What does it mean to be an ISV in the Microsoft business applications channel these days? With so many aspects of that particular type of partner relationship in flux today, there is no single answer. Yet another sign that things are not what they used to be: the most recent Inc. 5000 list, which featured only five or so partners from the Microsoft Dynamics channel down from nearly twenty in 2017.
While magazine "best of" lists are a generally terrible way to measure anything, at least this one has a bit of quantitative data to use as a starting point for a discussion. So on this MSDW podcast episode, we speak with Mike Dickerson, CEO of ClickDimensions, one of the Dynamics-focused ISVs on this year's list. They reported over 100% growth over the last three years.
As Mike tells us, there is no single reason for the drop on the Inc list. But with the massive changes underway in this space, both with the products and the partner strategy, there is plenty to consider in terms of what is changing, why, and how ISVs can position themselves for the future.
Sometimes the biggest challenge facing ISVs and VARs is simply keeping tabs of all the moving parts in a complicated marketing initiative. It’s easy for deadlines to slip or for tasks to go untended. In this quick episode of the Marketer’s Corner, Heather Robinson of Fastpath, a security and compliance ISV working in the Microsoft channel and others, describes a marketing tool that has enabled her to monitor key aspects of performance by members of a Dynamics marketing team, and thereby bring accountability to each team member.
The tool is particularly effective for keeping tabs on lead-generation campaigns, which are Robinson’s primary responsibility. For details, listen in on the interview as she explains how she has expanded Fastpath’s marketing efficiency and effectiveness.
There’s lots more in this interview, the seventh in a series of Marketer’s Corner podcasts designed to provide ideas and guidance for improving marketing productivity and effectiveness, as well as to provide an accessible platform for ISVs and partners to share their marketing experiences and tips with the Dynamics community at large.
The reporting architecture of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365FO) is moving toward data lakes, and it's not a simple change for customers to understand. Today's guest, Kirk Donahoe, solution architect and consulting manager at MCA Connect, has been studying the changes to the entity store and the BYOD model and wrote about it recently. The use of ADLS Gen2 will change the overall architecture of D365FO in the Azure cloud, but it will also impact third party data warehouse solutions like his firm's. Partners like MCA Connect need to understand what to do next, but just as importantly, so do D365FO customers.
Kirk spends a good deal of his time advising clients on the impact of Microsoft's changes. He and other D365FO experts are also paying close attention to Microsoft's guidance on the topic as it rolls out, sometimes with bigger announcements but often in small pieces.
On this episode, Kirk reviews some of the highlights of his recent article, discusses how various updates will impact both D365FO and AX users, and explains how other Azure data services factor into a Microsoft cloud ERP customer's experience.
In this brief podcast episode, Mary Miller of ImageTag discusses how she has deployed the work execution platform Smartsheet to manage nearly all aspects of her team's projects, calendar, budget, and more. She credits it with revolutionizing the marketing management function while boosting departmental productivity.
There’s lots more in this interview, the sixth in a series of Marketer’s Corner podcasts. The series is designed to provide ideas and guidance for improving marketing productivity and effectiveness, as well as to provide an accessible platform for ISVs and partners to share their marketing experiences and tips with the Dynamics community at large.
Microsoft MVP Erik Hougaard published his first book this week, the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Field Guide, and he joins the MSDW Podcast to talk about the book, the state of Business Central, and his experiences with self-publishing.
Erik has been working with NAV and Business Central for a long time. He's perhaps best known for his work as a developer and architect and his related blogging and speaking. The Field Guide is a departure from some of the topics he usually discusses. It is written for new Business Central users and administrators, whether they have experience with Dynamics NAV or not. It is not intended as a cover to cover read, he says, but rather as a real field guide – something meant to be picked up as needed to learn more about specific topics, from standard features to integration options to reporting and customization.
We discuss a few important chapters, Erik's experience writing and publishing the book, and plans for updating it as Business Central is updated by Microsoft every six months going forward.
In today's news roundup episode we break down recent Microsoft announcements, and highlight recent expert content on budgeting, automation, reporting, and ERP integration, and more.
Microsoft's industry accelerators for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform don't simply appear. Rather, they are the result of extensive collaboration with partners willing to share their years of experience and intellectual property to help develop standardized data models and feature sets. In the financial services sector, VeriPark has contributed to that effort, contributing to the development of the recently launched Banking Accelerator.
Our guest on this episode, Wim Geukens, managing director of VeriPark Europe, explains that committing some of the company's most valuable IP to an open source initiative like an industry accelerator wasn't an easy decision. And while they may be losing some advantages, there are advantages to helping Microsoft shape its industry model, too, he says. The company also continues to move ahead with efforts to offer more high value capabilities for financial services firms, in areas like language processing and facial recognition.
We also discuss Wim's recent articles for MSDW on approaching the requirements of omnichannel customer engagement in the banking and insurance sectors. One reason the articles work so well is that, unlike generic statements on the importance of improving customer experience, they take on real and addressable challenges like integrating legacy solutions and prioritizing the availability of customer information at key moments.
