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Friday, August 06, 2010

Interview with Microsoft's Doug Kennedy

Well Convergence has come and gone, and WPC 2010 is now behind us, along with Microsoft's FY2010. With that, it's time for another interview with Microsoft's own Doug Kennedy, Vice President, Microsoft Dynamics Partners.

For reference, last years interview can be found here.: Interview with Microsoft's Doug Kennedy, including comments from Crispin Read

Recently I virtually sat down with Doug, and posed a few questions about the Dynamics Partner Ecosystem, work Microsoft is doing to help Partners, and his advice for Partners for FY2011. The following is the result of that interview.:

1.) Doug, last year's interview opened up with us focusing around Microsoft's drive to vertically and geographically align partners and solutions. In that topic, you mentioned that Microsoft had created a new role to help identify the 'white space', called 'Industry Market Development Manager (IMDM)'. How successful has this move been? What other developments have taken place over the past year in this area and what new focuses will be done for Fiscal Year 2011?

"The creation of the IMDM role within the Microsoft Dynamics field teams has been very successful. The IMDMs have provided a crucial connection between our corporate team in Redmond and our partners and field teams throughout the world. Based on that success, we are continuing to realign our resources to help our partners focus and win in Industry.

Going into FY11, we are creating a separate Industry team to drive the Industry message deeper into our product development and field engagement. The Industry Teams are led by another new role, Global Industry Directors. These Industry Directors work with R&D, Product Mgmt, Sector Industry Leads (EPG, SMSP), Partners, Sales, Marketing, IMDMs and Field to align and drive our WW Go-To-Market strategy and execution for Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM. The Industry team works closely with our R&D team to make sure our development is focused on the industries and verticals where our partners can compete and win.

The Global Industry Directors also link Redmond with the IMDMs to provide clear information and direction to our partners and the field.

Also in FY11, we are helping our partners focus their business by Industry and Vertical with three industry specific programs:

1. The Vertical Solution Prioritization (VSP) process. This field process identifies, verifies and catalogs our proven and repeatable industry solutions. These solutions include Microsoft Dynamics IP at their core along with ISV IP, proven Partners, and integration to other Microsoft products such as SharePoint, SQL, PinPoint, etc. These VSPs must have a minimum number of customer references and be on track to become Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CfMD).

2. Our AMR Industry Certification Program provides our implementing Partners with independent, third-party certification of their industry-specific expertise. AMR (a division of Gartner) conducts the certification process. The process is largely based on customer satisfaction and willingness to recommend surveys. This certification provides our customers with the assurance that the Partner they are working with has a strong track record in that customer’s specific industry.

3. The Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) Industry Badge will be made available later this year. To attain this Badge the Partner must first attain the AMR Industry Certification (demonstrating their proven industry capabilities with customers). Additionally, the Partner must attain several Microsoft competencies. In combination we are certifying the Partner based on proven technical capability AND Industry expertise."

2.) Another topic from last year’s interview was around the Microsoft Dynamics Ecosystem and issues that Partners faced. The economy is improving and sales of Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions have risen. With this said and with the economy improved, though still weak, what are some top issues you see partners facing for fiscal year 2011 and what is Microsoft doing to try to help these areas?

"The economy is definitely improving and both customers and prospects are ready to invest again which translates into increasing pipeline and improved partner growth and profitability.

Having said that, the underlying issues we are trying to address still exist and our efforts to improve partner productivity and develop bigger, stronger and more specialized partners are as relevant as ever.

The good news is that we see more and more partners take our “Go Vertical” and “Play to Win” messages to heart. The changes we are driving through the Microsoft Partner Network such as higher certification requirements and the introduction of an “Industry Badge” are aimed at better differentiating and recognizing partners who support our strategy, and partners are taking it very seriously and working hard to meet the new higher bar.

We understand that this is not an easy transition for many partners and that we have to support them in getting to the next level. Over the last seven months we have introduced a number of programs aimed at driving strategic change and execution excellence in the channel. Even though we have only recently introduced these programs, we have already received great feedback.

Some examples of the positive feedback from partners are tied to the following deliverables:

• The Marketing Services Bureaus, 3rd party marketing agencies that understand Microsoft’s go-to-market strategy and can help partners design and execute more effective campaigns that drive higher ROI

• The Microsoft Dynamics Partner Academy which provides a rich role-based multi-year training and certification curriculum across 7 key business, sales and technical roles within the partner’s organization .

• The Partner Business System - an integrated business solution spanning CRM, ERP and BI specifically designed for Microsoft Dynamics partners – which helps partners improve insight into and oversight over their business, increasingly important as their operations grow.

