Harald Horgen of The York Group has worked on and around Microsoft channel programs for over a decade. Vendor and reseller priorities have change in that time, and in the last few years Microsoft’s focus has been on driving higher cloud technology consumption.
Horgen believes the newest approach, via One Commercial Partner and related platforms like Partner Center, will bring more discipline to Microsoft’s channel efforts, but not without some risks. ISVs looking to establish a channel of their own within the Microsoft ecosystem must be disciplined, practical, and strategic, says Horgen. Not all business owners will adapt to meet the challenges of this new phase of channel challenges.
On this episode, we speak with Afshin Alikhani, chairman of Retail Realm, a software distribution and development company specializing in the retail sector with a focus on distributing Microsoft’s Dynamics RMS, AX for Retail, and 365 for Retail, as well as their own related retail solutions.
Afshin founded Retail Realm in the 1990s and has expanded its reach around the world. He has seen the business landscape shift over that time, and he believes the Microsoft channel is at a major transition point. Veteran firms are re-considering their strategy and there are big challenges for new entrants. And amid these changes, the retail industry continues to be one of the fastest evolving for new technology for businesses of all sizes.
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Our guest this week is Andrew King, CEO of WebSan Solutions, a Microsoft partner with offices in both Toronto and Indiana that provides Dynamics ERP and CRM solutions. Andrew last joined us a year ago, so this was a good opportunity catch up, following Microsoft Inspire 2017. Like everyone else at the partner channel event, Andrew was paying close attention to Microsoft’s guidance, as well as the program and product news that impacts the Dynamics channel.
Inspire 2017 was a week of “shock and awe,” says Steve Mordue of RapidStart CRM, who spoke to us on the final day of Microsoft’s conference.
It was a good week. Mordue believes that the One Commercial Partner model allows Microsoft CVP Ron Huddleston to pull the trigger on his sales vision. And it will be a boon for Dynamics partners – if they are willing to evolve. Microsoft’s vision has no place for the “general purpose” partner who just wants to implement. Aggressive partners will be all over AppSource, and make themselves known on the Partner Center.
Customers are evolving as well, and are no longer willing to let the head of IT make ERP and CRM purchase decisions. Decision makers are looking for rich capabilities, in apps versus suites, and want to find them on AppSource.
In this episode of the podcast, Mordue and MSDynamicsWorld Editor Jason Gumpert discuss:
This episode comes to you from Inspire 2017 in Washington DC. We caught up with Linda Rose, who recently sold her business, RoseASP, to private equity firm ESW Capital. It wasn’t her first business sale, but she says it was different from previous deals, and it sparked a different type of response from other business owners in the Microsoft channel.
Linda tells us about the questions she is fielding from Microsoft partners about selling a business, the economics of today’s channel opportunity, and the efforts of Microsoft and others in the channel to support the importance of women in executive leadership roles at technology companies.
For more on Linda’s approach to business valuations, the question she says she is asked about most, you can check out here blog post on the topic.
Is Microsoft doing all it can to make Dynamics 365 the crown jewel of its enterprise business? Not like it used to, says industry analyst Joshua Greenbaum of Enterprise Applications Consulting. In a recent article he called out the company for what he sees as a reduced investment in marketing the product line to analysts and prospective customers. Less access for analysts to product executives and the product community has been “a damn shame,” he wrote, describing Dynamics as stuck in a “cone of silence” that is “ keeping Dynamics out of a deal flow that by rights it should be deep in the mix of.”
For their part, Microsoft officials have already stated they don't agree with Greenbaum’s assessment and cite new events like the "Business Forward" customer and prospect event series, which is expanding globally and aims to present the big picture on Microsoft's commitment to Dynamics.
But Greenbaum's perspective on the matter, as he explains in this episode of the podcast, accounts for the unique role analysts serve as advisers to software buyers who are thinking not just about features and functions, but about committing to the future performance of a software vendor and its larger technology ecosystem.
In this episode of the podcast, topics include:
In this episode of the podcast we welcome Chris Cognetta to discuss last week’s public reveal of the next generation of Dynamics 365 customer engagement apps. You can see our day 1, day 2, and day 3 recaps.
Chris is a Dynamics veteran who attended the executive briefing and documented almost all Microsoft's announcements. He's a Microsoft MVP and a Dynamics 365 evangelist, and he's also the director for the center of excellence and the client field services engineering team at Tribridge.
When Steve Endow and Christina Phillips started the Dynamics GP Land blog, they knew it was a time of change in the Microsoft channel. Events were changing, blogs were growing in importance, and Microsoft technology was evolving around them. Nine years later, the blog run by this pair of MVPs has become a rich source of knowledge on GP implementations, coding, upgrades, and a whole lot more.
Even as their roles have changed, Phillips and Endow have kept the site an active and popular destination for the GP community, full of engaging stories and useful advice on project management, technical challenges, and customer outcomes.
This week we catch up with the team from Catapult, a Microsoft VAR with expertise in Dynamics NAV, CRM, and now Dynamics 365. CEO Elliot Fishman and VP of client development Jeff Bacon have always watched Microsoft's product development and channel closely, and we discuss some of the important changes they have seen this year that they believe will directly impact partners in terms of technology, service offerings, and even personnel.
Some topics of the discussion include:
For all the changes vendors are pushing in the ERP space today, from licensing to deployment to custom development, some patterns from past eras persist for both service providers and customers. This week on the podcast we talk to Peter Joeckel of Turn On Dynamics about the current crossroads that ERP buyers and partners face, looking back at legacy solutions like Dynamics GP and to opportunities of the future with Dynamics 365, other vendors’ solutions, and perhaps offerings that haven’t yet been developed..
