Microsoft Stands By Its Dynamics ERP Re-Branding

Microsoft is standing by its decision to re-brand its four ERP lines.

Despite partner flack, the move to Dynamics GP, AX, NAV, SL, SL from the Great Plains, Axapta, Navision, Solomon will prevail.

"Part of the purpose of going with a single name had to do with the strength Microsoft has had creating awareness around solutions in categories," said Doug Burgum, senior vice president of Microsoft Business Division said in response to an audience question Sunday morning.

"We wanted to talk about what we'd provide and what customers would buy and use. A single brand has a more powerful impact. Today many customers around the world are not even aware Microsoft offers business applications. We'll put some of that great Microsoft marketing and prowess behind a single brand."

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In fact, partners at the show have been grumbling about the loss of Great Plains, Axapta, etc. as standalone brands. "They're talking about a seven year or more transition to a uniform code base. That's an evolution. Why couldn't they do branding in a more evolutionary way? Start with Dynamics Great Plains, and the next wave go to Dynamics GP," asked one Axapta partner.

Other partners have told CRN that they will not change product branding on their Web sites to protect their long-standing businesses.

The audience questioner said Great Plains has good brand equity. Dynamics GP "is a new name to us."

Also at the kickoff keynote, Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division presided over a demo showing tight linkage between Microsoft CRM and Outlook 2007, now due early next year with the slippage of general availability of Office 2007 and Vista into early next year.

Outlook 2007 integration enables easier group scheduling via a calendar overlay and will enable users to preview attachments, PowerPoints, photographs, etc.—without opening them.

The demo included in-context viewing of a financial reporting dashboard, and the use of upcoming SharePoint Excel Services for consolidating, posting and sharing spreadsheet data.

At the closed-to-the-public partner kickoff event Friday night, attendees asked Burgum about plans to move Microsoft's ERP products to named-user pricing. "He acknowledged the need for simplification but did not go into detail," said one attendee. Another said Burgum joked that this was the event where people can get rumors validated.

CRN reported last month that the company plans a move to per-user from per-module pricing on its ERP products. The move would make it easier for customers to compare Microsoft ERP with competitive offerings from Oracle and SAP, sources said.

Oracle offers a special edition of its E-business Suite to SMBs through partners that lists for $2,000 per user. SAP charges about $3,750 per user for BusinessOne. Solution providers say both are often discounted atop that.

Microsoft knows "that's who their competition is," another partner said.