The MSDW Podcast

The (MSDW) podcast explores news, ideas, and events in the Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM community.
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Mar 8, 2021

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.

Feb 9, 2021

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.


Show Notes:

  • 5:30 - How this year's event will be different from 2020
  • 7:00 - Finding a balance between the local and global interests of Power Platform communities
  • 8:15 - Building more awareness of Microsoft's RPA and Power Virtual Agents work
  • 9:30 - How do local groups blend their direct interests and discovering the latest product updates?
  • 11:00 - What messages from Microsoft speakers will resonate at the event?
  • 15:15 - How is the mix of people joining Power Platform events changing?
  • 23:00 - Observations on the most innovative companies adopting Power Platform, including use of the Center of Excellence
  • 25:30 - What it takes to bring a global event together, and what attendees can expect
  • 30:10 - How to get involved in the Global Power Platform Bootcamp
Feb 3, 2021

This episode of the MSDW Podcast is sponsored by Stratos Cloud Alliance.


Microsoft continues to forecast significant growth in Dynamics 365 business, but to achieve it more partners will have to get involved. But building a practice focused on business solutions is quite different from cloud, productivity, or other specialties.


Our guests are Len DiCostanzo, Principal Consultant at MSP Toolkit, and Scott May, Director of Channel Development Stratos Cloud Alliance. We discuss Dynamics 365 as an opportunity for partner growth in the Microsoft channel. They lay out research on the market opportunity, the options partners have when it comes to building a D365 practice, and some of the factors that firms should look for in a prospective distribution partner.

Jan 31, 2021

Join us for a quick recap of top headlines from the first month of 2021 in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform channel.


Show Notes:

Jan 25, 2021

As the pandemic drags on, the Microsoft business applications community is finding a new and evolving ways to connect. The DynamicsCon virtual event began in 2020 and will run for the second time in March. To learn more about how it began and what is going into the next event, we talked to the founder, Jon Stypula. MSDW is a media sponsor of the event and we wanted to discuss both the event has developed and where Jon hopes it will go in the future.


Show Notes:

  • 4:45 - Deciding to provide a professional level of production for DynamicsCon, including funding through sponsors.
  • 8:30 - Why to maintain transparency in the event's planning and organization, including with session selection.
  • 10:30 - Why the DynamicsCon is aiming to make the speaker lineup a mix of veterans and newcomers.
  • 17:30 - Microsoft's role in the community and event landscape these days, and why Jon believes they do not appear to be interested in overall community management.
  • 27:45 - Updates to the attendee experience
  • 30:30 - How virtual events have opened up accessibility to much of in-person events' value and how they will continue to change
  • 35:45 - How DynamicsCon has changed from the first event to the upcoming second event
  • 39:00 - How partners and customers work together differently with Power Platform and other tech compared to Dynamics
  • 42:00 - Microsoft's mixed reality solutions, from Dynamics 365 apps to HoloLens 2 more generally
  • 48:50 - More on what to expect from DynamicsCon
Jan 19, 2021

In this special edition of the MSDW Podcast we are featuring a recent conversation between Microsoft MVP Rick McCutcheon and Microsoft global strategic ISV alliance manager John O'Donnell on how partners are utilizing Microsoft AppSource. Rick originally published this conversation as part of his Partner Talks series.

Microsoft launched its AppSource ISV solution directory in 2016 as a replacement for a collection of old and fragmented systems. The initial coverage compared it to Salesforce AppExchange and Microsoft promised it would lead to higher ISV solution quality and that it would evolve quickly with.

Nearly five years later, AppSource has evolved and grown, though probably not as quickly as Microsoft has wanted. Still, most ISVs in the  Dynamics 365 and Power Platform space list their solutions there, and some partners even list services offerings. Some vendors report closing sales thanks to the platform, others don't.

In this conversation, O'Donnell emphasizes several strengths of the platform, from its global reach to its expanding set of offerings, beyond Dynamics 365 and Azure into other areas of Microsoft's business. They also discuss some ways vendors can optimize their listings to get the most out of the platform today.

Jan 18, 2021

The Microsoft's Dynamics 365 FastTrack team has been holding a TechTalk webcast series in recent months featuring the use of various tools and capabilities of the Power Platform in the context of strengthening a Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management (a.k.a., Finance and Operations) system.


Series organizer and FastTrack architect Rachel Profitt explains that, while there is lots of great material on Power Platform and likewise plenty of information available on D365 F&O, customers and partners can still find it hard to connect the dots that open up the full range of solution possibilities.


