For Partners, Value of Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 and Office 365 Coming Into Focus

With the release of Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013, Microsoft and its reselling partners have redoubled their efforts to sell the vision of a more robust, cloud-based business solution that includes Microsoft Office 365.  And Dynamics GP resellers are finding that the latest messaging to accompany the technology appears to be telling GP customers and prospects a compelling story.

According to Mariano Gomez, Microsoft MVP and EVP of Midmarket Solutions at IntellPartners LLC, the release of GP 2013 brings with it not only improvements to Office 365 integration, but a new, more cohesive message for Microsoft Dynamics GP partners to communicate to customers and prospects.

One of the interesting new highlights of the Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 feature set is its integration with Exchange Server - whether on premise or in the cloud with Office 365.

"Before, you had to send emails from Microsoft Dynamics GP via Microsoft Outlook and that sort of defeated the purpose of integrating with Microsoft Exchange Online - a part of Office 365. Now, with direct integration from within Microsoft GP 2013, you don't have a need for an email client application between the ERP and your Exchange Server, whether on premise or in the cloud. This opens up, from an architecture and systems maintenance and support perspective, a better use of Exchange Online without having an intermediate email client application to make that connection," Gomez explains.

Hersch Patel, Director of Consulting Services at Socius, said some of the market segments Socius is targeting for the cloud opportunities offered by Dynamics GP 2013 will also find the product's integration with Office 365 attractive. Socius was one of the first Dynamics GP partners to implement a hosted GP 2013 solution via the technology adoption program (TAP).

"We feel that Office 365 extends the value of the GP 2013 solution," he said. "With Office 365, Socius has the ability to extend the reach of the Dynamics Solutions to nontraditional ERP (or CRM) users. This allows companies to make quicker and better informed business decisions."

Dwight Specht, COO of Microsoft partner I.B.I.S. Inc., sees the integration between Office 365 and GP 2013 is a win for all involved.

"The Office 365 integration to GP 2013 just makes a whole lot of sense," said Specht. "From a Microsoft perspective it makes a whole ton of sense because you're giving an additional audience a reason to look at Office 365. From a customer perspective it removes a barrier to online adoption that was there in old versions because it didn't integrate seamlessly with Office 365."

And it also makes sense for partners, he said.

"Microsoft has been positioning Dynamics GP as its rapid deployment product - the product for the masses, if you will," Specht said. "Office 365 natively appeals to that market segment because that market segment would like to offload email, would like to offload document collaboration would like to work more in the cloud and less expensively [than with] an on-premise installation. Being able to put GP 2013 in a cloud environment for them and at the same time have a discussion with them about Office 365, partners now have an opportunity to talk to them about a different line of business."

The GP 2013 and Office 365 integrated approach also plays an important role in the larger story of business users who expect the always-online experience across devices, according to Patel.

"You've heard of BYOD (bring your own device); well for us its OAD - on any device," Patel said. "So for example, let's say we have an organization leveraging GP 2013 in the cloud, Office 365, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. [Here's one example of how a business] may use these tools together: A CEO at an airport receives an email via CRM workflow that is auto generated, regarding a won opportunity for a large client order.  The CEO can then access GP 2013 via their Microsoft Surface to view the sales order, and the related contract documents stored in SharePoint Online. If the CEO has time before boarding he can even pull up Lync to offer a quick congratulation to his sales team."

Patel said Socius is delivering a solution to its clients that solves specific problems in certain business processes. The solution set is Dynamics CRM Online, Dynamics GP 2013 in the cloud and Office 365, which includes SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Office Online and Lync Online.

Patel said that partners like Socius are beginning to put the puzzle together for their customers.

"We've taken the Microsoft offerings such as Microsoft Dynamics ERP, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Office 365, and architected complete solutions that are seamlessly integrated for our clients," he said. "We have also created a rapid remote offering that enables our clients to deploy these solutions in a cost effective manner, by reducing the total cost of ownership for the ‘Microsoft Stack' providing a compelling return on investment."

For all the potential benefits, Specht still isn't sure about the return on investment for partners.

"I don't honestly know how much business value that's going to create for the partner in terms of partner profitability," he said. "But whenever I can have a richer more complete conversation with a customer about what they're doing from a technology perspective the better. So I don't yet have a clear picture about how it's going to benefit us, but I do know that we're talking about it a lot. And I do know we'll figure out a way to make it profitable for us and successful for our customers."

About Linda Rosencrance

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer/editor in Massachusetts. She has written about information technology for 10 years. She has been a journalist since the late 1980s. She wrote for numerous community newspapers in the Boston area, where she covered politics and was a high-profile investigative reporter. She has freelanced for the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. She is the published author of four true crime books "Murder at Morses Pond," "An Act of Murder," "Ripper", and "Bone Crusher" for Kensington Publishing Corp. (Pinnacle imprint). She has just started her fifth true crime book for Kensington.

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