For the second year in a row, Microsoft organized their annual partner conference, Inspire, in an online format. Over three days (july 13-15), partners could dial in for presentations, online discussions and virtual networking. All of the sessions can ow be found for online consumption here. To keep our partners best informed, we wanted to provide you with a brief summary on the topics that we found most relevant for the Dynamics partners in our network. Overall, we found 3 major themes that will have impact.
Microsoft’s commitment to partners
Every now and then we hear concerns or rumors that Microsoft might want to strengthen their direct business. While Microsoft is clear that they will continue to have multiple channels including a direct motion, their entire business model is based on partners. A recent study shows that for every dollar Microsoft generates, partners make another $9.58 of revenue in software and services. Microsoft also emphasized the importance that partners played in response to the pandemic crisis, noting that partners were the first line digital response team during the pandemic and through the work and innovation that partners did, organizations, governments and individuals were able to overcome the crisis and further support those that had been impacted the most.
Whilst Microsoft had talked about the data cloud, the productivity cloud and the business cloud in previous years, they now position solely, the Microsoft cloud. Of course it is still built on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, but Microsoft wants customers to think about the Microsoft cloud holistically, not just as a best of breed but by making a bet on one cloud provider that offers the best, most connected and innovative cloud platform end-to-end. The Microsoft cloud doesn’t stop at the technology stack, they also extend industry specific cloud offerings, where partners can find capabilities specific for given industries that can be integrated into a partner solution. This should not only make the Microsoft technology stack more relevant for that industry, but also accelerate the time to market and innovation cycles of partner solutions.
The Microsoft cloud industry solutions are available for healthcare, manufacturing, financial services and retail. While the primary focus is still the enterprise, we believe that industry specific capabilities could become very relevant for our partners. In small and medium business, the modularity of a cloud business application could integrate capabilities that could come from Microsoft or other partners. There should be no need to re-invent but take advantage of the existing and proven capabilities and build them into your solutions.
Whilst Outlook may still be the productivity hub for the majority of information workers today, Microsoft wants Teams to play a much bigger part in this role moving forward. Not only because chats and online meetings are being enabled through teams, but Microsoft also offers built in connectivity to the business application platforms. This is already in play for Dynamics 365 Business Central and certain other Dynamics 365 solutions. Satya Nadella also announced in his keynote that users of Microsoft Teams will have free access to Dynamics 365 data. So, a significant part of licensing cost that Microsoft charged for users that wanted to access data that lives in a Dynamics 365 solution, will no longer be required.
As this is enabled through Dataverse, it might have limited impact for the current Business Central solution, but it clearly shows the desire to put Microsoft Teams front and center for every user and hence, every organization. As a consequence of this, we believe that Dynamics partners should also get familiar with Microsoft Teams as a platform so that they are able to embrace the integration of business applications into Microsoft Teams as soon as possible.
Whilst the above are the more general themes, we also wanted to highlight some specific announcements that are core to the business applications space.
Bring Dynamics 365 into the flow of work with Teams—at no additional costs
Announcement by Microsoft
Microsoft Teams customers will now receive access to view and edit Microsoft Dynamics 365 data in Teams at no extra cost, irrespective of whether they have a Dynamics 365 license. The provision of no-cost data access provides flexibility for organizations to determine when and how they purchase Dynamics 365. This inclusion of Dynamics 365 access can remove barriers for productivity within customer workflows as any employee with a Teams license will be able to see Dynamics 365 records directly within Teams. Permissions and access rules can also be configured to help ensure only the appropriate users can access customer record data. Customers who need advanced features or analytics can purchase Dynamics 365 to further interact with the data.
Microsoft highlighted the incredible potential when activating the flow of work with Dynamics 365 in Microsoft Teams:
- A service engineer can enable an agent to fix a customer’s issue by adding notes with troubleshooting steps to the customer service case record.
- Finance teams can streamline order fulfillment, sharing purchase orders and payment details with their counterparts in sales.
- A field technician can notify sales teams about products nearing end-of-life, so the sales team can proactively reach out with replacement options.
- A sales team can close deals faster, by understanding signals from the marketing department around demand generation.
Only Microsoft is enabling this kind of innovation and accessibility without adding additional costs for an organization. We’re so excited to see how our customers and partners build on this innovation and unlock new capabilities for their organizations.
What’s in it for you and your customers?
- Great cross-sell opportunity on your customers. For example, an increased likelihood of selling Dynamics 365 Sales licenses to and empower their whole organization.
- Dynamics 365 users can now add a Teams meeting when creating an appointment, enabling access to key customer information during a Teams call.
- Collaborate at no additional cost. What are the limitations? It is still very early to say but, based on the examples Microsoft is giving us, it looks the ability to read almost everything will be included, the capability to add notes, to work on notifications initiated by Dynamics 365 and also, storing of any chats on a Dynamics 365 record in the timeline of that record. Note: We still need to wait and see when it comes to which specific Update rights will also be possible without any additional costs.
So, the new connected experience between Dynamics 365 and Teams will make it easier for Teams users to access Dynamics 365 records from within the Microsoft Teams environment. Initially, through the wave 2 2021 release, limited capabilities for Sales and Customer Service will be available. Additional scenarios around Field Service, Human Resources and other applications will be made available in the future. For more details on How all Microsoft Teams users with Team Members level access to Dynamics 365 will be able to read Dynamics 365 data and perform actions on specific scenarios that will be made available through the new app, see here: