Guest Podcast Episode
The Impact of AI and the Cloud with Chris Gherardini
How is the evolution of AI transforming the way organizations operate? What should you be considering as the potential implications for digital adoption? In this episode, Chris Gherardini of Turnkey Technologies gives his take and emphasizes the role of Microsoft Partners in educating customers about digital adoption and driving user adoption forward. This podcast is a must-listen for anyone interested in staying up-to-date with the latest developments in the world of technology and how it is changing the way businesses operate.
See Below for the full transcription of this episode!
[00:00:00] Chris Gherardini talks digital adoption and the impact of AI and the cloud
Rick McCutcheon: Hello everybody. My name’s Rick McCutcheon. I’m a Dynamics 365 business applications MVP. And I want thank you for tuning into Digital Adoption Talks. Today, there are over 300,000 business professionals with digital adoption in their job titles on LinkedIn and on this show with my co-host Joachim Schiermacher, CEO of ClickLearn, we’re talking to some of the digital adoption leaders in our Microsoft ecosystem.
This week we are thrilled to be talking to Chris Gherardini from Turnkey Technologies. Chris, you’ve got over 25 years of experience leading your partner organization. Chris, we’d like you to introduce yourself. And tell us a little bit about you and your organization.
[00:01:00] ERP solutions delivered by Turnkey Technologies
Christiano Gherardini: Great, thanks Rick. Hi, Chris Gherardini. Yes, I am the owner and president of Turnkey Technologies. I founded the company in 1994.
So from a background standpoint, I’ve been dealing with the Dynamics solution since the mid-eighties, so closer to 35 years in the ERP space. But today, so Turnkey’s turning 29 next month. And again we’re, completely focused on the Microsoft Dynamics portfolio and the Microsoft Cloud solution stack.
Really, we lead with the business applications, again, about 85% of the practice is delivering ERP solutions, Dynamics, GP Dynamics, Business Central, Dynamics Finance and Operations. And then the remainder of the practice is really the, customer engagement platform, aka CRM, and then Power Apps, Power Platform, and certainly Modern Workplace and Azure.
So we support the entire ecosystem of the business applications for the organization. The team operates again, we’re remote, we’re in person, so we, do both. We’re US based, but we do have offshore. So we are a US-based commercial. We also have a subsidiary in Mexico City. We serve as Latin America.
We do transactions in the US and Europe. So we’re, quite busy. So again, focused on medical device manufacturing, defense contractors, professional services. It’s a lot of fun. Rick. Like I said, I’ve had a great ride and I’m still enjoying it. So thanks for having me today.
Rick McCutcheon: Okay, thank you Chris. Joachim, would you like to say hello and add anything?
[00:02:00] The transformation to AI and the cloud and Digital adoption
Joachim Schiermacher: I’d like to say hello to Chris. It’s a pleasure to have you here and I’ve been looking forward to this conversation today. I think we’re going to have fun.
Rick McCutcheon: Okay, great. We’ll start out by just talking about digital adoption in general because the world’s going through this transformation to cloud.
[00:02:20] Organizations pivot with the cloud and AI
Now we’re going transformation to AI. Lots of things are happening to organizations. So many organizations are pivoting. As, Chris you were saying, to more of a mobile workforce where we’re not sitting together, we’re not meeting quite as often. How do you think organizations are coping with this change that’s really starting to occur now, but really started to rev up three or four years ago.
Christiano Gherardini: There’s an, I would say, continuous evolution. So is what we saw happen in the early portions of Covid. And there was a lot of scrambling in 2000, but instantly in March of 2020, everybody didn’t come back to work.
[00:03:00] Pivot to culture-building
And so even in our organization, we had a building full of people. And you think about the reaction to that. Now, fast forward, it’s been three years. Wow. A lot of evolution in, thought processes around, Are we all remote? Are we hybrid? And, again, but as that evolution continues, people have pivoted on tools and they’ve pivoted on policies and they’ve pivoted on trying to, build culture.
