eXtreme 365 is the annual event for Microsoft Dynamics CRM partners. This event started as ‘eXtreme CRM’ back in 2010. Due to the release of Dynamics 365, the organization decided to change the name into ‘eXtreme 365’. Today, there are two editions of eXtreme 365. The last US edition took place in November 2017 in Newport Beach where the EMEA edition picked Dubrovnik, Croatia as their 2018 location. The event will be organized in two parts. A partner event on March 19th till 21st and an end-user edition on March 22nd and 23rd.
This article aims to give you an overview on what Dynamics CRM partners can expect of the partner event. And where they should put their focus regarding the sessions.
- The clear majority of all visitors will be very curious about the product roadmap. After all, Microsoft did not really succeed in sketching a bright and consistent future for her CRM products over the past 18 to 24 months. Many partner complain “that they have seen more slideware than software”. They believe it’s about time to have clear and reliable roadmap based on short-term availability.
- However, looking at the profile and background of the two keynote speakers, the question is whether we can expect that clarity in proper detailing. Cecilia Flombaum will focus her keynote on Microsoft’s new One Commercial Partner program and the overall business opportunity. The second keynote speaker Mike Ehrenberg is the chief architect for Dynamics 365. Also referred to as Technical Fellow & CTO for Microsoft’s Business Solutions. In previous presentations, Mike was more focused on high-level product vision and the mid-long term rather than on today’s propositions and the concrete availability.
- For years, Jujhar Singh was responsible for the Dynamics CRM product management and product strategy. According to his LinkedIn profile, he performed this job between August 2012 and September 2017. Since then he has a similar responsibility at Salesforce. So an interesting question for all partners is who today’s new solution owner and figurehead of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is.
- In the past 2 years, Microsoft has been juggling with the positioning and branding of her Dynamics 365 offerings. For the CRM functionalities (Sales, Marketing, Service), participants in the event should expect brightness regarding the availability of these modules for both the Dynamics 365 Enterprise version and the Dynamics 365 SMB version (codename ‘Tenerife’). Are these functionally different modules? Or are they the same modules with just different price tags? Recent pricelist updates indicate that the additives ‘Enterprise’ and ‘SMB’ have been removed.
- The Common Data Model (CDM) plays a crucial role when it comes to taking away the walls between CRM and ERP. However, Microsoft so far only presented CDM as a conceptual solution. Partners who visit this event should definitely focus on sessions that deliver deep dives in CDM and gather more knowledge.
- In the juggling with the branding around Dynamics 365, Microsoft also seems to have made a switch to ‘Customer Engagement’ as the new term for what all of us previously (and some still do) called CRM. Partners could expect more clearness on this. So that they can decide about the impact on their own marketing expressions. I myself decided to continue using ‘Dynamics CRM’ for this article.
- “As a Microsoft Dynamics partner, do you want to be the IT Strategy and Solution Provider for your customers? Then you simply need to offer the most important parts of the full Microsoft stack. Especially if you plan to be successful with Dynamics 365! Partners who fail to do so will miss deals.” Microsoft’s Channel Strategy Director Jeff Edwards was very crisp in an interview with QBS Group at Microsoft Inspire 2017. The question to every CRM partner is: which relevant parts of the stack are lacking in your proposition today? And what is the best scenario to add these parts?
- On top of that, partners need to differentiate their offerings more than ever before. At least, if they want to avoid price-based competition. And finally, they need to market, sell, deliver and support digitally. These are all huge changes for most partner companies! So it makes sense to attend the specific sessions in Dubrovnik on these topics and learn fast.
- The acquisition of LinkedIn in the summer of 2016 was a great achievement for Microsoft. Every partner could easily envision some of the values that this richest commercial database of the world potentially could add to the D365 platform. Since then, almost two years have passed. So visiting partners should focus on these added values. And the availability of these solutions. Since this will bring them unique values in the marketplace that no non-Dynamics competitor can offer.
- GDPR compliancy is of course an important topic for every Dynamics CRM partner and every Dynamics CRM end-user on the planet. Partners should look for sessions and guidance that tell them in detail how Dynamics CRM can support in this important process. When that support will be available. And for which versions. They should also look for guidance on how to help their customers with outdated versions.
- Another hot topic for Dynamics CRM partners is partner to partner co-operation. While the current average size of a Dynamics CRM practice is somewhere between 20 and 25 employees, that size is largely inadequate to cover all the Microsoft stack. Yet, not offering that full stack could easily cost a partner deals.
- With all these huge changes in the products and in the partner’s business models, the question is what programs Microsoft offers to support her partner channel when it comes to business readiness. And facilitating partner to partner co-operation. My observation is that many partners struggle with this. However, in previous editions of the eXtreme 365 event, the amount of readiness content was limited.
- Rather than just focusing on the functions and features of Dynamics 365 CRM, partners should also pay attention to the business side of this solution. What does it take to make a business success out of Dynamics 365? Is your marketing good enough to attract new leads? Are you able to sell Dynamics 365 at an affordable Customer Acquisition Cost level? And can you deliver faster and more standardised at a lower price point? To be successful, most partners will need to see Dynamics 365 as a potential new chapter in their businesses. With less license margin, faster delivery, smaller services revenues and cheaper delivery people with a different mindset. Partners should look at the event for guidance on how to organize this.
See you in Dubrovnik!