Adoption is the New Black: Navigating the Click, Try, Buy Era

Jason Gumpert, editor of Dynamics World, discusses the need for digital adoption professionals in today's evolving technological landscape with hosts Rick McCutcheon and Joachim Schiermacher. With the transition towards better customer experiences and engagement, the importance of effective adoption strategies for digital tools cannot be understated. Gumpert explains the unique partner opportunity for providing a coherent strategy for utilizing Microsoft tools, as well as the critical role of digital adoption professionals in ensuring effective and efficient use of technology in the workplace.  Listen to this insightful podcast to stay ahead in the ever-changing world of technology.

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Adoption is the new black as Microsoft increases focus on end user adoption.

Comments from Jason Gumpert

“To me, it says either it’s been sort of normalized in the marketplace that you do need to invest in that kind of resource when you’re investing in digital applications, and so that demand has driven the need for that role. And so there’s a lot more of them out there now than there used to be, or that people just continue to struggle, and the need is driven by just the pain that people are still feeling.”

“In the on premises world, it was possible to sort of drop in some CDs, do some installs and leave and maybe not find out for months, years sort of how well that all turned out. That’s just not the case anymore. Partners are being measured by Microsoft on consumption. Microsoft itself is measuring itself on consumption. I think analysts are measuring Microsoft on consumption. So the idea that you can deploy software that’s not going to be well adopted is really not tenable these days and that just flows all the way down.”


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The full transcript

[00:00:00] Talk digital adoption growth with Jason Gumpert

Rick McCutcheon: Hello everybody. My name’s Rick McCutcheon. I’m a Dynamics 365 MVP and welcome to Digital Adoption Talks. There are over 300,000 business professionals with digital adoption in their title, and this is why we do this show along with Joachim Schiermacher, the CEO of ClickLearn. We’re talking to some of the digital adoption experts in the Microsoft ecosystem.

But today we have a very special guest. This week we are thrilled to be talking to Jason Gumpert, editor and co-founder of MS Dynamics World, and we’re gonna talk about digital adoption growth. Jason, thanks for joining the panel.

Jason Gumpert: Hey Rick. Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.

Rick McCutcheon: Okay, so Jason, tell us about the incredible journey you’ve had with MS Dynamics World over the past, let’s say 15 years, I think it is. And talk a little bit about what you’ve done as a journalist in the Microsoft business applications community.

[00:01:00] Make sense of technology as it changes

Sure. Happy to. Yeah. We just came to that realization that it has been 15 years since we started the site and and started building out the business has been a great experience myself and my co-founder, Adam Berezon, and we wanted to build a, site that and a publication really that focused on what business decision- makers care about in the tech world. So obviously there’s, plenty of great technology writing and and education and, content out there. But what I really enjoy is making sense of of the meaning behind some of the technological changes that happen and that continue to evolve over time.

[00:02:00] Keeping up with the Microsoft technology ecosystem

In the enterprise software space, it’s an area that I really enjoy and and that we continue to do. And, so as Microsoft’s technology ecosystem has evolved, we’ve tried to keep up with it. Everything from the old on, on-premise dynamics three dynamics CRM and ERP days until now where everything’s obviously completely focused on cloud technology and cloud-based implementations and all the complications to come with that.

So I’m sure we’ll get into it.

Rick McCutcheon:  And the site has really grown, and you need a membership, which is free to join and access the materials. How many members do you have?

 [00:02:23] Membership is growing fast

Jason Gumpert: We have north of 90,000, I think. We may be crossing a hundred thousand in the next couple weeks.

The site’s really broken down into two parts. So I’m, the editorial director. I’m the editor, and so I focus on all the articles, the news coverage, the thought leadership writing that, that we do and that our contributors do.

And then we have obviously a whole other side, which is like the branded in informational content that our readers will find when they’re researching solutions, when they’re looking for thought leadership on on some of the more challenging matters that they often face in this space.

Rick McCutcheon: Okay. Joachim, would you like to add anything?

[00:02:52] Learn about big-business application of Microsoft on MS Dynamics World 

Joachim Schiermacher: No, it’s a, it’s an absolute pleasure to have Jason here. I think that the growth of the community just goes to show that this is a, this is one of the go-to places if you wanna, learn how, do you interact within the big business application scope of Microsoft.
I think it’s fantastic.

[00:03:11] Why the growth in digital adoption professionals?

Rick McCutcheon: Jason we’ll start with a question that seems obvious, like the software companies and publishers have been saying software is now easier to use. So why do we see 300,000 digital adoption professionals appearing on LinkedIn? And when I look up on LinkedIn and I look under Microsoft for customer success managers who help customers become successful, that number has grown from just a handful a few years ago to over 6,000 now.
So why all the growth in digital adoption?

Jason Gumpert: Yeah for all the change in the technology for all the change in the software itself or how it’s sold, how it’s deployed. Ultimately, we’re still dealing with people and the way they like to work and the way they get their work done. 

