What 2010 Meant For Microsoft Business Solutions






In 2008, I wrote a four-part series that explained in great detail Microsoft’s platform technology pieces, commonly used in Microsoft Dynamics and many other enterprise applications. Primarily, these "plumbing" tools were Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint, and Office within enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) applications, while Visio and SharePoint have also been embedded in a plethora of business process management (BPM) solutions.

Mid-2010 marked the business launch of Microsoft Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, and Visio 2010. For the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who use some combination of Microsoft Dynamics ERP, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft SharePoint Server to run their businesses, that announcement signaled new opportunities to increase productivity.



New Business Productivity Enablers

Some of the key new features and benefits of these new products' launch and integration included the following:

  • New Microsoft Excel 2010 features such as Slicers and Sparklines. These features make Microsoft Dynamics (and many other ERP and CRM products for that matter) information more visual, helping with information overload and supporting deeper insights into what is happening in the business.

  • PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel, allowing Microsoft Dynamics customers to quickly create PivotTables or PivotCharts that pull in data from Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM solutions in real-time.

  • Business Connectivity Services, supporting the "anywhere access" scenario for Microsoft Dynamics ERP customers by taking Microsoft Dynamics ERP data offline. While this access was possible in the past, it required additional coding.

  • Co-authoring, a new feature in Microsoft Office 2010 (available for Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Excel) and SharePoint Server 2010 that enables multiple people to view and update the same document at the same time. One can imagine the benefits of not having to e-mail documents, such as a request for proposal (RFP), to multiple recipients and later combine the flurry of their edits. (Previously, SharePoint might have allowed for this capability, but not that seamlessly, in real-time, and concurrently by multiple users.)

  • A Fluent User Interface (UI), making Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint Server, and Microsoft Dynamics more consistent and therefore easier to use and adopt.


Additional information and resources, including customer videos, screenshots, and demos about how these solutions work together are available at the following sites:

Microsoft Dynamics Current State of Affairs

At the recently held Fall Analyst Event (FAE) 2010 at its Redmond, Washington (WA) campus, Microsoft Dynamics executives were able to share with us that, after a few flat (or negative) quarters in this ongoing global recession, Q1 of fiscal 2011 saw a 4 percent increase in Microsoft Dynamics revenue. Microsoft Dynamics’ ecosystem now includes over 300,000 customers, over 10,000 partners (resellers and consultants), and over 1,800 independent software vendors (ISVs) that offer their own add-on solutions. (One can only imagine how much more additional license revenue this ecosystem generates for Microsoft in terms of leveraging SQL Server, Office, SharePoint, and other platform tools in their solutions.)

As indicated in my blog series from early 2010, the youngest product in the family, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, remains the shining star in the family, currently with over 23,000 corporate customers, over 1.4 million users, and 25 consecutive quarters of double digit growth. Kirill Tatarinov, Microsoft Dynamics leader, was delighted to report that Microsoft Dynamics CRM has recently replaced Oracle Siebel as the corporate-wide CRM solution.

Out with Oracle Siebel, in with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

For a long time, as one of the largest corporations in the world, Microsoft has been using Oracle Siebel and SAP as respective corporate CRM and ERP solutions. The CRM migration project has already affected Microsoft’s 10,000 global sales employees, but the total internal CloudCRM initiative is envisioned to have about 50 CRM product instances and well over its current 40,000 users worldwide.

The giant projects about US$120 million in annual sales productivity gains, with about US US$60 million reportedly already realized. The total cost of ownership (TCO) savings have been estimated at US$10 million in reduced annual operations and support costs. Microsoft touted user satisfaction of 175 (on a 0-200 scale), whereas the highest Siebel score in history was 65.

The company also claims a 90 percent user adoption in 30 business days. The product is also planned for the MS Solve call centers with over 15,000 service and support employees. In addition, Microsoft’s IT department has developed a multiyear program strategy that to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM as the foundation for a Global Sales Experience (GSX) platform with over 10,000 sellers (2,000 of which are casual users).

Enter Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

On January 17, 2011, Steve Ballmer unveiled the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Online service that is now available in 40 markets and 41 languages. Previously, the online service was only available in North America. The on-premise counterpart release is salted for late February 2011.

As of today, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is available at a promotional price of US$34 per user, per month for the first 12 months of service to customers globally who sign-up by June 30, 2011. In addition, through the “Cloud CRM for Less” offer, eligible salesforce.com and Oracle customers that switch to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online from now until June 30, 2011 can get up to $200 per user, which can be applied for services such as migrating data or customizing the solution to meet unique business needs.

The vendor also plans a slew of worldwide virtual launch events for Microsoft Dynamics CRM that started on January 20, 2011. For a complete list of all the countries Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is now available in, please read the full official press release here.

Microsoft Drinking Its Own AX ERP Champagne As Well

While SAP ERP remains (for the time being) the corporate back-office standard for accounting and financial consolidation functions, Microsoft has been deploying Microsoft Dynamics AX internally in a two-tier ERP manner (i.e., an Administrative ERP vs. Operational ERP’s). To that end, Dynamics AX has been deployed to support Microsoft Business Solutions’ (MBS) central order management, Microsoft’s retail store operations, its Puerto Rico manufacturing plant, the Xbox supply chain, and several more operations within Microsoft.

While the development of all Microsoft Dynamics ERP products proceeds according to each product’s individual roadmap, as indicated in my late 2010 series, Dynamics AX has been marked as the global choice for upper mid-market enterprises. Recent marquee wins in many enterprise-class accounts might validate Microsoft’s aforementioned two-tier ERP strategy.

Microsoft Dynamics AX also provides an industry-enablement layer for five key industries (Retail, Wholesale & Distribution, Manufacturing, Services, and Public Sector), and there has been active partners recruitment for each industry. For more information, see the blog posts by Frank Scavo and Josh Greenbaum, as we all attended the aforementioned FAE 2010 event.

In early 2011, Microsoft revealed technology enhancements to Microsoft Dynamics AX “6” and the associated developer and independent software vendor (ISV) opportunities. This is the first announcement regarding the next version of the Microsoft Dynamics AX solution, and is a lead-in to the Microsoft Dynamics AX Technical Conference 2011 that was held in Redmond, Washington on January 17 – 20. More than 1,000 attendees from 51 countries were expected at the conference. The next major announcement about Microsoft Dynamics AX “6” will be the product launch itself at the Convergence 2011 user conference.

What About Microsoft-Centric Enterprise Apps Vendors?

During Michael Park’s FAE 2010 presentation called “Compete to Win” I noticed that the recently touted wins were mainly talking about replacing older instances of SAP, Oracle, and Sage. The typical cited reasons for the selection were as follows: Microsoft Dynamics ERP products’ simplicity and ease of use, lower TCO, the ecosystem’s vertical focus and savvy, and familiarity with other Microsoft technologies.

To my question about why Microsoft Dynamics ERP wins against Epicor, Infor ERP SyteLine, or SYSPRO, the ERP mid-market incumbents that also harness Microsoft technologies, have been scarce, Park gave somewhat a diplomatic answer. Namely, while Microsoft Dynamics loaths to lose deals to these vendors, Microsoft Business Division still ultimately wins, given that these ISVs are very loyal Microsoft technology promoters. 

A separate blog post will explain how Epicor and SYSPRO harness Microsoft’s business productivity tools, and perhaps go a step further on their own. Your views, comments, and opinions about Microsoft’s platform strategy, or experiences with any above-mentioned ERP and CRM solutions are welcome in the meantime.
 
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