Microsoft Emphasizes ISV Partnerships With New Dynamics AX Release

Dynamics AX 2012

Microsoft also is making a play for customers using Lawson's S3 and M3 applications, offering incentives to get them to switch to Dynamics AX.

The new Dynamics AX release has pre-built capabilities for the retail, manufacturing, service and distribution industries and the public sector, which together account for 70 percent of the ERP market, said Michael Park, corporate vice president for Microsoft Business Solutions sales, marketing and operations. Manufacturing applications, for example, now have built-in "lean manufacturing" features while the retail applications have basic point-of-sale capabilities.

That means ISV partners can spend less time developing basic functionality into their software and more time building specific capabilities that tap into Dynamics AX, Park said.

"The simplicity and shared development is a big deal," he said in an interview. "This industry focus for us is really engineering vertical capabilities right out-of-the-box. Our competitive strategy here is to be the ERP application of choice among ISVs."

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More than 100 partners were involved in the application suite's development and testing, Park said.

"They've done a phenomenal job with the core functionality of this software. This product is nothing like what it was five years ago," said Benjamin Holtz, president and CEO of Green Beacon Solutions, a Newton, Mass.-based solution provider that's a Microsoft certified gold partner for Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM. "This gives us a more strategic product to compete with."

While Green Beacon has primarily focused on businesses that supply products to retailers, Holtz said the company is seeing more opportunities from financial services companies and the new capabilities in Dynamics AX 2012 should help with those sales efforts.

Dynamics AX, one of Microsoft's four ERP suites, is geared toward midsize companies with distributed global operations. Park said Microsoft is going after customers running older ERP applications from Oracle, SAP, Epicor and Lawson (which was acquired by Infor in July). Microsoft wants those customers to either switch from the competing applications altogether or implement Dynamics AX within departments and subsidiaries and work in a two-tier system, Park said.

Microsoft is offering the estimated 4,000-plus Lawson S3 and M3 software owners a 50 percent license discount to switch to Dynamics AX 2012, with a minimum $100,000 order. Park said those sales would be made through reseller partners.

Microsoft also is offering "revenue credits" or rebates to help partners cover the cost of training and getting certified to work with Dynamics AX 2012.

Dynamics AX 2012 replaces the older Dynamics AX 2009 release.