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Podcast: What Makes Dynamics 365 Unique as a SaaS Offering

Introducing the Cloud Services Series

In this inaugural three-part podcast series, the team at Catapult takes over the MSDW Podcast to talk about and clarify the confusion, interest, and excitement that surrounds Microsoft’s cloud services. CEO Elliot Fishman leads the discussion with colleagues Jeff Bacon, Blair Hurlbut, and Dan Ditomaso to break down the following topics:

In Part 2: What Makes Dynamics 365 Unique as a SaaS Offering, Elliot, Jeff, and Blair go beyond the high level vision for Dynamics in the cloud and dig into a finer level of granularity to look at Dynamics 365’s origins, its capabilities, and how the solutions differ from the legacy Dynamics products. Read a glimpse of the conversation below.

  • 1:20 – The move to brand Dynamics 365 and its impact.
  • 4:00 – Breaking down the product line – ERP, CRM and more.
  • 5:45 – Given NAV’s popularity with customization, can D365 Business Central deliver the same flexibility?
  • 7:00 – Making sense of Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement  products and licenses.
  • 10:00 – Is partner involvement a positive step in D365 rollouts moving forward?
  • 13:00 – What does the roadmap mean for on-prem Dynamics product customers?
  • 16:30 – License transition options for existing customers.
  • 17:30 – Migration path and deployment activities Dynamics CRM on-premises to D365 for Sales, Service.
  • 20:30 – Elements of the D365 customer experience apps’ user experience enhancements.
  • 22:45 – Can Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations serve workers who aren’t behind a desk?

Making Sense of Dynamics 365 Products and Licenses

Jeff Bacon

In the past, it was CRM Online. I don’t know exactly what the moniker behind it was but you would get all of the capabilities into one license. Now, it’s separated out into Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, and Talent, which has some integration into CRM. What it has done is it has focused the type of companies that type of capability and allowed for a different type of transaction on how you buy it. You used to have to buy everything at one price. Now, there are different layers. CRM for sales is now split into enterprise and business.

So, if you’re a small business, you get a different pricing structure but you have a limitation on users versus enterprise, which actually bundles in a few other things but allows you to have an unlimited user cap. It’s really allowed us to focus in and help our clients understand what model they really need to look at and be able to limit the capabilities that they have without actually limiting them in the future. It helps them keep the initial implementation quite lean and the license to go along with that. So there is a lot impact to the way things are sized and it feels like it’s a little more right-sized these days.

Partner Involvement in Dynamics 365 Rollouts

Blair Hurlbut

I think it’s positive for both the partner and the customer. A lot of the rollouts that Microsoft has done with some of these new cloud applications was the client signs up, plays with the application in a trial, and then decides whether or not to implement or make it a full subscription moving forward. The one area where I think it hindered both the partner and the clients themselves is we’re supposed to be value-add and we can, as partners, help guide you how should you configure this based on your business.

The model that Microsoft had at the beginning of going direct to Microsoft to be able to sign up for these trials really limited that interaction between partner and client. They weren’t getting any of that benefit of “this is how you should use this application because this is how the application works inherently.” So we’re starting to have more of those conversations so that we can do a better implementation versus just kind of slapping in an application and trying to get it to work for an organization’s business.

Jeff Bacon

I think it has actually helped us as a partner be more effective at support. In the past, like Blair said, the client would maintain all of the ownership of the transaction and the environment with Microsoft and we wouldn’t have a whole lot do with it, unless the client agreed to grant us a license. But now given the fact that we can transact on a cloud services platform, we actually have access to their environment. It allows us to maintain their subscription, monitor whether their storage is going up or down, help them provision users, and add new capabilities as well.

I’d say it has been a lot more effective of a tool for us to maintain and help our clients support those applications because in the past they assumed Microsoft was taking care of it but the reality was Microsoft would just push down new applications and notifications and assume the customer knew what they were talking about. It has helped us maintain a bit more of an intimate relationship knowing the application, how it’s deployed, and what’s going to be valuable for the customer from a support perspective.

What the Roadmap Means for On-Prem Users

Blair Hurlbut

From the Dynamics NAV side of things, it’s a little bit of an unknown for clients going directly to Dynamics 365. If a client didn’t have any customizations then it would be an easier transition just to say “let’s move you to Dynamics 365.” If it’s an organization that has customizations today, obviously that’s not an option because we wouldn’t be able to recreate those.

But once they rollout the newer version of Dynamics 365 Business Central, which will essentially be on par with Dynamics NAV, that’s when we’re going to be able to start recommending to people now is the time to move onto the cloud. What we’re expecting to be released with that is a migration path for people who currently have on-prem servers to be able to take their Dynamics NAV instance and replicate that on the Dynamics 365 cloud version.

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Be open-minded. ERP projects aren’t just about requirements, they are about putting together a very thoughtful, practical program of work with scalable solutions in mind.

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