Kevin Machayya is a 15-year veteran of Microsoft and Great Plains Software. He has held various roles in technical support, customer service, and sales operations. For the last 11 years, Kevin has focused on the Microsoft Dynamics partner channel through partner account management, readiness, marketing, resourcing/staffing and development programs.
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We all know the CRM industry has had its share of bluster and puffery. Our customers want something better. They want substance. They want to know that they're talking to a vendor that has their best interests in mind instead of their own top line. What these customers need is less talk and more awesome.
Announcing the launch of an awesome site
So that's what we've done. Just whipped up a little bit of awesomeness at http://www.crmawesome.com. It's pretty awesome.
It's awesome because it's real, and addresses the real issues that CRM decision makers think about when making a CRM buying decision. We've gone head-on to address some of the biggest issues in the CRM world today, and confronted them with a Microsoft point of view (POV), and supported them with customer evidence, analyst quotes and reports, primary and secondary research, and our own executives laying out a vision for the future. As the issues change, we'll change the site. As new issues surface, we'll address those too. Overall, we want to provide our customers value in an advisory capacity.
Helping you compete and win
This resource is aimed at helping you compete out there: dropping some landmines at the feet of our competition in the form of questions every decision maker should be asking their vendors, and providing you with Microsoft’s answers to these same questions. It’s awesome. We’ve included the recently launched CRM TestDrive, which makes all of this awesome-r.
We’ve kicked off the awesome with five important topics:
· The user experience. In the post entitled, “LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT,” we address the fact that your front-line people are your brand, and the user experience that supports their work matters a whole lot. Learn about what drives usability in a CRM solution, and what you can do to drive user adoption, acceptance, and in turn a great customer experience.
· Marketing automation. In “IS YOUR CRM SOLUTION CMO-READY?” we address the challenge that the proliferation of channels, including social and mobile, imposes upon marketing leaders. Learn why the right marketing foundation that supports the entire marketing lifecycle across all channels matters, and what you can do about it.
· Data security and privacy in the cloud. In “TRUST AND THE CLOUD: ARE YOU OPERATING WITHOUT A NET?” we offer direct guidance on the issues that are sometimes easy miss with cloud services that are so readily available. When it comes to CRM in the cloud, learn what you need to know to avoid issues such as data security, privacy, compliance, and data loss.
· Mobile CRM. In “A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO MOBILE: PEOPLE FIRST,” we propose that companies don’t need an iPhone app, or a Windows Mobile app. Instead, their people need the information they need, when they need it, wherever they are. Learn some tips and tricks to ensure that your business’ – and your people’s – needs come first.
· Social and CRM. In “SOCIAL IS A CHANNEL, NOT A SILVER BULLET,” we share our view that “social CRM” is really just CRM. Check this topic out to learn best practices from other CRM decision makers and their experiences (and pitfalls) in incorporating social functionality with CRM.
Dynamic Businesses have an unrelenting focus on helping people reach their full potential and fuel their innovation and imagination. They do this by ensuring that people are truly united in their approach to business and this includes the technology they use. They turn technology and data into actionable insights that drive deeper and more productive customer interactions and conversations. It's the connections and the unity between people that empowers a business to realize its full dynamic potential.
Guest post by Greg Pierce, VP Concerto Cloud Services, Tribridge
Kati Hvidtfeldt has moved on to lead application program management for Microsoft Dynamics NAV. With the discontinuation of Kati Unplugged, we will continue to give partner perspectives on the benefits and challenges of offering cloud-based solutions to their customers.
This week Greg Pierce from Tribridge discusses the details partners should nail down before entering an agreement with a cloud services provider.
Over the last few years, Microsoft Dynamics partners have wisely begun to shift their business models to offer cloud solutions. Mixed with the success stories, I’ve been hearing from partners who’ve had painful experiences with cloud services providers who are impacting their ability to deliver at the level that best serves their customers.
For some it’s confusion around support services. For others, it’s a disconnect between the cloud environment the partner described to the customer, and the environment the hosting provider is actually delivering. Many of the issues that are surfacing for these partners today could have been avoided if they had a better understanding of what they were getting into with the hosting provider.
