Well, now we know a lot more about Microsoft’s newest offering and it looks like this is everything (and more) than it was cracked up to be. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is not just a mash-up of products being offered through a tidy subscription pricing model. Ok, it is that…but so much more. In fact, it looks like they’re planning to change the IT game entirely with this one by completely enhancing the way business software solutions are implemented, supported and used.
A Quick Re-Cap for Anyone That Hasn’t Been Following
Microsoft made their first announcement earlier this year during Microsoft’s annual partner user conference (WPC) in Toronto. They would combine their ERP and CRM applications, along with Dynamics 365 and a few other products, into a single unified cloud platform for business.
The “other” solutions were not tag-alongs. We’re talking about Cortana Business Intelligence, Azure, Microsoft Flow and Microsoft PowerApps as well as a brand new online tool for purchasing and deploying 3rd party solutions (AppSource). The new suite would come with multi-layered SaaS/Subscription pricing that would tailor the purchase for both small and large companies.
And, to make it really juicy, they promised a “common data model” …. thoughtfully named “Common Data Model” that would simplify interaction between the solutions. This has been hailed by many as the real value behind this move as it was intended to create enormous intelligence and collaboration possibilities.
Together, these applications were promised to unify CRM and ERP capabilities by delivering new “purpose-built solutions” that work together to help companies manage specific business functions across Sales, Customer Service, Operations, Financials, Field Service, Project Service Automation, and Marketing.
And Then Came Several Months of Whispers, Conjecture and Behind-the-Scenes Planning
Not to make this sound cloak and dagger, but the announcement at WPC came with no pricing and no live demonstrations of the new product. Granted, most of these solutions were already available in the market so much of the feature/function detail was well known. But, in many ways, it was akin to walking into a room and saying “Guess what we’re gonna do?” and then saying “In three-four months, we’re going to show you.”
During that time, there were many smaller announcements that shed additional light on the new suite but most of these announcements were made only to the largest partners in the Microsoft channel and done so under NDA (non-disclosure agreement). Many, like SBS Group, were invited to provide feedback as they readied 3rd party solutions to work in a Dynamics 365 world. SBS Group was actually one of the very first partners to have a solution published in AppSource.
Dynamics 365 Unveiled at Summit16
And then it happened – On October 11th at Summit16 in Tampa, Florida. Summit16 is hosted by Dynamics Communities and is currently the largest Dynamics-Focused event worldwide. Nearly 7,000 customers, partners and Microsoft employees gathered together inside the Amelie Arena to get the scoop on Dynamics 365.
Dynamic Communities Summit is the leading live annual conference for Microsoft Dynamics users. Each Summit conference features high-level insider knowledge from Microsoft and user-produced education on how to maximize the performance of Dynamics products. Over 100,000 members have joined AXUG, NAVUG, GPUG and CRMUG as well as newer additions like DSLUG, PBIUG and Dynamics365UG.
Check out their website at www.dynamiccommunities.com for additional information on joining or participating in other events held throughout the year.
Andy Hafer, CEO of Dynamic Communities, kicked off the conference with an address to the members and an inspiring performance by The Portico Chorus before handing the reigns to Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s executive VP for cloud and enterprise.
Scott and an impressive team of presenters and customers put on quite a show as they presented a wide array of capabilities that will come with Dynamics 365 hosted on their Azure Cloud service. Although we won’t be able to purchase the solution until November 1st, it was clear to see that they have put the weight of the entire Microsoft stack behind it.
“This is a major initiative at Microsoft and involves the work of literally thousands of engineers,” said Scott Guthrie, executive VP of cloud and enterprise, as he kicked things off on stage at Amelie Arena.
We’ve written extensively about the CRM and ERP capabilities in Dynamics 365, but the AI (artificial intelligence) features shared during this demo stole the show. Read on to learn about Customer Insights and Relationship Insights. It will give you a clear idea of how they are evolving their solutions (and might give you an idea why their acquisition of LinkedIn was so critical).
Dynamics 365 Customer Insights
Scott handed the mic to Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group who took the audience through a number of features, including “Customer Insights”, an app that connects and analyzes data from Microsoft — and other widely used CRM, ERP, web, social and IoT sources and applies intelligence to it to give you a 360-degree customer view with automatic suggestions to improve engagement.
