Note: This episode is sponsored by Sana Commerce.
What does it take to earn and retain the business of B2B buyers today? For manufacturers contemplating ways to improve the experiences of their customers, technology investment is likely a major component of any plan. After all, B2B buyers are hard to replace and, since they are also consumers when they're not at work, their expectations have changed over the years to include things like choosing their preferred ways to buy products and get support.
Our guest, supply chain technology marketing strategist Adam Robinson, joins us to provide context on how manufacturers investments in customer experience technology like modern e-commerce is becoming one of the most critical ways to position a company for success in the future. Robinson foresees a wave of change coming to the manufacturing sector that will impact supply chains through new waves of acquisition, continuing risks disruption, and new options for buyers who will more actively seek new options if a vendor fails to meet their needs.
This episode is sponsored by Stratos Cloud Alliance, Velosio’s Microsoft partner program. Visit www.dynamics365partner.com to learn more about their partner offerings.
Jeff Edwards recently joined Stratos Cloud Alliance, Velosio’s Microsoft partner program. He and Scott May tell us about some of Microsoft's latest partner incentives and the hottest opportunities in the channel today. We also discuss vertical strategies, Microsoft's performance as their fiscal year nears an end, and what to watch for in FY22 in terms of licensing, program updates, and leadership changes.
About: Stratos Cloud Alliance is the Microsoft CSP Indirect Provider that provides all the sales support, enablement, and services a partner needs to build a profitable cloud solutions business with Microsoft Dynamics 365. With over 33 years’ experience implementing Dynamics business management solutions, Stratos Cloud offers partners a comprehensive portfolio of Microsoft Cloud Business and Productivity Solutions, ISV Products and Tools, Customer Services, and flexible Partner Programs supporting transformation at the pace and investment level that is right for you.
A recent episode of the podcast looked at changing trends in the Dynamics 365 Business Central community, including some of the risks customers face when deploying the software in a fixed fee model.
For another perspective on the topic of fixed fee and the broader outlook on Business Central deployments, we spoke with Robert Jolliffe, founder of Microsoft partner Sabre Limited, to discuss his firm's evolution in delivering ERP projects. Jolliffe explains that while fixed fee ERP projects can be fraught with danger for both the consulting firm and the customer, they can also work well when designed to play to a partners' expertise and matched to the right type of customers.
In the Microsoft channel, partners with strong industry expertise can make the best case for fixed fee, Jolliffe believes, by relying on their knowledge and experience to shape projects that avoid typical pitfalls. Fixed fee does not have to mean low cost, and it doesn't necessarily mean a rapid deployment. But new engagement models can help Microsoft partners differentiate themselves, and Jolliffe talks about how this approach informs not only deployment of an ERP solution like Dynamics 365 Business Central, but also the support, training, and other activities.
Jolliffe also discusses how his firm arrived at its current model, including the importance of learning from other VARs in the Microsoft channel and leaning on his pre-Microsoft ERP experiences. We also talk about the technology that is shaping his firm's work, the challenges of re-branding, and still feeling like a relative newcomer in the BC and NAV channel after nearly a decade.
Businesses set different thresholds for successful ERP projects, and the reasons can be complicated. With budgets that range from thousands to millions of dollars and often little room for delay or rework, it should be no surprise that some organizations end up going live with critical financial and operational business systems that an outside observer might consider sub-par.
Microsoft has taken an interesting strategy with Dynamics 365 Business Central, the company's SMB ERP cloud offering, urging partners to pursue highly repeatable, fixed price deployments wherever possible. That model serves some interests, like accelerating the growth of the customer base, but it has also created tension with ERP professionals who say their years of experience and dedication to customer success have taught them to pursue other approaches to achieve the best outcomes.
Alex Chow, founder of AP Commerce, is one of those ERP veterans who has charted his own path in the Microsoft channel. He says he started his own firm in 2005 to allow him to work with clients in the way he preferred. And while the firm is not the biggest or fastest growing, he says the company's philosophy has held the team on a steady path even as the product and channel trends have shifted around them.
