Christian Pederson, GM Dynamics AX, presented the future of Dynamics AX. But first, some cool facts: Nestle, Chobani, Nissan Motor Company and, for your sailors out there, Beneteau all are running AX. Nestle is complimenting its SAP enterprise deployment with AX in new business units.
Nico Tuissink of Pulse was interviewed. He had two comments I found really interesting: 1) He was encouraged to go to the enterprise by MS but it distracted them. They did best focusing on the upper middle market in key industries, 2) he focused recruiting at people that know the verticals and then trained them on the software.
Wayne Morris, Corporate VP Dynamics Marketing and Seth Patton, Sr. Director Industry Solutions, talked how “Devices and Services” tie into business systems. Frankly, I thought most of the commentary was little thin, maybe because Wayne hasn’t been in role long. The big example was Delta using AX2012 Retail on hand held devices so flight attendants can take food and drink orders on flights. Seth discussed the key verticals: Manufacturing (Process and Discrete), Specialty Retail, Wholesale Distribution, Services (Accounting, AEC and IT), Financial Services (Banking, Insurance, Wealth Management), and Public Sector (Government). Seth then showed a new Windows 8 retail POS app that allowed for easier multi-channel retail complete with dashboard for the sales person and access to BOTH customer purchase history AND web browsing history off the store website. Frankly, very high on the cool factor and definitely something that seems very useful in the retail space since it takes you from that information directly into checkout. This will be available later this year.
For future releases:
- Major release every year (I hope I heard that right)
- R3 comes out Q4.
- Rainier comes out Q4 2014
- CU’s will hit every single quarter. That’s really nice, especially combined with a planned investment in cloud based lifecycle services that is available “today”. Not certain what “available” means but a session is on tomorrow to discuss it in more detail. From the demo Pepjin Richter did, it appears to be a combination of Rapid Start and Rapid Value injected with a shot of metro-steroid coolness.
- New task recorder is out that allows capture of the meta data as you record to more easily put the business process diagram into the Lifecycle services
- R3 will include, Windows 8 apps include Windows 8 Expenses, Approvals and Timesheets – all are in the store today BUT are only demo apps; Expense Management for Windows Phone 8, Warehouse and Transportation (that’s the Blue Horseshoe stuff they bought), Demand Planning, Budget Planning and eProcurement.
- Rainier will included Next Gen UX, Cloud Optimized and better Application Lifecycle Management. I hear (from private sources) that this is a substantial rewrite comparable to 2012. Further, they are going to very much focus on business process oriented apps.
Cool stuff. The challenge for us is this: in order to do this well, the Dynamics partners are REALLY going to have to step up their knowledge of Azure and Tier 1 application deployment and management techniques, including having better trained and deeper platform technologists.
For Dynamics GP:
Product Development Themes:
- Features: MS Connect tool is the primary way MS decides on new features.
- Technology: Focused almost entirely on ease of hosting
- Companion Apps: Windows 8 apps that allow you to access GP data. Very role centric and incorporate all form factors for devices. Will go beyond windows phone to other device platforms.
- Release schedule: Full client available via browser by end of year. Every half year after that, doing new features with a major release every 24 to 30 months. Business Analyzer rewrite in Q4 2013 including complete rewrite in HTML5 and JS and ability to include MR reports in the Analyzer. With next service pack, can go off domain.
Rapid Start gets a big upgrade with the ability to extract setups from an installation then redeploy the same setting elsewhere. That actually makes the tool useful provided the other bugs are fixed.
For Dynamics SL:
Same product development themes as GP, but very focused on projects, as one would expect, and therefore oriented to mobile. SL will also have a Windows 8 Analyzer style product. They’ll stay on a 2 year release cycle with a mid-cycle Feature Pack release. BA is coming in Q4 2013. UI for mobile (time entry, expense, approvals) in 2013 with web services (Approvals, delegations, resource assignments) in same time frame. CRM Project Connection, Project Multi-Company and Multi-Currency coming in H12014 with SL9 along with Resource Management.
Overall, the roadmap is a bit of a yawner. Not MS’s fault – the products are very mature, very stable and don’t need tons of new stuff. But, after seeing the keynote, these roadmaps seem quaintly retro.
Doing things a little differently this year, MS packed three days of keynotes into a single multi-hour marathon of product announcements and demos. It was TOTALLY effin cool!
Here’s some interesting points I picked out:
- MS has 750K partners worldwide doing a total of $650 billion revenue which they grew by 6.5% in the last 12 mos
- They are dividing the world into Devices and Services (software that you can use from your device, cloud or otherwise). They will use this to differentiate themselves in 4 key areas: cloud (think Azure), Big Data (SQL and Azure), Social (Yammer, Sharepoint, Lync/Skype as a converged services, Outlook) and mobility (Windows 8.1 and Azure)
- Azure is the key consolidation point for EVERYTHING in their toolkit. Everything. Really, everything.
- Partners led 3 out of 4 Office 365 deployments
- A complete new Dynamics CRM Windows 8 client is coming in the 2014 release. The previews were pretty awesome.
- SQL Database Premium is coming to Azure in preview later this year.
- PowerBI: This was coolest demo I’ve seen. Coming to Office3 365 later this year.
Overall, Dynamics was mentioned only with respect a LOB app or as CRM – nothing specifically related to ERP. Ballmer did have an interesting comment – “Dynamics is a billion dollar business that gets less PR than a business that size deserves”.
One last thing: If I had to guess about what the pending reorg looks like, and based solely on who was presenting what, I’d have to say its going to be Satya owning Dynamics.
