By: Linda Rosencrance
Incentive Inc., a provider of collaboration-as-a-platform solutions, has launched Dynamics Connect, a tool fully embedded in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Edition that enables colleagues to collaborate more effectively via team chats as well as by co-authoring documents, sharing files, delegating tasks, and social networking.
The idea behind Dynamics Connect is to embed a collaborative experience into a business tool that people would actually want to use to collaborate, says CEO Rickard Hansson. Dynamics Connect is also Incentive’s first vendor-specific offering.
“We’ve always worked very closely with Microsoft and our whole stack is Microsoft technology from the bottom up, so we just decided to explore what kind of collaborative experience there is in Dynamics 365 today, which I would say is kind of slim to nothing and spread out throughout the tool,” Hansson told MSDynamicsWorld.
Users can connect some Office 365 features into Dynamics 365 but it’s very sporadic and companies have to pay additional licensing fees to make that work, Hansson says.
So Incentive decided to branch out and embed its complete collaboration-as-a-platform solution into Dynamics 365. Hansson says the integration of its platform with Dynamics 365 is just the first of such integrations for the company.
Hansson says Dynamics Connect does not compete with Office 365 because Incentive’s collaboration tool also integrates with Office 365, as well as with OneDrive.
“We are actually making Office 365 more accessible in Dynamics 365 than [Microsoft] does itself,” he says. “There is nothing close to what we are delivering in terms of the user experience. It is completely embedded and always there. You can tap in and use your Office 365 tools, which the majority of the cloud customers are using, but maybe not in the Dynamics 365 context because it’s too expensive and too clunky.”
With Dynamics Connect, users have all their work in one place. No matter what they’re working on, they can involve their peers to solve challenges without ever leaving Microsoft Dynamics 365, according to Hansson. Since Dynamics Connect is horizontal, that is, across the whole app, it can be used in any scenario, Hansson says.
“For example, imagine you’re missing some data in a dashboard and need to talk to your team on how to collect that,” he says. “[You can] Use Dynamics Connect to start communicating, document, and share files to solve that challenge. Or you’re working with an opportunity and can’t find that answer, ask your team and update your documents. Or you’re working with a campaign and your agency delivered all the material in Dropbox, publish the whole Dropbox folder and attach it to the campaign.” Because Dynamics Connect is always there, users can take action anywhere, Hansson says.
Dynamics Connect is best suited for organizations with 10 to 250 employees, Hansson says, though larger and smaller businesses can still benefit. Pricing is optimized for the upcoming full suite of Dynamics 365 Business Edition (Sales, etc.), but technically Dynamics Connect works with any edition of Dynamics 365 (or with Dynamics CRM 2016), Hansson says.
Dynamics Connect is priced at $12 per month billed annually, or $19 billed monthly, for unlimited users – much lower than the professional version of Incentive’s collaboration platform product, with per-user pricing of $9 per month billed annually, or $12 billed monthly. The pricing model is very different for Dynamics Connect because it is a different product, although it uses the same engine and the same platform, Hansson says.
“The challenge when you build an app-specific system based on someone else’s product, is you have to respect that you’re not the core product,” he says. “You’re not the star of the show, the star of the show is Dynamics 365. We add a huge amount of value but that’s not the reason [customers] bought Dynamics 365. So we can’t out-price the actual base product. You won’t pay more for the rims on your car than you actually pay for the car.”
In addition to offering Dynamics Connect directly to customers via AppSource (where the company is offering a free 30-day trial), Incentive plans to have its sales team sell directly to customers as well as through partners, Hansson says.
“So partners can sell something to their clients that will add some great value to their Dynamics experience,” he says. “But also in Dynamics Connect, [partners] can build their own stuff. They can customize Dynamics Connect and build their own apps and integrations.”