97 episodes

Welcome to the "Steve reads his posts podcast". For those of you who are too busy, or too lazy, to actually read my posts, I have taken on the huge effort of reading them to you. Enjoy.

Steve reads his Blog Steve Mordue

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

Welcome to the "Steve reads his posts podcast". For those of you who are too busy, or too lazy, to actually read my posts, I have taken on the huge effort of reading them to you. Enjoy.

    Steve has a Chat with Jukka

    Steve has a Chat with Jukka

    I had the pleasure of having a chat with a Power Platform industry leader, Jukka Niiranen. Listen or Watch below. Enjoy!

    • 58 min
    How to "Do More With Less" with Microsoft

    How to "Do More With Less" with Microsoft

    In 2022 Microsoft launched a new campaign theme, "Do More With Less", in response to global economic challenges. These are the same four words that have been uttered screamed in this order by corporate leaders to their management, and management to their employees, since the beginning of time. 
    Catchy Non-instructive catchphrases like Apple's "Think Differently" are not particularly valuable. In a message to partners and employees in 2022, Microsoft's CEO extended with, "You are the change agents who make doing more with less possible – less time, less cost, and less complexity, but with more innovation, more agility, and more resilience. Doing more with less doesn't mean working harder or longer." He has also said, "In the midst of historic constraints, people and organizations turned to digital technology in 2022 to do more with less.".
    So far as "how", he suggests: Migrating to the cloud, Using AI to amplify applications, Focusing on customer needs and outcomes, and Building resilience and agility.
    Seems like this concept is similar to a Matryoshka doll, as I guess we now need to know how to do the "how".
    Less is Not Easy Layoffs are one clear way to meet the "less" criteria as it hits the duo of "less cost and less complexity". Budget Reductions clearly accomplish the "less cost" parameter. "Less time" seems harder to accomplish, mainly if you activate the first two tactics. But layoffs could motivate the survivors to "work harder or longer" to reduce time. But he specifically said, "Doing more with less doesn't mean working harder or longer." Hmm.
    Moving it into my domain of business applications, it seems a little ironic coming from a company that leads with applications that seem to battle with the "less" parameters. Dynamics 365 applications are at the upper end of the cost spectrum, take a lot of time to deploy and learn, and are about as complex as it gets!
    More is Not Easy From my life experience, for almost anything, the best you can get is any two of these: cheap, quick, or good. We spend our lives determining which two are the most relevant to anything we do, offer, or buy. If that's true, then to "do more", which I would say is "good", we can pair it with either "cheap" or "quick", but not both. Unless... a parameter is flawed... like an inflated price or an artificial drag on speed.
    An inflated price came come about in many ways. Scarcity is probably the most obvious; for example, the obscene price-to-cost ratio of NFTs. Desire is also pretty common; for example, paying twice as much for faster internet. Poor cost control being offset by a higher selling price is another one. And, of course, a savvy salesperson's job is getting you to pay the most possible. But let's say none of these factors are in play, and the price is fair for the "thing". The biggest question then is, do you need that particular thing to accomplish your goal?
    Goals The goal of a Mercedes is not transportation; it is status. It accomplishes this goal by being expensive. It is expensive because of its features like comfort, design, performance, etc. "Transportation" can be accomplished at a range of costs much lower than a Mercedes.
    "Status" is not a feature of business applications as they are invisible. So the goals for a business application should be practical, pragmatic, and focused on "fit". From a list of your current and predicted business challenges to "do more", what contender applications can best accomplish this? Now let's overlay less time, cost, and complexity to make a selection.
    Less is More One way to "Do more with Less" is to not pay for premium features irrelevant to your list. Another well-known catchphrase is "Only Pay For What You Need". So how can you do that? Maybe with the Power Platform genie that Microsoft let out of the bottle.
    In their zeal to take control of the low-code revolution that a few other startups were fueling, Microsoft threw a huge elbow when it decoupled Dynamics 365 from its platf

    • 7 min
    The Works Services-as-a-Subscription Model Update

    The Works Services-as-a-Subscription Model Update

    Back in May, I wrote a post describing a completely new Services model we call "The Works from Forceworks". It is a Services-as-a-Subscription model that is unique in the industry. I also promised to follow up with our learnings from this new model, so today I will do just that.