It’s not all about dollars and cents. It’s about establishing a transparent partnership with the cloud services provider that best serves the needs of the customer and protects your business interests. On average, cloud agreement contracts are for 1-3 year terms, so it’s important that it is a relationship will derive benefit for all three sides – the cloud partner, Microsoft Dynamics partner, and the customer —from now and into the future.
To help ensure a strong and successful partnership, make sure your Cloud Partnership Agreement answers these questions.
1. Who owns the customer relationship? It’s important to agree on where the responsibility lies when issues come up. If it’s an applications issue, it’s pretty cut and dried: the Microsoft Dynamics partner would typically be responsible. But what if the customer calls and reports that everything is running slowly. How do you assess the problem? Who troubleshoots it? Just as important – do you have the contract with the customer, or does the cloud provider? When your company owns the relationship you get greater top line revenue impact, but you also take on more risk—so know what you’re getting in to. Most partners will want to maintain the customer relationship and be reported as partner of record. This varies among different cloud providers, so it’s another area to watch.
2. Who owns the data? Make sure the contract stipulates that the customer owns the data, no matter what. This may seem obvious, but think of a situation in which the cloud provider doesn’t acknowledge a problem but the customer is dissatisfied and stops payments. Without a contractual definition of data ownership, the services provide could shut off the customer’s access to the data. There are other avenues that can be explored to collect payments, but data access and ownership should never come into play.
3. How long are the terms of the contract? Contract terms should match your own internal goals from a partner perspective—and short is not always better. The partnership needs to support long-term customer relationships. And it’s better for all of your customers when your cloud services partnership leverages economies of scale: longer contracts should enable lower prices, especially for larger implementations. Shorter term contracts mean pricing can be re-negotiated, and the customer almost always pay more.
4. Will the cloud environment be shared with other customers or is it dedicated to the individual customer? The public/private cloud question should be probed beyond discussion at the bargaining table. It’s important to have someone with technical expertise take a look at the cloud architecture. Keep in mind that single-tenant vs multi-tenant isn’t a question of good or bad: it has to do with what you’re trying to accomplish and what the customer’s needs are. In more complex implementations the level of control can make a difference. For example, when a customer needs to reboot a SQL Server it can be a problem when 20, 50 or more other customers are affected.
5. What happens if the agreement is terminated? You need to fully understand the Service Level Agreement and know up front what it will cost to get the data back if the agreement terminates. At a minimum, the partner agreement should include an hourly rate or flat fee that the cloud provider will charge for data migration at contract termination. The exit clause should include causes for exit, no cause terms, and windows for notification.
6. Who will have hands-on involvement, and what are their processes? People and processes are just as important as the technology. Cloud providers can paint a pretty picture, but it’s important to get a tour of the data center and if possible their NOC (Network Operations Center). Find out what their processes are for escalation and change management, how often they test disaster recovery and what tools they’re using to track performance. Most important, make sure the way they approach customer satisfaction and support is in line with the way you do.
By doing diligence during the Cloud Partner Agreement stage, partners lay the foundation for a trusted relationship that benefits customers and drives new business.
Tribridge is a technology services firm specializing in business applications and cloud solutions. Tribridge was named 2012 Worldwide Microsoft Dynamics Outstanding Partner of the Year.
To learn more about how to incorporate cloud-based solutions into your business plans visit the Microsoft Dynamics ERP Cloud page on PartnerSource. Go to www.microsoft.com/dynamics/growyourbusiness for resources that demonstrate to customers how Microsoft Dynamics ERP cloud, hybrid and on-premise solutions can benefit their businesses.
Watch this short whiteboard session to learn about the key role Microsoft Dynamics Certified Partners play in delivering business solutions for small and midsized businesses. This video applies to Microsoft's ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) products for small and midsized businesses: Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and Microsoft Dynamics SL.
