Opinion: With Microsoft Dynamics 365 SMB plans firmed, NAV & CRM partners can plan for a bright future

posted in: Cloud/SAAS, Microsoft Dynamics | 0

By:  James Crowter

Coming away from Directions EMEA today, I’m happy with what I’ve heard and the exciting future we have with the Dynamics SMB product set. It has been a busy week with a seemingly endless flow of conversations and presentations containing a huge amount of information that we must now absorb and work out how to best exploit.

Let’s kill dead some of the ideas that have been circulating. First, the Dynamics NAV product has a confirmed future in the Dynamics 365 family. It has the support of all the Microsoft management and investment in the product will continue at their current insane levels. Second, there will be no cut in headcount for this year or next, which is all a public company like Microsoft will ever commit to.

Listening to the unequivocal statements from not just Marko Perisic but other senior execs in the product marketing organisation, the roadmap delivered in Wednesdays keynote is a plan that everyone is signed up too. Yes, there have been discussions (hence the Chinese whispers/game of telephone) but the outcome is all we ever could have expected, from my point of view. And that is:

  • Dynamics NAV 2018 will be released on 1st December 2017
  • Dynamics 365 Tenerife will be released in Spring 2018 in the cloud
  • Tenerife will be connected to the Common Data Service (CDS)
  • It will work naturally alongside any of the other Dynamics 365 apps
  • Dynamics 365 for Sales (second price point) is also available Spring 2018
  • Dynamics 365 for Marketing will go to preview (didn’t state date but guess at Spring 2018)

That means we need to have a little more patience. Yes, I’d like it tomorrow but then I don’t want it before its fully finished and updates like the new customisation options, Extensions V2, and, most of all, the ability to deploy individual tenant customisations are going to give us close, if not full, parity between the Saas and the on-premises product. And then it will be game on.

Even better, there was a commitment to do more countries in the next wave. As well as the USA, Canada, and UK, we will get France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden,  Finland, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain. We will also get a W1 release that other countries can use if they handle localisations via their own extension.

I’m sure all of the product demos and news was shared in Orlando two weeks ago, but highlights for me are the improvements to the already awesome Outlook integration and the lovely new UI refresh hitting the web client. With the promised improvements to the rest of that web client, use of the Windows client will finally decline and we will have ticked another of the key ‘proper SaaS’ criteria.

Microsoft must apply some collective brain power to getting the naming and licencing sorted. With these updates it will be hard, if not impossible, to please a majority of the community, let alone everyone. Being seen to be part of the Microsoft brand and ideally under the Dynamics 365 umbrella is a must for sales success for me.

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Getting the price point right is also important. Making it too cheap will result in service standards decreasing over time to cut costs, and customers who realise their systems are increasingly mission critical in a digitally transformed world don’t want that. Neither do we want the price point to be so high we cannot compete. That balance will be hard to strike and we won’t get it until a month before release.

Some indication of the licencing options and structure would be useful before that to allow us to plan with clients. It does seem that everything is going to be CSP with Tenerife, which is a relief to me. Not having to deal with Microsoft’s Operations Centres will leave a lot more time to help clients.

So I cannot think of a reason why first NAV 2018 and then Tenerife do not give partners what they need to be successful and customers a platform to build their long term plans on. Sitting with my fellow MVP’s last night we agreed that the product has never been in better shape or had a brighter future. The only thing left is a name and a price. Alysa Taylor needs to be all over this to prove her team is as capable as Marko’s.

Oh, speaking of the leadership team, there were a fair few people from Redmond who came over but not Alysa or James Phillips let alone Satya or Scott. Next year, Directions EMEA is in The Hague in the Netherlands between 31st October to 2nd November. It would be great if they put it in their diaries now and came and had the same inspiring experience that over 2,100 of their partners have had this week. It’s not really my place, but consider yourselves all invited, guys. We’d love to show you what we do and just what an incredible asset you have in your SMB biz apps partner channel.

In fact, come over for the entire week and we’ll introduce you to some of the SMB businesses that Dynamics NAV and CRM have already transformed in conjunction with Office 365 & Azure. You’ll be left wondering how your enterprise products and accounts can catch up.

It’s been a good week, the future is bright, and I’m feeling confident – can you tell?

About James Crowter

I’m passionate about how businesses can improve their efficiency by getting process optimal more of the time. For the last twenty five years I’ve worked to help organisations of all sizes and types implement the ERP & CRM software that typically they decide they need when things are going wrong. I’ve seen that work unbelievably well and enabled those organisations to rapidly grow but I’ve also had some hard projects over that time where it’s felt more like warfare at times.