How do Microsoft Dynamics users really go about researching and making buying decisions about ISV solutions?
It turns out the reality is often much different from partner's assumptions about the buying process. As just one example, it may be tempting for Dynamics marketers to assume that product videos and podcasts are fringe marketing vehicles for third-party solutions, when in fact they are rapidly becoming mainstream, argues Adam Berezin, MSDynamicsWorld’s CEO in the latest Marketer’s Corner podcast.
In this episode of the MSDW Marketer's Corner podcast series, Berezin draws on the results of our latest Dynamics ecosystem survey of decision makers and influencers, drawn from among MSDW’s 70,000-plus active site-members, for a number of surprising observations about what Dynamics users are really seeking in their product research and buying decisions.
In this latest MSDW Marketer’s Corner podcast, Stephanie Burke, vice president of marketing at Sana Commerce, provides guidance about developing rich content that will engage Dynamics users researching new products.
For example, she describes steps Sana has taken to create a credible blog that has helped bring sales prospects in. She explains how Sana uses case studies to bring prospects along in the sales cycle, along with the kinds of company and personnel information the company includes on its site.
Inspire 2019 is coming to and end this week following a full three day schedule plus additional regional meetings and sessions. On this episode of the podcast, we get the Dynamics SMB partner perspective from QBS Group's CEO, Michael Hartmann, and VP of Business Development Nelson Tavares da Silva. They share some of the key guidance they received from Microsoft around Dynamics 365 Business Central, updates on programs including AppSource and partner benefits, and themes that they will use at their own firm and with their partners.
QBS Group will also be hosting their own webcast with more event updates on July 22.
In this roundup, the MSDW editorial team looks back at top stories from recent weeks. We discuss:
Inspire 2019 is just days away, and the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) will be there as always, advocating for Microsoft partners and celebrating its 25th anniversary. On this episode we speak with Jeffrey Goldstein, president of IAMCP Americas and the managing director at Microsoft partner Queue Associates. He'll be at Inspire and he walks us through the themes that both his firm and IAMCP members will focus on, both internally and with Microsoft executives.
Some of the most pressing matters should be no surprise, like how to navigate the changes to gold and silver certifications, the loss of internal use rights (IURs), and the evolving use of AppSource. But Goldstein is also helping lead
Mary Miller's marketing and partner engagement team at KwikTag fulfill's many roles for the company. When it comes to supporting their reselling partners, the team have deployed a marketing toolkit that provides a blend of resources from product information to demos, case studies, and industry research. They even develop landing pages and microsites that their partners can use in the context of customer interactions.
In this episode, Mary and podcast host Marilou Barsam discuss:
Linda's new book, Get Acquired for Millions, reflects her own experiences in 3 sales, plus new research from across the industry.
The sale of a technology services provider (TSP) business brings into focus matters of all sorts -- financial, strategic, operational, psychological, and even personal. The prospect of an acquisition also raises a lot of challenges and anxieties – the worth of a business today, how can that value be improved, how buyers are approaching opportunities, and where sellers are finding the best deals.
Our guest is Linda Rose, a veteran of the tech services space and the Microsoft channel in particular. She has sold three businesses over her career, most recently her cloud services business about two years ago. After taking some time off for a few adventures, she's back to work with a new book for other business owners. It's called Get Acquired for Millions: A roadmap for technology service providers to maximize company value.
We talk about her own experiences as an entrepreneur, her research for the book, and some of the findings and recommendations for other TSPs.
Mary Miller and her team at KwikTag by enChoice are responsible for marketing and the channel relationship. That covers a lot of ground, from events, content, supporting collateral, and anything the sales team might need to help promote and sell the company's products and services. In the Microsoft Dynamics space, they go to market with their channel partners, and that relationship is critical to their execution strategy.
Marketing expert Marilou Barsam hosts the episode and talks with Mary about KwikTag's most pressing needs and the tactics they have used to boost results including a rethink of their webcast strategy, which now caters to users and partners in unique ways.
There is so much more to productive content than simply creating articles, blogs, videos and white papers. The content needs to maximize key product features. It needs to reflect the prospect’s buying stage and demographics. It needs to be effectively staged. And more.
Heather Robinson, director of marketing for Fastpath, has years of experience getting results from content marketing in the enterprise software space and understands how and why to engage and nurture prospects with appropriate messages and touch points.
In this Marketer’s Corner interview, she explains:
When it comes to ERP, smaller businesses with complex operations face a major challenge in finding a solution that can optimize their business while not hampering it with eye-watering deployment costs. As podcast series co-host Peter Joeckel recently wrote, SMBs who invested in Microsoft Dynamics AX over the last decade are now likely to find themselves stuck in the middle of an ERP world that might feel like it has forgotten them.
Both of today's guests, Chris George of Smith Pump Co. and TJ Phelps of ALT Fabrication, support their companies' AX systems and know them inside and out after years of service. That means they not only know how the solutions have helped build the businesses, but they know in what ways they are now being held back by various factors including licensing, customization, and general limitations that more modern systems would be able to accommodate.