Profitt and principal technical specialist Murray Fife of Microsoft's Black Belt team recently co-presented  a new session in the event series on AI Builder, and they discuss with us some of the highlights of that session, the audience reaction, future plans for the webcast series, and the broader outlook for building momentum in blending Power Platform tools with ERP.


Show Notes

  • 2:30 - How Rachel and Murray's work with AI Builder is being received by customer and partner audiences.
  • 7:00 - Rachel's role as a FastTrack architect and Murray's role as a principal technical specialist on Microsoft's Global Black Belt  team
  • 10:30 - Why Rachel felt a need for a Power Platform TechTalk series for F&O customers to showcase customization alternatives
  • 12:30 - Reactions from the partner community after seeing the presentations.
  • 15:30 - Why developing with Power Platform requires a shift in the F&O customization mindset
  • 18: 00 - F&O customer roles most interested in Power Platform adoption
  • 21:30 - At what point in the development of a D365 solution do customers make the decision to deploy Power Platform?
  • 27:30 - What's in a partner's demo versus what's in scope for the delivery team
  • 29:30 - How accurate are AI Builder tools in doing their jobs?
  • 33:30 - What's next in the Tech Talk series, and what else has been covered already
  • 34:30 - What Rachel and Murray are excited about for 2021: events and features
Jan 11, 2021

On this episode we welcome back Peter Joeckel of TurnOnDynamics and Karen Riordan of Menlo Technologies for a discussion of the new year's Dynamics GP outlook for customers and partners.

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.

Show Notes:

  • 2:30 - Microsoft's interest in getting customers to assess a transition away from Dynamics GP
  • 4:30 - Why aren't GP customers more interest in transitioning to cloud ERP?
  • 7:00 - Pressure on partners to manage their GP customers
  • 10:00 - Finding an optimal way to engage with Microsoft customers: Can a partner talk to both IT and the CFO?
  • 12:00 - What should a customer really expect from their partner in terms of making sense of Microsoft's offerings?
  • 16:30 - How difficult is it for GP customers to do a full assessment of their next steps?
  • 20:15 - The economic challenges of ERP for Microsoft partners
  • 25:00 - What does the subscription-based ERP model mean for Microsoft's goals and partners' challenges?
  • 32:30 - How well has GP served its user base during the pandemic?
  • 36:30 - How many GP to BC transitions are really happening?
  • 39:00 - Who is doing GP to BC transition assessments for Microsoft and what are the outcomes?
  • 44:30 - How will Microsoft's  newest incentives shape the partner channel in 2021?
  • 47:30 - Do partners and Microsoft have a responsibility to encourage their clients to evolve enterprise IT?
  • 48:30 - 2021 predictions
Jan 5, 2021

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.


Other resources:


Show Notes:

  • 2:45 - Judging and measuring growth of Power Platform in the last year
  • 5:45 - How the pandemic impacted PowerObjects customers' priorities around collaboration and automation
  • 7:15 - Why a Modern Workplace are taking a stronger interest in use of Power Platform and Teams
  • 11:30 - Organizational challenge: finding a balance of front office and back office support
  • 13:00 - The varying approaches to governance and IT fundamentals with Power Platform
  • 16:00 - Challenges that customers should be considering next: onboarding, app evaluation, and more
  • 18:00 - Encouraging app makers to be innovative while also taking advantage of reusable components and following development best practices
  • 22:30 - Center of Excellence: What it takes to plan for creating one properly
  • 24:00 - How do organizations work with a Microsoft service provider for help with Power Platform development?
  • 27:45 - Measuring end users' happiness with the apps and flows they get from a citizen developer corp.
  • 33:00 - Discovery tools: Know when to retire, replace, augment, or keep them
  • 36:00 - Dealing with the end of life of SharePoint 2010 workflows and replacing them with Power Automate flows
  • 41:15 - What can organizations expect in licensing for Power Platform elements?
  • 44:45 - License consumption strategies
  • 48:00 - How to get in touch with Jamie or John
Dec 15, 2020

Microsoft Dataverse; US politics; Azure Purview; FastTrack; Sales Insights

Dec 14, 2020

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 onetwothree, 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.

