Microsoft Convergence Kicks Off In Atlanta
The annual Microsoft Convergence customer event kicked off on March 4th, 2014. Far from the days of the Stampede in Fargo, North Dakota, the event shows how far the Microsoft Dynamics customers, partners, and products have progressed. Over 12,000 attendees including customers, partners, staff, and prospects gathered in Atlanta, GA for the largest Microsoft Enterprise Applications conference. The sold out event featured a volunteer program on Day 0 and a good number of partner meetings the weekend before. Analysis from four key announcements on Day 1 include:
- Microsoft Dynamics gaining momentum on the large enterprise and divisions of large enterprises. Key customers presenting in the opening keynote include Chobani, City Harvest Inc, Delta Airlines, Lotus F1 Team, New Belgium Brewery, and Weight Watchers. These presenting customers share a key theme of customer centricity and a Microsoft enterprise backbone. Moreover, many showcase the devices and services theme set by former CEO Steve Ballmer.
Point of View (POV): Constellation sees a growing trend where organizations and brands move to Dynamics for both CRM and ERP. The ability to integrate back to other Microsoft technologies such as SharePoint, Office 365, and Azure Services provides both a pull and a push. As organizations think about consolidating vendors and moving to the cloud, the Microsoft Dynamics team provides some compelling options in manufacturing, retail, distribution, public sector, professional services, and travel and entertainment. The launch of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Enterprise License at $200 per user per month show cases the move upmarket.
- Dynamics CRM users gain key marketing and social capabilities. Microsoft announces the next release of Dynamics CRM in Q2 of 2014. Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, which was formed from the Marketing Pilot acquisition , debuts to assist with campaign management. The service and support offering gains new features such as Unified Service Desk along with closer integration to recently acquired Parature. Newly launched Microsoft Social Listening launches at no additional charge for Dynamics CRM Online professional license holders.
(POV): The rewrite of acquired entity Marketing Pilot provides some improvement to the original product. Parity at the Exact Target and Hubspot level will take at least two to three more releases. Release of unified service desk paired with Parature, provides a powerful combination in customer service and support. Microsoft Social Listening finally provides customers with a social tool that has been sorely missing in the line up. More importantly, in CRM and customer experience, the mobile access options have not forced customers onto Windows Phone and instead have provided native support of iOS and Android..
- Dynamics ERP users prepare for new releases. Dynamics GP gets a release for Q1 2014 that includes identity management, workflow, and self service companion apps. Dynamics NAV shoudl receive an update in Q4 2014. More importantly, the team announced the availability of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 for May 1st 2014. Key themes include mobile enablement, support for deployment on Windows Azure in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) layer, and an end to end apps and services framework. . The cross offering with the Windows Azure team is the Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services which improve implementation times and enable agile updates.