Alex recently wrote about his experiences meeting Business Central customers post-go-live that were living with problematic deployments and the concerns these cases have raised. We discuss some of those observations and more about his broader experiences with Business Central and NAV.
Editor's Note: This episode is sponsored by Enavate.
Across Microsoft's broad base of legacy ERP customers running Dynamics GP, NAV, and SL, there is a range of reasons why any organization might consider a cloud migration project. But until they assess the current state and future options, business leaders will be challenged to justify a decision on how to move forward with ERP modernization.
Our guests on this episode, Jennifer Ranz and Chad Sogge of Enavate, discuss the guidance and tools they have developed for organizations considering a move to Dynamics 365 Business Central in the cloud. Jennifer and Chad are veterans of Microsoft's ERP product teams and they have carried that experience in the SMB market with them to Enavate where their team has been developing new assessment tools and guidance around migrations based on Dynamics products and Enavate's own experience with many organizations that have already deployed Business Central.
We discuss various types of ERP journeys today, some of the ways Microsoft partners are collaborating on ERP projects today to benefit their clients, and how to handle challenges like industry-specific needs and historical data. We also look ahead to the future of migrations and how Business Central will evolve to support more customers moving to the cloud.
To learn more about cloud migration, technology and options visit the Enavate blog.
Editor's Note: This episode is sponsored by Sana Commerce.
Many manufacturers still struggle to understand and meet B2B buyers’ expectations for online customer experience. In reality, business buyers are just consumers at their jobs. They know that Amazon-level experiences and capabilities are possible, and now their expectations of B2B experiences are rising.
On this episode we talk with Sana Commerce’s Customer Success Team Lead, Roberto Najera, as he shares his viewson the past, present, and future of e-commerce in the context of manufacturer's needs and Dynamics 365 integration. We also discuss findings from Sana Commerce's new State of Manufacturing and E-Commerce Benchmark Report and how some of the findings around levels of investment and addressing current challenges are reflected in Roberto's experience working one-on-one with manufacturers.
Editor's Note: This episode of the podcast is sponsored by the PartnerLinQ Unified Digital Connectivity Solution.
The last year has taught us how volatile supply chains can be. Weaknesses came to the forefront, and businesses and consumers alike discovered the big downstream impact a seemingly small manufacturing or transportation issue can have.
In this episode of the MSDW Podcast, Visionet executive VP Jawad Khan and senior EDI strategy consultant Thomas Smith join the podcast to look back at what has happened to supply chains in the last year and how individual businesses running Dynamics 365 have adapted. Visionet recently launched PartnerLinQ globally.
We discuss how organizations are maturing their supply chain capabilities and expectations, and what today's solutions need to offer to meet those demands.
Two decades ago, many product companies started their digital journeys with a brochure-style web site. Back then, a static online product list may have met customer expectations, but today's buyers expect something more. On this episode we talk with Greg Hall, director of product management at Cincom about buyer experiences, the state of the CPQ market, and his observations on how buyer and seller priorities have changed over time.
Hall foresees more complex products and services, even products sold primarily as services, using CPQ technology to engage customers earlier in the buying process and more holistically throughout it.
Want to see how CPQ can help you? Visit cincom.com/cpqsync to learn more.
Accountants have plenty to look forward to in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central's 2021 release wave 1. Our guest, Cari Corozza of New View Strategies, has been investigating the finance-related features of this cycle and she has already shared several in a recent article and webcast. Now she joins the podcast to chat about her findings, how she expect's New View's clients to adopt the latest updates, and how others in the community have responded.
Note: This episode is sponsored by Continia Software. To learn more, join one of their webinars.
Since we last spoke to Chris de Visser on the podcast he has taken on the role of North America CEO at Continia Software. Continia provides financial automation solutions with a focus on Dynamics 365 Business Central and NAV and, as a vendor based in Europe, has been working to expand its presence in the North American market. De Visser explains how he approaches his role and some of the ways a firm must adapt to succeed in North America compared to other parts of the world.