Show Notes:

  • 1:30 - Making sense of Power Platform and how to approach it for the first time
  • 5:00 - Thinking about low-code and no-code solutions as a technology segment
  • 7:30 - The importance of considering complex software requirements when evaluating low-code solutions
  • 9:30 - Venkat's evolving professional focus, from Dynamics CRM to Power Platform
  • 14:30 - What it looks like to scale up Power Platform initiatives across an organization
  • 18:00 - The frequent challenge of bringing a Power Apps deployment back under control after rapid spread
  • 21:00 - The Power Platform Center of Excellence (CoE) starter kit - Venkat's views on its usefulness
  • 24:30 - How organizations build upon the CoE starter kit
  • 27:00 - How Power Platform and HoloLens 2 work together
  • 33:30 - Is RPA mundane or amazing?
  • 36:00 - Looking ahead: New technology Avanade clients are excited about
Dec 8, 2020

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.

Show Notes:

  • 1:30 - Microsoft's ISV programs and why Steve started ISVConnectED
  • 3:45 - Why Steve writes about the state of the Microsoft channel and why it continues to create complexity
  • 6:30 - The complexities of Microsoft programs like Direct CSP, and the importance of large CSPs  today
  • 15:30 - Power Platform  - the business model and special offers
  • 20:00 - Microsoft's efforts on industry solutions and what it means for vertical-focused ISVs
  • 24:00 - Working in Microsoft's shadow as an ISV - searching for white space
  • 28:45 - Encouraging news on AppSource
  • 33:00 - Dataverse rollout
  • 36:30 - Why Dataverse is so important to Teams and Microsoft 365
  • 43:00 - New opportunities for custom Power Platform development and the importance of governance
  • 46:00 - The Slack acquisition by Salesforce
  • 48:30 - How Microsoft competes with Salesforce
  • 54:00 - Microsoft's current approach to business applications acquisitions
Dec 1, 2020

Editor's Note: This episode is sponsored by GetResponse MAX for Dynamics 365.

Mac Ossowski of marketing automation solution provider GetResponse joins the podcast to discuss how sales and marketing teams can work together with shared technology, even when performance goals may differ. Mac has been active in the email and marketing automation field for over a decade and runs GetResponse MAX, the company's managed offering for medium and large companies. The company started in the small business sector more than ten years ago, and recently started to make more investment in the Dynamics 365 space with a new integration and more partner alliances. Mac also shares his view on some of the design decisions that went into the company's D365 offering and how companies are deploying solutions across departments today.

Show Notes:

  • 1:45 - GetResponse company history and evolution over two decades
  • 4:00 - Speaking to the needs of mid-market and large companies vs  small businesses
  • 6:30 - Lessons from bringing marketing technology together with Dynamics 365 Sales capabilities
  • 9:30 - What kind of services do Dynamics 365 customers need with implementing marketing automation?
  • 13:00 - Changing perspectives on automation in 2020
  • 16:00 - Sales enablement and sales acceleration: what data and tools do sales professionals need?
  • 20:00 - The value of greater marketing data insights
  • 22:30 - Observations on working in the Microsoft ecosystem
  • 26:00 - What types of marketing technology of the future are most exciting?
Nov 24, 2020

The Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central community has a heritage of conferences around the world, some that go back decades. But with the pandemic, everything has changed in 2020. Some events have gone online, others have been put on hold, and still others have emerged as new alternatives. BC Tech Talk is the latest new event. It runs December 3 & 4 and is free to attend. MSDW is a media sponsor, so we sat down with three members of the event's planning committee to learn more about what to expect, who should be there, and what's new in the BC community.


Show Notes:

  • 1:30 - How BC Tech Talk came together
  • 4:00 - Observations about the themes emerging from the session topics
  • 8:00 - How quickly are developers adopting the new skills and techniques required for Business Central projects?
  • 11:30 - Why now is a time for up and coming community contributors to emerge
  • 18:45 - Why employees at customer organizations should be paying attention to the topics of a tech-focused event like BC Tech Talk
  • 21:00 - Implications of this year's growth in virtual events
  • 28:00 - Reviewing the BC Tech Talk structure, and more reasons for attending
Nov 19, 2020

Pattern Energy, a company that develops and operates wind and solar energy generation projects around the world, had many years invested into a Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 ERP solution that was on-premises and highly customized. But by 2018 they knew that their aging system needed to be replaced.


On this episode, Nick Tavenier, the ERP systems analyst at Pattern Energy discusses some of the company's experiences in moving away from AX 2009 as they evaluated new options and eventually committed to Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management in the cloud. He discusses his team's experiences planning and executing their migration project, work with third party solution vendors in areas like security, governance, and financial management, and how they have maintained an engaged core ERP team even after their go-live.