[00:04:00] Technology changes but people stay the same

And so I think it shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone that the modes have changed. Maybe the the exact sort of flow of value has changed somewhat in terms of subscription-based revenue and for the vendors and how you calculate ROI if you’re an end user and how, your business survives as a partner. But but ultimately it’s still people and it’s still their lives and their, work experiences and, that just doesn’t.

[00:04:30] Subscription-based revenue model increases focus on retention

Rick McCutcheon: Okay. Joachim, would you like to add anything about the growth in digital adoption professionals?

Joachim Schiermacher: I agree completely with Jason that obviously one of the things that follow the money in terms of the revenue streams, now, when you’re go into a subscription-based economy, you’re obviously relying on a retention with your clients, much more than we used to.

[00:05:00] It’s easy for customers to change to another software

And, the barrier for getting out of a software is just not there anymore. It’s really cheap to get out. That means that you have to have the stickiness. I think that when, you’ve watched Microsoft’s journey in terms of what are they actually measuring their business on, I think that you can see that there’s been a transition inside Microsoft towards having better customer experiences and obviously driving better customer engagement.

Because it makes sense, right? They used to be able to measure people on how much consumption the had. But it’s really a vehicle of how well is the software adopted within an enterprise.

[00:05:30] Enterprises are using more software in a best-of-breed selection

So getting that focus I think is part of the explanation and the 300,000 out there.
 It’s a new world in terms of how the enterprises are running software. There’s so much software in our hands today. We are not we don’t have that monolithic approach to anything. So we, are not implementing SAP across the board. So it hands us our CRM. We are getting in Best-of-breed applications, smaller applications, specific- purpose applications.

[00:06:00] Click-try-buy component to software purchases

And that means that the entire journey of how do we successfully bring our users up to speed in each of these little pieces of software is now becoming a really big task. So I think those are some of the drivers, at least.

Rick McCutcheon: Instead of having a big ERP project or a big CRM project, there’s this whole click-try-buy component out there, right?

Where a user can go and click, try, and buy something and really make that determination whether do I want to use this interface? Is this working for me? How hard was it to install? And they’re taking a lot of that decision making process right out of the hands of the it. It’s going towards the, end user customer.

[00:06:30] Focus on end-user satisfaction

So I think the software publishers are saying we gotta make sure that user is happy. And on the other side, I think within a customer, I think there’s a lot of pressure that you gave me this big system and it’s so cumbersome. Look what I can do on my phone. I think that’s starting to play an effect and what people are expecting out of applications [00:07:00] is really changing.

[00:07:00] Bad software won’t work for users anymore

Joachim Schiermacher: Yeah, I think there’s a new generation coming up as well, right? That, they just don’t have the attention span of bad software. That doesn’t really work.

Rick McCutcheon: Jason, would you like to add anything?

Jason Gumpert: The one other thought I had with this, huge number, 300,000 people who call themselves digital adoption professionals. It to me it says either it’s been normalized in the marketplace that you do need to invest in that kind of resource when you’re investing in digital applications.

And so that demand has driven the, need for that role. And so there’s a lot more of them out there now than there used to be or that people just continue to struggle. And the need is, driven by just the pain that, that people are still feeling. I’m not sure which one of those it is, but either way, I think it does.

[00:08:00] Demand drives the need for better digital adoption

Whether it’s the tail wagging the dog or, not. It does signify that there is this this need for, and this pursuit of, better digital adoption because I think without it, those people would just go away and they change their title to, whatever other professional role they’re gonna move into next.

Rick McCutcheon: Okay.

Joachim Schiermacher: One of the things that we can see with this when, the application stack grows it also means that clients are becoming more and more unique. So the traditional way of saying again, going back to SAP will train your entire operation every single process you have because we are bringing technology to support everything, right?

That’s not happening anymore. So with the, with a very small special purpose application, we can see the clients. Getting a unique footprint just by having specific pieces of software installed, and it’s now up to a quantity where it’s it’s a task that cannot be undertaken by any single vendor because their, processes take them across platforms.

[00:09:00] Digital adoption specialists cover the entire journey across the software portfolio

So it’s no longer just a vendor problem. It becomes a client problem now that the client needs to have these digital adoption specialists that can take the entire journey across all their software portfolio and make, a coherent proposition to the client and or the, end users on how do you actually train in this, how do you adopt this, these many different pieces of software and how do they interact inside our, application space?

Definitely a lot of these inside the enterprises, that’s I, think, is a trend that we are gonna see much more in the future.

[00:09:25] A digital adoption specialist for in every IT department

So we’ll have in each IT department, there will be a digital adoption specialist in there. And then obviously the vendors also being asked to bring their A-game. It’s not about getting us into a classroom training. It’s not working for us because with the 178 vendors we have inside our business we are probably going be doing nothing but training than the entire year round. And it’s not working. So a new methodology is needed. I think this is what digital adoption professionals are bringing to the table.

[00:10:00] What does this mean for Microsoft partners go-to-market?