We also discuss some of the other challenges that Dynamics 365 Business Central has presented to firms like Continia. Veteran NAV ISVs have invested many thousands of hours into transitioning away from Microsoft's previous generation of ERP technology and we talk about why 2021 may be an inflection point in that journey as Business Central gains momentum.
Chris also shares some background on his own role and how his career has evolved as the Microsoft Dynamics channel has matured.
With the tools and services of the Power Platform evolving so rapidly, Microsoft and community leaders face a complex challenge in engaging with the experienced users and subject matter experts from around the world while also fostering an ecosystem that welcomes newcomers.
The Global Power Platform Bootcamp, taking place live (virtually) on February 19 and 20, offers one indication that users around the world still want to learn from each other when it comes to Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power BI. Last year's event consisted of 40+ local in-person meetings around the world. And though this year's event will be virtual, the organizers are expecting an even bigger set of meetings.
As people grow their own Power Platform skills, they can add value to the community by adopting a "show and tell" attitude, says Microsoft Power Platform senior evangelist Jon Levesque, who joined this episode along with Kent Weare of Microsoft's Power CAT team and two of the event's organizers, Kunal Tripathy and Vivek Patel. The group discussed the event's evolution, what attendees can expect to hear from Microsoft, and what it means to promote community as virtual communication persists.
Dynamics 365 Business Central is Microsoft's SMB ERP product of the future, so changes still to come are to some extent predictable already starting to play out: incentives for legacy ERP customers to plan for a transition to BC; greater urgency on partners to transact via Microsoft's CSP program, and a GP product roadmap that has shriveled to almost nothing.
But given these realities, what is to be done? The economics of ERP are changing along with the rest of IT and enterprise software. We discuss the impact of some of Microsoft's latest moves like new cloud assessments for on-prem customers (not necessarily through their partner of record) and the latest channel sales incentives. These changes, will impact customers not just in terms of whom they consult with, but what types of partners can really serve their needs in the future.
This episode is sponsered by HCL-PowerObjects.
As the Microsoft Power Platform has enjoyed greater adoption, the challenges of managing security, governance, data migration, licensing and other needs have gained greater urgency for customers.
John Doris and Jamie Barker of HCL-PowerObjects join us to discuss their experiences working with a wide variety of organizations that have been investing in the Power Platform to modernize their systems and processes. We dive into the most common challenges as well as other considerations that both partners and customers are dealing with like the future of front office and back office applications, the impact of Microsoft Teams, and Jamie and John's experiences helping organizations build a Center of Excellence.
Note: This episode is sponsored by Avanade. Learn more about Power Platform at Avanade here.
Venkat Rao, Power Platform go to market lead for North America at Avanade, joins us for a conversation following up on his recent five part article series on the Power Platform and its role in supporting the evolution of business applications. (Check out parts one, two, three, four, and five.)
Enterprise-grade systems like Dynamics 365 applications are here to stay. But, Venkat believes, thanks to low-code tools, organizations can now expect to give more responsibility back to their workers as they plan the future of their enterprise investments. Much of Venkat's writing has dealt with newcomers to the Power Platform, and he explains that embracing the tools here requires the acceptance of concepts and practices like running a Center of Excellence. He also reflects on recent customer successes in areas like managing the return to work, mixed reality, and initiatives to empower citizen developers.
The Microsoft channel is ever-changing, and ISVs can spend considerable time optimizing their approach according to the latest incentives, rules, restrictions, and opportunities. Microsoft MVP Steve Mordue returns to talk about some of the latest updates in the channel. Steve is the founder of the ISV business RapidStartCRM. He's also a popular blogger for channel pros. He has also started a new site, ISVConnectED, a private community for ISVs who want to talk channel strategy and tactics, ask their peers questions, and otherwise compare notes. We discuss Microsoft's current partner programs that impact the Dynamics channel, opportunities around Power Platform, including Dataverse, the risks ISVs face when Microsoft builds similar IP, and what the Salesforce Slack deal means for Microsoft.
