This month I sit down with Claude Watson, President of Microsoft Dynamics AX Partner mcaConnect, to spotlight mcaConnect's merger with Dynamics CRM partner SalesMetrix. This merger isn't just another case of an ERP partner buying a CRM partner; it's an IP-centric acquisition that combines two companies with the same focus. The success of mcaConnect in the Dynamics channel comes from staying true to its vertical focus on discreet manufacturing and energy. SalesMetrix, leveraging its intellectual property for CRM, also strictly focuses on manufacturing and energy. Putting two ERP and CRM vertical leaders together is a highly strategic move that enhances the full transaction and reporting power of Microsoft Dynamics to the heart of these industries.
Sarah: How long have you been the President of mcaConnect?
Claude: I have been with mcaConnect six years.
In 2002, mcaConnect was formed as an affiliation of smaller partners. I joined in 2008 when the model changed from an affiliation to a single entity. We've been one of the top Dynamics AX partners for the past five years, culminating in our winning Worldwide Dynamics Industry Partner of the Year in 2014.
Sarah: How do you feel that recognition has helped your customers?
Claude: By staying true to our vertical, we are recognized as being the best manufacturing partner in the channel. Customers are finding us and we are participating in bigger, more complex projects. We find that our customers have similar problems and we offer innovative solutions based on our prior experiences. We help our customers achieve competitive supremacy through our exceptional delivery of these solutions.
Within manufacturing, our focus is more discreet than process. We are also focused on lean manufacturing. We've even adopted a lean philosophy as a professional service company.
Sarah: What can you tell us about the acquisition of Dynamics CRM partner, SalesMetrix?
Claude: This was a strategic business combination, not just an acquisition for scale. We are very vertically focused in manufacturing and energy. Historically, most of our target customers were in the mid-market ($50M to $500M in annual revenue). These customers were able to use the Dynamics AX CRM module. So, at that time, we didn't see a lot of Dynamics CRM requirements in our customers. With AX 2012, we are going up-market to larger customers. We currently have six AX customers with very large MS CRM projects, which changed the partnering playing field. As the projects got bigger, we decided we would be able to better serve our customers holistically ourselves.
We were at an inflection point of "build it ourselves or buy?" We decided that we could get there much faster via a merger. We wanted to find a MS CRM partner with the same vertical focus as mcaConnect. Many CRM partners are pursuing verticals like financial institutions or healthcare verticals. Dynamics AX was built to support manufacturing, distribution, retail, professional services, and Public Sector. Finding a partner with our same vertical focus was a challenge because Dynamics CRM and Dynamics AX don't share many common vertical industries. For our manufacturing and energy customers, we have the complete solution with the SalesMetrix merger.
Sarah: What opportunities exist for CRM in manufacturing?
Claude: In upper mid-market, almost every customer has a large CRM opportunity. We have several customers using our CRM Pipeline Manager. This solution helps an executive track sales opportunities at various stages. Many times as sales opportunities are nearing closure, sales representatives lose focus on filling the funnel for future business. Pipeline Manager helps sales executives manage their business for today and the future.
Sarah: Are the opportunities on sales side, client service, or marketing side of the CRM process?
Claude: All over the board. Microsoft positions CRM as a custom tool set as XRM. We are doing XRM projects using the custom tool set. One on the sales side is with a customer who has a large sales force - and mostly B2B. While they do take some orders above EDI and they have some web ordering, many of their orders come through telesales. We built a proposal automation solution with CRM that allows the inside sales team to significantly increase their productivity. Replacing the AX CRM module with a more robust Dynamics CRM module allows for more robust sales force automation and better customer relationship management.
Sarah: What can you tell us about SalesMetrix?
Claude: Both mcaConnect and SalesMetrix started in 2002 -- both companies are 12 years old. SalesMetrix, based in Houston, Texas, had grown to about a 25-person company under the leadership of Will Moseley, CEO, SalesMetrix." Many Dynamics CRM partners are more regional and lack a clear vertical focus. Due to the heavy predominance of energy and manufacturing in Houston, SalesMetrix decided to focus on these industries. We accomplished the goal of finding a partner with the same vertical focus as mcaConnect.
Sarah: What IP does the company bring to standard Dynamics CRM?
Claude: SalesMetrix has a suite of IP add-ons both in manufacturing and in energy, and we are looking to leverage both of those. Now, mcaConnect is able to develop more enhancements between AX to CRM for both energy and manufacturing. One good example is our AX4Energy IP http://www.AX4Energy.com, which does joint venture accounting and division of interest. We are quickly incorporating the SalesMetrix IP for well management, land management, and asset management to round out our offering.
Sarah: So what does the future hold for mcaConnect?
Claude: Our goal is to be a Microsoft-driven Global Systems Integrator offering a full range of services tied to Microsoft technologies. We'll be getting into SharePoint, SQL and all the BI offerings.