If you have been following along, you know that we were Salesforce Consultants for 10 years before we moved to Dynamics 6 years ago. We left Salesforce in the rear view mirror, and never heard from anyone related to them again… until recently.
Hey, Watcha Got There?
In the last month we have been contacted by six Salesforce ISVs wanting to pick our brain. Apparently, if you search for Salesforce and Dynamics 365 together, this post shows up high on the list. It would appear that the launch of Dynamics 365 is making some noise, and that noise is being heard by some forward-thinking Salesforce ISVs.
If you have been thinking about AppSource, and trying to come up with a good idea that would succeed in a Business Solutions add-ons marketplace, you may have had some sleepless nights. There you sit, imagining ideas, and trying to think if they might be winners. An untapped source of winning ideas already exists, it’s called AppExchange. While the platforms are significantly different, Salesforce and Dynamics 365 are attacking the same customer base with similar messaging. There is no doubt that Salesforce is the biggest competitor to Microsoft in the Business Solutions space. To be fair, AppExchange is full of losers too, but there are some well established players in there to go and emulate.
Developers, Developers, Developers!
Who can forget Steve Ballmer’s passionate “Call to Arms”:
But, in spite of trying to motivate us with a near maniacal approach, Microsoft has not had the success, that Steve knew way back then, would be critical to Microsoft’s success. Now, years later, that tide may finally be turning. But we still have a long way to go. BTW, could you imagine Satya doing this?
Jump in, the Water’s Fine
The calls I am getting from these Salesforce ISVs are remarkably similar. “We have this App that we built for Salesforce, and we are considering making a Dynamics 365 version of it, can you help?”. In the 6 years since we jumped over the fence, I have not gotten this call once before, and now suddenly, the phone is ringing off the hook. In the ten years we were Salesforce consultants, we had not traveled down the AppExchange path… we were implementers. Sure, we utilized many apps from AppExchange, we just had not built any of our own. Similar to the Microsoft ecosystem, ISVs were their own breed.
As a successful Salesforce ISV, you have two options for growth, getting more Salesforce customers to use your app, or taking your domain knowledge and applying it to an alternative platform. Up until recently, Dynamics 365 market-share has not been compelling enough to make the investment. It is the same issue Windows Phone had. The difference is, that while Dynamics 365 market-share compared to Salesforce may still be small, unlike Windows Phone, it is growing.
Salesforce was Built for ISVs
As usual, Microsoft is late to the party. Microsoft is late to every party, but once they arrive, I would not bet against them. Sure, they failed miserably with Windows Phone, Microsoft Band, etc, but those were not Satya’s forays, he inherited them. When you look at where Satya has placed his bets, you see nothing but a string of winners. Now, Scott Guthrie has been given the nod by Satya, to make AppSource a winner. You should be paying attention.
Appsource launched less than a year ago and is in a frantic chicken race to catch the egg. The leader of AppSource, Satish Thomas, told me recently that they were “Shipping new builds Weekly”. They have a road-map as long as your arm, but they are plowing through it like PacMan. If you feel something critical is missing, look again in a week.
Microsoft is Aware
There are a few things on the AppSource road-map that are indicated internally by big question marks. Significant ISV solutions are one of those things. Microsoft has made tremendous progress with the low-hanging fruit, and are now turning more of their attention to the upper branches. I have had several conversations with the team, as recently as last week, about enabling Big Solutions. It is about flipping from Dynamics 365 being the solution, plus some add-ons, to third-party solutions being the star, that just happen to run on top of the Dynamics 365 engine. In this area, Salesforce is still quite far ahead. But Microsoft is not ceding that market to Salesforce, instead they are seriously turning it over in their hands. Again, I would not bet against them.
What is Needed
Let’s face it, if Microsoft and Salesforce were people, they would be the biggest egomaniacs you ever met. I doubt anyone would question that Benioff is a world-class egomaniac, but he also has a stock price to support. Benioff is perfectly fine with an ISV not mentioning that their HRIS application runs on Salesforce… he smiles all the way to the bank. In fact, he made an ISV license just for this purpose, with just the basic framework, at a low cost that you just build in. In many of these solutions, you don’t even know they are running on Salesforce! I don’t know that Microsoft is ready to let the “Dynamics 365” brand take a back seat. As the underdog, they may feel that they can’t yet.
SFDC to D365
Taking your Salesforce App and making a Dynamics 365 version, is not unlike translating a user manual from English to Chinese, it will come out better if you have a native Chinese interpreter. “But Steve, you transitioned over”. Yes, and I have a 6 year head-start on you, which included replacing 90% of my team. Would I like for you to work with us on this venture? Sure, but if not us, then at least engage a qualified Dynamics 365 partner, there are many. You are trading money for time, and time is more important, because we are looking at your AppExchange solutions for inspiration right now.