The key to a profitable customer relationship

What role will user group communities play in the future? And especially when we talk about the user adoption of cloud applications. Tom Doran gives his view on this in the Digital Adoption Talks podcast. With 25 years of experience working with NAV, Dynamics Business Central, and his commitment as a board member of the DUG User Group.

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The key to a profitable customer relationship

The quick overview

Tom knows that educated and self-sufficient users are happier users – and ultimately will stick longer with the product. The user group communities can be a strong driver in this enablement.

We have invited Tom Doran from Innovia to talk about why partners should encourage and support their end-users to get established in the community.

With 25 years of experience working with NAV, Dynamics Business Central, and his commitment as a board member of the DUG User Group, he knows that educated and self-sufficient users are happier users – and ultimately will stick longer with the product. The user group communities can be a strong driver in this enablement.

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The full transcript

The key to a profitable customer relationship

[00:00:00] Rick McCutcheon, Joachim Schiermacher talk Digital Adoption 

Rick McCutcheon: Hello everybody. My name’s Rick McCutcheon. I’m a Dynamics 365 MVP, and I’m here on digital adoption talks. So, Digital Adoption Talks was founded because there’s 300,000 professionals on LinkedIn that have digital adoption in their title. So I’m working with Joachim Schiermacher at ClickLearn on this series of talks around digital adoption.

So today, We have with us and we’re thrilled about it. We have Tom Doran, who is highly active in the Doug user group community, and the dynamics practice at Anovia. So welcome Tom. Thanks, Rick. Glad to be here. Okay, great. So, Tom, talk a little bit about who you are, what you do, talk about Innovia and talk about your you know, your work with the user.

[00:01:00] Happier users with NAV and Business Central Expert Tom Doran, CMO Innovia 

Tom Doran: Sure. So I’ve been with Innovia for 15 years. I’m our Chief Marketing officer. I think like many of the folks in the Dynamics Channel You know, division forced us all to be fairly technical in the beginning, but I, I’m somewhat less technical than I used to be. I’ve been working with NAV and Business Central for 25 years.

INNOVIA is a team based in North America, us, Canada, little bit in Mexico, that we have a hundred team members. We’re very active in the user community. We believe that educated users that can be self-sufficient are happier users and ultimately stick with the product longer.

Rick McCutcheon: And you know, Tom, it’s great to see a partner really you know, take that positioning to say, you know, it’s not only we’re looking to deploy the system for you, we’ve gotta help build a foundation to, you know, make it work in the long term.

Right. Yeah, we agree. Okay. Okay. So Yoakum, would you like to add.

[00:02:00] User adoption is different for mid-size companies and large enterprises

Joachim Schiermacher: No, I’m very excited. I know that Tom runs a really good business around the the BC clients. And I also know that you have the very large clients, probably clients that are almost too large to be on BC, and you have a lot of mid-size clients.

And I’m really looking forward to talking about user adoption. A particular crowd of people. It’s fairly easy to do user adoption for large enterprises. It’s a completely different matter when you get down to the mid-size companies.

Rick McCutcheon: So, Tom, do you wanna talk a little bit about your commitment as a board member with the Doug user group?

[00:02:27] Free Dynamics user group for end users in North America

Tom Doran: Sure. Thanks Rick. So we found the dynamic user group several years ago. Actually had been around for decades but they’re getting much more active in North America. And the thing that we liked about the Dynamics user group is that it’s free for end users. You know, if you follow Microsoft at all, they’ve long held the position that any user group should be free for the users.

[00:03:00] User group gaining traction with online and live events

And so we find that the philosophy behind the Dynamics user group and the great forums for users to interact together really make a basis for a good community. And so when I had the opportunity to volunteer, I certainly eagerly did that. And so, you know, work closely with you, Rick and others in planning the online events and the, the live event in May.

And we’re very excited to see the traction that’s happening.

Rick McCutcheon: Okay, so why don’t we, you know, and I think both of us have been involved with user communities for some time and you know, I believe also it’s important to grow people’s profession, right? I think, you know, what I love to see is the volunteers come in, you know, we just loaded up dynamics.

We just rolled it out, and now I want to talk to other people who’ve done it, and I need a place to go to grow and learn and think about some of the people that you know, came in very, I’ll call them raw. At the beginning and you know, five years later they’re leaders in our community teaching others, and that’s what I love most about it.

[00:04:00] Research on Community around the world

So Joachim, would you like to talk a little bit about and I know Click Learn has always been a big supporter of community, so let’s talk a little bit about that as well.

Joachim Schiermacher: Yeah, I mean, we are obviously very interested in the community. It’s very special. That’s a very, very special community around the BC product.

I think you can probably relate to that, Tom. It’s an elite few people that, especially in the US, are really supporting the idea of getting BC out there. I think that you’ve managed to make that leap and, and get more and more believers in the product. I think it’s a fantastic product in the low-end and the mid-range.

It’s a super interesting product, and I think what you’ve grown inside the community, what I can see, I spent, you know, the first six years traveling around or in ClickLearn, at least. Traveling around the world to see what, what are the communities like, how are they founded? There was nothing like coming to North American Directions, for instance.

[00:05:01] Supporting community makes business sense

Right. Looking at that and seeing you know, the kind of spirit around what is in essence sort of something that came from Europe, the the BC and NAV. But certainly got a big footprint in the us by means of, of your community. So I think that’s a very strong community.