• The Partner Business Consulting program which provides partners with tools, KPIs and performance benchmark data as well as access to a network of 3rd party business management consultants with channel experience and expertise who – through deep 1-to-1 engagements – can help partners identify and address growth and profitability issues."

3.) With Microsoft Azure in full production and solutions being developed, the 'Cloud' is for sure here and rolling. It's easy to see how an ISV can make money with the cloud, building solutions that are built for Microsoft Azure or embed Azure into their solutions. What about VAR's though?

I realize service dollars can be made by VAR's with creating solutions that interact and extend a customer’s Microsoft Dynamics investment, but what about revenue from sales of Azure accounts? Does Microsoft plan to address this with VAR's? Also what advice would you give Microsoft Dynamics Partners in regard for taking advantage of the Cloud for themselves and their customers at the ISV, and VAR level?

"The cloud provides a variety of business opportunities for the Microsoft Dynamics Partners. We are highlighting these opportunities and providing programs to assist partners with embracing the cloud. Some of our guidance and programs included the following:

• We are reminding the Microsoft Dynamics Partners that they can offer Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM to customers as on-premise or hosted solutions. Having these options offer customers more flexibility in how they consume software and can reduce the partner’s cost of a sale and shorten sales cycles.

• We are telling the Microsoft Dynamics VARs to leverage Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and provision new accounts for their customers in seconds, all backed by a 99.9% uptime guarantee. Partners can leverage Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to quickly set-up proof of concepts and rapidly prototype new capabilities to increase opportunity success. The flexibility of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online ensures that it can be leveraged within any organization in any number of groups and in different ways to manage any type of relationship, not just customers.

• The business focus for VARs should be centered on the services revenue opportunities available to them that span proof of concepts through to implementing production systems."

4.) Doug, for Fiscal Year 2011, what are some key areas you would like Microsoft Dynamics Partners to focus on to help? Also what are some possible new projects, tools, etc. that maybe have not gotten enough attention that Microsoft Dynamics Partners can really make use of to help their business grow and better align with Microsoft's vision for FY2011?

"Embracing the cloud.

o Partners should plan to be ready for the rollout of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online/2011 is very important for Microsoft Dynamics CRM partners in FY11. We have provided tools on partnersource that helps partners self-assess their cloud readiness which will help them take full advantage of the rollout of CRM 2011 Online.

o Microsoft Dynamics ERP partners should work with the Microsoft Dynamics field teams to understand the options for moving to their customers to the cloud. There are many third party hosters that partner with the Dynamics ERP channel to address the growing demand for cloud deployment. Additionally, as we continue into FY11 we will help partners understand how they can utilize Azure to support partner managed cloud based ERP deployments.

MPN qualifications are published and partner must meet these qualifications early next calendar year. Extensive training across technical and non-technical skills are available through the CPLS’ and the Partner Development Centers throughout the world. Partners should not wait until the last minute to meet the qualifications required to attain the new MPN levels.

All managed partners should have a multi-year plan in place with Microsoft. Microsoft’s PAM’s should be working with their partners to develop multi-year business plans that cover all aspects of the partnership, including education, marketing and sales. Partners should contact their PAM if they have not already spent time developing multi-year partner business plans.

Partners should understand the go to market scenarios for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics ERP which Dynamics will be using in FY11 and beyond. These go to market scenarios were presented and discussed at the Worldwide Partner Conference and are now posted on available on partnersource. Every managed partner’s PAM should be able to explain the Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM go to market scenarios to their partners."

I also asked Doug to give me a closing statement, below is that statement.:

"We are in the middle of a four year journey to modify the Microsoft Dynamics Partnering model to drive higher revenue, profit and marketshare for our partners and Microsoft.

I believe we have remained on plan and are slightly ahead of where I believed we would be in the Summer of 2010. Being on plan is a reflection of the fact that these changes were not only necessary to achieve a higher level of partnering success but the changes were expected and requested by many of the Microsoft Dynamics partners.

There is still a ways to go but we believe the strong partnerships we have with the Microsoft Dynamics partner ecosystem will lead to continued rapid adoption of the partnering changes and move us to a much higher level of mutual success.

As always, I want to thank the partners for their ongoing commitment and dedication to Microsoft and to the Microsoft Dynamics’ business and wish them all a very successful FY11."

I would like to thank Doug once again for doing this annual interview we have been doing now for three years. I hope that you have found the information helpful and useful.

Also a special thanks to Katie, whom without having a third year of Doug's insight on this blog would not be possible!

Till next time!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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