LOB ISV Engagement for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform

Note: this post was originally posted here.

Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to work with businesses, partners and public entities around the world to leverage Microsoft technologies within their organizations. I’ve also worked closely with our ecosystem partners; both hardware (OEM) and software (ISV), to team up with Microsoft in the creation of their offerings and the growth of their businesses. These engagements have spanned from two-person start-ups to Fortune 1000 corporations and everyone in between. Working with the ecosystem to drive mutual success and watching people and companies grow has been one of my favorite areas to focus on over the last 20+ years at Microsoft. In that spirit, I’m happy to add working with ISVs back into my remit as a complement to the work I’ve been doing around AI. Starting in November 2018 my role expanded to include engagement with the broad set of Line-of-Business (LOB) ISVs that build on the Microsoft platforms, with a focus on growing the Dynamics 365 ISV community. This continues to be an incredible time for ISVs as both customers and partners continue their digital transformation and look to their ISVs to help them along the way. The latest step in that journey for Microsoft has been the transformation of the Dynamics 365 product line to a set of business SaaS offerings along with the creation of a platform asset (Power platform) that all LOB solutions can leverage in their transformation. Given our experience in transforming our own platforms and solutions from on-premise offerings to cloud offerings, we look forward to continuing helping ISVs transform and grow based on the state of their solutions and customer base. In this initial post I would like to share my perspective on how the team and I are looking at this opportunity and our plan to help existing and new partners take advantage of what we’ve learned to date. Over time we’ll provide updates on the tools available to help ISV’s from both a technical and go-to-market perspective. Note this new series of blog posts will complement the ongoing AI blog series, and not replace it.

Opportunity

As we work with customers and partners it is clear the opportunity for LOB ISVs continues to grow.  Whether it’s by industry or horizontal solutions, migrating customers from existing on-premise solutions to the cloud or expanding a customer’s cloud portfolio, or helping customers leverage the new generation of building blocks, the opportunity for ISVs has never been greater.  At the same time, there are many ISVs that are transforming their business by leveraging new technologies and looking to expand their footprint. In all these cases we want to add the Dynamics 365 and Power platforms into the suite of tools that Microsoft can offer to help ISVs in their efforts. Microsoft at its core is a platform company and the transition of the Dynamics 365 family into a SaaS platform and a set of SaaS services that can be customized nicely complements Azure and Office to provide the only integrated set of platform offerings from IaaS to PaaS to SaaS that ISVs can leverage in their work.

The focus of our efforts in this area will be to ensure the LOB ecosystem is able to leverage any aspect of the platform that might be useful. Whether that is the Common Data Model and Common Data Service, the Power platform including Flow, PowerApps and Power BI, or the Dynamics 365 applications (sales, customer service, finance and operations, etc.). There are even opportunities to leverage the new generation of building blocks including AI and Mixed Reality.

As an organization focusing on ISVs, we have three core focus areas: 1) find and partner with ISVs that will help our mutual customers be successful, 2) minimize the friction to onboarding to Dynamics 365, Power platform and AppSource; and 3) help ISVs that build on the platform grow their business. We believe there are clear benefits for ISVs who work with us in this area that include:

  • Expanding your Business by leveraging the Microsoft Partner ecosystem and our best in class sales and go-to-market support.
    1. Promote your app on AppSource to reach up to 100 million commercial active users.
    2. Join a global community that connects you to the relationships, insights, tools, resources, and programs to expand customer reach.
    3. Leverage Microsoft co-selling programs and resources to drive new revenue growth.
  • Building Modern Cloud LOB Solutions on Microsoft’s Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 offerings, and leverage the Microsoft Power platform and new technology building blocks.
    1. Innovate with a common data platform that brings together your customers’ data with unique Microsoft data assets.
    2. Enable app development from citizen to professional developers through the Power Application tools.
    3. Leverage existing solution frameworks in Marketing, Sales, Service, Commerce, Operations, Finance, Talent (MSSCOFT).
    4. Powerful new building blocks – AI, Mixed Reality, IoT.
  • Getting to Market Faster on a trusted global platform with familiar tools, unique data assets and industry accelerators.
    1. Take advantage of your team’s existing knowledge of Azure and Office 365, as well as vertical accelerators.
    2. Protect and govern your sensitive data using Azure’s industry-leading security and the most comprehensive compliance offerings.
    3. Our global infrastructure spans more than 100 highly secure facilities worldwide while meeting local data residency needs.

Using the Dynamics 365 and Power Platforms

As we work with LOB ISVs that are currently leveraging the Dynamics 365 and Power platforms there are a set of common patterns we are seeing in terms of how they leverage these offerings:

  • Build: There are ISVs leveraging the Power platform (e.g. PowerApps, Power BI, etc.) in the creation of their SaaS offerings. In this pattern ISVs build unique horizontal and/or vertical solutions that have their own user experience and standalone functionality.
  • Embed: There is another set of ISVs we see building on the Dynamics 365 first-party apps (e.g. Dynamics 365 for Sales) to create industry focused apps. They have a high-level dependency on Dynamics 365 and leverages the same UI model as the app they build on. Often, they also build on the Power platform to create additional functionality/capability.
  • Connect: The third pattern we see is when ISVs build stand-alone experiences that connect into Dynamics 365 or the Power platform. These connected offerings enhance the Dynamics 365 capabilities by providing additional capabilities that are not natively part of the platform. These offerings have limited dependency on the platform and have their own user experience.

ISV Success

At the end of the day, any platform is judged by the health of its ecosystem. With Dynamics 365 and the Power platform providing a rich set of capabilities for ISVs to leverage, we are focused on making these tools a successful part of our ecosystem offerings. The team and I will be the champion for LOB ISVs and developers in this space, representing their unique needs inside of Microsoft and in the broader community. I look at this extended remit as an opportunity to knit together the work of our ISV focused teams, programs and tools with a goal of creating a unified frictionless experience for our partners. By working to ensure ISVs can quickly build quality applications, with the right knowledge and guidance, as well as have access to GTM programs that enable ISVs to grow their overall business we want to be a great partner for the ISV community. I will leverage my experience from OEM and DX while focusing on unique opportunities for Dynamics 365.

This week I will also be attending CES 2019 through Wednesday in Las Vegas talking with companies about AI, but also available to any LOB ISVs that would like to meet. I will also be at Mobile World Congress 2019 in February as well.

Cheers,

Guggs