Show notes:

  • 1:30 - Some history on Pattern Energy's operations and use of Dynamics AX 2009
  • 3:00 - Comparing D365 with Tier 1 & 2 ERP options, as well as looking at AX 2012 as a full or temporary potion
  • 5:00 - Planning to migrate from AX 2009 - Custom and ISV solution needs
  • 7:00 - How Pattern envisioned processes with stock D365FO features and standard use patterns
  • 9:00 - areas of D365FO that Pattern will use based on the complexities of their organization - multi-entity, multi-company, financial consolidation, etc. and new features Microsoft is adding or acquiring
  • 12:30 - Making the decision of cloud vs on-prem D365 and how mindsets had to be changed
  • 13:30 - Connecting with other AX to D365FO customers about the complications around implementation projects in areas like entity hierarchy, data management, and customization
  • 16:30 - Training developers and IT experts on security management, customization techniques
  • 18:45 - Adopting the "One Version" model from Microsoft, and where they have found challenges, including governance and regulatory compliance
  • 22:30 - The importance of voicing concerns and starting a dialog with Microsoft, and why there seems to be a clean slate with the introduction of ERP in the cloud
  • 25:00 - How Pattern uses an internal product manager and others to champion the solution
  • 28:30 - Navigating the internal ownership and duties between the IT and the business
  • 31:00 - How D365FO fits in alongside the organization's other Microsoft investments like Azure and Power BI
  • 33:30 - Why record sharing between entities within D365FO has become a challenging matter from a technical and functional perspective
Nov 13, 2020

The latest release wave for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is now rolling out with a range of updates that should benefit users, developers, and system administrators. Dynamics NAV and BC veteran Kim Congleton of New View Strategies has been busy examining the new updates and helping the community understand how to make use of the improvements. She recently wrote about the system administration enhancements and followed that up with a webcast presentation for MSDW readers. We caught up with Kim for this podcast episode to dig into a few more details of the new release wave as well as to talk about how Business Central has evolved as a new offering (not just a continuation of NAV), how her firm has experienced the pandemic, and her expectations for the future.

Show Notes

  • 3:00 - How to approach the new features and information that arrive in each release wave for business Central
  • 5:30 - Read-only performance for reports
  • 7:15 - Buying added storage capacity in the cloud
  • 10:30 - How do you deal with NAV historical data when moving to BC?
  • 14:00 - Restoring environments
  • 17:30 - Why BC really is a separate product from NAV
  • 19:00 - Impressions on the first iteration of the Teams app for BC and where it might go next
  • 22:30 - Events and batch processing
  • 24:30 - Power BI scenarios for BC
  • 26:30 - Other Microsoft services Kim is looking ahead to.
  • 30:00 - Observations on training investment by NAV and BC customers
  • 32:00 - Why the Microsoft Ideas site is useful
Nov 10, 2020

Australia-based business consultant David Ogilvie has been thinking and writing on how businesses can adapt to economic conditions triggered by the pandemic, looking at factors like managing capital, supply chain optimization, and customer service. And managing across all of those areas require the ability to track the right metrics.


David discusses how his work with companies in his region have changed with the pandemic, what the ERP competitive landscape looks like today, the role of the independent ERP consultant today, and some of the tools and metrics of inventory management that he is focusing on.


Show Notes:

  • 2:45 - David's work with Dynamics AX customers looking to move to a new ERP, and the themes of today's conversations around business applications
  • 5:00 - Tools, techniques, and organizational approaches that have helped businesses adapt to the pandemic
  • 7:30 - Decisions businesses are making to adapt in the current climate
  • 9:30 - Do organizations have a need for different types of services today versus a year ago?
  • 11:00 - Controlling process behaviors in a business with a focus on metrics like EVA (economic value added) - and cautions around using them properly
  • 15:00 - A case of inventory mismanagement and how metrics could have played a part
  • 17:30 - The importance of supply chain planning to avoid the bullwhip effect amid unexpected
  • 23:00 - The intended meaning of just in time inventory versus how many companies have applied the philosophy
  • 24:30 - Ten inventory management tools that David emphasizes
  • 25:00 - How supply chain matters impact customer experience, and why to start with the customer rather than the supply chain
  • 27:00 - ERP competitors of Microsoft that David sees in his clients' market segment and region
Nov 5, 2020

This episode is sponsored by Provance. Support a digital transformation in IT with Provance ITSM—the most Microsoft-centric IT Service Management product on the market. 