Mike McMinn, from Dynamics 365 Customer Marstons, gave an impressive presentation of their experience with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights:
Marston’s, a leading hospitality brand with pubs, breweries and inns across the U.K., is an exciting example of a customer already using this application to better understand their customers by bringing together Wi-Fi registration data, point-of-sale transactions, table bookings, survey results and social media – a data problem way outside of the scope of traditional CRM systems. Using Customer Insights, Marston’s anticipates they will be able to sell one extra meal, and drink, per pub per day, which they expect will result in about a £7.7 million increase to their bottom line.
Dynamics 365 Relationship Insights
Relationship insights really show off the power of the common data model and being able to leverage activities that happen in the course of your day to be more productive. Built on the Cortana Intelligence Suite, it leverages data capture in your structured solutions (like ERP or CRM) as well as activity based data (like your Outlook Calendar). For instance, it provides salespeople with information about the status of their customer relationships at any time. Useful? Any sales person that has every called a customer to ask for a reference, only to find out they’re not happy campers, will tell you that…Yes. This is extremely valuable.
Relationship Insights even helps sales and other users to keep track of correspondences with specific customers, assess the “health” of their customer relationships, and receive alerts when too much time passes between communications.
Guthrie emphasized Dynamics 365’s intelligence capabilities during his presentation, saying that the product “comes with built-in features that are backed by artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms.”
Microsoft isn’t the only CRM vendor building intelligence like this into their solutions, but I’m betting they will be the first to perfect it.
Adobe Marketing Cloud
Microsoft also made mention of their recent partnership with Adobe, although this information was shared previously during the Ignite conference last month. Microsoft will partner with Adobe to offer the Adobe Marketing Cloud as their preferred marketing service solution for Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition. They have yet to release intentions for Dynamics 365 Business Edition, but we’re expecting to learn about that in Q1 2017.
Dynamics 365 Licensing Model
As of this week, partners are allowed to share pricing information for Dynamics 365 with potential customers, but much information has been leaked already by various news outlets and a few partners that didn’t mind breaking their non-disclosure agreements with Microsoft.
There are many options available depending on the size of your organization, functionality needed and several other factors. It is clear to all that pricing for Dynamics 365 is extremely competitive, especially for companies that leverage both ERP and CRM. The best way to get an idea of costs for your organization is to get in touch with a Dynamics 365 account specialist at SBS Group. Click here to send us an email requesting pricing for Dynamics 365.
The primary licensing is by named user subscription. The Dynamics 365 user subscriptions classify users into two types. One user type is a “full user” and the other is a “light user”.
Full users are the users whose work requires use of the feature rich business apps functionality. Examples of full users are sales people, customer service representatives, finance employees, controllers, supply chain managers, etc. These users have also been referred to in the past as Pro users or Power Users. In the Dynamics 365 license model, full users are licensed with either a Dynamics 365 Plan or Dynamics 365 application subscription.
Light users are often large number of users in an organization that may consume data or reports from line of business systems and who complete light tasks like time/expense entry and HR record updates. In the Dynamics 365 model “light users” are licensed with the Dynamics 365 for Team Members subscription.
Microsoft has also said that existing Dynamics CRM and AX7 customers will be able to automatically update their systems to Dynamics 365 without making major changes or losing functionality. They will provide migration tools to Dynamics NAV and GP customers interested in moving to Dynamics 365.
“For existing Dynamics CRM Online and Dynamics AX 7 customers, you’ll be able to automatically update your systems to Dynamics 365 without having to change anything. And all of the existing functionality you use today will continue to just work,” Guthrie said. For users of on-premises Dynamics NAV and Dynamics GP who want to move to Dynamics 365, Microsoft will provide migration tools, he said.
Much More to Learn at Summit 16 in Tampa
We’ll learn more this week as we interact with our counterparts at Microsoft and the Dynamics customer community. The product will be out for general release on November 1st, 2016. Just a couple of weeks out!
VP Enterprise Solutions and Services, SBS Group
Robbie Morrison has spent nearly 20 years helping customers build and deploy elegant technology and business solutions. From start-ups to enterprise-class organizations worldwide, his knowledge of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem helps SBS Group customers maximize benefits from the ERP investments.
Today, Robbie serves SBS Group customers in his role as Vice President, Enterprise Group where he provides thought leadership and manages the enterprise delivery team. Robbie received his MBA from the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.