that the platform elements would support us. We were betting that the ERP element would scale to our size, and it did.”

Did you do an RFP (Request for Proposal) process?

“We worked directly with vendors. Our bet at the time was, were we more comfortable that Microsoft could scale to meet our size or were we more comfortable that some of the bigger enterprise customers could sort of modify how they work to support an upper mid market business. We ended up with Microsoft as it seemed to be that the functionality contained in Dynamics AX, and the rest of the ecosystem, aligned with how we work and how we needed to grow. We are with Tectura as our global partner of record.”

What value do you get from your Dynamics AX partner relationship?

“We are with Tectura as our global partner of record. Because we were doing a global deployment they were able to help us with in country, in time zone, local language, local culture support. They have the people that we just don’t have. Because Tectura is a global partner we have them engaged with us in Asia, Europe and US, operating as one team but with people around the world.  There are quite a few unique challenges to a global implementation.”

What did Dynamics AX do for you that you did not expect?

“I had implemented some of the other big solutions before and people are intimidated by the big stuff. The learning curve on coming up with a system like SAP is that people are a little afraid of it. The UI (user interface) is not as friendly, the processes are not so obvious and it is not intuitive. So people don’t do a lot and only use the tip of the iceberg.  With Dynamics AX we almost have the opposite problem because it is so friendly and so familiar, people seem to kind of drift and use it in ways we did not anticipate. Which is good. They are flexing the system and taking the tool we implemented and using it in ways we did not fully realize that they could.”

(Read more about this in the post “An Example of Creative Employees Using Microsoft Dynamics AX in a Way the CIO Never Expected”)

How do you monitor industry trends for the next step?

“We know what our needs are, what our pain points are. Our ears are constantly open to “when is someone going to fix that”.  A decent example is an obvious one, the iPad. Everyone wants an iPad, all the field sales guys want an iPad, they are sleek and sexy and they can show videos, easy to get email, they don’t have to lug around a PC.  Except they need to lug around a PC to access all of our internal corporate Microsoft based applications. You can just see that there is a problem that we are carrying 2 devices right now. We know what the answer is, we knew it a year and half ago. Microsoft needs to come up with a good windows based tablet PC that has the simplicity and intuitiveness of the iPad but the back end scalability of a Windows device. So I have been constantly pestering Microsoft. We know what our problems are and we know who to ask and who to watch to get them.”

Microsoft is "all in", but how do you feel about “the cloud”?

“We are running Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online in several locations in US and Europe. We want to move as much as we can into the public cloud, practically, when it is ready and when we are ready. We have had discussions about SharePoint and Exchange moving to the cloud. We will have discussions about Dynamics AX moving to the cloud when it is ready. The business drivers would be around ubiquitous access and frankly, I would hope the cost of renting would be less than cost of owning, when you factor in all costs including people and hardware, replacement of hardware.”

Looking back at your decision, has Dynamics AX been able to support your business?

“In terms of functionality I can not think of anything we have not been able to solve with Dynamics AX or with an ISV partner on top of AX. We are a Sarbanes Oxley and FDA regulated company and we have been able to meet all the regulatory requirements with Dynamics AX and their partners.”

In the Convergence 2012 keynote session with Kirill Tatarinov, DENTSPLY was highlighted as a Microsoft Dynamics customer success story.  Bill Schlageter was proud to announce that the company has a single instance of Dynamics AX running globally, which gives them global control with local flexibility.

Stories like DENTSPLY prove the case that Microsoft Dynamics AX can indeed play in the enterprise ERP space alongside solutions like SAP and Oracle.  And the Microsoft ecosystem/integration and system flexibility can help it stand out as the winner.

Related article: The Microsoft Platform Delivers Smiles at Dentsply

By Anya Ciecierski, Editor, ERP Software Blog

2 thoughts on “Why Did DENTSPLY, A $2 Billion Dollar Global Company, Choose Microsoft Dynamics AX Over SAP and Oracle?”

  1. I have not used SAP. Been involved with Dynamics AX for many years.

    Dynamics AX 2012 is a very configurable solution out of all the Dynamics products. Built for Enterprise level organisations, who typically have enterprise level requirements. More configuration typically requires a larger budget, but I would imagine under an SAP level budget.

    As SAP is more complex one would then logically think it cost more to implement and has more risk in its implementation.

    AX workflow is very flexible and functional compared with SAP (told to me by an ex SAP user/implementor), but the big benefit is a trained user can configure AX workflow!

    If it helps, at a headline level, we have a page about the top 10 reasons to choose Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. You can find it at;

    You can also find a list and description of the available Dynamics AX 2012 modules as well at


    Hope it’s of interest.

  2. This post shows the strength of Microsoft Dynamics AX "i could not think of anything that AX coudl not solve"!

    Out of all the Dynamics ERP products, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 is the most configurable, meaning less development and a better out of the box functional fit (we supply 3 of the 4 Dynamics ERP products.

    If it helps, I have written about the top 10 reasons to choose Microsoft Dynamics AX. you can find it at;


    Hope it’s of interest.

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