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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Interview with Microsoft's Doug Kennedy, including comments from Crispin Read

Recently, I virtually met with Doug Kennedy, vice president of the Microsoft Dynamics Partners team.

This is the second year in a row I spoke with Doug about the state of the Microsoft Dynamics community and partner ecosystem. (Link to: Interview with Microsoft Dynamics Executives - 2008)

The focus of this interview was to revisit some of the points and goals from last year as well as to get Doug’s thoughts on the current economic climate and his advice to partners in the year ahead.

The following is that interview:

Brandon George: "Last year you stated that your 12-18 month goal was to expand on the work that was in progress for aligning verticals by country and region. You also wanted to make sure that ISVs and VARs were making it to market with Certified for Microsoft Dynamics Solutions. How do you feel that goal is doing? What are the next steps for focusing partners in on specific verticals and regions?"

Doug Kennedy: "A lot of good progress has been made on the vertical focus by geography. Not just for VARs, but also for those partners listed as ISVs.

Microsoft started a new role called 'Industry Market Development Manager' (IMDM) that has people within Microsoft focusing on creating cross-border vertical reach. Beginning in FY10, you’ll see this role being used to help bridge the gaps of existing expertise, and make use of the expertise where needed.

The focus here was the 'white space'. We took inventory of the types of vertically focused partners we have in different states, countries and regions across the world. Now that we have this inventory, and are actively building it, we can fill in the white space as needed.

For example, say you have an ISV based in northern Italy that has a great vertical focus in retail, and there comes a need for that specific retail expertise in Switzerland. This should now show up quickly, and the IMDM roles should step in and help 'import' that good partner from northern Italy to Switzerland to address the need.

As for Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CFMD), those solutions that are certified will get top choice and priority ranking for doing such things as helping to move across borders (importing) into other geographies. As I stated before, this will become an even heavier focus in the coming fiscal year.

In addition, those solutions that are, or will soon be CFMD, will get the focus in this new approach for direct and indirect marketing support in FY10. This way, those that are certified and ranked highest by vertical, country, or region will be at the top of the list, and first looked at for being recommended for inclusion for go to market activities.

As you can see, Certified for Microsoft Dynamics, along with the new Industry Market Development Manager role have come together and will be an important part of our business and execution model."

Brandon George: "Last year it was mentioned that one of the biggest problems partners face is hiring and training Dynamics Professionals. Has the efforts of the last year helped to address this issue? Has the economic downturn changed Microsoft's game plan for helping partners with this area?"

Doug Kennedy: "The economic downturn has actually helped solve this, because partners have had to sub-contract out due to the downturn. This is not the solution everyone wanted, but it did help relieve pressure there.

What we are seeing now is more 'talent on demand'. Contracting and sub-contracting out, per project and need has really been the focus. As companies turn from full-time employees that they have let go, they land projects and hire these same employees back on a contract-by-contract basis."

Brandon George: "This could be a negative thing, because nothing would stop that employee from going to another partner, which could be directly competing with the company that wants to contract them back."

Doug Kennedy: "There is nothing stopping partner employees from doing this today but it is a small enough community that this will be self policed. Once the economy picks up we will see most of this on demand consulting capacity be pulled back into the partners as full time employees.

Brandon George: "The VAR I am a part of, Sunrise Technologies, Inc. We focus solely on Dynamics AX, and the rest of the Microsoft stack that comes with that. We strive to keep our consultants, as that is what makes up our company."

Doug Kennedy: "Yes, so the VARs that have Microsoft Dynamics AX as a second or third choice in their lineup of offerings or those that say only 15-20% of their profit coming from Microsoft Dynamics AX. These are the ones that are making use of the talent on demand approach, and would even make use of a company like yours who’s primary focus is Dynamics AX."

Brandon George: "Doug, if you were told you could only tell partners three things, what would be those three things during these rough times?"

Doug Kennedy: "First, I would tell them to commit to marketing. Do not back down from marketing and sales during this downturn. Now is the time to be larger than life. Backing down at this point, is for sure a quick death to your business.

Changing out an ERP system for a company is like having the choice to get heart surgery. It's not if, but when, the change will take place. Because of the economic downturn the change is being delayed, but it still needs to take place, and still will take place. Unlike some nice-to-have system, ERP is a have-to-have, especially in tough economic times like we are facing today. Worse case it’s delayed, but it's still coming. Therefore, the partners should continue to focus on finding ERP AX opportunities and working these through the sales cycle.

The last thing I would point out to partners would be to have open, honest communication with Microsoft. Ask the hard questions; talk with your PAM’s. Communication is now, more than ever, the key to how Microsoft can help partners. We are asking partners to do their part in asking us the questions that can get them the help needed.

Finally, I would like to close with the statement that Microsoft believes that our Dynamics partners, will come out of this downturn in a very strong position."

Brandon George: "Thanks Doug for taking the time, to do this interview."

Also there was another question I had, focused around the feedback Microsoft is seeing, since its release of Dynamics AX 2009, SP1 and also what are some of the highlights they are looking forward to for AX 6.0. Microsoft's new General Manager of Microsoft Dynamics ERP Crispin Read sent me the following statement:

"We are receiving excellent feedback from customers experiencing benefits from the new capabilities presented in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009. We recently released new capabilities for our customers around Project Time and environmental sustainability, and are looking forward to expanding the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX to help customer be more efficient, improve productivity, and lower total cost of ownership. You’ll see that the next version of Microsoft Dynamics AX will continue to build on RoleTailored user experience, expand Microsoft Dynamics AX functionalities across key industries, and deliver enhanced support for multinational customers.” - Crispin Read, General Manager, Microsoft Dynamics ERP

I would like to thank everyone involved that help put this together, Doug, Crispin and also Katie and Beret! Thanks you so much.

I look forward to doing a follow up with Doug next year, and also look for more discussion with Mr. Crispin Read in the near future.

Check back soon!

Doug Kennedy
Vice President, Microsoft Dynamics Partners
Microsoft Corp.

Doug Kennedy joined Microsoft Corp. in March 2008 as vice president of the Microsoft Dynamics Partners team. In this role, Kennedy is responsible for managing the overall business relationship between Microsoft and Microsoft Dynamics partners.

Before joining Microsoft, Kennedy worked for Oracle Corp. for 17 years, holding various positions within Alliances and Channels, Field Sales, On Demand, and Enterprise Support. Most recently, Kennedy was Oracle’s senior vice president of Worldwide Alliances and Channels. In this role, he reported to Oracle’s president, Charles Phillips, and led the organization that was responsible for the ongoing development and execution of Oracle’s Alliances and Channel strategies and programs, partner revenue-generating initiatives, Oracle’s PartnerNetwork program, and the models for managing all of Oracle’s 20,000-plus Alliance and Channel partners. Kennedy also held technical and sales positions at IBM Corp., where he worked before joining Oracle.

Kennedy graduated with a bachelor of science degree in computing science and business administration from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He also holds a diploma of technology in broadcast communications from the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

Crispin Read
General Manager, Microsoft Dynamics ERP
Microsoft Corp.

Crispin Read leads product management and marketing for Microsoft Corp.’s portfolio of enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. In this role he is responsible for ERP strategy and execution worldwide.

Read has over 20 years of experience in the software industry in engineering, sales and marketing positions. Before joining Microsoft, he was chief marketing officer at Cartesis SA, a venture-backed financial applications company that is now part of SAP AG. Previous positions include vice president of product management and product marketing at Business Objects, and senior positions in systems integrators and software companies.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from King’s College, University of London.

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