Microsoft gets vertical

Microsoft is making industry-specific solutions available for its ERP product line, the company announced here at its 11th annual Convergence conference.Microsoft has tended to take a horizontal approach with its products, while partners provided industry-specific customization. But the software giant is making a push into vertical markets with investments across five industries, including manufacturing, distribution, retail, services and public sector.

“ISVs can build upon that,” said Tami Reller, corporate vice-president of the Business Solutions Marketing Group, in a press Q&A.

This will be combined with a new ISV solutions certification designed to identify the top 500 ISV solutions worldwide that meet the specialized requirements of these verticals.

Microsoft is evolving its Industry Builder program by announcing Microsoft Dynamics Industry Solutions, focused on delivering industry-specific solutions. The program will encompass the current Industry Builder program as well as new initiatives, and program members will have the option to transition into the new program. Microsoft anticipates most will make that transition by July 1.

The program offers improved benefits and revenue opportunities, according to Microsoft, and will provide customers with more tightly integrated industry modules that ship simultaneously with core Dynamics releases and service packs.

Two years ago Microsoft came out with its vertical strategy. “A large part of that is our partners,” said Lisa Lloyd, business solutions industry manager for Microsoft Business Solutions in Canada. Some 3,000 solutions worldwide have been integrated into the platform (of those, about 500 are from Canada); as part of its certification program, Microsoft will identify via logo its top 500 ISV solutions worldwide.

Microsoft also announced Certified for Microsoft Dynamics, an ISV solutions certification that helps customers with the evaluation and selection process by identifying ISV solutions that have been tested by a third party to meet compatibility standards with Microsoft Dynamics software. For ISVs with “proven” solutions, this certification provides an opportunity to expand market reach and sales potential, according to Microsoft, while reducing the need for customized programming to deliver industry-specific solutions.

It also announced Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step, a tool set for implementation, migration and upgrades. Sure Step takes a “community approach,” said Reller, and Microsoft will add industry elements into that through code, tools and methodologies. “It’s a big bet we’re making,” she said, adding that Microsoft is building code driven by ISV feedback. “[Sure Step] will be immersed in all training we do for partners,” she said. “The key motivator for partners is that boundaries are being knocked down.”

Corporate Renaissance Group is an Ottawa-based implementer and ISV. It uses third-party solutions, so “the ecosystem is a great opportunity for us,” said Ron McCabe, the company’s vice-president. As an ISV, it’s able to foster innovation from various partners.

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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