    The Works First, I'll remind you of what the offer is. Thanks to advances in low-code/no-code for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform we decided it was finally time to launch a completely new services model. An all-inclusive, unlimited service that included not just support, but also deployments and customizations, along with several other things. You can see what we included here. Based on our analysis of recent customer history, "The Works" will cover 100% of the requirements for about 90% of the customers.
    How's it Going? Customers are eating it up. Almost all of our existing customers have converted. I am thinking we may have left some money on the table. But now is not the time to maximize the revenue, rather now is the time to flesh this out. We wanted this to be as "turn-key" as possible starting with getting a quote that can be done right on the website. This meant "standardizing" the pricing. Today there is a Fixed Base cost, plus an additional fixed cost for certain combinations, like Dynamics for Marketing for example, and then a Per User cost.
    Part of the thinking was that the number of users would be a good measure of the work our team would need to perform. But in reality, while a good general rule, there are exceptions. For example, a simple deployment with basic needs, but a large number of users, versus a highly complex deployment with only a handful of users. For the former, the price is too high and for the latter, the price is too low. We are still thinking about the best solution to this.
    Pro-Active Almost all services offered by Partners to Customers are "reactive", responding to customer requests. This makes sense in an hourly model as it is not the Partner's job to decide how to spend the customer's money. But in an unlimited subscription model, we are able to be "pro-active" since it does not affect the customers' cost. A simple example may be once a week checking to see if all Flows are running properly or checking capacity. One of the primary differences in a Subscription model is that it is very important that the customer renews at the end of the term. Customers will scrutinize that monthly charge and compare the value they received each month. If at renewal time, they didn't see the value, they will not renew. Over a twelve-month term there will be months that are more active than others. But you cannot allow a month to go by with no activity, and this is where pro-active services fill the gaps. We are continuing to add to the list of things that we can do pro-actively to bring value and building tools to try and automate that as much as possible.
    User Support We were initially thinking this might be a big item, and for some it is. We had this idea that all users would be added to a Team or Distribution List that our team were also members of to communicate and resolve issues. Some customers loved the idea and added all users. Others preferred to keep that group small. We built a solution that we install on each customer environment that adds a life ring icon in the top navigation. This opens a form modal where a user can report an error, ask a question or suggest an improvement which via Flow is added to the Team or Distribution list. I am pretty happy with the result having seen many improvement ideas coming directly from the trenches.
    Deployments The service includes unlimited deployments. This was a dicey one, but I insisted that we include it. The easiest thing to do is to specifically exclude things from an unlimited service to reduce your risk. But you would quickly get to a point were "Unlimited" did not mean anything. This is also a key point at which an unlimited service makes extra sense. For a deplo

    • 7 min
    Power Platform Blind Spots

    Power Platform Blind Spots

    Power Platform Blind Spots

    • 8 min
    Power Platform Outside the Bubble

    Power Platform Outside the Bubble

    In my recent conversations with Charles Lamanna here and Jason Gumpert here, we discussed the explosive growth of the Power Platform. Then while listening to Jukka Niiranen on yet another podcast here, I was reminded that we are all inside the Power Platform bubble. From the outside, however, this bubble is tiny.
    Expanding Bubble There is no denying that the Power Platform's growth is impressive, but who is growing it? Microsoft has a fist-full of enterprise-sized customers who went all-in and sang the praises. But of all the enterprise-sized customers worldwide, I doubt this has touched even 1%. Sure, we have a ton of new "citizens" making things, but a "ton" does not even register on the scale. In an imaginary global IT heatmap, the Power Platform is still invisible.
    Popping the Bubble The Microsoft bubble is our constraint. Microsoft people are talking to Microsoft Customers and Microsoft Partners about Microsoft stuff. Obviously, "Microsoft" is quite visible in that imaginary heatmap, but the Power Platform is still largely unknown. While organizations may be starting to hear about components, like Power Automate, for example, too many are oblivious to the other components that make up the Power Platform whole. Many think the ability to create a reminder Flow in Power Automate is the limit.
    Mistakes Were Made I spend much of my time with customers today trying to work around go-to-market mistakes Microsoft made and continues to make. Seeded Power Apps is one. This should have been called Power Apps Lite or Basic, so people would be aware that there is something more, like Power Apps Pro. This alone would not have solved the invisibility issue, but it could be a start. I think too many feel that the seeded capabilities are the extent of it. There are undoubtedly many widget-type apps that have been built with these seeded toys, but if a customer were to inquire about more, they would reach another GTM mistake. If they want more than a simple Laptop Checkout app, the next logical step must be "Dynamics 365". I recall clearly jumping straight into a Jet cockpit after mastering my tricycle at three years old. But that was me.
    Too Small Those who somehow accidently discovered that there is more available than just the seeded capabilities realize quickly that Microsoft just gave them a toy to play with. Looking back over their shoulder, they see mostly broken toys now. Many wondering why Microsoft let them waste so much time and energy before they tripped through the curtain of awareness.
    Too Big I am not knocking Dynamics 365; Microsoft has built a colossal Power App aimed squarely at enterprise organizations. It is indeed a "step up" from the seeded toy builder. But, among the zillion features coming soon to add to the existing gabillion features are the abilities to "Create sequences with looping of repeated steps" or "Assignment by segment priority" WTF is that? I just want to sell my stuff! You will need a team of internal and external resources just to sift through the capabilities and understand what they are and whether they can do anything for you.
    Just Right? There is a space between the seeded toys and Dynamics 365, which is actually the biggest hidden space. Obviously, Microsoft would prefer that you drop half of your annual revenue subscribing to their big solutions; it is not "bad"; it is their business, no different from any other enterprise software company. In my recent chat with Charles, he said, "we have some great data about every user who adopts Power Platform is significantly more likely to adopt Dynamics within the next year or two." Maybe these users were unaware of what the Power Platform could actually do?
    Low-Code/No-Code "LCNC" This "is" the movement of this decade. The movement of the last decade was getting all but the genuinely paranoid to the cloud. But once there, many realized it wasn't cheaper; it was quite a bit more expensive, and subscriptions are like waves in the ocean; they

    • 6 min
    The Microsoft Partner Dilemma

    The Microsoft Partner Dilemma

    The Microsoft Partner Dilemma

    • 9 min

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