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#WPC13 Microsoft Enterprise Services/Dynamics Partner Roundtable

On Thursday, Microsoft was kind enough to invite the some key partners to attend a briefing on how Microsoft Consulting services will approach CRM and AX in FY2014 and how MCS will work with Partners in the same year.

As expected, MCS is going to continue its focus (at least in the Dynamics space) to large, global AX deals and large CRM deals in order to provide an enterprise presence.  I’ve been pretty vocal about my dislike of MCS coming into our space so let me go on record as saying “I may have been a little wrong”.

The sales and services mgt teams made some commitments to the partner channel last year about how they would behave and how they would not encroach on partner businesses.  A year later, I can tell you that they held to their word and are approaching the channel with a very partner friendly face.  HOWEVER, they are also being pretty clear – they’ll work with us in deals and protect us if they are brought in, but we have to be operationally tight and good at what we do.  I think that’s fair.

I am fortunate to work for a company that has global mindshare in a vertical, so I am exposed to these guys a little more than most.  I am excited to deepen that relationship over the next year.

#wpc13 Massive Microsoft Reorg Announced

Read the following:  http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/Press/2013/Jul13/07-11OneMicrosoft.aspx

This is really big news. 

In addition to this, MS announced a major staff layoff of PAM and Existing Customer staff so as to focus more attention on the growth and revenue generating partners.  Essentially, they will nationalize and centralize the PAM roles and focus on fewer partners.  The lower tier will be managed by national TSEM’s (telephone based sales reps).  The lifestyle firms will be managed via a call center.

Both of these announcement are VERY good for Dynamics partners investing in customer add or revenue growth (assuming that growth ties to software revenue for MS).  They are not so good for partners that a solely growing revenue through VAR changes or are running a lifestyle business.

This is a continuation of MS aligning itself internally to match the exterrnal #oneMicrosoft message we’ve been hearing  about.

#wpc13 Dynamics AX Roadmap

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.

#WPC13: Update on GP and SL Roadmap

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.

#wpc13: Monday Vision Keynote

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.

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