In this conversation, we discuss:
Do you truly need Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities? Does the definition that marketers are feeding you even accurate?
Joining us to make sense of the technology and nomenclature is Nucleus Research analyst Joseph Mathias, author of the provocatively titled report Cutting Through the IoT Hysteria. Mathias and MSDynamicsWorld editor Jason Gumpert explore:
Be honest: why are you implementing CRM? To make relationships smoother, which serves both you and the customer, or to make transactions smoother, which serves just you?
Customers know the difference, says JC Quintana. He is author of CRM to the People; also Speaking Frankly About Customer Relationship Management, and the upcoming Serious Relationships: The 7 Elements of Successful Business Relationships due out in June.
JC is the founder and president of the Corporate Relationship Group, which helps companies resolve business relationship challenges; and before launching his company, was the Global Head of Customer Strategy Innovation with Hewlett Packard. Most recently, he delivered the customer keynote at eXtreme Lisbon, and he’s here to tell us more about customer strategies:
This time, a Dynamics download from Summit EMEA 2017 and eXtreme365, plus the fate of AX 2012 R3, NAV "Tenerife", and no kidding, D365 Cannabis.
Among the stories:
As the Dynamics community moves through a new series of conferences for Dynamics 365/CRM, 365/AX, 365/NAV, and GP communities, the channel is suddenly awash in roadmap updates and an expected (but still sudden) surprise from Adobe and Microsoft.
If AXMentor’s inaugural Evolve event in early March served to “take a temperature” of Dynamics 365’s early health, it appears strong.
With customers (and partners) still trying to understand the future of their Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM investments, AXMentor planned to answer their questions.
The company's product manager Deborah Wittich and marketing & sales manager Amir Khoshnayati join us to recap of the event, which focused on and helping companies understand the future of their Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM investments; and charting their transition paths to Dynamics 365. Our guests describe an air of both caution and enthusiasm.
Among the highlights:
It has been an exciting few weeks of news in the Microsoft Dynamics channel, with acquisitions (Arbela absorbing Integral USA), product news (Dynamics 365 for Operations on-premise), and expectations around new CRM SMB announcements to come.
Newly awarded Microsoft MVP Steve Mordue has never shied away from the challenging issues that partners face both in their day to day work and in long term business planning. A veteran of the Salesforce ecosystem who transitioned his consulting business to Dynamics CRM several years ago, Mordue now runs RapidStart CRM, an ISV that offers tools that improve user adoption of Dynamics 365.
As we move deeper into 2017, Dynamics 365 professionals are awaiting the next phase of the suite’s position in the CRM market, namely with its planned SMB, or “Business Edition,” sales and marketing apps. Once a skeptic, Mordue says he has been won over by Microsoft’s efforts on the buildout of these apps so far. But questions remain, among them:
With Dynamics 365 for Operations, “shiny new things” come fast and furiously. It’s up to implementation partners to make sure they’re stand-up ready for customers, says Eamon O’Toole, Senior Manager of CRM Solutions with BDO Canada,
O’Toole is a 15-years CRM-industry veteran, who is enthused by some of the apps around Dynamics 365. When he began his CRM career, there were much broader release windows in which features were static for years at a time. Now, new features evolve in the middle of an implementation.
Some of the topics Eamon discusses with MSDynamicsWorld editor Jason Gumpert:
Today we chat with Bob McAdam, program manager for GPUG and organizer of this year’s GPUG Amplify event. Amplify is in its second year and it is one of the few user-facing events of the spring. With Convergence now long gone, we discuss topics including:
Nothing signals an interesting week more than a police presence. Join us for a recap of compelling Microsoft Dynamics stories. Among the topics we cover this time:
Chuck Ingram knows CRM like few do. He has worked with it before it was even called CRM in the late ‘90s, and worked at Microsoft for eight years in CRM, and is now the Dynamics practice director for Tribridge.
He observes "It certainly feels like perpetual on-premises will be an exception rather than the rule,” now that Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 on-premises will move ahead to become "Dynamics 365 (On-Premises)".
Ingram walks us through Tribridge’s experience and observations of the Dynamics CRM to Dynamics 365, be it on-prem, in the public cloud or somewhere in between.
Among his observations:
A momentous couple of weeks in the Microsoft Dynamics channel, both within Microsoft and in the channel, as partners roll up their sleeves and put the 2016 tornado of solutions to work.
"I am going to laugh when my kids complain that Dynamics 365 marketing dominates the home page and marketplace on their Xbox."
So says Jeff Frye, a veteran Microsoft Dynamics GP user, whose colorful comments consistently challenge the official word on the future of Microsoft technology. Frye has experience on both the customer and partner sides of the ERP ecosystem and he is now a systems analyst with Nashville, Tenn.-based Hunt Brothers Pizza, a deeply-entrenched Microsoft Dynamics GP environment with 7,000+ locations.
Jeff has much more to say about Dynamics GP's status and future, and he joined us to share his wisdom and shoot-from-the-hip commentary:
It's a lively conversation.
Sure, Dynamics 365 was the big story of 2016, and likely will be in 2017. But it wasn’t the only story with impact on the year ahead. What else do we see in our crystal ball for 2017?
MSDynamicsWorld Editor Jason Gumpert looks ahead, with his answers to the questions:
As 2016 nears its end, the MSDW Podcast ponders things ending (Envision), beginning (LinkedIn acquisition), and just coming into focus (Dynamics 365). We also review a raft of excellent expert content and look ahead to two can't-miss webcasts in this last full work week of the year (for most).