HOUSTON—At its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft announced new partner agreements with four leading global independent software vendors (GISVs).
Microsoft’s GISV program offers special partner agreements between select solution providers and Microsoft that help companies with deep industry expertise tailor software solutions to provide the right fit for customers. This also provides customers with specialized industry software built on a platform that has a proven success record in different industries.
The continued evolution of technology is creating more opportunities for solution providers than ever, said Neil Holloway, corporate vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) Sales and Operations. “As technology marches on and business needs evolve, the demand for software with specialized functionality is an ever-growing industry,” Holloway said in a statement. “We’re here this week to show how Microsoft is investing in its partners, how focused we are on helping deliver the best experiences to enterprise customers, and how the biggest, best opportunities for ISVs still lie ahead.”
Against that backdrop, the Microsoft Dynamics group announced that it would bring aboard four new GISVs that have signed deals to participate in the exclusive program: distribution and manufacturing provider I.B.I.S., automotive software maker Incadea, food supply-chain consultancy Anglia Business Solutions and retail automation vendor Escher Group.
Andy Vabulas, chief executive of I.B.I.S., said becoming a Microsoft GISV is a game-changer that enabled his company to build direct relationships within Microsoft and throughout its network of more than 600,000 partner companies to greatly expand I.B.I.S.’s reach and creating opportunities for new business that would not otherwise be possible.
“It’s probably the best business opportunity that we’ve ever been presented from any partner, including Microsoft,” Vabulas said in a statement. “I can see where we will double or triple our business over the next five years.”
Indeed, Vabulas said the distribution and manufacturing world in which I.B.I.S. operates has not been heavily addressed on the Microsoft platform, thus there is a major opportunity to bring the power of Microsoft’s unified technology stack to an industry that lacks diverse offerings.
“There are 6,500-plus distributors in the industrial distribution market in the U.S. alone that will need to change ERP systems in the next five years,” Vabulas said. “With Microsoft Dynamics AX providing a modern and powerful ERP system, we felt if we did some work in revenue management, order management, inventory and procurement, we could really tailor AX to fit the sophisticated needs of those companies.”
To tackle that challenge, I.B.I.S. developed a software layer on top of Microsoft Dynamics AX that handles complex issues facing distributors such as advanced pricing, commissions, optimized order entry, lost sales tracking, consignment and vendor-managed inventory, all wrapped with industry-specific key performance indicators.
Microsoft Announces New Global ISVs
Though I.B.I.S. has enjoyed a close relationship with Microsoft for more than a decade, Vabulas said the opportunity to enter into a GISV relationship adds a deeper dimension that will benefit both companies. For I.B.I.S., it means getting global business exposure and the chance to work directly with Microsoft’s R&D teams. The I.B.I.S. solution allows Microsoft Dynamics to better serve the manufacturing and distribution industries, bringing modern business applications to compete with legacy technologies such as SAP and Oracle.
“Advanced Distribution Software is the missing link in Dynamics AX distribution functionality,” Vabulas said in a statement. “We’ve got that last mile of functionality that is so key to the needs of these clients. We’re helping distributors increase their margins with a real, provable return on their investment.”
Moreover, Holloway said with GISVs serving a wide range of vertical industries such as automotive, retail, manufacturing, finance, public sector and professional services, Holloway said they need to use their expertise to benefit customers and provide the kind of advantage that is key to staying ahead over the long run.
“Since GISV partners are able to dial in to Microsoft’s internal development groups, they know far in advance what’s coming and the opportunities that might be available,” Holloway said. “That kind of advantage is only possible by building these close relationships with vendors.”
For its part, Ferranti Computer Systems, a GISV that has served the utilities (electricity, gas, water and thermal) market since 1976, and a GISV program member for more than two years, has worked with Microsoft to align product development and certification for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. In the age of big data, Ferranti has used its relationships in Microsoft’s R&D department to optimize their MECOMS solution using Microsoft SQL Server as a data engine, aiming to tame the huge volumes of data generated by massive utilities and turn it into a useful business asset.
“We are really spearheading the movement toward a big data solution and handling that sort of volume, so the alignment with Microsoft in terms of R&D is important for us,” said Dirk Michiels, CEO of Ferranti. “Given Microsoft’s huge effort toward development every year, when we make our own investments in R&D, we don’t have to focus on the technology anymore—we focus on the business value.”
Ferranti joined the Microsoft Dynamics GISV program in 2011 and has experienced significant success as a result of the partnership. The company connected with partners such as Avanade, Accenture and CGI, greatly strengthening its global deployment muscle.
“Since becoming a GISV, we’ve grown dramatically in terms of execution,” Michiels said in a statement. “There is real value in our relationship with Microsoft—it helped us form our footprint in the market and develop a powerful solution that is making a difference. We deliver solutions that can change with the requirements of governments, cultures and geographies, and do so in a very cost-effective way.”