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Friday, May 30, 2008

Interview with Microsoft Dynamics Executives

Recently I sat down and had a phone interview with both Klaus Andersen, CVP for Dynamics Sales & Operations and Doug Kennedy, VP of Dynamics Partners Organization. Let me start off, by saying thanks to both Klaus and Doug for taking the time out of their busy schedules to field questions from a Humble Technical Architect.

Below are the questions, and answers from the session:

[Key: KA = Klaus Andersen, DK = Doug Kennedy, Brandon = Me!]

i. Over the next 12-18 months, what are some big goals both of you want to accomplish within the Microsoft Dynamics partner space, and how do you plan to achieve those goals?

DK: We want to expand some of the work that was already started, aligning around verticals by countries and regions for both the ISV and VAR partners. The goals are to align the solutions and services with customer needs for focused verticals and make sure that ISVs and VARs are making it to market with a Certified for Microsoft Dynamics solution. Meaning the vertical solutions have been tested and are clearly ready to address the specific vertical needs of the customer. Microsoft is trying to sit in the customer’s seat, to better understand what, how and why they purchase and then align ISVs and VARs with solutions that that complement the Microsoft Dynamics applications to meet those needs.

KA: The vertical piece is very important. Customers want to feel confident that ISVs and VARs know and understand their business and that they really know how to operate effectively in the customers’ space. So our goal is making sure that the partners know their verticals, and have a clear implementation process that is predictable and repeatable, such as our SureStep methodology.

Brandon: Great points guys! At Sunrise we call what Klaus just mentioned the 'Execution Layer' that is a very important aspect for happy customers. Making sure we can deliver and have a successful go live.

DK: Every customer wants to get to production ASAP. What’s also key beyond the “go live” is making sure that robust and complex implementations are easy to maintain. This is also a focus of the Certified for Microsoft Dynamics program - making sure that offerings from the vertical ISVs complement the ERP offerings and that the integration is tested. (Certified For Microsoft Dynamics is the certification process for ISV solutions that sits on top of the Microsoft Dynamics ERP software.)

ii. What impact do you think these goals will have on the diverse partner space that exists in the Dynamics Community? Will there be a different impact based on the size of the partner?

DK: If you look at the partners today, they come in all sizes. By promoting their unique vertical expertise, the partners can work well together to meet the needs of customers in their vertical in their given region. With the focus on vertical expertise, partners of all sizes have plenty of opportunities because the customer is looking exactly for that specific vertical expertise.

Brandon: Doug, you said a key word there, 'Region'. By 'Region' what do you mean?

DK: A region could be a smaller, focused area of a country, or some other geographical area, but this is more the specific space in which the given VAR operates. What you typically find is vertical expertise and knowledge and localization going hand-in-hand. So for partners, when talking in terms of pivoting around a given vertical, it's more about the depth of the vertical knowledge than it is the size of the partner. You don't have to be the biggest to compete, but having the deepest vertical knowledge for your region is critical.

KA: The vertical guy who understands some form of manufacturing in Ohio is different than the one who understands it on a national level, and even from the one that understands it on the global level. The customer usually dictates what type of partner relationship they want, be that local, national or global level.

iii. Speaking in terms of partners, across all the Microsoft Dynamics brands, what is the most common threaded problem that you see partners facing today? Do you think there is anything Microsoft can / could / should do to help address that said issue?

KA: About a year ago, Microsoft commissioned a study of more than 200 partners to understand what makes a partner more profitable than another partner. What we have seen is that with the Microsoft Dynamics channel, which in itself is very profitable, the more profitable partners focus on their existing customers, making sure they get upgrades, new modules, etc. while still also making new sales. The partners who allowed existing customers to fall off the radar, ended up being not as profitable. So a partner that is balanced on both new and current customers ended up doing the best in terms of being profitable. Another interesting bit, that the survey revealed, was that partners who invested more heavily in marketing versus good sales did worse. Heavy marketing would be spending 10%+ of a given partners’ revenue. The study also revealed that partners who specialize are more profitable that those who do not specialize. Finally we saw that the smaller partners - between 30-40 employees - are more profitable than those that go into 40-100 employees, because of the growth pains associated with getting into bigger and more complex deals, larger projects, etc.

Brandon: So then would you say that the biggest single threaded problem for partners is the lack of focus on existing customers?

KA: There isn’t one specific thing that is a common problem for all partners. The biggest challenge is finding enough trained and certified resources. Microsoft will be churning out another 6,000 to 7,000 certified professionals this year, but even that is not enough.

Brandon: Interesting point, as training focus was lacking, going back 3 years or so, and you can see it picking up. What is Microsoft doing then in terms of working with Colleges and Universities to get them on board for the Microsoft Dynamics products as they are for products like Visual Studio?

DK: We just reviewed our budget for the coming year. As part of our investments, Microsoft will make sure there is appropriate funding for and focus on getting the Microsoft Dynamics products included in what universities and colleges can offer.

