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Microsoft Dynamics 365: The What, When and Why

Beginning November 1, 2016, Microsoft Dynamics 365 will not only be available for purchase, but will replace Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online as we now know it. As announced on October 11 at the CRMUG Summit, the initial Dynamics 365 apps will be available on this date in 135 markets and 40 languages. Additional apps will be released at a later date. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online SKU will be removed from the catalog.

This announcement follows Microsoft’s early July 2016 announcement of plans for Dynamics 365. At that time, Microsoft let it be known that Dynamics 365 would be an evolution of the current CRM and ERP cloud solutions. It would be “one- cloud” service with apps to manage specific business functions. The idea would be to natively imbed Power BI and Cortana Intelligence, and deeply integrate Dynamics 365 and Office 365. The common data model was also introduced at this time, to simplify data management and integration across apps and processes. In short, it sounded like Dynamics CRM, Dynamics AX, and Project Madeira would be repackaged and restructured into Dynamics 365.

Now we have a bit more information. This past Tuesday, Microsoft announced that Dynamics 365 will be a single, cloud-based service that enables companies to address CRM and ERP needs with a variety of powerful apps and ancillary tools to manage nearly every aspect of business. Whether your requirements include sales automation, operations, customer service, or just about anything else, there will be apps for you. The solution will be available in two editions (Business and Enterprise) to suit companies of different sizes (under and over 250 employees).

Two Versions, Two Plans

Business (10-250 employees) Enterprise (250+ employees)
  • Financials (Formerly Madeira)
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • PowerApps
  • Operations (Plan 2 Only – Formerly AX7)
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer Service
  • Field Service
  • Project Service Automation
  • PowerApps

 

It is our understanding that the Business Edition will be partially available on November 1, 2016, in the form of the Financials app (formerly known as “Madeira”), plus the optional PowerApps platform. The sales and marketing apps are due out in the spring of 2017.  We believe that these will be similar to the existing modules of the same name in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The Dynamics Enterprise 365 version will be entirely available on November 1, 2016.

Devilish Details

The Enterprise edition will be broken into two “Plans” – Plan 1, which consists of all apps shown above EXCEPT “Operations”, and Plan 2, which consists of Plan 1 plus Operations. Plan 1 (this is the closest thing to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online
as we know it today) will be available with NO minimum user count, which is a departure from the five seat minimum that exists today.  Plan 2, with Operations, will have a 20-seat user minimum.  This makes sense, since a company interested in the Operations app, which was known as AX7, is generally an Enterprise level company. Plan 2 will be considerably higher priced, as well.  From a pricing perspective, Dynamics 365 offers large companies a compelling value proposition, since there is very generously structured pricing model around user license volume and tiers.  Please look for another post soon that details pricing for these products.

A Flexible, Enterprise Platform

The value proposition of Dynamics 365 is that it can grow as you grow, running on an app-based subscription, where you pay for the desired app(s), with each user having a license primarily around job function. This differs from other, more traditional app-based subscriptions that require additional, separate licenses per user per app. This is especially true of the new “Team Access” license, which is priced so low as to attract just about every user in the organization.  Not only does this make it easier for users, but also cheaper. For as little as $5 per month, with tiered pricing based on volume, light-usage customers will have at least read-only access to the entire Dynamics 365 platform.

As announced originally in July, Dynamics 365 will natively imbed Power BI and Cortana Intelligence, and will combine the powers of Office 365, Azure and Dynamics into a powerful tool for delivering solutions. It’s designed to use targeted intelligence, advanced analytics, and machine learning to enrich the user experience and improve the sales process. Running on a new common data model, it will be possible to extend Dynamics 365 capabilities to additional industry- and function-specific tasks using AppSource apps.

The idea is that it will fill the gaps left by others, like Salesforce, and provide a stronger and more comprehensive all-in-one solution, and at an extremely competitive price in the Enterprise space. One of the major ways that it will do this is through PowerApps. Not only does PowerApps make it easy to create new entities and fields, and import and export data into programs you regularly use, like Excel, but it also makes it easy to create your own apps, based on your business need, without needing development knowledge. PowerApps is built for what has recently been dubbed as a legion of “Citizen Developers” that need to whip out departmental-level, clever little applets that draw on the common data model and use as source the various components of the Dynamics 365 and Office 365 stacks.

Considerations for Existing Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customers

For Dynamics CRM Online, specifically, this means that the product SKU and the ability to purchase it as we know it now will be replaced on November 1st with various choices listed above. Our present understanding is that current Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers will be able to choose to either continue using Dynamics CRM Online for the duration of their subscription commitment , or immediately transition to Dynamics 365. The current functionality will still exist in some form within these new Dynamics 365 apps – specifically in the Enterprise choice, which will contain the entire CRM product as it is now configured, but with the additional modules of Field Service and Project Service Automation.

Microsoft has not yet announced whether or not marketing features within Dynamics CRM Online will be replaced by the Adobe Marketing Cloud, but earlier this month, officials announced that Adobe Marketing Cloud would be the preferred solution for Dynamics 365 – at least for the Enterprise edition. In any case, the Marketing app listed above refers to the “lightweight” marketing module in CRM Online now, not Microsoft Dynamics Marketing – our understanding that this product will not move forward.

There is a lot to be said for this bold direction that Microsoft has taken, and there is no question as to the level of commitment shown by this innovative company.  We at xRM applaud the passion that the highest levels of Microsoft has shown in the Dynamics stack. We also understand that this will shake up the space a bit, and in the beginning there may be some complexity to sort out and resistance to change. We encourage the stakeholders on all sides to embrace this platform and make the most out of it.

 

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