Continuing on from Part 3.
After the keynote, we walked back to the MTCC and as my first session was at 11:30-12:30pm, I decided to go directly to the food hall to grab an early lunch. On the tables were a number of conversation starter cards, although I didn’t have anyone to engage with at the time.
I had less than half an hour to eat before making my way to the Commons (level 800) where the next session was yet another networking session.
ISV07l – Government sector: ISV and SI networking event
If you are an independent software vendor (ISV) looking to extend your business or a systems integrator (SI) seeking relevant IP to differentiate your services in the government sector, then this is the networking event for you. Visit the ISV Lounge located in the Community Hub of the Commons and be ready to network to find your next business connection.
This session was a bit interesting, it occurred in the ISV section of the Microsoft area within the Commons. When I arrived, a Microsoft staffer “scanned” (NFC) my pass and then provided me with a yellow sticker which indicated ‘that I worked for a System Integration partner. The interesting thing was that the majority of delegates who turned up were wearing blue stickers, denoting independent software vendors.
It was probably like being the belle of the ball, as I had a line of people queued with me to have a discussion. The session proved quite fruitful, I must have had about six 15 minute conversations with a wide range of ISVs covering off topics from SharePoint health monitoring to advanced developer controls and beyond. There was significant, relevant, crossover for the Australian market.
I had to hustle to make it to my next session at 1pm, despite the fact it was only one level up at 715A.
CE131 – Prepare for the future of intelligent customer engagement with Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Excited to learn about the FY17 strategy and focus areas for intelligent customer engagement in Microsoft Dynamics CRM? Join this session with Dynamics CRM leaders to hear what’s in store for FY17 and what it means to your Dynamics CRM business
This session really introduced the full scope of the newly branded Dynamics 365. As you can see from the initial introduction slides, there’s a lot to like in terms of the capability on offer from Dynamics 365. The “full stack” aligns very well with the productivity goals described in the first keynote. AppSource is introduced and is touted as one of the pillars of the plug and play style building blocks of the Dynamics cloud offering.
Focus shifts to Microsoft’s investments in driving the success of CRM Online with the service outstripping licensing from On Premise licensing for the second consecutive year. The anticipated Spring Wave has arrived, and includes some functionality (CRM Online only) we’ve been waiting for including:
- Field service,
- Employee, customer and partner portals.
- Machine learning integration
A roadmap is also included, showing the history of how CRM has matured to the platform offering we have today. It’s quite apparent that we’re seeing annual improvements now for at least three years in a row (starting with CRM 2013) and the cadence of improvements and releases is set to increase in the cloud. Microsoft has certainly committed to a cloud-first deployment strategy with on-premise deployments a few months later.
Connected Field Service and Scheduling
The Spring Wave also brought us the new field management capability which implements rich resource management functionality. This allows for resources to be defined and managed with CRM in both a Gantt style and calendar style interface (as shown above). Machine learning is incorporated to anticipate service issues and to assist in resource planning/deployment, and FieldOne becomes the tool of choice for workers in the field.
I’m going to cover this off in more detail in later articles, as next month we’ll be looking to implement this functionality with my current client.
There’s significant investment in productivity enhancements specifically around customer engagement and service management. There’s four streams present, beginning with Cortana based learning. Interaction history, social engagement and other data sources can be interpreted to assist in managing cases and to link useful documents and other resources to active work.
Emails and other correspondence is also a data source, but there’s a new twist in that LinkedIn can also be used to correlate business connections within and outside an organisation. I expect this will be expanded in the wake of Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn. Automation also helps resolve cases and workflow, and suggests actions.
After this session, I snuck back to the food hall for a second stab at lunch; the beef was sensational. Again, I only had a half hour until the next session:
CE141 – Creating the Microsoft Dynamics partner of the future: Microsoft’s partner strategy, plans, and programs to support your success
There has never been more opportunity for growing a profitable business with Microsoft Dynamics as the barriers between products break down, enabling the opportunity to deliver a broader solution. Dynamics partners are uniquely equipped to deliver deep vertical solutions that are critical to our customers. Current and potential Dynamics partners should attend to understand Microsoft’s combination of partner incentives, branding, requirements and strategies to help fully realize this opportunity.
This session focused on explaining some changes to how Microsoft engages with Partners to deliver value to customers. The model places heavy emphasis on the Dynamics Partner to provide their clients with direction on cloud adoption, with a focus on providing a comprehensive solution to meet the client’s needs. Key takeaways include owning the billing relationship, offering managed services such as support, providing integration and validation and knowing the client’s business domain.
This is where the expanded Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Program comes in, to provide partners with support and guidance from Microsoft on how to achieve the above goals.
There is a heavy emphasis on partners owning the relationship between client and provider, including the handling of billing and support. This is accomplished in two distinct ways: direct and indirect channels. The direct channel is where a partner provides services as a direct go-between, indirect channels is where services are obtained from an indirect provider, by way of an indirect reseller (an unmanaged partner). There arte obviously better benefits attached to direct channels, but they require a lot more commitment from the partner company than via the indirect channel.
At this point, existing partner competencies will change. Existing partners with a CRM competency (on premise or cloud) based on revenue/seats/exams and references will transition to Cloud CRM competencies. Existing partners with an ERP (Axapta/AX) revenue/exams/references competency will transition to an ERP competency based either on on-premises or cloud performance. Note the subtle changes.
There is a heavy emphasis on vertical market alignment, and this is soon to be reflected in the partner competencies, split across industry lines, e.g. Retail, Public Sector, Manufacturing etc.. This is designed to provide better clarity around which Dynamics Partners are better suited to providing solutions to specific industry customers. There is still horizontal alignment in competencies across Dynamics 365, Azure etc..
The second part of the session was a presentation delivered by a Dynamics Partner. Their strategy relied on a number of key principles, for example:
- Don’t chase non-strategic business,
- Focus on industry,
- Cloud first everywhere,
- All new projects are cloud,
- Adoption is driven by mobility,
The point being driven home here is clear: for best results, target vertical industries and be extremely proficient in handling industry business. The session wound down with the big reveal, FY17 Partner incentive breakdowns which I won’t share here at this time (contact me offline if interested).
It’s pretty clear how Microsoft is positioning Dynamics 365, and the important role Dynamics Partners will play in expanding the reach of the platform. There were a few really obvious conclusions to be reached from what I’ve learned so far:
- Develop and end-to-end vertical aligned strategy
- Cloud first
- Expand service offerings around fast go to market offerings
- Invest in building IP (reuse in AppSource, PowerApps, Flow and Power BI) – specifically industry aligned IP – to build differentiation
- Validate solutions and IP through AppSource, attract exposure and additional business
That was my last session of the day. There wasn’t anything too appealing, and I was still a bit tired, so I walked back to the unit and caught a little sleep to get refreshed for the evening. I got changed and head back to the MTCC at 6pm for the bus to the APAC dinner.
The next article will focus on the third day of the WPC, coming soon.