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What Dynamics Partners can expect from Inspire 2017

Microsoft is on the move! Ever since the start of Satya Nadella as CEO some three years ago, the company really seems to change every single aspect of their business.

And, as a result, every aspect of the partners’ business. So what do you think – will that process ever slow down? Or even stop? One of the more visible changes this year is the event naming. Microsoft said goodbye to ‘Worldwide Partner Conference’ and renamed the event to ‘Inspire’. Refreshing, for sure, but the Dynamics partner community might of course expect many more changes next month.

Microsoft expects more than 15,000 participants from over 150 countries at Inspire 2017. This event will be held from July 9th – 13th in Washington DC. The Dynamics eco-system is traditionally well represented in this event, but what can the Dynamics partner community expect from this 2017 edition? This article gives an overview of the trending topics and gives guidance on where partners should put their focus when visiting Washington DC.

Product Strategy & Branding
Undoubtedly, the main topic at Inspire will be the status and near future of the various product strategies. Over the last 12 months, partners have experienced many changes at a speed that they have never seen before! And all that came with substantial confusion - summarized in two important questions. The first one being: “Is Microsoft’s mantra Cloud First or Cloud Only?” And the second one per product line or domain: “Exactly what will be available, when, and where?” Dynamics partners should expect to get answers on their many questions in this domain.

The Dynamics 365 product branding is another hot topic. When launching the concept behind Dynamics 365, Microsoft intended to avoid the very well-known, but ‘poisoned’ acronyms ERP and CRM in its communication by defining a completely different category of enterprise software. However, the average prospective customer is still searching for the categories ERP and CRM. And on top of that, both Operations and Financials translate more to partial solutions like Supply Chain (Operations) and Accounting (Financials) rather than to full-flash ERP solutions. A combined name has already been confirmed - as in ‘Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations’. Partners can expect announcements and clarity around this topic.

Cloud Opportunities
The Cloud Service Provider (CSP) model is positioned by Microsoft as the transaction model for today and the near future. During Inspire, partners can expect further announcements on this model. New and other products in CSP? Changing license rules? New considerations for the partners’ choice between CSP Direct and CSP Indirect? Will Microsoft expand its direct sales activities in CSP? And what does this all mean for Dynamics partners?

The internal Microsoft reorganization towards ‘One Microsoft’ is expected to have a big impact on the size of the local Microsoft Dynamics teams, as far as they still exist. Dynamics partners will want to gain a better understanding of the way Microsoft will manage Dynamics partners in FY18 and beyond.

At WPC 2016, Microsoft was not allowed to say anything about the LinkedIn acquisition since at that point in time the acquisition was under formal approval. One year later, partners can expect more content around the plans Microsoft has and what the product impact of the LinkedIn acquisition will be. And of course, partners will expect more guidance on what their own LinkedIn business opportunities will look like.

Partner certification has not been on the agenda for the SMB markets for a while. Now it seems that product certification in back for Dynamics 365 Business Edition. So the SMB focused Dynamics partners should definitely watch for guidance and meaning on this process. Who needs to be trained at which topics at what time?

To be successful with Dynamics 365 in a Cloud First, Mobile First world, traditional Dynamics partners must expand their ERP- or CRM-only portfolio with solutions like Office 365, Azure, Power BI, Flow, and Cortana Intelligence. 

To be successful with Dynamics 365 in a Cloud First, Mobile First world, traditional Dynamics partners must expand their ERP- or CRM-only portfolio with solutions like Office 365, Azure, Power BI, Flow, and Cortana Intelligence. 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 most the partner channel! So it makes sense to attend the specific sessions on these topics as well.

Vision for the Future
Microsoft is expected to unveil enormous growth plans in the CRM domain for FY18. This could literally mean the recruitment of thousands of new CRM partners worldwide, who today are working with Dynamics ERP, Office 365, and/or competing CRM solutions. Especially for the existing Dynamics ERP partners, it’s wise to watch for readiness programs that provide support and assistance.

Marketing, selling, implementing and supporting Dynamics 365 demands for a pretty different approach compared with the traditional Dynamics ERP and CRM projects. To be successful, most partners will need to see Dynamics 365 as a new chapter in their businesses - a chapter with less license margin, smaller services revenues, and cheaper delivery people with a different mindset. Partners should also look at Inspire for guidance on how to organize this transition.

Great to see you all in Washington DC shortly!

Guus Krabbenborg

Inspire 2017 Business Report
QBS group partners will receive this report for free as part of their membership. Partners who sign up as a QBS group partner before August 1st, 2017 will get a FREE copy as their welcome present. Non-QBS Microsoft partners pay only
€ 400,- exclusive VAT to receive a copy.)

To get a good idea of what you can expect from our Inspire 2017 Business Report, you can now download the 2016 edition of our WPC Business report for free


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Guus Krabbenborg

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