On this episode we catch up on some of the top headlines and contributed articles from the last month, including highlights of the Dynamics 365 and Power Platform 2020 release wave 2, new industry-focused business apps directly from Microsoft, new Teams integration for Business Central, and a few choice Azure advances.  

Articles discussed in this episode:  

Oct 16, 2020

Samuel Adranyi is a Microsoft MVP who brings his expertise to the local, regional, and international Microsoft Azure and Power Platform communities. He tells us about his own professional development, the decision to move back to his home country of Ghana from a role in the US, and what he is doing today to encourage others to gain expertise in Microsoft technology. He has organized local events, he mentors students on developing their professional skills, and he is an active content creator across his own blog and podcast, as well as on YouTube and other social media.

We talk about how he has focused his community efforts since returning to Ghana, some of the most promising tech for students and others looking to gain new professional skills, making cloud technology more accessible in Ghana, and Samuel's experiences as an MVP so far.

Show Notes

  • 2:00 - About Samuel's community activities, professional interests, and moving back to Ghana from the US
  • 4:30 - On making an impact in the West Africa Microsoft community
  • 7:00 - How Samuel got interested in IoT
  • 9:30 - What is the IoT readiness level of organizations today?
  • 11:30 - Bringing IoT to Power Platform
  • 14:30 - Samuel's award-winning COVID-19 IoT solution
  • 18:15 - Making cloud tech more accessible in Ghana - payment method challenges, Azure data center proximity
  •  21:00 - Traction in the Microsoft developer community
  • 22:45 - Samuel's podcast featuring young technologists from Africa and around the world
  • 27:30 - On becoming an MVP, ramping up podcast and video efforts.
Oct 14, 2020

This episode of the MSDW Podcast is sponsored by dotdigital. Find out more about their Microsoft Dynamics offering here.

As marketing technology continues to evolve, so does thinking on where it can deliver the most impact in an organization. The marketing-to-sales funnel remains the most common way to deploy marketing automation tools, but Dan Griffin of dotdigital makes the case on this episode that the organizations should be pushing for customer engagement that encourages more of their own departments to communicate across channels. Customer service, product managers, and others have a lot of value to add to the customer experience after the sale is made, and the digital tools that marketers understand best today could be brought to bear with the right planning, says Griffin.

We also discuss the evolution of the Microsoft channel when it comes to delivering martech solutions. System integrators and agencies will deliver marketing solutions quite differently. And today's economic climate has led customer to ask their service providers to help them deliver digital marketing capabilities  in new and more efficient ways.

Show Notes:

  • 3:15 - dotdigital's latest efforts in the Microsoft channel to deliver marketing technology
  • 5:00 - What does martech mean to partners today?
  • 7:30 - The current landscape has forced customers to do more with less, and they are finding out why digital matters in areas like account-based marketing, top of funnel brand marketing, etc.
  • 9:30 - Companies are beginning to understand the value of marketing to their customers
  • 11:30 - How well do different types of Microsoft partners - systems integrators vs agencies - approach the challenge of digital marketing solutions
  • 18:00 - More ideas on using marketing-based tools to improve engagement across the customer lifecycle
  • 21:30 - Why you want your organization focus more on process to improve metrics
  • 23:00 - How the Microsoft community's marketing conversations have evolved in the last six months
Oct 6, 2020

Blue Horseshoe Solutions holds a notable role in the history of Microsoft's enterprise ERP development. The firm was founded in 2001 and some if its own modules for warehouse and transportation management have become part of Microsoft's core ERP products, first with Dynamics AX and now Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management.


On this episode, sponsored by Blue Horseshoe, Steve Shebuski, vice president of digital transformation, and Mike Castelluccio, partner director, discuss some of the standout features and differentiators in Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management today and how Blue Horseshoe has moved their own roadmap forward alongside Microsoft. They explain why the future of supply chain innovation will be in the cloud, still working with ERPs like Dynamics 365 but available as a service rather than a deep customization.

Sep 29, 2020

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.

