I have now watched the videos that came out of the Microsoft PDC and I have been mulling over what this means for the way we as partners will work with the new capabilities and how it will change our propositions.
The conclusion I have initially come to is that Version 5 is a major game changer and has the capability to be a significant disruptive force in the partner community.
So why have I come to this conclusion? Well, the key message I have taken away from watching this is that MSCRM has taken the major step from being a product to a platform.
What’s the difference? Well, lets look at where we are now with MSCRM 4.
In Microsoft CRM Version 4 we have a deployment model that looks like this:
Within each deployment there are a whole range of components, each of which has complex and deep dependencies on each other. The result of this is that it is very difficult to extract specific solution based functionality in a manner that is independent of a specific deployment and is supportable, upgradeable and protectable.
The result of this is that whilst many partners seek to have a vertical offering it is hard to make the model fit the technology and to justify the commitment to the level of focus that is needed and not get drawn back into the competition for the next RfP that is issued.
This is why I say to people who ask “where is your competition” I answer “Other Microsoft Partners” and not SalesForce.com or similar.
So where does Version 5 take us?
Well the whole model has changed. We are moving from a model where a single deployment exists to a modular or package environment. The new model looks like this:
Now we have a mechanism for gathering together configurations, code, workflow and any other components and wrap them up into a package. The CRM engine will identify and, if appropriate include any dependencies and the package can be protected.
The other key feature of this package mechanism is that packages can be easily dropped in and out of a deployment and upgraded. This means that if a feature is added or improved then it is very easy to add it to multiple deployments.
Well, apart from changing the way we think about development and methodologies, I see this making a fundamental change in the way partners can do business. We will now be working with a platform as opposed to an application and this means that, like our colleagues in the ERP space, we now HAVE TO GO VERTICAL.
From now on if we are not targeting reusable solutions then we will be beaten to the deals by those partners who do have drop in packages and have wrapped their experience up into vertical solutions.