Microsoft Goes Vertical
Microsoft has continued to build on the concept of the "Connected Business" by demonstrating how Microsoft Dynamics solutions are becoming more industry relevant. Building on yesterday's announcement of Dynamics Industry Solutions, Microsoft today detailed its new investments in the five industries that make up Dynamics Industry Solutions--manufacturing, distribution, retail, professional services, and public sector--combined with a new ISV solutions certification program designed to identify the top 500 ISV solutions that meet the specialized needs of particular industries. "With deep investments in five targeted industries combined with an extremely broad ecosystem of more than 3,000 ISV solutions, customers can get industry solutions that support their business vision," says Tami Reller, corporate vice president of Business Solutions Marketing at Microsoft.
As part of this investment, Microsoft is evolving the Industry Builder program and announcing Microsoft Dynamics Industry Solutions. "The Industry Builder program went so well that we decided to increase our level of investment and introduced Microsoft Dynamics Industry Solutions," Reller says.
This new program will encompass the current Industry Builder program as well as other initiatives, and will give Industry Builder members the option to make the transition into the new Microsoft Dynamics Industry Solutions program. For Industry Builders, the Dynamics Industry Solutions offers significantly improved benefits and revenue opportunities, and for customers, highly integrated industry modules that will ship simultaneously with core Microsoft Dynamics releases and service packs, Reller says.
Microsoft also announced Microsoft Dynamics Industry Solution for Lean Enterprises, which will expand the core functionality of the Microsoft Dynamics AX solution, primarily benefiting the manufacturing vertical the most. During the conference yesterday, James Utzschneider, general manager of Dynamics marketing at Microsoft, said Microsoft would build additional vertical capabilities into its ERP applications through small-scale acquisitions. Microsoft made good on that announcement when it announced the expansion of code via an acquisition from eBECS, a privately held company that delivers enterprise solutions, enabling customers to optimize processes and better connect and extend their supply chain to customers and supply partners alike. Future industry-specific offerings codeveloped by Microsoft and its partners can be standalone offerings, or ISVs can build on top of them, according to Utzschneider. Dynamics Industry Solution for Lean Enterprises will be available to customers as a separate module as part of the Advanced Management edition of Business Ready Licensing by the end of calendar year 2007, in English only. Microsoft plans to integrate the acquired code into the nest release of Microsoft Dynamics AX and have it localized for all Microsoft Dynamics AX languages.
Taken as a whole, the announcements are reminiscent of the vertical customization that Salesforce.com offers in AppExchange, says Laurie McCabe, vice president of SMB insights for AMI-Partners. Microsoft's Reller agreed. "It's very AppExchange-like in the sense that you'll be able to reach out into our third-party network, shop for a niche solution that fits your particular vertical, and buy it."
McCabe does have doubts about small businesses' ability to leverage these vertical solutions, seeing that, while Microsoft has found tremendous uptake in the midmarket with updating customers to new versions of software such as Windows 2007 and their new Client servers, smaller businesses have been slower to follow. This could be a problem, as the majority of this new partner initiative is built upon these newer product announcements.
Moving forward, Reller says more verticals will be added to the already five that comprise the Dynamics Industry Solutions program. "This is just the starting point. As we see continued uptake in specific areas, we'll base our expansion from there."
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