If you were in charge of MBS..........

How would you like to position the 3 offerings: 1. Microsoft Navision-Edition 2. Microsoft Axapta-Edition & 3. Microsoft Greatplains-Edition and Why?

I would replace them all with that quality product from Microsoft - Access 2002! [:D] Honestly - I don’t know, But I was always lead to believe that these 3 packages were for 3 different markets or market places. ie: Microsoft Navision - European market, 10 - 100 users Microsoft Axapta - European market, 100+ users (???) Microsoft Great Plains - American market, ??? users Is this not correct?

A couple of weeks ago, during a kind of “official” MBS kick off, they also mentioned the positioning of the new MBS product lines. MBS Axapta will be pushed to the corporate market, which makes complete sense regarding its functionality and technology, competing against the big ones like SAP or Oracle. Great Plains and Navision share the same market share, less functionality, lower hardware requirements, less users - with Navision tending to the industrial sector because of Manufacturing (which Great Plains does not have). This also makes sense with the plan of MBS to “merge” Navision and Great Plains to a single product within the next years. This is what I understand somehow the official version, but it is true that for the moment the strategies do somehow differ from the positioning goal. And in the end it is not that easy as others pointed out in other topics: there are small Axapta installations (around 5 users) and huge Navision installations. In my point of view it’s a rather difficult (or artificial) segmentation of the market and it should be more important to look into the customer requirements to find the most suitable solution and to stress the technological and functional aspects of each solution. Saludos Nils

Hi Nils - I am unsure if Great Plains and Navision will be merged, I believe the ultimate aim was a best of breed of all, including Axapta - but this will naturally take time, hence the commitment to the individual offerings until 2006(?) As for the market place I know we compete against Great Plains in the UK and if I was a competitor against Navision and Great Plains it would be easy to undermine the confidence of the potential customer towards the “Microsoft” offerings - everyone knows eventually there will be one product? Ask each reseller for an answer to the question - you will not get the same answer. It is difficult to sell when Great Plains and Navision compete with another (I believe) and not to mention the difficulty of just competing between Great Plains and Navision - they are now less of the competition and more of a brother! I think Microsoft need ot put out a strong message that is consistent across all offerings.

