For the integrators, vendors, agencies and resellers within the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) — including those in the Dynamics world — the goal of all activity is to use Microsoft tools to drive a better experience for their customers.
Increasingly, this means being able to offer customers and prospects solutions beyond Dynamics. While being able to offer customers blended solutions that encompass other independent software vendors (ISVs) can be a competitive differentiator for businesses within the MPN, creating these solutions can present challenges.
The benefits and challenges of blended solutions
For partners, the primary benefit of offering customers blended solutions is the ability to be best in breed. While Microsoft offers tech stacks and full platforms around which customers can build their technology strategies, ISVs can play an important role in augmenting offerings. The reality of today's marketplace is that it's heterogeneous, and ISVs can often provide unique supplementary functions to Microsoft's suite of tools.
In offering blended solutions, however, partners face some challenges of their own.
The biggest challenge is being able to effectively channel marketplace noise. Between discussions of competitors and other technologies like blockchain and AI, potential customers are deluged with information about trends and tools. For partners, the question is how to effectively leverage buzzword technologies alongside more tactical, process-based tools.
Tips for a successful blend
Microsoft partners that once found themselves boxed into Microsoft offerings now have the opportunity to bridge these tools with line of business systems beyond Microsoft. Here are some of the strategic steps they can take to surmount marketplace challenges and create these offerings for their customers:
- Identify the best and most relevant ISVs: Within the Microsoft suite, there's no shortage of solutions to handle specific enterprise needs. From a blended solutions perspective, therefore, it's important for partners to seek out ISVs that provide unique functions not covered by a Microsoft offering — particularly within niche markets. To identify these ISVs, partners will need a deep understanding of their customers' market and a comprehensive view of that market’s software landscape. For instance, there may be an ISV that's uniquely suited to automate certain human resources functions within the legal space. By identifying this ISV, partners focused on the legal sector can integrate that solution and create a more customized product.
- Use workflow management tools: To successfully offer customers blended solutions, partners need to be able to bridge any functional gaps between different platforms. Accomplishing this comes down to finding a workflow management tool that can help fill in the gaps in a self-service way. To identify the best solution, partners should look for tools with a proven track record of process orchestration. These tools can be the ideal vehicle by which partners can deliver a blended solution.
- Prioritize advanced functionality: Across enterprises and industries, there's a big appetite for advanced functionality — whether that's AI, machine learning or advanced analytics and reporting. In the next few years, the most successful partners will be those that offer solutions that effectively integrate more advanced functions alongside process-based ones.
By approaching blended solutions strategically, Microsoft partners can take a key step toward differentiating themselves in a crowded marketplace. That step will require thinking beyond Dynamics and focusing on assembling the best suite of tools for your customers’ specific needs — one that merges process management with future-focused technology.
TopLine Strategies was not involved in the creation of this content.