By: Guus Krabbenborg
Directions EMEA is the annual event for Microsoft Dynamics NAV partners. This event is owned and organized by NAV partners for NAV partners. And that makes it pretty different from typical Microsoft events like WPC! Being a Dynamics NAV partner in today’s market is like dancing on a volcano. And the recent announcement of the new Dynamics 365 solution will make this effect even stronger.
There are two editions of Directions. The US edition took place on September 25th till 28th in Chandler, Arizona. The EMEA edition picked Prague as their 2016 location and will be organized from October 12th till 14th. Both editions will book an all-time high partner registration. The organization committee’s reported that they’ve registered over 700 partners for the US edition and no less than over 1,400 partners for Prague. This last number is expected to increase to over 1,700!
This article aims to give you an overview on what Dynamics NAV partners can expect of the EMEA events. And where they should put their focus on regarding the sessions.
- To start with – Dynamics NAV is making a great revival these days. Only a few years ago there were questions regarding Microsoft’s commitment to NAV. In those days, many Microsoft people considered Dynamics AX as their favorite solution. This uncertainty of course had an impact on the atmosphere in the NAV channel. Over the last two years, however, this has completely changed. Dynamics NAV is back again! There is an impressive stream of innovations and new energy on the R&D front since Marko Perisic runs that important domain. The number of NAV customers keeps growing, and NAV is an important cornerstone of Dynamics 365 via “Project Madeira”. And Microsoft recently recruited about 100 extra NAV developers in Denmark.
- Directions EMEA is the event where Microsoft will launch Dynamics NAV 2017. At the same event, Microsoft will also unveil plans around the brand new Dynamics 365 Business Edition Financials solution (formerly known as “Project Madeira”) for the first four European markets. The agenda offers all kind of functional and technical sessions for both solutions. So these two messages will create an interesting attention split.
- According to Microsoft, all Dynamics NAV partners need to transform their businesses in order to stay relevant. However, many partners have not started this process at all! Paul White, worldwide general manager for NAV, predicted during WPC 2016 this summer that only 20 percent of the NAV partner community will eventually make this transition. So partners who have not started yet should really focus on the sessions that can help them to transform as soon as possible!
- In order to be successful in the Cloud First world, NAV partners have to expand their ERP-only based portfolio with solutions like Dynamics CRM, Office 365, Power BI, Flow and Cortana. On top of that they need to differentiate their offerings more than ever before. And finally, they need to market, sell, deliver and support digitally. These are all huge changes for the majority of the partner channel. So it makes sense to attend the specific sessions on these topics as well.
- Rather than just focusing on the functions and features of Dynamics 365, partners should also pay attention to the business side of this new solution. What does it take to make a success out of Dynamics 365? Are NAV partners able to sell it? And if so, what changes must the average NAV partner make in order to become successful?
- Marketing, selling, implementing and supporting Dynamics 365 demands for a different approach compared with traditional Dynamics NAV projects. In order to be successful, most partners will need to see Dynamics 365 as a whole new chapter in their businesses. With less license margin, smaller services revenues and cheaper delivery people with a different mindset. Partners should look at this event for guidance on how to organize and plan on these challenges.
- Dynamics 365 will not be part of the Microsoft Dynamics pricelist. Instead, this new solution will only be sold via the CSP model – the Cloud Service Provider program. Partners have a choice between becoming CSP themselves (so called ‘Direct’ model) or work together with a Value Added Distributor (‘Indirect’). Dynamics NAV partners should definitely not leave the event before they have a good understanding of these programs and an idea for their best future choice.
- Extensions are the way to go for both Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 partners. As an illustration, Marko Perisic stated at WPC 2016: “The answer is extensions – so what exactly is your question?” Microsoft announced that it will release a new and much better version of Extensions at Directions. Due to the crucial role that Extensions will play in the near future, it’s very important for any partner visiting Directions to pay special attention to this topic.
- The focus on Dynamics 365 could also strike prospective buyer as having negative side effects. Especially with the announced phased introduction. It will be interesting to see what ideas Microsoft will introduce to avoid this.
- Starting in FY17 we’ve seen lots of personnel changes and also new people in many local Microsoft teams. It is interesting to note that most of them don’t have Dynamics in their job titles anymore, but the new term BizApps. Is that a possible start of a re-branding?
- For the first time the organization developed conference paths to make it easier for partners to find the right content. And to avoid content overlap. These paths have a role orientation for the US edition and more a product orientation for the EMEA edition. There is a reason for the careful organization: the EMEA edition contains of 145 sessions, roundtables and workshops. And the exhibit hall is completely sold out with 60 booths. The US edition tops that with 161 sessions!
- Now that Microsoft has decided to finally integrate her different workloads into the new Dynamics 365 offering, the question comes up of what this all means for single product oriented events like DIRECTIONS and eXtreme (Dynamics CRM). Should they integrate as well? Partners can expect some indications on the future of these events.
See you in Prague!