HOUSTON — July 8, 2013 — When it comes to business software, there really is no better winning strategy than having deeply relevant industry solutions that differ from country to country and adapt to local regulations and requirements.
That’s why Microsoft has long partnered with a network of global independent software vendors (GISVs) to get the job done. The GISV program offers special partner agreements between select solution providers and Microsoft that help companies with deep industry expertise tailor software solutions and offer exactly the right fit for customers. This also provides customers with specialized industry software built on a platform that has a proven success record in different industries.
At the annual Worldwide Partner Conference this week in Houston, Microsoft is connecting with its partner community to provide insights into new solutions and upcoming technologies and to discuss the company’s continued efforts to support the global partners that ultimately implement these technologies. Neil Holloway, corporate vice president, Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) Sales and Operations, says the continued evolution of technology is creating as much opportunity for solution providers as ever before.
“As technology marches on and business needs evolve, the demand for software with specialized functionality is an ever-growing industry,” Holloway says. “We’re here this week to show how Microsoft is investing in its partners, how focused we are on helping deliver the best experiences to enterprise customers, and how the biggest, best opportunities for ISVs still lie ahead.”
Against that backdrop, the Microsoft Dynamics group announced today that it would bring aboard four new GISVs, which have signed deals to participate in the exclusive program: distribution and manufacturing provider I.B.I.S. Inc., automotive software maker Incadea, food supply-chain consultancy Anglia Business Solutions, and retail automation vendor Escher Group.
Going global with the “last mile of functionality”
I.B.I.S. CEO Andy Vabulas says becoming a Microsoft GISV is a game changer that allowed the company to build direct relationships within Microsoft and throughout its network of more than 600,000 partner companies worldwide — greatly expanding I.B.I.S.’s reach and creating opportunities for new business that would not otherwise be possible.
“It’s probably the best business opportunity that we’ve ever been presented from any partner, including Microsoft,” Vabulas says. “I can see where we will double or triple our business over the next five years.”
With a long heritage in both Microsoft Dynamics and the distribution/manufacturing world, Georgia-based I.B.I.S. spent the past few years specializing in the challenges specific to industrial distribution. Since that market has not been heavily addressed on the Microsoft platform, Vabulas says there is a huge opportunity to bring the power of Microsoft’s unified technology stack to an industry that lacks diverse offerings.
“There are 6,500-plus distributors in the industrial distribution market in the U.S. alone that will need to change ERP systems in the next five years,” Vabulas says. “With Microsoft Dynamics AX providing a modern and powerful ERP system, we felt if we did some work in revenue management, order management, inventory and procurement, we could really tailor AX to fit the sophisticated needs of those companies.”
To tackle that challenge, I.B.I.S. developed a software layer on top of Microsoft Dynamics AX that handles complex issues facing distributors such as advanced pricing, commissions, optimized order-entry, lost sales tracking, consignment and vendor managed inventory, all wrapped with industry specific key performance indicators.
Though I.B.I.S. has enjoyed a close relationship with Microsoft for more than a decade, Vabulas says the opportunity to enter into a GISV relationship adds a deeper dimension that will benefit both companies. For I.B.I.S., it means getting global business exposure and the chance to work directly with Microsoft’s R&D teams. The I.B.I.S. solution allows Microsoft Dynamics to better serve the manufacturing and distribution industries, bringing modern business applications to compete with legacy technologies such as SAP and Oracle.
“Advanced Distribution Software is the missing link in Dynamics AX distribution functionality,” Vabulas says. “We’ve got that last mile of functionality that is so key to the needs of these clients. We’re helping distributors increase their margins with a real, provable return on their investment.”
Hotline to R&D helps GISVs focus on business
In the technology world, companies need to continually move forward, and the close relationships developed through the GISV program help partners stay abreast of new advances and functionality. With GISVs serving a wide range of vertical industries such as automotive, retail, manufacturing, finance, public sector and professional services, Holloway says using that knowledge to benefit customers provides the kind of advantage that is key to staying ahead over the long run.
“Since GISV partners are able to dial in to Microsoft’s internal development groups, they know far in advance what’s coming and the opportunities that might be available,” Holloway says. “That kind of advantage is only possible by building these close relationships with vendors.”
Microsoft Dynamics AX empowers smart utilities worldwide
Ferranti Computer Systems, a GISV that has served the utilities (electricity, gas, water and thermal) market since 1976, and a GISV program member for more than two years, has worked with Microsoft to align product development and certification for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. In the age of big data, Ferranti has used its relationships in Microsoft’s R&D department to optimize their MECOMS solution using Microsoft SQL Server as a data engine, aiming to tame the huge volumes of data generated by massive utilities and turn it into a useful business asset.
“We are really spearheading the movement toward a big data solution and handling that sort of volume, so the alignment with Microsoft in terms of R&D is important for us,” says Dirk Michiels, CEO of Ferranti. “Given Microsoft’s huge effort toward development every year, when we make or own investments in R&D, we don’t have to focus on the technology anymore — we focus on the business value.”
Ferranti joined the Microsoft Dynamics GISV program in 2011 and has experienced significant success as a result of the partnership. The company connected with partners such as Avanade, Accenture and CGI, greatly strengthening its global deployment muscle. Based in Antwerp, Belgium, Ferranti now has staff members in Canada, the U.K., the Middle East, India, Singapore and Japan, and is planning to enter the Australia market.
“Since becoming a GISV, we’ve grown dramatically in terms of execution,” Michiels says. “There is real value in our relationship with Microsoft — it helped us form our footprint in the market and develop a powerful solution that is making a difference. We deliver solutions that can change with the requirements of governments, cultures and geographies, and do so in a very cost-effective way.”
To learn more about how Microsoft Dynamics is working to serve the specific needs of industry worldwide, visit http://www.microsoft.com/dynamics/en/gulf/industries.aspx.
To learn more about Ferranti’s MECOMS solution, visit www.mecoms.com.