Inside Microsoft Canada’s Dynamics AX partner launch

Microsoft Canada this week hosted an invitation-only gathering of its reseller channel to provide them a guide for selling its Dynamics AX enterprise resource planning system and the opportunity to connect with some of its major independent software vendors.

The company officially launched Dynamics AX 2009 in June, introducing role-based user interfaces, analytics features and tighter integration with other products in its portfolio such as its SharePoint Server portal offering. The event in Toronto on Tuesday, however, was a refresher course of sorts for resellers who may have put their go-to-market strategies for Dynamics AX on hold over the summer, according to Microsoft Canada product manager Joel Martin.

“It didn’t make sense to get people to leave their cottage to come down and get exposed to all the marketing messages we created,” he said. Canada and Germany are the only two international divisions of the world’s largest software company to hold the event this week, he noted. Similar partner launches are expected to take place in the U.S. and other regions later this year.

Key to the partner launch was the release of what Martin called a business solutions roadmap, a small applet a couple of megs in size they can download to be used on their notebooks when making a Dynamics AX sale. The roadmap includes suggested timelines on rolling out the product, a maturity assessment customers can take before they begin a project and tools for resellers to work with new prospects.

“It really allows a partner to go in and meet with the CIO and sit with him or her and have a discussion around bottlenecks in their business, in a business-speak sort of way,” Martin said. “The tool can be used to drive consensus because it brings in all these weighted pieces.”

The second part of the day allowed resellers to get face some with some of Microsoft’s Dynamics AX technical specialists – people to go deep within the application and train channel staff new to the product, Martin explained. Typical areas of training are around features to drive regulatory compliance, business intelligence and role-based components. Several Canadian resellers are hiring new staff specifically to work on the Dynamics ERP line of products, said Martin.

ISVs were brought in to outline add-on modules that work this Dynamics AX. This includes Fullscope, an Athens, Al.-based Microsoft Gold partner which creates software specifically designed for customers in the food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

“We were explaining how over the last two years we’ve been on the price list and have more than 150 customers and concurrent users worldwide,” said John Scandar, Fullscope’s co-founder and executive vice-president. “All they have to do is go through some training but sell it as if it’s a Microsoft product.”

The training on the technology itself would likely only take four or five days, Scandar said, but domain expertise in a specific vertical might be more involved. However that level of specialization can really be a benefit to the channel when the U.S. (and Canada) are potentially entering a recession.

“No matter how bad the economy, people have to buy bread and have food,” he said. “If they’re sick, they still have to go get medicine. They’ve much less volatile (markets) than what we’ll call discretionary spending.”

Canadian customers of Dynamics AX include Montreal-based manufacturer Adfast.

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