The GearUp eToolkit provides basic product facts, quick answers, selling tips, and competition information on Microsoft technologies, so you can confidently talk with customers. We have just launched a Windows 8 app for this essential sales resource. You can now personalize your eToolkit experience with features such as: live tiles that let you know when to sync for new content, the ability to add your own notes, and a reminder of the last topic you viewed.
For more information please review the US Partner Training blog post.
Now Available: Ready to use marketing materials for the latest release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM are available via Ready-to-Go Marketing as part of the Microsoft Partner Network. The campaign provides a toolkit of resources to support your marketing and sales efforts, ranging from web syndication to online marketing to events. In addition we have provided capabilities for direct contact with your prospects via custom URLs for Microsoft Dynamics 30–day Trial offer. If you're thinking about reaching out to your prospects and customers, check out these materials to help you get started!
The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Campaign is focused on showing the power of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM December 2012 Service Update to new and current customers. New customers will be excited about the speed and ease in which they can take advantage of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, while current customers will see even more value from their investment with the enhancements from the latest release.
Campaign Materials include:
· Dynamics CRM Web Banners * · Dynamics CRM Event Invitation –Email · Dynamics CRM Microsite – Syndication * · Dynamics CRM 30 Day Free Trial with Customizable URL ** · Dynamics CRM Customer Presentation Decks · Dynamics CRM Case Study Videos · Dynamics CRM Demos · Dynamics CRM White Papers
* Web and Microsite – Syndication
Need compelling customer-facing content on your website? With our quick and easy banner and microsite options, you can save money and generate valuable leads for your Microsoft Dynamics CRM business. Combined with the custom URL for a 30-day trial (see below) you have the tools you need to generate online leads today! For more information about the syndication options for this campaign, go to click here.
** Microsoft Dynamics CRM 30-day Trial Offer - Custom Trial and Purchase URLs
The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 30-day Trial offer is a key call-to-action for this campaign. Now, by creating a custom URL for your business, you can be automatically attached as the Partner of Record (POR) for any trials you generate. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM campaign microsite and banners are designed for you to embed your custom Trial URL to drive leads to your business. In addition, we have provided instructions on how to create your customer Purchase URL as an ideal follow up to 30-day Trial leads. For more information on how to set up your custom Trial and Purchase Offers, please go here.
We hope you are excited as we are about these new marketing offerings. Get started today by clicking here to access the campaign materials.
The WPC Session and Meeting Scheduler is now live! The Scheduler allows attendees to plan which sessions to attend, schedule meetings with other attendees, and export items to their Outlook calendars.
Details about the Scheduler can be found here.
It is always fun to highlight a local win for Microsoft Dynamics!
When the Fargo and West Fargo public school districts set out to deploy an employee contract management system, the initiative quickly expanded into a modernization initiative, as each district identified additional technologies and defined a set of functional requirements that encompassed HR, finances, and asset management.
To meet these varied needs, the schools considered several commercial, off-the-shelf ERP package. They selected Microsoft Dynamics GP, which provides core financial management, HR, and payroll functionality, while allowing each district to tailor their solution to the specific needs of school administration. Says Mark Lemer, Business Manager for West Fargo Public Schools. “While it had the functionality we needed, Microsoft Dynamics GP also fit with the technology we were already using, including Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Excel.”
Read more at http://msft.it/FargoSchoolsCS
Guest post by Matt Casper, Marketing Communications Manager, SaaSplaza
This week Matt Casper from SaaSplaza explains how his company helped a fast growing satellite provider make the right decision when it comes to ERP deployment.
For 15 years, SaaSplaza has been helping companies chart a course from “earth” (a.k.a., on-premise) to the cloud. This customer story clearly shows Microsoft partners and end-customers alike how a move to the cloud can be both easier and more beneficial than they might have imagined.
We partnered with Systems Advisors Group to equip one of the world’s fastest growing satellite networks and services providers with Microsoft Dynamics AX in the cloud. For this solution, O3b Networks was the right customer with the right needs at the right time. In this case, the only thing easier than putting the customer in the cloud was making the case for the cloud in the first place.