Members of the Microsoft Power Platform and Dynamics 365 community came together for a series of online pub quizzes in July to raise money for local charities and support social action against racism. The events took place in midst of civil protests in cities around the world drew hundreds of participants and raised money for local non-profits.
In the UK, funds from the event went to Black Minds Matter, a London-based organization focused on mentoring, education, and other support services for black and ethnic minority young people. Microsoft MVP Tricia Sinclair, a key organizer of the original series of events, has continued her efforts to support the organization by creating a Power Platform-focused training curriculum for them that brought together subject matter experts from the Microsoft community to educate and mentor the group. The multi-week program concluded with a hackathon where the participants developed and presented Power Platform creations focused on themes like mental health and legal services.
On this episode, we are joined by Tricia Sinclair as well as Malik Gul, Director of Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network in London, and program participant Rosina St. James to look back at the hackathon and the broader program, to discuss the outcome, and to learn more about exposing professional opportunities in the Microsoft ecosystem to under-represented communities.
We continue the Dynamics GP to Dynamics 365 migration podcast series with a conversation focused primarily around making the case for D365 Finance and Operations, once again joined by Karen Riordan of Menlo Technologies and Peter Joeckel of TurnOnDynamics. In some ways, the path to F&O could be described as only marginally easier than a migration from GP to any other vendor's ERP, so the discussion touches on ERP selection more broadly, the range of approaches that partners in the Microsoft channel have selected regarding their own ERP product sales strategies. Many sell more than one ERP, and for many of those, the other ERP is not a Microsoft product. We also touch on the DevOps debate around Business Central and some of the latest Microsoft incentives to GP customers.
Editor's Note: This episode is sponsored by Ingram Micro Cloud.
The coronavirus pandemic has become a core element of Microsoft's FY21 cloud strategy. And the company now expects their partners to align with goals around remote and returning workers, industry specialization, and digital transformation.
While that vision rings true in many ways, it presents challenges for sellers in the Microsoft channel who need to adapt what they sell and how they sell it. Mark Stuyt, chief engagement officer at Neural Impact, a sales and marketing consulting firm that applies behavioral economics, neuroscience, and persuasion psychology to the customer acquisition process, joins us to talk about the transformation that sales teams themselves should consider to close new business in this challenging climate.
Some selling techniques remain unchanged today, but Mark also emphasizes novel tactics like selling via Teams, using video at key times, thinking more about the advantages of industry specialization.
To learn more about today's sponsor, Ingram Micro, and their partner services please visit https://microsoft.ingrammicrocloud.com/dynamics/.
Microsoft only revealed Dynamics 365 Commerce a year ago, but the offering is already evolving. In reality, Commerce came into existence as a rebrand of Dynamics 365 for Retail with a new e-commerce and content management tools introduced. Today's roadmap for Commerce calls for updates all over the wide ranging solution, from back office to warehouse to the storefront and the call center.
Amid such a wide ranging product, how does a customer train up their various users? To learn more, we welcome Elif Item, an AX and D365FO veteran who now focuses on training development and delivery through her company, Item by Item. Elif explains that Commerce is now delivered in a range of scenarios, and that variability is what can make training so challenging. Customer service agents and e-commerce management staff have very different experiences in the same system, for example. Training methods are also changing, and Elif talks about how her firm and clients are embracing different types of training content and platforms.
Editor's Note: This episode is sponsored by DXC Technology.
There is no single approach to successfully tackling challenges like project methodology, executive sponsorship, user adoption, or planning for post go-live support, but they are all absolutely critical to a successful Dynamics 365 project outcome.
This podcast episode explores some of the very real decisions organizations must face before and during an enterprise software project, and how they reckon with the factors that determine success. The responsibility – and the credit – for a successful project outcome is almost always shared between the services delivery team and the customer's own people. Microsoft MVP Rick McCutcheon speaks with Russ Riley and Greg Pierce of DXC Technology about the mindset of great project teams and what a strong partner relationship looks like during and after go-live.
