Last week we heard Satya Nadella and Shantanu Narayen announce a new partnership between Microsoft and Adobe. Basically Adobe will be making Azure their platform for certain products, including the Adobe Marketing Cloud, leading to a lot of speculation about the future of Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (MDM). I will now add to that speculative fog.

First, a little word parsing

What I heard Nadella say, was that Adobe Marketing Cloud will be the “preferred marketing service for Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition“. I did not hear that it would be Microsoft’s Marketing SKU. Unless I missed the part where Nadella announced Microsoft’s purchase of Adobe, Adobe Marketing Cloud is not a Microsoft product to sell.

What do we Know?

Well, we know that there will be a Marketing SKU for Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition, available both as a standalone or as part of a Plan. We also know that there will be an SMB focused Marketing SKU coming in the Spring for the Dynamics 365 Business Edition, also available as a standalone or as part of a Plan. We also know that the current “Marketing” capabilities of CRM are somewhat limited, and probably don’t add up to enough to justify a SKU on their own. We know that Microsoft spent a lot of money buying the wrong product when they bought Marketing Pilot, and proceeded to dump a lot more money into it, which I am sure they are not ready to flush. We also know that Microsoft has a “Preferred Solutions Program” for solutions that can be directly deployed from the CRM Admin panel, of which Insights by InsideView is currently the only third-party one. Lastly, I was told by my insiders that MDM is “not dead”. I’ll circle back to these nuggets of knowledge shortly.

What’s wrong with MDM?

Shortly after Microsoft bought Marketing Pilot, a product I was previously unfamiliar with, my contacts inside were telling me that this would be the product we would sell instead of ClickDimensions, or the now deceased CoreMotives. I’m pretty sure John Gravely was not part of these discussions. I was told to stand-by, and that once this product was rejiggered, I would be “all over it”. When they finally made the preview available to me, I thought, “I must be on Candid-Camera”. This product made no sense at all. It was clearly designed for advertising and marketing agencies, not end user companies. The damn thing had a General Ledger in it! It is not that it was unsophisticated, the opposite really, but it was designed for managing multiple campaigns, multiple assets for multiple customers, tracking billable time (I don’t know many customers who bill themselves), etc. A great tool for an Agency. But taking this to end customers, was like offering a 10′ tall toolbox full of wrenches to a Doctor. The mark was fully missed. HOWEVER, within the bloat, there were some great marketing tools and capabilities, albeit mostly obscured by a focus on the wrong end user.

What do I think will happen?

I think if you do some math on the above, a picture starts to form that seems quite logical to me. First, I see the Adobe Marketing Cloud being added to the Preferred Solution Program, next to InsideView. I mean Microsoft has to give them something for moving to Azure, and this is a nice leg-up. Second, I think that parts of MDM will be refactored into a new Enterprise Marketing SKU, to augment the limited capabilities there, and hope to someday get an ROI on that investment. Third, I think the SMB Marketing SKU coming later will be a slimmed down version of the Enterprise Marketing SKU, much like I am hearing that the SMB Sales SKU, will be a slimmed down version of the Enterprise Sales SKU. Lastly, as an aside, I expect that ClickDimensions must be looking at refactoring their solution so that it will run on top of the new Sales SKUS, without requiring whatever “Marketing” related entities will end up on the other side of the fence, in the Marketing SKU. Otherwise their customers will have to buy an Enterprise Plan in order to use their currently configured product… and Gravely ain’t no dummy.

So that’s what I think, let me know what you think in the comments.