We are obviously trying to support that as much as we can because it makes sense for us from a business perspective. It makes sense but it also makes sense to make sure that once we have that strong volunteering community, that we are actually in there and, and we network within that community.

Rick McCutcheon: So Tom, you know, when we start looking at Microsoft Partners, you know, what can they do now and in the future to make communities stronger? And, you know, what role will communities really play in the future? And especially when we talk around digital adoption of cloud applications?

[00:06:00] What is digital adoption or digital transformation?

Tom Doran: Sure. You know, it’s an interesting thing.

So whether you call it digital adoption or digital transformation, at the end of the day, it’s a journey for an end user that’s moving from an older system of some variety, probably lots of spreadsheets, maybe some paper. And we’re really trying to help their companies compete in a changing world economy, right?

[00:06:24] Digital adoption and digital transformation help companies compete globally

 Global supply chains, global marketplaces. And so when you come together as a partner, making the users aware that there is this community out there and that it’s users helping users, encouraging your customers to get involved. Totally free to be involved, encouraging and supporting them. You know, I will say at Innovia I’ll ask a user, I’ll say, Hey, there’s an opportunity to speak at this conference.

[00:07:00] Partners can support end users to get established in the community

We think something you’ve done is really unique and others would benefit. And they get a little nervous, right? But when the partner says, Hey, don’t worry Joachim, I’ll get up on stage with you. I’ll help you prepare the session. And so partners can really help support those end users as they get their feet wet and get established in the community.

And then Rick, as you mentioned, it’s just, it tickles me to no end, to just watch ’em take off and, and get involved and immersed in the community.

[00:07:27] Partners can help develop local user groups

 Rick McCutcheon: And, you know from my end, running communities, it’s really, it’s been partners in certain cities who kind of develop local user groups. And I’ve kind of taken their partner hat off, put on a neutral hat and said, “Okay, what can we do to, you know, get this community going, find the right volunteers to come forward and run it?”

And I think more partners need to look at it that way and, and not, you know, a place where I can do a sales call.

[00:08:00] The keys to a profitable customer relationship

Tom Doran: You know, it’s interesting, Rick, that you mentioned that, and there was, you know, if we think back long ago and far away right, the software used to be very expensive, right?

Software is now really inexpensive to get started and there is a concept of holding our users close and trying to protect them. You know, our service hours is really an antiquated approach.

And the idea should be, look, if we’re a great resource, if we introduce them to amazing training and community, that we’re gonna have a customer for a very long time. And Microsoft certainly told us all this, and I think at Innovia we’ve experienced it.

I know ClickLearn has, if you keep a customer for a long time, that’s a, that’s a profitable relationship for the partner and it’s a better experience for the user.

Rick McCutcheon: And I think seeing your customers move up in the community and become, you know, a bit of an evangelist is important to the partners as well.

That’s right. So, so Joachim, would you like to add anything around, you know, how you see partners playing a role in these.

[00:09:00] Get the implementation team close to the community

Joachim Schiermacher: I think you have an obligation as supplier. I think that I’ve probably missed that more times than most people. That, that when you, when you go into a community stop trying to pitch product right?

It’s not where you pitch products. It is really where you have the opportunity to get an insight into your product and where, why is the product fit not there? Or what can we do to better that approach? If we are using the community for that, you’re getting much, much better results. So. I would recommend all partners to have the implementation team closer to the communities.

Stop pushing this toward marketing. But get your implementation teams in there and start getting a wealth of knowledge around how are other people doing this? And I, you know, I’m completely on board with Tom said about near the antiquated approach to, you know, this is my client. I own this client, which is, you know, in any way absurd, right?

[00:10:00] Customers talk digital adoption best

You don’t own any clients in the world, right? You’re delivering this little portion of a proposal to a client. But all the other stuff, you don’t own them. I, you should tell partners when they come and say, look, it’s my client. I own that. I said, it’s fine. You own that, but you don’t deliver pencils, right?

Rick McCutcheon:: Yeah. And I know both of you have done this in the past and I’ve worked on the stage with Click Learn where, you know, you know, we’ve got a 45 minute presentation at the user. You know, we could sit there and we could show ClickLearn, or we could bring up three customers on a panel and talk about digital adoption and how they use Click Learn, which I think is far more value to the audience,

Joachim Schiermacher: of course.

Rick McCutcheon:: Okay. All right. Well, I wanna thank you both for joining us today, talking about community. And Tom, do you have any closing thoughts?

[00:11:00] Closing thoughts: Get on board with the community

Tom Doran: It, I would just say if you haven’t looked at the Dynamics user group, go out to and have a look and then a shameless plug for click Learn. But we’re huge fans.

They help with your digital adoption, and I’d strongly encourage you to visit them if you’re not already familiar.

Rick McCutcheon:: Thanks, Tom, Joachim.

Joachim Schiermacher: We are absolutely also on the Dynamics user group. So we are in there and I can, I can sell, sell all the partners out there, get on board the idea around the communities that are, that are inside our BC dynamic space and the BC space.

And use it in the right way. Use it as the approach to doing better product services for your clients.

Rick McCutcheon:: Okay. Thank you, gentlemen. And we’ll be back to you at some point to talk more about digital adoption and communities. Have a great day. Take care. Take care.

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