The customer’s situation was perfectly suited, for several reasons.
The challenge of rapid growth
O3b deploys a next-generation satellite network that combines the reach of satellite with the speed of fiber to help realize a world “…where high speed connectivity is always within reach.” (O3b is an acronym for “other 3 billion,” describing the half of the world that does not have broadband Internet.) Immediately after its commercial launch, O3b began growing, and fast. The provider now serves a rapidly growing worldwide market, and is adding more team members and locations regularly.
O3b was in dire need of a scalable ERP system that would address its growing and global needs.
A widely dispersed workforce
With offices and staff all over the world, and with gateways in Brazil, Greece, Hawaii, Portugal, and elsewhere, O3b needed a solution that would be readily available to its worldwide team anytime, from any location.
Remote access to the solution also had to be fast, easy, and secure.
Shifting business requirements
In satellite services, new rules and regulations are the norm, not the exception. The company needed the ability to streamline and unite worldwide processes under one solution flexible enough to accommodate the shifting regulatory requirements and work perfectly with the Microsoft systems O3b had in place.
Ob3 needed more flexibility than an on-premise solution could offer.
One of O3b’s most pressing business needs was to be able to handle tremendous growth without adding tremendous costs. They needed a solution that would not only be as scalable as its business—future growth being essentially assured—but that could also deliver cost predictability.
O3b needed to keep costs manageable by minimizing up-front capital expenditures.
To the rescue: Microsoft Dynamics AX in the cloud
Microsoft Dynamics AX was the right ERP solution for O3b’s diverse and highly custom needs—and for ensuring seamless integration with its existing Microsoft solutions. And the cloud was the right fit to address O3b’s “competing needs” of making scalability easy while keeping costs predictable.
By choosing to run its entire solution in the Cloud with SaaSplaza, O3b enjoyed the following benefits:
· Freedom from infrastructure: With no server hardware to maintain or power the company benefited from a potential cost savings of tens-of-thousands.
· Endless scalability: With its solution completely in the cloud, adding new users anywhere in the world is both easy and cost-effective.
· Support and service: Systems Advisors Group and SaaSplaza continue to work closely with O3b to support and build the company’s business using the Microsoft Dynamics AX solutions they need, when they need it.
Evaluating “cloud readiness” in a customer
Figuring out if a customer is “cloud-ready” can be rather easy if you follow these simple steps.
1. Focus on the flexibility and scalability requirements every growing business must face. The cloud frees customers from infrastructure, which makes rapid changes—whether downturns, growth, or seasonal fluctuations—easier to handle.
2. Address security concerns. Oftentimes, customers are resistant to a cloud-based solution because of security issues. But in most cases, the cloud is a safe choice. For example, SaaSplaza houses end-customers’ data and solutions in Tier 3 data centers, which require both the platform AND the provider to undergo rigorous security certifications.*
3. Evaluate the budget and the short-term impact of capital expenditures. The cloud makes it easier to get started when no major budget outlays for servers and other infrastructure are required.
4. Analyze costs over the long haul. Putting you customer(s) in the cloud means no internal staff or new hires will be required to maintain the solution—it’s all covered in their monthly service fees.
Not every customer is ready for the cloud today. But by using this approach, you’ll guide customers who are ready in the right direction, and educate all of your customers and prospects so they understand the benefits when the time is right.
*For more information on ISAE-3402 and SSAE-16 certifications, read the SaaSplaza data sheet on Cloud security.
SaaSplaza has data centers and personnel across the globe—in Amsterdam, China, California, Singapore, Germany, Virginia. With hundreds of ISVs and partners, SaaSplaza offers both the solutions and expertise to address the Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM needs of most every vertical market. For more information on how your business can partner with SaaSplaza and its cloud platform to deliver reliable, scalable, and secure Microsoft Dynamics solutions, visit www.saasplaza.com.
A new PartnerSource page has been created to provide all the training materials and other relevant resources for the release of hosting Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 on Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.
The Microsoft Dynamics NAV team recently launched a feature pack that contains the tools you will need to implement on Windows Azure.