Microsoft Unveils New Apps for Industry Builder Program

As part of its Industry Builder program, Microsoft announces five third-party applications designed for specific industries.

To address its customers desire to have one source for product support—or more pointedly, someone to turn to if a third-party application provider goes awry—Microsoft Corp. created its Industry Builder program that provides end-user support for a select group of ISVs.

As the first fruits of the Industry Builder program, Microsoft announced Wednesday five industry-specific modules developed in conjunction with ISVs for its Dynamics AX—also known as Axapta—core modules.

Because they are built by ISVs in the Industry Builder program, the third-party applications are covered under a users existing support agreement with Microsoft. The applications also receive a code review from Microsoft before being released.

The applications are designed for businesses that specialize in retail, distribution, process manufacturing, professional services, industrial equipment manufacturing and field service management.

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The modules include: Supply Chain Execution, developed with Manhattan Associates Inc.; Process Industries, with Fullscope; Professional Services with Foliodev LLC; Industrial Equipment Manufacturing with To-Increase BV; and Field Service Automation with Iteration2.

The separate applications are available Thursday, and are being distributed initially in a number of countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Microsoft is expected to release additional applications over the next few months, including those geared toward the rest of the Dynamics suite, which includes GP (Great Plains), Nav (Navision) and Solomon suites.

The Industry Builder program was announced last March at Microsofts annual user conference. The goal of the program is to quell customer trepidation over implementing third-party applications.

Microsoft, unlike its main competitors in the ERP (enterprise resource planning) space, relies on its channel partners to not only sell its applications, but to build vertical extensions to its core ERP suites.

While the success of that approach is still up in the air—the MBS division, now under the auspices of the Office group, has yet to post a profit—Microsoft customers considering a third-party application implementation apparently dont want to get stuck holding the bag should the ISV go out of business or fail to support upgrades of Microsoft products.

The Industry Builder program has a fairly stringent screening process. Microsoft only considers those companies that are financially stable, and ones that will commit to releasing upgrades to their applications within three months of a general release from Microsoft, among other criteria, according to news reports.

The Industry Builder program is fairly limited in scope, but expansion is around the corner. Wednesdays releases are the first of many, according to Microsoft officials.

The application offerings will expand in terms of industries and geographies served.

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