While I could not attend, I have been paying close attention to what is going on at Directions EMEA. I had suggested that Microsoft might want to run new directional change messages by a smaller group first, it looks like Directions US was that smaller group.
Second Time is the Charm
Having had their collective asses handed to them in Orlando, Marko and company were fully prepared for Madrid. All backtracking has been done, and the revised messaging seems to be going over pretty well. Tenerife had already been announced, so the initial confusion about what it is, has already been sorted out in blogs and tweets, so Marko gets to focus on the details.
Will Tenerife clear the hurdle?
It is clear that the product that was brought to market called Dynamics 365 Financials, did not go over that well with partners. Based on NAV, non-NAV partners poked it with a stick, but then moved on. NAV partners looked at it as a handicapped version of what they knew, and mostly passed on it as well. Marko had been promising full-NAV capabilities, and I think the NAV community was content to just wait for that to happen. According to Marko, Tenerife is that full-NAV, SaaS or On-Premise solution. So the excuses used by many NAV partners, have been eliminated. Will they now offer Tenerife to their customers?
There are a lot of rumors floating around right now about Microsoft product positioning. Will CDS become CRM? Will AX be sold direct only? Will NAV be eliminated completely in favor of AX? Again these are rumors, and the partner community loves rumors; it must drive the Dynamics team crazy. But the positioning story that Microsoft is sticking with today, is that Tenerife will be the SMB offering, for those SMB customers who are looking for an end-to-end solution. Marko is not limiting Tenerife to SMB, and in fact, he feels that it can be used all the way up to Enterprise level customers, but the primary target is SMB. This does not mean that Tenerife is the only path for SMB. Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CRM), will also have a price point that makes sense for SMB, for those customers who are not looking for an end-to-end solution, but rather are looking for more robust Customer Engagement capabilities. Of course, with CDS allowing these platforms to talk to each other, a customer could also go both directions at once.
CRM Partner vs. NAV Partner
If you are reading between the lines, you are seeing a tug-of-war setting up for the SMB customer. CRM Partner will be talking about the weaker Opportunity Management capabilities of Tenerife, and NAV partners will be talking about the lack of end-to-end capabilities of Customer Engagement (CRM). Netsuite, Insightly and Salesforce will also be in all of these conversations. Is it good for Microsoft that two of the competing seats are occupied by their partners?
The tug-of-war will be short. The customer is either looking for an end-to-end solution, or they are not. If they are, CRM partner bows out, along with Insightly and Salesforce. Hopefully CRM Partner has not damaged NAV Partner’s chances in what has now become a Netsuite compete deal. Conversely, if the customer is not looking to replace their ERP, then NAV partner bows out, leaving CRM Partner to battle Salesforce and Insightly for the deal. I like either partners’ chances in these scenarios. What I won’t like is either partner continuing to press their path, regardless of customer needs. It will be a test of partners’ graciousness. Are you a gracious partner?