If you’d like to speak with our guests or learn more about DXC Technology and how they can help your organization move your business applications from on-premises to the cloud with post go-live support, you can reach them at phone no#: 877-651-6193 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's Note: This episode is sponsored by Ingram Micro Cloud.
Dynamics 365 is one of the product areas in which Microsoft encourages its partners to push for growth. With some of the highest margins in the channel, Dynamics is a lucrative opportunity for firms -- if they can make it part of their portfolio.
In hindsight, many partners forget or may not have the capacity to add Dynamics 365 to their practice while most may not have the talent, operating model, or financial structure. With the economic impact in today’s market, traditional ERP or CRM isn’t a want anymore, but a need in the digital transformation era.
Mathew Batterbee, UK & EMEA Dynamics 365 lead at Ingram Micro Cloud, joins the podcast to discuss some of the ways Ingram is working to bring more Microsoft partners into the Dynamics 365 space. Growing the number of partners transacting on Dynamics will require some new thinking and new program models, he says. We discuss some of Ingram's latest programs and also look at broader updates in the Dynamics partner channel like new the BREP to CSP incentives and the untapped potential of Microsoft's Cloud Ascent tool.
While the second episode in our GP upgrade series dealt with customer needs, both current and future, this episode looks at some of the specific conversations that customers and their partners have when it is clear that a change is coming.
As we discuss in this episode, there are several precipitating factors that lead to a change from the GP status quo. And it is pretty clear that some ERP veterans, including our guests, Karen Riordan of Menlo Technologies and Peter Joeckel of TurnOnDynamics, have not yet embraced the idea that all or even most GP customers should move to Dynamics 365 Business Central. For some GP customers, BC is a good option, they say. But they also make the case that plotting the wrong path forward can result in big outlays of time and money with little to show at the end.
In the first episode of this series about upgrade strategies for Microsoft Dynamics GP customers, Karen Riordan of Menlo Technologies and Peter Joeckel of TurnOnDynamics joined us to discuss the wide-ranging the experiences of these organizations and varied viewpoints they hold today when it comes to the much-hyped promise of moving from on-prem ERP to Dynamics 365 Business Central in the cloud.
On this second episode, we go deeper on the needs of GP customers today. The tens of thousands of GP customers in the world are a diverse group. Some have watched carefully as Microsoft and other vendors have released their new generation of ERP solutions, while others need someone to come in and start from the beginning on what cloud is all about. Peter and Karen agree that GP customers should expect their partners to take a consultative approach rather than acting as an extension of their IT team. And they discuss some of the signs that a company is a good candidate for moving to pure cloud ERP as opposed to some other alternative.
When the full extent of the coronavirus pandemic finally became clear to businesses around the world, the falling stock markets, locked up supply chains, and panic buying were accompanied by a frenzy within marketing departments to re-calibrate both their messaging and their communication channels.
For marketing automation vendor ClickDimensions, one of the results was a massive jump in message volume from customers, says the company's CEO Mike Dickerson. He also observed that the crisis has put very different demands on the customers and the Microsoft partners with which his team works on a daily basis. Dickerson talks with us about these recent experiences and his observations on changes in the Microsoft channel since he last joined the podcast, including the evolution of digital marketing more generally, the need for special skills to accompany a marketing automation deployment, and the ISV Connect program.
Talking about digital transformation to an Microsoft community audience is a little like talking about gold medals to Olympic athletes. They all understand, they have all heard it a hundred times before. But few have a good chance to reach the goal. Fortunately, strategic IT is not a winner-take-all sport, and our returning guest for this episode, Guus Krabbenborg of Dynamics and More, has been spreading the message that all organizations have the opportunity to transform by shifting their thinking, re-focusing some IT priorities, and demanding a different kind of relationship with their technology partner.
Guus has a new book that tackles these challenges. We dive into Guus's motivation to create the book and his experiences in the last few years that shaped his message to customers and partners.