DENVER—Microsoft will invest $20 million in several new technologies and initiatives over the next year to help extend its Dynamics partner ecosystem to ensure that partners can meet market demand and increase their growth rates.
“This $20 million investment will be very targeted at training 4,000 technical people within partner organizations and recruiting 1,000 additional specialists for partner organizations,” said Barb Edson, director of marketing for Microsoft Dynamics.
“Our top partners each have an average of eight open positions in their organizations, so this is much-needed assistance,” Edson said.
An April 2007 report by IDC analysts Michael Lawton and Stephen Graham, titled “Partner Pathway to Business Performance,” found that Microsoft Dynamics partners were, on average, experiencing revenue growth twice that of their industry peers, and so the Dynamics group remained committed to investing in programs to directly help its partners meet the growing demand for these solutions, Edson said.
As such, the group will offer training and education for 4,000 partner technical sales specialists and will invest in training and education for new hires secured by partners that are part of the Microsoft Dynamics Presidents Club. The latter is a program that recognizes exceptional sales performance among the groups VARs and ISVs.
The Dynamics group will also work with Presidents Club partners to recruit and hire 1,000 new professionals and to build delivery capacity for its solutions in partnership with global systems integrators, Edson said.
“We did a recruitment pilot in the U.S. last year that was quite successful, so we know that this is what partners need and something that we can help with,” Edson said. “Microsoft will do some RFPs [requests for proposal] to get the right vendors working with them on staffing plans, and we will do things like placing postings on online recruitment sites and attending job fairs.”
The Redmond, Wash., software maker will also use its annual Worldwide Partner Conference here July 10 to announce the new Microsoft Dynamics Entrepreneur Solution, which will be available later this quarter.
It is designed to help small businesses get an early start working with Microsoft Dynamics products so they can achieve greater efficiency and provide better customer service, according to Edson.
The new product, based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV, offers ERP (enterprise resource planning) functionality within finance, purchasing, sales and marketing and will be rolled out globally in phases, starting in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom later this year.
Microsofts Dynamics Entrepreneur Solution is targeted at small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and up to five concurrent users and is priced at 750 euros per user, Edson said.
“Microsoft Dynamics Entrepreneur also gives a new set of partners who focus on small growing businesses the opportunity to offer a solution within the Dynamics family of products, while there will also be new opportunities for existing partners as the business systems and IT needs of these customers expand,” she said.
The company will also unveil Dynamics AX Mobile Sales, which lets salespeople and managers place and track orders remotely, look up sales history, and manage campaigns from mobile devices while on the road, as well as Dynamics Mobile Development Tools, which are designed to help customers and partners develop mobile applications that work with Dynamics AX.
Building the Channel
Both products are available now, priced at $495 for the client access license, and are the “first of a series of applications you will see around the mobility offerings for our ERP solutions,” Edson said.
“We are also extending our partnership with Motorola to include marketing and channel activities so as to help channel partners provide a complete mobile solution, consisting of both applications and devices,” Edson said.
In addition, Microsoft wants to accelerate the adoption of Dynamics as a development platform by leading ISVs, which will result in more solutions being developed using Dynamics ERP and CRM.
More than 200 ISVs have committed to develop on the Microsoft Dynamics platform and deliver upgrades to more than 20,000 customers in 2007, Edson said.
As such, the company is introducing its Dynamics Partner Scorecard and Partner Benchmarks to improve management and best-practice sharing across its partner community, as well as launching in July the Certified for Microsoft Dynamics program, which is designed to build a strong portfolio of certified solutions.
Microsoft will also co-fund with up to $10,000 in marketing for the first 250 Dynamics solutions that are certified.
This new certification initiative applies to all Microsoft Dynamics products, and there will be unique stamps for each of those product pipelines, Edson said, adding that while the company has always had quality control with its ISVs in the past, “this takes it up a level and goes above and beyond the industry bar for a logo-type program.
“ISVs will have to go through a series of rigorous technical tests and have 10 customer references that Microsoft will check on itself, rather than having its partners do this. So, once approved, customers will know that this is a quality solution,” Edson said.
These partners will also participate in channel-building events and gain early access to prerelease products so as to see new applications come to market more quickly.
In addition, Microsoft is introducing a new logo that Dynamics ISVs may use to highlight their Certified for Microsoft Dynamics solutions.
Current partners such as Randy Forkner, president of Collins Computing, in Mission Viejo, Calif., welcome these initiatives.
“Our decision to bet on the Microsoft platform was the right one,” Forkner said. “The investments that Microsoft Dynamics has made over the years and continues to make in helping its partners grow their capacity and provide opportunities has helped me build a strong, profitable business that my customers have counted on since 1986.”