The Dynamics ecosystem has undergone a major transformation in the past 18 months.
With the focus in the business software world moving to the cloud and business transformation, the Dynamics landscape is shifting with it. New products are hitting the market, the licensing model has undergone numerous amendments, and Microsoft is continuing to nudge customers toward Azure — but what effect has all this change had on the Dynamics ecosystem? Has partner workload been affected? What does adoption look like for Dynamics 365?
Over the past decade, Nigel Frank International’s Microsoft Dynamics Salary Survey↗ has been providing insight into the Dynamics ecosystem — how the products are used, what the job market looks like, and how much its professionals are being paid.
The first annual Microsoft Dynamics Salary Survey was conducted in 2009 and launched at Microsoft Convergence Europe. Since then, the survey has grown into the world’s largest and most comprehensive report on salaries and market trends in the Dynamics world, collecting the thoughts of over 60,000 Dynamics professionals in the past ten years.
This year’s survey examines over 14,000 data points — including self-reported survey responses, and real jobs registered in the past year — to paint a precise picture of the Dynamics channel in 2018. Product adoption, vendor migration, and workforce diversity are all addressed as the report details the prevailing sentiments of Dynamics professionals from across the globe.
Here, we take a look at some of the key findings from this year’s survey. The full report↗, including average salaries for a range of Dynamics roles and technologies, is available to download free.
Dynamics 365 — changing hearts and minds
Last year’s edition of the Dynamics Salary Survey came hot on the heels of the release of Dynamics 365. According to the last survey, 62% of users stated they intended to upgrade to the new platform at some point. Those shunning an upgrade cited product immaturity, limited customisation options, and time-consuming implementation as the top reasons they were staying put.
Thirty-nine percent of Partner respondents reported an increase in the number of migrations from non-Dynamics ERP and CRM products in the last 12 months; up from 36% last year. In correlation, 22% of Dynamics end users reported that their employers had made the switch to Dynamics in the previous year, compared to 20% in 2017. It would appear that, slowly but surely, Dynamics 365 is beginning to be seen as a viable alternative to its competitor products.
Almost half of migraters graduated to Dynamics from a smaller ERP or CRM software, rather than one of the “big hitters”, suggesting that Dynamics is succeeding in positioning itself as a natural choice for growing SMBs. Of those moving away from other leading business software vendors, the bulk had previously used Sage, followed by Salesforce, and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne.
82% of those customers already using Dynamics 365 stated that they would be happy to recommend it to others. Fifteen percent were undecided; 3% said that they would not endorse it.
In terms of the suite’s most popular apps, Dynamics 365’s flagship CRM offering proved most popular, with 51% using Sales. Finance and Operations came in second with 41% of respondents using the app. The remainder of the top five was made up of Customer Service, Marketing, and Field Service. Though Finance and Operations’ frequent branding and licensing changes since its release could have influenced take-up, the CRM market is oft-reported to be 10 times the size of the ERP market, which may account for the popularity of the sales and service-related apps.
In last year’s survey, many Dynamics customers were wary of the greenness of Dynamics 365, with product immaturity cited as the number one concern by the 38% of users who did not intend to upgrade. Much of this hesitation seems to have been shed in the past year, likely thanks to Microsoft’s continued work to add functionality and stability to the 365 suite. This year’s report found that 74% of users planning to upgrade their Dynamics software intend to move directly to Dynamics 365.
The cloud seems to be an increasing draw for users of legacy Dynamics products — 35% of on-premises users testified that they’re planning to upgrade to a SaaS version of their current solution, a massive jump from last year’s 8%. The chance to take advantage of new features, and improve productivity, came in at the top of reasons to migrate to the cloud, with cost-cutting ranking surprisingly low. This suggests that improved efficiency and the ability to compete in an era of digital transformation are utmost in the minds of many businesses today, and that enhancing productivity is in itself an economising measure.
Partner workload on the up
The workload of Dynamics partners and service providers continues to climb, with 61% of partner respondents having reported an increase in workload in the past year, up slightly from 58% in 2017. Two-thirds of partners expected their workload to increase further in the next 12 months, with 66% predicting higher demand from customers as more businesses look to digitally transform their operations.
Of those who had implemented a Dynamics product in the past year, the majority (71%) reported having engaged a Microsoft partner to assist them, with around one in three relying on in-house resources.