KA: Actually three years ago, we [Microsoft] started to focus on this fact and have been working with the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance of more than 1,000 universities worldwide that will be integrating Microsoft Dynamics products into their curriculums or academic research. Ultimately, this helps produce more resources for the Microsoft Dynamics partner space. This team is now under Doug's organization, as a part of our commitment to enabling partners .

iv. What are both of you most excited about for partners and the Dynamics community in general for the next set of Microsoft product releases?

KA: Clearly integration with the stack is very important. I have traveled through the US and European markets meeting with customers, and it's been interesting to hear about customers wanting to follow the stack from the OS all the way to our ERP products. For mid market it's all about the stack, and because of what Microsoft has been doing, partners now have a bigger opportunity with a broader message.

DK: The stack ties back to paying attention to customers; partners need to do that in order to continue being profitable.

KA: What’s interesting is if you go back 3-4 years, all ERP decisions were driven by the CFO or the manufacturing organization of a company. But now the CIO or the IT manager is having a much bigger say in the ERP selection, because they are the ones managing the resources that support the IT infrastructure, which can be complex and often look like “spaghetti”. Because Microsoft offers a full scope of IT solutions, we see IT managers going to the CFOs, etc. and saying ‘take a look at the Microsoft ERP platform, based on the stack integration and because they have the right resources to make it work.’

DK: Basically we stopped turning our customers into systems integrators. Before, the poor customer ended up being the integrator, trying to integrate and connect the “spaghetti” (applications and products from a variety of vendors using a variety of technologies), and that is not the business they are in. By adopting more of the Microsoft stack, the customer is less likely to take on a systems integrator role.

Brandon: So lower TCO / overall stack integration is something to be excited about for the next product releases for both customers and partners. Very good.

v. What are your favorite sports?

KA: I would love to say my favorite sports are team based, but mine are more individual sports like: long distance running, golf and Alpine skiing.

DK: Typically, I am a team sport guy. I like baseball, soccer, hockey, really anything that is team sports. That also reflects that way I like to manage my business organization, as a team.

Closing Comments:

DK: I would just like to say that I am really excited about being here at Microsoft. I had been at Oracle for more than 17 years, and I can say that Microsoft Dynamics is really about to explode... there is enormous market potential for our partners and Microsoft and we are really optimizing on that.

I would like to thank both Klaus and Doug again for taking the time to sit down and have this phone interview. Keep and eye on this blog and my column at MSDynamicsWorld.com for more exciting Dyanmics AX news and information.

Check back soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dynamics AX 2009 Seems to be on target for release

Recently over at MSDynamicsWorld.com, the following was published: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 on track for offical release in late June.

From the post:
All the tea leaves are pointing toward a late-June release of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 (sometimes referred to as AX 5.0).

The release will be accompanied by a national roadshow, much like Microsoft has undertaken in recent months to introduce Dynamics CRM 4.0.

At an AX Users Group session yesterday sponsored by Dynamic Communities, a consultant with Microsoft partner Green Beacon Solutions, Dane Koepke, told attendees that he understood that AX 2009 would be released "at the end of Microsoft's fourth quarter," which is June 30.

Then, he said, Microsoft is due to go on the road to do demonstrations and heighten user interest in the new release.

According to Bill Clough, research program manager for Dynamics AX product planning, "The partner is correct! And we definitely have an entire team dedicated to the launch of this exciting new version."

Check back soon as I have an amazing interview I recently did with two top Dynamics executives!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Calling an Excel Macro from X++

All, recently I needed to know how to call an Excel Macro from X++. This is not something that is widely published anywhere on the web, and something I had to figure out.

It's actually not that hard, and the best help was looking at how I had done it before in .Net.

So here is the code example:

SysExcelApplication ExcelApp;
SysExcelWorkbooks WorkBooks;
SysExcelWorkbook WorkBook;
SysExcelWorksheet Worksheet;

ExcelApp = SysExcelApplication::construct();


Workbook = ExcelApp.workbooks().item(1);
Worksheet = Workbook.worksheets().itemFromName("WorkSheetName");

ExcelApp.comObject().Run("SomeMacro"); // The Call to run a Macro

Of course there is a lot more you can do, but basically any Excel based class has a .comObject() at which you can further extend and make Excel Interop COM calls via, that go beyond what is coded for in the SysExcel Class framework.

Check back soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dynamics AX on your BlackBerry

Recently I saw a post on ZDNet talking about how SAP has this big plan in the works for developing their applications to run native on a BlackBerry device. I am sure we will see this in 2012 or 2013, unless it gets delayed too.

In the meantime, you can already run Dynamics AX enabled BlackBerry Applications. Since Dynamics AX is flexible, and you can easily extend / expose Dynamics AX logic with Web Services (SOA) then you can simply create custom tailored to you, BlackBerry Front in applications that consume and make use of those Dynamics AX web services based on your buiness needs.

Want CRM? Sales Quoting? Customer Infomartion lookup? Create a Sales Order? Lookup inventory? Fill out Project Timesheets?

All possible, now through the power of Dynamics AX and .Net with Visual Studio 2005 or 2008. And there is no waiting for this at all. We can do this today! So if your interested in having your own tailored BlackBerry Applications for Dynamics AX, visit Sunrise Technologies, Inc. Web Site today: Sunrise Technologies, Inc Web Site And use the contact form to ask about BlackBerry development for Dynamics AX.

