When I look for content on how to become a successful Independent Software Vendor (ISV) for Microsoft Business Apps, I come up short. So, I thought it was time to create some. There are many reasons for embarking on this journey.
In my early days of working with Dynamics, I founded a business in New Zealand as a Microsoft System Integrator (SI). We quickly found that creating products was a great way to pick up new business.
To start with, we used to give it away for free. Our very first free software was an auto number generator. That small add-on to Dynamics helped us to land our first large account, where the add-on had been used by one of our competitors in the solution they were delivering to their customer.
After over a million dollars had been invested into the project, the customer contacted us as they had seen that we were a New Zealand company building the add-on and wanted our help. They asked if we could take over the project and fix it.
This became a pattern for us in business. The SI that we were replacing was the largest in the country at that time. This cartoon summed out how we operated.
As the company grew, we built more add-ons, one of them was an integration between Xero and Dynamics and that started to land us international customers.
As we fast forward to today, I have created and delivered training to Microsoft staff on how to engage with ISVs across the world. I interview key people on my Podcast involved in the ISV program for Microsoft Business Applications at Microsoft. I have spoken at events on this topic, and I am currently involved in a brand new start-up to be announced later this year that I am confident will be my most successful business venture yet.
This start-up will be an ISV that will focus on building an application on the Power Platform and take zero dependencies on Dynamics 365, although it is in the road map to support the Dynamics 365 Common Data Model, therefore supporting a coexisting model with other PowerApps applications such as Dynamics 365.
When Microsoft talks about the opportunity for ISVs in the Microsoft Business Application space, the numbers are not small. By 2022 the Business Application Market will reach USD125 billion, a 43% increase from 2018. That’s is a lot of money to go around for the person or team that has the idea and know-how to successfully implement it.
Microsoft has released a white paper with all the data, so you can explore if this is the opportunity for you. As far as I know the bragging rights for the first Microsoft Business Applications ISV to crack the USD100 million mark in valuation is still up for grabs, followed by the USD1 billion market valuation.
Why do I talk about these numbers? The reason is it has been achieved on other app platforms like force.com.
AppSource in its current iteration is Microsoft’s attempt at creating an app marketplace to rival that of Salesforce AppExchange. It does not come close, and in fact all marketplaces that I have seen Microsoft create, not one of them could be classed as an industry leader.
For some reason historically Microsoft has not known how to get this right. Why is this important to understand? If you think you are going to create an app on the Power Platform and make it available on AppSource and expect to drive more opportunities than you will know what to do with, I am afraid you will be in for a shock.
Microsoft has said they are going to fix this but based on all the research I have done in the past months; I am not confident that the changes will bring about success. Time will tell as they say so let’s see, we are into Q1 of FY20, I look forward to the end of Q2 to see if the dial has moved.
The reason I say this is that as an ISV, I would not rely on AppSource as a strategy for producing opportunities. Yes, you need to be on AppSource, have a presence and invest in creating the best profile possible and use the tools Microsoft have created and will continue to develop to improve your product standing.
But if you want to be successful as an ISV, you need to get a real marketing and sales strategy in place.
Where to start
The starting point is a great idea, an idea for an app, ideas to solve a business problem, ideas to build a solution better than what you have seen so far. Or you may have decided that you want to create a company dedicated to building many apps.
The thing about ideas is this; they are useless unless you take massive action to turn your ideas into reality. I have seen many ideas that are going to be the next big thing, but ideas don’t take action by themselves, you need to do that. I have had many ideas that I did not take action on.
The very next step is validation of your idea. Are your ideas viable? Does it solve a known problem? By using the Power Platform can you build it better or at a lower cost than what currently exists.
Do you have any ideas that are currently only available on premise and are you going to create the cloud version of it? Have you seen Microsoft Access Database or Excel Spreadsheet applications that could become an app on the Power Platform? Ideas are everywhere, but they need to be validated.
Next do your research and see what else exists in the market for your idea. Does the idea you have fit an industry category? Are there other products in market like the ideas you have? This is great as it is a form of validation of your idea as there is a market that is already educated on your concept.
In my next post in the Power Platform ISV Business Series, I will talk about two additional steps you need to take to validate your idea.
Let me know your thoughts below.