A few weeks after the initial announcements around Dynamics 365, I wrote a post titled something like “The Fog Clears”. With Microsoft’s response to the reaction from the Directions announcements, some fog is clearing, but some fog has shifted… to a different partner type.
Albert Einstein said it Best
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” That is neither the first, nor last time I will use that quote. It really sums up the job of a Microsoft Partner today, and Microsoft for that matter. Right now all of this conversation is happening between Microsoft and its partners, its important, and it is taking place in the public square, but honestly, most customers aren’t tuning in. If they do, it quickly sounds like inside baseball and they tune back out. But at some point, we, meaning partners, will have to explain “simply” to that customer what the awesome opportunities are, that Microsoft has in store for them. And we will, we have to, and we always do.
“In Chaos there is Opportunity”
Yes, I know, I have used that one before also, but it seems to be continually true. Too many partners are very quick to cross their arms and cry “foul” when Microsoft makes some new direction announcement. To them I say, “Thank you“, because while you are hung up on some aspect of an announcement that you can’t get past, others of us are looking for the opportunities that you can’t see through your trumped up rage and bashing. I know who you are, you’re the ones who comment on my posts “Yeah, Steve, you tell em!“, which means you either did not read what I wrote at all, or you’re just a moron. Whenever I get a call from Microsoft about a post I wrote, it is never about what I said, it is always about how you spun it. So, if you are “that guy”, please stop following me.
An Inconvenient Truth
Disruption is the new norm. Disruption is disrupting. Get used to it. As a Microsoft Partner, dedicated to the Microsoft stack, we do not live in a Microsoft bubble. Microsoft, and those of us who sell and support their products, do not get to dictate to the world. We are each in a heated competitive landscape against other companies that have historically been more agile. Microsoft does not have the luxury of just setting a long term plan, and expecting the competition will just sit by and watch their lunches get taken away. We shift, they shift, we shift to their shift, they shift again. It is a cage match of unlimited rounds. The day Microsoft gets up on a stage in front of us and says “We’re good, no changes planned” we are all in trouble.
I don’t think anyone can legitimately say Microsoft does not listen to their partners, at least not today. They listen and react, and the squeaky wheel will get some grease. Sometimes this reaction will cause another wheel to start squeaking. Microsoft is spinning a lot of plates, and most of us are sitting on one or another of them. When one plate bumps into another and causes it to fall, Microsoft, so far, has been able to catch it before it shattered on the floor. Even if maybe they should have let it shatter, like that on-premise plate, but they keep catching it… so far.
That Fog Shift
So for SMB focused CRM Partners, which we happen to be, some fog got moved off of the NAV partners and rolled in on us. While the new single collection approach for Dynamics 365 (CRM) will be for customers of all sizes. The new NAV will be focused more specifically on that SMB customer looking for an end-to-end solution… including Sales. Obviously, if you only do CRM for the SMB customer, this could look like a competing option… it does to me. However, before a whole new group of partners takes a blade to their wrists, let’s suss this out. In my years, the number of SMB customers who asked me for an end-to-end solution can be counted on one hand. Sure, integrating with their financial system is common request, but they are typically coming in the Sales door, they are not even asking about ERP. For an end-to-end conversation to take place they would have to have multiple pain points simultaneously.
A Crucial Landing
Microsoft will be landing this concept like a plane on a street, trying to guide it for the lowest number of casualties. Of this, I am confident. Whether a wing tip severs my finger on the way by is TBD, but I don’t expect to be decapitated. There is a night and day difference in the Sales capabilities of CRM vs. NAV. I don’t like the idea of having to compete with a NAV partner for that workload. I am sure Microsoft does not want the children fighting in the back seat either. Oh wait, here comes the plane now, let’s see how they land it…