By: Dann Anthony Maurno
Microsoft will be present and very approachable at Summit EMEA 2017 in Amsterdam; in fact, it is eager to listen, says Dilip Popat, Microsoft’s Director, Customer Success Management Team EMEA.
Popat will deliver the CRMUG session “Driving Customer Success & Adoption” on Wednesday, April 5 at the event, while Microsoft Dynamics 365 team leaders Jujhar Singh and Angela Bandlow will deliver the keynote product strategy and roadmap session on Thursday.
And says Popat, he and his team will be there among the customers and partners, eager both to evangelize the potential of digital transformation and to hear how it can ease the path for customers and partners. He told MSDynamicsWorld more about the significance of Summit EMEA 2017 in a transformative year.
MSDW: Summit attendees can’t get enough contact with Microsoft, what kind of access can they expect?
Dilip Popat: I’ll be presenting in one of the sessions around customer success which is the area I’m involved heavily in at Microsoft. And really, how we’re working with our customers and partners to ensure our customers are not only achieving successful deployments, but also getting business value from the investment they’ve made in Dynamics 365.
So I’ll talk a lot about our approach and best practices, and we’re very much hoping to have a customer, which we’re confirming as part of my session. And certainly there will be access with a number of members of my leadership team, including some of the customer success managers, some key customers, and networking, and in one-to-one meetings. We’re really taking the opportunity to immerse ourselves.
The community represents our customers, and we have partners there so it’s a great opportunity to network. For us, besides telling them something we are also listening. So behind the formal sessions, they should have quite a lot of access to speak to us during diverse times at the event.
James Phillips’ keynote address is wholly Dynamics 365, how will that resonate with an audience that’s AX, NAV or GP?
We’re very keen to participate and are going to provide plenty of input because of the major change we’ve obviously announced with Dynamics 365. We want to make sure our customer base, whether they’re on AX or CRM, an older or maybe on a newer version, really do understand the direction we’re taking and the opportunity it creates.
For us, it’s really at the heart of how we can help organizations, can drive this digital transformation. But the devil’s always in the details. We want to be very clear and open about the reasons that we made that change, what’s compelling about it and more importantly, depending where customers are today, how they essentially can get to those benefits and opportunities, and what the roadmap looks like for you. So it’s a massive change, and the customers need to understand the convergence we’ve brought between ERP and CRM-based functionality on a common platform – we really need to get [that message] out there.
So our objective very much is to provide that insight in every way possible, whether it’s in keynotes or break-outs or one-to-ones. That’s why we’re going to be there, to explain and demonstrate the opportunity that Dynamics 365 creates for our customers, and obviously for our partners as well.
What would you say to an attendee who tells you about digital transformation – “I’m not sold. This sounds like TQM or Six Sigma, and other stuff I didn’t do?”
I would say look at the destruction occurring in various industries and how various sectors have been blindsided. Two examples I always talk about are Uber and AirBnB, two incredible orgs that only because of digital transformation have totally disrupted those market sectors. So you really need to be listening, and have your eyes open. It’s not just about the opportunity you’re creating for you as a company, but competitors you can’t even see can completely enter and totally disrupt your market. That’s why this topic is so important, and requires deep thought.
You don’t know what disruption exists until it suddenly exists.
Exactly. I speak to customers all the time and we see that reaction – “Look, we’ve got enough we’re trying to do.” But it’s not just about the opportunity to start and build on your strength, but how can you actually evolve? Because the digital arena allows you to morph and change in a much more rapid and a new way. And I think you’ve got to be watching your back. Other companies can come in much more rapidly, without owning any assets, and can totally disrupt your marketplace. That’s why you need to spend time deeply thinking about what you can do before that happens to you.
Will there be any announcements or product roadmaps that are new after the US Summit?
I don’t believe so. Primarily because of the massive announcement we have recently made on Dynamics 365, really the focus is to provide as much information as our audience requires on that. Customers are at different stages of deployments on products, so we want to provide some clarity that the opportunity is open to everyone, and this is where you get to it.
Did Microsoft work with the Summit EMEA organizers on the content?
We’ve been proactive on the core team and also pushed the event to our customers as well. [CRMUG program manager] Tony Stein chairs and coordinates, and I’m actually part of the core team as well as one four key Microsoft colleagues; so we’ve been providing input and thoughts about the agenda session structures. As well, we are promoting the event directly with our customers, and on our website you’ll see various videos and quotes from us.
The thing I love about this event is that it is a community, a great opportunity to network among customers and partners, in formal sessions and informally.
Is there any key difference between the US Summit and Summit EMEA?
It’s an interesting community, to me, because there’s a cross section of maturity in customers and markets. There are very mature markets and customers, particularly out of Western Europe – the UK, France, Germany – but also representatives from emerging markets, from some Central European countries, and as far afield as in the Gulf and the Middle East and Africa.
People from markets which have a high level of maturity need to manage change, as opposed to markets that are developing more rapidly, which are more fluid and probably agile as a result. Many of them are looking to trade in the core European markets, and likewise in the emerging markets.
Any parting thoughts on the importance of Summit EMEA 2017?
For us the community is pretty key. We want to talk about Microsoft products, programs and benefits – [but] a lot of value comes for us really to listen to customers and understand the benefits they’re realizing, any challenges they have and what else we need to improve? So for me, besides presenting, sitting back and listening is very important. That, really, is what we’re looking to get out of this event.