So there’s a lot of challenges. I could talk about a number of those points, which one’s the best one to dive off on. The emergence of new tools in new markets. It’s interesting how, people do pivot where three years ago we couldn’t think about this and now all of a sudden it’s part of life.
[00:03:30] Challenges of younger workers
Remote tools, remote video conferencing, even before that people didn’t have cameras on. There’s a lot more visibility and transparency into how people look and interact with each other. But again the challenge with not having in-person is still compromising, I believe in our business as well.
And I think it compromises young workers. The senior workers really didn’t have a problem with it, but the younger workers have been challenged. I think that as, things change, the culture, the work culture the work disciplines, the ethics, there’s a lot of things that are different.
[00:04:00] Technology can’t fix everything
There was a mindset, I think before Covid, that you couldn’t deliver an enterprise CRM or ERP project without being on the ground with somebody. I think that’s gone away. I think that we thought it went away, but let’s, practice psychology for a minute.
I went back to grad school to take psych because people didn’t work, right? And I’ve seen things fall apart because the people don’t get any contact. And in my opinion, you can do a large part of the life cycle of the deployment remotely. No question about it. Lot of efficiencies, saving on t and e.
However, I do believe that without building a rapport relationship with clients at the onset of a project, there’s a compromised risk. I’ve seen it personally.
So certainly we look at four touchpoints on an ERP implementation. We want the teams to be together at the very onset in the analysis phases and let them start building those relationships. Because I’m going guarantee you faces on the screen, they’re not going to get to that point that they need where they trust.
[00:05:00] Teams need to align on certain touchpoints
Trust is a big deal. And again, without trust in an implementation? So I think there’s still a problem there, and the people think they’d be a hundred percent remote. Maybe they’re lucky, maybe they’re smaller transactions, simpler, but in a larger, more involved, I really believe that there are multiple touchpoints where teams need to be together to, really take the success to a new level.
Opinion. And again, based on past performance, I think it’s a real deal.
Rick McCutcheon: Great. Joachim, would you like to add anything to what Chris said?
[00:05:30] Minimize technical implications and drive change with AI and the cloud
Joachim Schiermacher: Yeah I, agree. The biggest problem here is if you want to drive change. I can see that in my own business, but I can definitely see that among our clients. If you have larger change projects where you’re trying to impact, maybe even you have cultural impact, on a large rollout of a solution, you might have severe technical implications.
[00:06:00] User adoption issues stem from remote-only rollouts
You have severe user adoption issues. If you need to cover all of that remotely, I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think that if we look at the mergers and acquisition business, I can see in that business at least that there’s still a lot of groundwork to be done.
When it comes to building up the liaison, right? You need to build up trust when you’re making significant changes. Whether that’s on m and a side or whether it’s in an implementation project. If that’s not there, that level of trust is not going to happen.
I also see that, I think that maybe I’m, starting to get to the age where I’m confusing everything and mixing it up, right? It might be a little bit of covid, a little bit of Generation Z and a little bit of this and that, and everything is mixed up. But when I look at it from the outside, there’s definitely a change.
I think that the young people or the new workers that are coming into an organization, they’re definitely getting the B treatment, not the A treatment. And we can see that from a user adoption perspective, right? We’re very focused on user adoption. When we initially roll out the project, that’s where we really want to be aligned.
[00:07:00] Remote work makes training new employees challenging
But are we covering the new employees that are coming into our organization at a later point? And what will the impact be when there’s no longer a colleague sitting right next to you? That can actually train you on doing your daily work? But that colleague is now a remote worker and it’s it’s a game changer.
And I’m not sure that we’ve seen the end of where this is taking us, but I can see that there are many things that have not become easier by having remote work, at least.