I would like to note, that you can also use the BlackBerry JDE (Jave Development Environment) to do development as well, that will work with Dynamics AX created Web Services.

Check back soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Terrible Events - Make a difference!

Last week I posted on this blog about the terrible events, and asking for prayers for those hurting, lost and in trouble.

Now I would like to ask, if you can, help with contacting and donations to the Red Cross. There is an estimated 50,000 dead now from the Earth quake alone, and the toll is climbing. Fresh water, supplies, and aid is needed badly, and the Red Cross is of course on the seen.

Please vist today:
Red Cross - Response to the China Earthquake


Red Cross - Response to the Myanmar Cyclone

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Blog: Dynamics Mobile Team Blog

The mobile information worker is something of high demand, and that rings true in the Dynamics AX space. Since the inception of Dynamics AX 4.0 was being built, a new team was formed back then, the Dynamics Mobile Team. This team is focused on giving to the Dynamics Community abilities, packages, tools kits, etc. all focuses on enabling partners and customer alike the ability to extend their solution to the mobile workforce.

I recommend you add their blog, to your list of blogs: http://blogs.msdn.com/dynamicsmobile/

There is not a lot on there, right now, but good information that can get you started in what already exists for your use in mobile platforms for Dynamics AX.

Check back soon, as I have a more post on going mobile with Dynamics AX... including the BlackBerry?! See you then!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Terrible Events


I wanted to take just a little time during lunch to post, that we should all be offering prayer and any other means of help we can to those people that have been affected over the past two weeks in Myanmar's from the Cyclone and in China from the recent EarthQuake.

Just take the number of people affected, and compare that to the number of people around you right now, to the number of people you know, love, have made contacted with, work with. Kids, parents, brothers, sisters, all have been affected.

And granted everyday someone is terrible hurt in someway, that why we should pray everyday no matter what, but when such terrible events take place, special prayer and help in any form should be given and considered.

Brandon George

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

MSDW: What Will Be the Most Important Performance Enhancement in Dynamics AX 2009? Try Scaling of the AOS

Recently I created a new article for MSDynamicsWorld.com, and it is now posted and the top article right now. Check out the article here: Direct Link to: 'What Will Be the Most Important Performance Enhancement in Dynamics AX 2009? Try Scaling of the AOS'

This is part of my column on MSDynamicsWorld.com. You can view my entire column, by going here: My Column: 'AX Solution Outlook'

This article is the first in a series I hope to continue on the new performance improvements that await us in Dynamics AX 2009.

Check back soon!

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

DAXGuy: Infopath, Web Services & AX Integration

Well DAXGuy over at daxguy.blogspot.com wrote a post recently that really showed how to take infopath and make use of it in an integrated with Web Services solution for Dynamics AX.

The link to that post can be found here: Direct Link

He really did a good job, and gives the entire example project up for download. I recommend you check it out, to really get a feeling for the flow of how such things can work, right now in the current release of Dynamics AX 4.0, plus DAX 2009.

I wrote about similar topics myself, and a list of them follows:

Thanks DAXGuy for that great post. And check back soon here, as I have some great new posts coming soon!

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sunrise Technologies Makes VAR 100 List

Sunrise Technologies, Inc. is pleased to announce that they were named to Accounting Technology's VAR 100 list for 2007. The list recognizes the top 100 Value Added Resellers (VAR) of accounting software packages based on their annual sales for 2007.

"We are very pleased to be recognized as one of the top resellers of ERP solutions in North America," states John Pence, President of Sunrise Technologies. "Our continued commitment to Microsoft Dynamics AX, customer service, and technical excellence is proving to be a winning combination in the marketplace."

For the full press release go to here: Full Press Release and make sure to visit the Sunrise site at: www.sunriseconsult.com

Way to go Sunrisers! Check back soon!

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Bye-Bye X++ Dangling semicolon

Well, if you have done X++ development, and done it for at least over 6 months, at one point in your training or in your X++ development life you have wondered why or why must we use a dangling semicolon to denote the end of our Variable delcarations? And why can't we declare variables throughout the code as needed.

Well for the longest we have just had to put up with it, but over at MFP's Two Cent's blog we have an answer and solution (in DAX 6.0 release) so that come DAX 6.0 we should no longer have to have the dangling ; (semicolon).

Check out the direct link here: What's up with this semicolon?

I know this is not a Major development, but it is for sure note worthy! Check back soon!

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

MSDW: Users Overcoming Skepticism About Microsoft Dynamics AX, Seeking Ever More Sophisticated Solutions

Well over at MSDynamicsWorld.com a great post was recently add that was focused on the leader of the AXUG talking about how Dynamics AX is being asked to do more and more complicated things by it's users.

This is a big shift, and honestly I can say this is correct. It seems that the last several projects I have worked on personally, there has been Web Services involved, and several integrations and advanced business rules.

Anyway this is a great article, and really is talking about the reality we all face in the different implementations of Dynamics AX. We have a platform that is flexible in Dynamics AX, and therefore have the ability to really push it to do more new and complicated things.

Well check back soon!

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