Thanks to both Chris and TJ for their candid assessments and for sharing their findings as they plan for the future.
It's time for another Microsoft Dynamics news roundup. The MSDW editorial team looks back at top stories from recent weeks including:
…and more, including upcoming coverage plans.
In this episode we talk with two Dynamics channel veterans who are also relative newcomers to the long-running Directions North America conference and its traditional audience of Dynamics NAV partners. Jonathan Stypula and David Gersten of Dynamic Consulting focused on a broader range of products and clients than just Business Central, but they also see the importance of this product in the future of Microsoft's business apps segment and the channel.
We explore their impressions of Microsoft's messaging, parallels to the Finance and Operations world, whether partner M&A will pick up, and what entrepreneurial VARs will do next.
Our journey through the AX to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365FO) upgrade experience continues with a primer on Microsoft's Fast Track program for D365FO implementations.
Fast Track is a component of every D365FO cloud deployment, whether customers know it or not. It involves multiple stages and activities throughout (and after) an implementation project. The goal, our guests explain, is to improve the likelihood of a successful go-live by ensuring the system is properly designed, built, and ready to operate in a production environment.
Two principal solution architects from Microsoft, Sigita Cepaitiene and Gokul Ramesh, join us to discuss key details of the program, including its origins, how it works today, and ways it might evolve in the future. They also offer insight into what Microsoft is learning, from module usage to project management to One Version, as the company helps customers transition to SaaS ERP.
In the era of on-premises ERP, private hosting partners offered a relatively straight forward value proposition. For many small to mid-sized businesses, especially those without a robust IT department or data center of their own, hosting had (and still has) measurable value. But that story changes when the future of an on-prem ERP is mostly in the public cloud, as we see with Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations.
While the story has changed, it is not over for Microsoft partners who traditionally focused on hosting and private cloud services. For one, most AX customers have not yet upgraded to D365FO, nor do they have immediate plans to do so.
Second, as we have seen in previous episodes of this series, an ERP running in the public cloud and managed by Microsoft is not a simple arrangement. Partners and customers alike need new skills on various Azure services and tools to be able to properly manage both their IT infrastructure and its costs.
Add to that the fact that a D365FO solution on Azure will become just one node in a multi-cloud topography for most organizations, and the role of a cloud services partner starts to come back into focus.
Tyler Doerner, VP of sales at WatServ, a hosting and cloud services provider and Microsoft partner, joins series co-host Peter Joeckel of TurnOnDynamics and MSDW editor Jason GUmpert to explore how both private cloud and Azure services are impacting Dynamics customers. We discuss how private, hybrid, and public cloud services are changing the partner channel, what Dynamics AX customers are doing today to plan for F&O, hybrid cloud scenarios are most important today.
On this episode we talk with Microsoft's Aleksandar Totovic about what he willl be presenting at Directions North America 2019 next week in Las Vegas. Aleksandar described these sessions on his blog recently, and he explains here some of the factors that went into his decision to take on topics that are forward thinking and probably a little outside of the conventional NAV and Business Central partner's plans. The common theme of the sessions – figuring out how to incorporate other fast-moving Microsoft business applications with Business Central – underscores one of the big opportunities and challenges that partners face: deciding where to invest precious time and resources in the Microsoft channel.
In a recent article, the co-host of today's podcast, Peter Joeckel, shared his perspective that the Dynamics AX user base falls into one of three categories as it relates to their Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365FO) upgrade prospects:
That last cohort, the constrained mid-market customer with complex customizations, is staffed with tense IT managers harboring the legitimate fear that the financial losses tie to an upgrade-gone-wrong could do real harm to the business overall.
In this episode of our Dynamics AX to D365FO Upgrade Journeys podcast series, we meet Irene, an IT director at a manufacturer running a not-so-successful AX 2012 system (she preferred to leave her company out of the discussion). Their AX implementation began in 2012 RTM and "it was not an easy implementation," she says. They faced many of the hurdles you hope not to find when executing an ERP project: the lack of a change mindset, a conservative (and seemingly un-engaged) executive team, and some technical deployment problems. Since their less-than-satisfying go—live, they have been working to steadily bring back features and functions that should have been there from the start.
Now they face the prospect of an upgrade of some sort. Irene explains how she evaluated the two primary choices: upgrading to D365FO in the cloud or upgrading to AX 2012 R3. It's not a scenario (or an outcome) that will earn itself a flashy video at the next Microsoft conference, but it's one that might seem more believable for a certain set of AX customers weighing their options today.
The podcast is back with a look at some of the most important articles and features from the last month. It's an episode that is heavy on Dynamics 365 Business Central news as Microsoft ramps up the April 2019 release and communicates its plans to partners, both in Asia last month and in North America in May. We also review some new insights from subject matter experts in partner channel strategy, manufacturing, banking, non-profits, Customer Engagement, Finance & Operations, and more.
On this episode we bring back the news roundup, and there is a lot to cover. We review both the most popular and most important Microsoft Dynamics news of recent weeks.