[00:07:30] Build relationships with live events
Rick McCutcheon: And maybe this is why we’re seeing these conferences, these live conferences coming back very strong right now. And Chris and I were at one last week in Florida that was probably 25% bigger than it was the year before.
I think maybe we need to see each other again and to keep building this relationship if we’re doing business together.
Joachim Schiermacher: Yeah, I think we also think it’s important, right? In all aspects of our lives we, need to build that rapport because trust is what is, it’s the foundation of every business, right?
[00:08:00] AI & collaboration tools: Digital adoption pivot
Rick McCutcheon: So today we’re talking about digital adoption which is part of all this, but what technologies do we see coming down the pike right now that are really going to affect digital adoption in the next couple of years? And we’ll start with you, Chris.
Christiano Gherardini: Sure. As, we look at the way the tools have changed and the pivot, and again, three years ago, right?
Oh, online collaboration tools. Wow. We talk about good stocks that you should have owned. But again the adoption of that and the evolution of those tools has come a long way. Even video effects, Hey, there’s a whole new pallets for backgrounds and stuff to make people, and there’s even, are they doing those makeover things?
[00:08:30] Remote work makes collaboration tools necessary
But again, just the, collaboration tools are part of it. But if you think about. Other tools besides that, even project management tools for collaboration. And then, okay, so what, else is we look at the, reliance on CRM platforms for communication and capture. Really, because everybody’s apart, it’s not like I can go look and share and collaborate hardcopy documents.
[00:09:00] Collaboration platforms & AI Revolutions
So we’ve gone to a completely digital model where everything’s accessible from everywhere ¬–That’s not going to change. But as we think about now, AI coming into the play, it’s okay, how’s that changing? Because again now people are so used to not dealing with contact, having real people, we’re substituting artificial processes for people.
So there’s a whole other revolution that’s going to go there. So there’s certainly industries I think are going to do better by this. Other ones that’s still going to be challenging. But the collaboration platforms are just part of it. I think they’ve matured very, well from a performance standpoint.
[00:09:23] Take paper out of the equation!
They weren’t ready on the front end, but, now the rest of the tool in the business applications, in the mobile apps where they’ve now really, how do we create these apps to support the people that are not in the building? AP automation. Think about it. Nobody wants to touch paper. Take paper outta the equation.
There’s another example. But even, as you look at and we didn’t hear that word next to each other, mimic. People learn by mimicking each other. So you go back to what are the substitute technology tools that can simulate, mimicking and learning. There we go. That’s the, there’s the ClickLearn plug.
But that is it. As you look at how do we change the way that we learned in the past as well. So there’s evolution I see in the tools. I see it in what what your company’s doing. But there’s a couple more examples there. Going to continue to evolve.
[00:10:00] The biggest game changer: AI
Rick McCutcheon: Okay. And Joachim, would you like to add anything about what technology coming that’s going to change what we learn?
Joachim Schiermacher: Definitely the the evolution of AI, I think is probably the biggest game change. I think in three years we’re going to see two teams. There’s a team and a B team, the ones that understand how to utilize that technology and the ones that are left behind.
So I make a a really strong impact in trying to, at least in my business, to make sure that everyone gets on the right train and starts working with this technology.
[00:10:38] Marketing and AI
I’m concerned on a number of areas around the AI platform and what I think it is going to do the quality of the content. I think from a marketing perspective, we’re going to see much more content automatically generated by AI out there.
And I think that at some point we are hitting a dilution where the entire foundation of the AI is not AI, which is going to be so weird to look at. I think it’s that will be definitely be the the wrong side of the evolution.
[00:11:00] Data Breakdown, ChatGPT, AI, Machine Learning
I can see in my industry at least that the way that we’ve been thinking about AI for so long is about how do we do machine learning? How do we do data breakdown? Stuff like that. It’s completely going to change.
Now we are going to see AI in a completely different perspective after ChatGPT, and I think it’s going to be incorporating more technology.
