So I am sitting in the Dynamics Partner Advisory Council on Sunday as Microsoft unwraps Dynamics 365. They start the conversation by saying they are going to make licensing waaay easier, and proceed to layout the most complex licensing structure I have ever heard.
While there is a lot of stuff that I can’t discuss due the NDA, I can comment on what is publicly known. BTW, I think it is interesting that we are all under strict NDA in that room, yet occasionally a speaker will alert us that “This next slide, is Super NDA”… I was unaware that there were degrees of NDA.
Of public information, we know that Project Madeira, will become Dynamics 365 “Business”, aimed at SMBs up to about 100 seats. It is a slimmed down ERP, but don’t call it an ERP around Microsoft, they like to call it “Financials”, apparently the initials E-R-P are scary to those with the initials S-M-B. As you may know, if you have played with the preview, this is a slimmed down NAV, SaaSified. On the other end of Dynamics 365, we have Enterprise, where we can safely refer to the AX component as E-R-P.
Where things get squishy for me is around CRM Online. We all now know that they will be de-constructing CRM Online into it’s component parts, i.e. Sales, Marketing, Customer Service etc. These “parts” will join Field Service and Project Service, which were already “Parts”. Once done, you would have the option to license just a part, or the whole shebang at the Enterprise level. Or you could opt for a “Plan” that includes everything, plus some additional new bells and whistles like Power BI embedded and Flow. Or the super-duper plan that brings in AX. So far so good, but we are now looking at this new “Role-based” licensing alternative. With this, you will have major access to the parts you need and minor access to other parts that you may just need to touch every now and then. And we also have this new lightweight “Team” license for everybody in the org. Maybe I am thick, but this is starting to sound confusing to me.
When I asked about this potential licensing “matrix”, that I was imagining to be about six feet long, Microsoft assured me, well all of us really, that this will be much simpler. I am eager to see this come into focus in the months to come.
So where does this leave SMB? Well, Project Madeira (AKA Dynamics CRM Business) will have some light Lead to Cash, CRMish capabilities. My sense is that this may suffice for many of the “S” of SMB. But what about the “M”? I think Midsized businesses will quickly outgrow what Madeira has for CRM, and their next step is what? Enterprise? That is a BIG step. Alas, there is talk of a “tweener”. This is really fuzzy at this stage, but Microsoft is on it, and knows that bridge has to be there. Clearly then, the licensing model will be even simpler… er… somehow.
Jumping back to SMB for a minute, I think Microsoft may once again be making some assumptions that the breadth SMB channel partners will eagerly offer Dynamics CRM Business to their SMB customers. They thought that about CRM Online also, and we ending up building a business around that missed assumption. The typical SMB partner is not going to be any more comfortable with offering an
ERP solution, sorry, Financials Solution, to their customers than they were offering a CRM solution. In both cases, they do not have typically have a relationship with the right person at the customer who makes those decisions, and if they did get in front of them, they wouldn’t know what to say. They also would not know how to help that customer with the “Financials” if they did manage to sell it. I smell another RapidStart coming…