Rick McCutcheon: Now these are all good points. You know the next question, how is this really affecting the business of a Microsoft partner? Because I think at one time we had a big server to install. We got the software going, get it running on the network. And not every partner, but a lot of times I would see we’ve got the software installed, now let’s get out a Dodge, right?

And, head to the next project we’re working on. So what are we seeing changes in the way partners go to market? And I’ll start with you, Jason.

Jason Gumpert: Yeah. Microsoft is really the perfect place to focus this conversation because so many of the changes in their strategy and what they expect from partners falls right into this conversation.

[00:11:00] Partners are being measured by Microsoft on consumption

Yeah, it was like you said in the on-premises world, it was possible to drop in some CDs, do some installs and leave and maybe not find out for for months, years how, well that all turned out. That’s just not the case anymore. 

Partners are being measured on by Microsoft on consumption. Microsoft is measuring itself on consumption. I think analysts are measuring Microsoft on consumption. The idea that you can deploy software that’s not going to be well-adopted is really not tenable these days. And, that just flows all the way down. So I think partners are incentivized.

[00:11:24] Incentives have changed with the products in the Microsoft ecosystem

In the Microsoft ecosystem, as the products have changed, as their incentives have changed from Microsoft to really put that work in and be able to offer their clients something more than just dropping the software in and leaving if they want to have a viable business, if they want to have customers that don’t as as, Joachim as you said that don’t just walk away and find another partner which is much easier to do in, a cloud-based world than, it was before.

[00:12:00] Broad-based adoption doesn’t make sense for Bizapps 

And the, and just the product we can get into this more, I won’t go too much further, but the, products themselves that Microsoft’s offering, especially in the bizapps world. Boy it, can be so granular and so atomic. Now with, different apps for different, departments, different teams, that that the idea that adoption is gonna be broad-based, that it’s not gonna have to continue to evolve over month to month, year to year. It’s just not realistic anymore.

Rick McCutcheon: Just the fact that I used to go into my Dynamics, into my email into my SharePoint. Right now I can access everything through a Teams interface. And that sounds simple if I’ve been doing it the other way for 10 years, it’s not so simple.

[00:12:39] So many Microsoft channels make it hard to pinpoint origin of information

Joachim Schiermacher: No, it’s not. Right? And the, problem is also that, that the, idea that now the conversations are spreading out throughout the Microsoft universe, we have conversations going on inside your, you have conversations going inside Teams channels, right? And it becomes a little more difficult to actually find out where did that piece of information.

[00:13:00] Where’s the best place to ‘hide a corpse’ in a business?

And there’s a lot about the information architect, and this, I think is a unique partner opportunity to get in and actually say, look, this is how you’re supposed to utilize these tools. Because right now we are basically giving them 50 different ways to share information without a really coherent strategy around where do you do what?

I can see that inside my business the most commonly asked questions: Where’s that again? Is that in SharePoint? Is it in our, in my Outlook? Or did you send it by mail or did you drop it into some channel? And that’s like the best place to hide a corpse in a business. So that’s dropping it inside a teams channel.
Then you’re sure you’re never gonna find that.

 [00:14:00] A great user experience can be a disaster for a company

Jason Gumpert: Yeah, or just the, way that processes can devolve in that way. Like, you’re saying there. I was just reading just a general news piece on this FinTech, massive FinTech business that’s, collapsing.
And some of the things that are coming out in their bankruptcy hearing is expense approvals with emojis rather than yes, rather than documenting it. Great user experience if you need your expenses approved. But what a disaster for the company. And for the lenders, I guess in this case since it is a bankruptcy.

But but yeah, everything in between is, possible from super-detailed awful looking expense report interfaces to emojis. 

Rick McCutcheon: Okay, great. So Joachim, Jason, thanks for today and coming on the show to talk about digital adoption. Jason, do you have any closing thoughts?

[00:15:00] The need for good adoption is as critical as it was in the on-prem world

Jason Gumpert: From the Microsoft perspective or following the Microsoft world, I guess you would say. These things are, super relevant and there’s so much, as I started to say before, there’s so much pressure on both the buyers of of cloud-based technology and the people who are deploying it, the partners who are trying to maintain those relationships to to keep it vibrant and healthy and keep  those the, people behind it the, actual people who are responsible for making these businesses run. Keep them happy San And the need for good, healthy adoption is as, as critical as, it ever was in the on-prem world. 

[00:15:30] We need to take into account the increase amount of software users have to adopt

Joachim Schiermacher: I think that we’ve covered almost everything in this conversation. I think that going back to the idea that software is now easier to use, it might be a little bit, but it’s not light years ahead of what it was 10, 15 years ago.

But it might be a little bit easier to use, but now taking the quantity of what we are dropping on our user’s heads, take that into account as well. Then you’re gonna see you’re not making the user stay any easier by dropping in new pieces of technology every four weeks.

[00:16:00]  There’s definitely a need for driving a user adoption strategy across the entire enterprise and with the partners.

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