Now I know I’m beating a dead horse here…but the first thing I’d do is introduce Microsoft’s internal team to the idea that there are other products out there besides Great Plains. It continually frustrates me to no end that on MBS presentations the entire middle market is still portrayed…by name…as Great Plains opportunities. I could list numerous examples…but I won’t. Prior to Microsoft making any “official” announcement to the public, it must get it’s own house in order and inform the MBS team the pros and cons of each of the 3 products. Currently, the MBS structure is suprisingly thin in domain areas when it comes to knowledge of the Axapta and Navision products. I know that there has been a tremendous amount of focus on getting up to speed with Axapta simply because of the sheer need from a upper end market focus. Heck, there really aren’t enough Axapta resellers out there to effectively go after that market so MBS is going to have to subsidize them with talent. On the other hand, the Navision team seems to be the “red headed step child” of the three groups. Again this goes back to priorities and not because of any less desire to grow the product. The simple fact is that Navision Solution Centers are much more prevalent in the US…compared to Axapta. They have also been extremely self-sufficient in terms of implementation skillsets and support capabilities. To me, the current focus on Axapta is simply a way to jump start the product’s recognition in the market. Heck, only 2 years ago the Damgaard US office was a small litte company in Marietta, GA with a handfull of employees…but a pretty sexy little product. Now it’s having to play with the big boys namely SAP and Oracle. Back to my original rant…Until MBS can effectively communicate to its own internal team the strategy for moving forward with all 3 of the products, effectively train and staff the channel management and product management teams, and learn to really think about what is best for the customer versus what is easiest to sell, then this confusion will continue. Heck, it’s easy to say that Navision is a better solution for manufacturers, but isn’t that the story we all got with Axapta 2 years ago? To me that’s functionality that can be added to products and that’s easy. This includes the so-called idea that GP is better for the US market. Isn’t that the whole idea of the NTR to localize the product. The key separator is simply the ability to modify and augment the product easily and effectively. This is where Navision really separates itself from Great Plains. Here’s my position then… Axapta - focus on larger entities due to scalability needs and breadth of functional offering. Also, the desire of larger organizations to deal with Microsoft directly. This should really play into the hands of the MBS consulting team. Navision - focus on the ability to meet specific business requirements that aren’t necessarily doable out of the box. Find an organization that has is looking for a product that can match it’s current business processes…versus finding a customer willing to change how it does business to how the software works. Also, the focus on a true partnership for growth between the customer and the NSC. From a support standpoint and implementation standpoint, the desire to find a business “partner” that wants to grow with the customer is another key area. Great Plains - identify customers that are looking for best of breed product functionality. With the large amount of 3rd party add-on designers in this market, MBS should definitely continue leverage those capabilities. Identifying a customer that is willing to sacrifice customizability for functionality out of the box should be concentrated on. Yes, my slant is definitely towards Navision’s capabilities…capabilities not simply from the product but from the culture and business model that it has traditionally surrounded itself with. Think about it, what kind of people actally own Navision Solution Centers? It’s the person who has a tremendous amount of business and technical capbilities that doesn’t necessarily want to be a part of the corporate structure. This person is a hands on and face to face type of person that gets intimately involved with each implementation. This person is not necessarily in the business to grow it because they’ve probably already been a part of that structure and desired to get away from it. Think about it…what’s the the traditional NSC size? Maybe 8-15 employees? How many Deloitte and Touches are there out there selling Navision? Heck, when I was part of Navision US, we went after those types of partners, and the problem was that they don’t want to get involved in the short term implementations…meaning less than 9 months. And now MBS is going to come in and use its tradiditonal buraucratic model to effectively sell this product? While everyone’s been focusing on how to position their products, Navision’s been the one over the last 6 months that’s bringing in the revenue. Just check out Bob Scott’s emails… Bottom line is that there should be no inherent bias within MBS towards ANY product. Let the customers sort it out. But first, educate the MBS staff to more effectively communicate the value proposition for all the products. Too many times lately the focus has been in deals that GP is better for the US market, or Navision’s “too complicated”. That is a simply a cop out on the part of the MBS staff. While it is understandable that this could happen since the GP reselling group is so large, for this to continue to be an issue with MBS early a year after the acquisition of Navision is unexcusable. Sorry for the rant…

This was a question which came to my mind immediately when Microsoft took over Navision last year. But i’m sorry to say that the positioning so far hasn’t beeen clear at all, atleast officially. There needs to be a drastic change in the perception of those heading MBS about the 3 products. Regarding pushing “AXAPTA” up the line for corporate level, I think the S/w has the depth and breadth of functionality to support it. I don’t understand the reason or use in merging products Navision & Greatplains into one. Its like saying i’ll combine 2 cars to make new one with latest technology. What exactly do they want to merge if at all? When you could sell 2 different products on their own strength, why both about combining which I dont see will result in any big increase in revenue directly. Or are they trying to say that these 2 S/w will be out of market few years from now. If there’s a new product going to come up as a result or merger how will it be positioned against Axapta? If we assume that the 3 will be combined into one product, are they not going back i.e., instead of having 3 brands serving a particular segment, i’m going to roll out one product(Mother of all Sorts). To add to the above confusion, we have these new announcement of “Standard” versions or editions of the Product, splitting the main product into 2 again for both Navision & GP. Does a company purchasing another Company think of Product Positioning first and then purchase or Purchase & try to Position the products? All of this brings back to the same question discussed earlier? What was it that prompted Microsoft to purchase the then ‘Navision A/s’?(Not in terms of Products but in terms of Strategy). There are more questions than answers after such a long time after take-over.

Anybody who’s working or worked with atleast 2 of the 3 can point out the difficulties they are facing in having to justify in supporting/promoting a particular solution against the other. Is anybody out there have an idea of the reporting structure for former NSCs,GP & Axapta Partners with MBS. Have anybody noticed a change in the official communication channel like who’s conveying what? Axapta product support is another idea, but related question is : “Whether Axapta was a hidden Diamond” unearthed by Microsoft?