Show Notes:

  • 2:30 - Introductions to our guests and their work
  • 5:00 - Origins of the effort to raise funds, awareness, and support for Black Minds Matter in London
  • 7:00 - The mission and goals of Black Minds Matter in the context of social trends, including boosting opportunities for learning and development
  • 12:00 - Why making the connection between under-served communities and professional opportunities is so important
  • 13:45 - Reaction of the students to the program and the various roles and options
  • 15:30 - Getting an understanding of the software industry
  • 17:45 - Bringing Power Platform community members together to help build out the student program
  • 19:00 - Where is the overall effort to train the next generation on Microsoft business apps workers?23:45 - Preparing the student group for the hackathon
  • 27:30 - Rosina's app from the hackathon
  • 29:30 - Developing ideas for new solutions, and the judging panel's observations and engagement with social and healthcare services organizations
  • 34:15 - Next steps for the program including mentoring, internships, apprenticeships, and education options
  • 38:45 - Plans for scaling these efforts, from technology education to more diverse health and social opportunities



Sep 21, 2020

The news roundup returns, and on this episode, we look back at top headlines from the last several weeks of executive hires, Microsoft revenue numbers, product wins, partner updates, and more.

Show Notes:

Sep 17, 2020

Microsoft MVP, solution architect, and Scrum expert Neil Benson recently concluded two years of work on a membership and sales platform upgrade for RACQ (Royal Automobile Club of Queensland) that involved Dynamics 365 Customer Service, integration with multiple other SaaS vendor solutions, and, of course, lots of legacy data to contend with from the decades old systems being replaced. This was a big project by any standard. Microsoft celebrated its early successes last year, but work has continued, and Neil gives us an inside view of what it has been like managing five delivery streams amid a host of other changes, from user adoption to the IT department's Azure transition to going live during the pandemic.


Show Notes

  • 0:45 - About Neil and his business, Customery
  • 2:50 - About RACQ and their modernization project
  • 5:20 - The scale of this project and the challenges of working at that scale
  • 7:35 - Why RACQ had everything to lose in terms of customer satisfaction and retention from undertaking their modernization program
  • 8:20 - Attitude toward cloud adoption from their legacy stance
  • 10:50 - How five workstreams moved ahead together, how they divided up responsibilities and stages
  • 12:05 - The core software products that go into RACQ's cloud transformation
  • 13:35 - Observations on using Adobe Campaign with Dynamics 365 and other solutions
  • 15:20 - Deploying Apttus and the future of their relationship with (or without) Microsoft
  • 17:50 - The fight for ISV cloud hosting between the hypercloud vendors
  • 19:50 - Using Scrum on a project of this scale
  • 23:50 - Neil's experience training others on Scrum
  • 27:50 - Innovative solutions of the RACQ solution
  • 31:20 - How does an organization focused on driving adapt to Covid and other changing trends around car usage?
  • 34:20 - How such a big project transitioned to work from home during the pandemic
  • 34:35 - RACQ's efforts in trialing other tech like RPA
  • 38:20 - Is RPA a viable long-term product for CIOs?
  • 41:50 - On the history of Customery's LEGO usage
  • 43:15 - Neil's podcast activities

Where to find Neil:

Sep 1, 2020

Lisa Crosbie joins us to talk about her many community activities and interests in the Microsoft Business Applications space. Lisa is a technology evangelist at Barhead, a Microsoft partner, and when she's not working with their sales and professional services teams, she can be found doing a range of things, from blogging to podcasting to videos to presentations. We sit down to discuss some of the things Lisa has been focused on in her community efforts recently including Microsoft Teams and Project Oakdale, Microsoft certifications, product updates coming in the 2020 wave 2 releases for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, and her latest presentation schedule, including the upcoming DynamicsCon event.

Show Notes:

  • 3:30 - Adjusting to and staying motivated by community participation in an all-virtual situation
  • 5:00 - The importance of certifications in today's Microsoft business apps landscape
  • 9:10 - How to use Microsoft Learn to prepare for certifications
  • 13:00 - Lisa's outlook on Project Oakdale
  • 24:20 - Will Teams interfaces be important for ISV solutions?
  • 25:30 - Why Power Automate in Teams will be important
  • 27:15 - The RPA opportunities of 2020 wave 2
  • 30:00 - Lisa's participation in DynamicsCon
  • 34:15 - Lisa's professional evolution from the client side to the consulting side
  • 39:15 - Why the MVP community is still thriving'
  • 41:30 - Will the virtual focus help more people achieve MVP status?
  • 43:15 - Creating the UP Podcast
  • 45:30 - What else Lisa is excited about in the next release wave
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