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Convergence: SharePoint a Dynamic Addition for Partners

We -- or, more specifically, former Dynamics honcho Tami Reller -- told you about this last year. Within a year, Reller said (that's right now, if you're keeping score at home), Dynamics partners will have to have a SharePoint competency in order to sell Microsoft's ERP and CRM suites.

Are we there yet? Not quite...but we're close. SharePoint is big business now for Microsoft (a billion dollars a year worth of big), but questions remain -- don't they always? -- as to whether companies are just buying it or actually using it.

"There's lots of interest in it; take-up is a different story," said Joe Cassidy, director of TeamKnowledge, a British company that makes nifty tools that automate the development and deployment of scripts for Dynamics CRM.

It's a different story, indeed, and one worth telling. Because, while a lot of companies are still in an experimental stage of sorts with SharePoint -- the server that aggregates and actually makes useful ad hoc and unstructured data and processes -- use of the product is growing as sales grow. SharePoint handles the unstructured stuff, and Dynamics ERP and CRM deal with structured data and processes. The combo is working -- and partners are cashing in.

"It is literally part of every deal we do," said John Yaggie, director of enterprise business solutions for Microsoft Dynamics CRM at Avanade, a consulting joint venture of Accenture and Microsoft.

In fact, SharePoint is getting so big for Dynamics partners that Reller's prophesy seems on its way to coming true. "One of the big shortages is SharePoint resource development," said Michael McCarthy, president of Dynamics uber-partner ePartners. "I'm cross-training my dot-net developers" to develop for SharePoint, McCarthy said.

Microsoft folks echo partners' sentiments -- not surprisingly, but still. "SharePoint goes into a ton of our engagements. We're seeing a lot of SharePoint and CRM integration," said Brad Wilson, general manager for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

And it's not all on the CRM side, either. "There's a lot more adoption coming," said Jon Pratt, senior director at Microsoft and general honcho of the GP product line. Pratt added that SharePoint is now a SKU on the Dynamics price list, meaning customers can pick it up when they're buying into Dynamics.

So, partners, grab those SharePoint experts while you can because they're only going to be more valuable as SharePoint and Dynamics grow together. And if you think at this point we sound like some sort of Microsoft marketing spiel, we're not trying to -- we're just telling you what we've been hearing at Convergence this week.

Even Cassidy, perhaps the most skeptical of the bunch we spoke to, is confident that SharePoint will have a bright future integrated with Dynamics. Said the affable Irishman: "It'll happen because Microsoft will make it happen." And it's happening now.

What has been your experience with selling SharePoint to your customers? Are they using it? Are you? Drop a line to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/13/2008 at 1:21 PM


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