Those who utilised a partner cited data migration, lack of appropriate internal skills, and user adoption as the key challenges faced during their implementation project. For those using in-house IT teams, data migration again topped the list of implementation issues, followed by user adoption, and system integration. This seems to suggest that, while having partners on board can help with some of the more technical snags such as integration, user adoption is a considerable stumbling block faced by new Dynamics customers across the board, and its impact on the outcome of the project should not be overlooked.
Job satisfaction for Dynamics professionals
So, how is all this upheaval affecting contentment of Dynamics professionals? Sixty-eight percent of respondents stated that, although they are happy in their current role, they would be open to new positions. This is up slightly from 57% last year, indicating that professionals are more in-tune with opportunities in the channel, and are consistently seeking better prospects. These figures illustrate the importance of remaining engaged with employees and establishing a clear progression path to help reduce turnover.
The top factors that respondents stated would cause them to leave their employer in the near future were massively wide-ranging, but a lack of salary increase came in top, with over half of respondents citing stagnant earnings as the top reason to change jobs.
An absence of promotional and advancement opportunities in their current workplace came in a close second. Almost half of Dynamics pros stated that the need for new challenges and experiences would push them out, while 36% said lack of vision and leadership from their employers was a primary motivation to move on.
Street smarts vs. book smarts — earning potential in the Dynamics ecosystem
When asked what factor had the greatest impact on the earning potential of a Dynamics professional, experience was a clear winner over education or industry certifications, proving there are no shortcuts to a lucrative career in Dynamics.
The most important factor, according to Dynamics pros, was hands-on involvement, with 56% citing that years of experience in Dynamics had the most significant influence. Forty-three percent cited years of general experience in IT as a top factor. Exposure to large projects came in just behind with 40% of respondents believing this was a key influence.
Educational factors lagged behind in the lower half of the table, with 29% of respondents recognising a university degree as a valuable determinant. Just under a quarter felt that specific vertical industry experience could help bump up earnings.
More than half (54%) of survey respondents hold a Microsoft certification; this a slight drop on last year’s 57%. The recent restructuring of Microsoft’s certification model may have had an impact on certification levels, as the changes may have caused some confusion among new professionals seeking to earn Dynamics badges. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Business Applications certification — which replaced the older Dynamics accreditations — was the most popular among Dynamics professionals, with 61% having achieved this badge. A further third of certified respondents held an older Microsoft certification type.
Although over half of respondents were themselves Microsoft certified, only 16% believed that Dynamics certifications had an impact on earning potential as a Dynamics pro. This is likely due to the relatively low percentage of certified respondents reporting an increase in their earnings; only one in three said their salaries had increased after achieving a certification. Even fewer respondents believed that other, non-Dynamics certifications helped boost earning potential, at 7%.
The persistent issue of tech’s gender pay gap
As the debate around diversity in the tech sector rages on, it seems that the Dynamics ecosystem is not immune to disparities between male and female professionals.
On the subject of representation in the tech space, 59% of male respondents stated that their workplace was gender-diverse, with an equal number of men and women employed; 49% of women agreed.
This gap widened on the issue of pay — where 57% of male respondents believed their employer pays men and women equally, that percentage dropped to just 33% for female Dynamics professionals. When questioned on non-salary related equity in the workplace, 79% of men felt that male and female team members were treated equally by their employer. Just over half of women agreed, further highlighting the discrepancy in perception when it comes to equality at work.
This disparity carried over in more general views of diversity in tech, where 41% of male respondents felt that gender inequality was an issue in the field at large, compared to 55% of female respondents.
Though the report represents a reasonably niche sector within the tech industry, the figures correlate with surveys conducted on a broader scale within the sector. So, what can we do to change this and ensure better support for diversity in tech? It’s a challenge that needs to be embraced at the highest levels.
Just two in five respondents to the survey stated that their workplace had a clear diversity statement. Over a third weren’t sure, suggesting that if there is a diversity statement, it’s not all that clear. It’s possible that having employers pledge to make workplaces more inclusive through a robust and visible diversity statement could encourage big change from the top down and promote best practices for attracting and retaining the finest tech talent from a broader range of talent pools.
James is a graduate in Economics and Accounting from the University of Newcastle and has 20 years recruitment experience, having joined Hays plc as a recruitment consultant where he worked his way up to Managing Director within just eight years.