#WPC2013: 30,000 ft above the southeastern US heading to WPC 2013, I find myself pondering the state of the Dynamics partner channel ahead of drinking the Kool-Aid of keynotes and executive briefings. Here are my areas of concerns and my thoughts on same:
|Cloud ERP||GP and NAV are (allegedly) released in Azure as partner sold product offerings. Both have had substantial enhancements to produce better cloud deployment.||Although MS made a big announcement on this in mid-June, it really is marketing spin since this is just installing the same software onto a persistent Azure virtual machine. This is really about the same approach as going to Watserv or DataResolutions and buying virtual server space on which to host ERP. In essence, this is just a deployment option, no different than installing in a hosting center – it is not a true cloud based, multi-tenant ERP product.|
|Direct Sales||MS seems to finally have got the AX and CRM EA pricing model refined and well thought out.||MS continues to encroach on high end CRM and AX deals with a stealth direct sales model. Yeah, I know they say a partner is always involved, but that comments is like one of Justin Bieber’s bed sheet’s – tired, stained and well used. Between EA sales, Microsoft Consulting involvement in key deals, and comp plan changes rewarding field staff for integrating MS Consulting into a deal, we continue to see MS controlling key large deals.To compound the problem, MS does not have a very good sales force. So these deals are often being lost to SAP and Oracle because they a) have read the playbook and are becoming more effective at competing against the TCO message and b) they are just better at high level enterprise selling.|
|Margins||MS provided EA margins equivalent to, or close to, on premise margins for a period of time to encourage EA sales. In addition, they comp’d the local MS sales teams without regard the sale being on-prem or EA. This removes a big hurdle of AX on the EA.||Overall pricing declines and continued pressure on membership costs for MPN are continuing to squeeze partner margins. Although this doesn’t impact the larger partners, the continued escalation of CRM and AX salaries hits them in a completely different and more drastic way.|
|Competitive Hiring||MS is providing an unprecedented level of assistance to partners in recruiting new professionals (college hires) through Sara Gjerdivig’s FastTrax program for Dynamics AX||Many partners still need qualified GP and NAV staff – very few good ones exist on the market. Everyone competes for the same small pool of senior AX talent continuing a salary escalation war that started immediately post recession. Microsoft Consulting makes this problem more acute as they competitively recruit the same candidate pools and hire staff away from partners.Before anyone from MS calls bullshit on that, I have two examples from the last 6 months.|
|Support||More resources are available in open forums||AX 2012 (RTM and R2) was very bug ridden and overwhelmed the technical support team. This problem was so massive that MS constantly missed Partner Advantage SLA’s for support response. Further, the overall changes to support we saw two years ago continue to percolate into crappy systems and bad answers.The move to partner support through MPN remains a cluster fuck of offshore and outsourced crap that delivers no value to the partner. I’ve had two really awful experiences with that team over certification tracking data being damaged at an organizational level. They just suck.|
|Devices and Services||What the fuck does this mean?||I have no idea what this means to the channel. My fear is a “app”-ization of Dynamics with a web services interconnected framework so that discrete pieces of the product can be sold independently. For example, taking AX requisitions and making that Dynamics Requisition Workload on Azure. I can see where some boundary services (EDI, Reqs, Recruiting, CC Processing, eCommerce) can all be developed this way, but core processes (Revenue Cycle, MRP, Fulfillment) are going to be much more difficult. ERP is inherently interconnected, highly available and not batch driven in its inter-modular updates – moving to discrete apps with web services would put that at risk. Further, the continued “Devices and Services” message doesn’t really resonate with ERP and CRM customers so it creates market uncertainty in the CIO and CFO buyers we hold dear.|
|Partner Concentration||The Top 100 partners are still going strong||According to Bob Scott’s Insights, Dynamics partners stratify as follows:
Top 6: Above $40mm
Next 13: From $20mm to $40mm
Next 22: From $10mm to $20mm
Remaining 59: Between $3.9mm and $9.5mm.The majority of the top 19 partners (full disclosure: I work for number 19) have AX as their primary focus. The majority of everyone else is NAV, GP and SL. 2 of the Top 5 are accounting firms with a long tradition of technology consulting.
I have to pull the old numbers, but it seems like the Top20 are getting bigger and everyone else is a bit static.
I’ve been geeking out with SSIS for the last week or so and posted a blog over at DynamicsCare.com with some hard won knowledge.
Once again, its time for the Dynamics World Top 100 Survey and, once again, I’ve been nominated to the voting list. I assume this is on the basis of my good looks, charm, and Tarantino like writing skills as opposed to any real merit – but, as I say, take ‘em when you get ‘em.
Or something like that. Here’s the link:
Vote early! Vote Often! Vote for me, get a free beer!
While at MS Convergence 2013 (#conv13), I drank a couple of Xanax martinis with a twist of Cymbalta and realized why I really do love my job.
1. The team: I love working as part of a high performing team. Watching Abby Moore and Sandra Dodge just KILL their first large public presentation at Convergence 2013 was a complete joy. Add in Frank Hamelly, Mark Polino (that’s right, two MVP’s), Clinton Weldon, Jon Byrd, EJ Reese and all the other members of the IBIS convergence team and you get an astonishingly great group of folks to admire.
2. The partners: Despite Microsoft’s continued and misguided efforts to accidentally erode the partner channel, it’s still a really solid group of smart, forward looking hardworking folks.
3. The customers: The reason we exist, the meaning in our work lives, the purpose behind the 40+ per week we spend together. #Conv13 reminded me of the tremendous relationships I’ve forged and friendships made over the years with the people who pay my salary. In general, they are awesome and building things to make them better at what they do is why we all get up in the morning.
Put all those together and its like driving a Ferrari on the Autobahn at high noon while the physicist supermodel next to you explains she’s actually a wealthy heiress and she’d like nothing better than to coddle you financially for the rest of your life.
Boo-ya. Loving my life,