[00:11:30] Possibilities with Microsoft and AI
I like some of the things that Microsoft is doing, which is fantastic, right? You can now have teams automatically do a summary of your teams meetings, right?
It’s a plug-in and you get a written written summary. Do you want one page, two pages, or do you just want 400 words on what was being talked about for two hours? I have no idea what that will bring us, but it’s amazing. It’s an amazing journey we are on, and we are living it.
This is something our kids are going talk about someday. We were there when it happened.
[00:12:00] New rules for engagement brought about by technological changes
Rick McCutcheon: And it’s going to get interesting about what gets recorded. So I think people are going to be careful. I think people are going to say, Hey, you need to ask permission if you want to record. I think a lot of these technologies are coming very quick. But I think they’re going to sprout a whole new set of rules and a whole new way that we engage with people.
Chris, would you like to add anything? And the next question I have for you is really. How’s, what’s the role of the Microsoft partner in this future?
[00:12:30] In AI-encrusted future, what’s the role of Microsoft partners?
Christiano Gherardini: Sure, Yeah just, a couple comments. I think that people will lose skillsets. In that evolution, people forget how to do things and I think that’s one of the, one of the risks.
[00:12:39] Jump on filters
And I think the other thing that the opportunity that’s out there, Rick, in terms of technical products that should come into market and someone may jump on this is filters. We’ve got a new app called filters. Let’s filter all the information because I think your point is right, Joachim is that it’s going to be an overabundance of noise.
[00:13:00] Microsoft partners will take a visionary role
And, so people will be diluted in terms of are they focusing on the correct content? And I think that the concept of filtering in life it’s, going to be a bigger deal. Maybe that’s an app opportunity out there to create filters for yourself. But the role of the Microsoft partners just said it’s envisioning, it’s visionary.
It’s ‘Let me show you how the world can be different through the use of these tools’. And a lot of times people, they can’t see that. They’ve not had referenceable examples.
And in the example of the partner, I see all types of things. I’ve watched people do things for 35 years. I can tell you who does it well, who does it bad. Anyway. But those are the messages and the visions that we have to carry out to the customer market.
[00:13:30] The vision of what the world can be
We have to create that vision of how the world can be different with a power app, for example, or how an actionable power BI report can work, or how a chatbot. Can really improve customer service. And today, are you using chat bots and be like, I don’t know, what’s that?
Do well, imagine it saying hello to your customer right away. Oh wow. That could be great that he’s getting real-time service. But again, back to the blur factor. But partners. Exactly. We have to show them the way, it’s the lead by example. I always argue to people that say, what do I need? What do you need? Okay, you need to come in and tell me what I need. And that’s the partner.
[00:14:00] Partners will need to bring ideas to the table
The partner can’t show up and not have some kind of an idea. But it is those experiences in delivering new solutions for other customers, improving their work and, demonstrating the ROI and saying, these are successful solutions people can put them in and have the similar outcomes as other organizations.
That’s our role, in my opinion.
And I think to add on to that, the partner’s going to have to change the way they communicate with the customer. I don’t think they can wait around for the customer to ask for something.
[00:14:35] Partners will also need to educate customers
I think we need to be ongoing in our education of customers because it’s coming at us so fast and we understand a lot of it. And I just don’t think the customers do or they don’t understand how to absorb it in their organization.
And, on that point, if you think about it as drip marketing, How do I educate people incrementally? So even my huge book of GP customers, How do I start showing them the way forward?
I used the example that Microsoft would like to clear the room. I said, no, just open the doors and entice them out. But I think part of that is how do you show them that journey?
[00:15:00] Show legacy customers: the roadmap for incremental knowledge
My job as a partner is to convince these legacy customers that there’s a vision that’s not insurmountable. That’s my job, and I have to show that roadmap and tell that story and anyway, whichever tool I use. And again, part of this is incremental knowledge and visualization. So we’re, trying to leverage all those things out there.
Rick McCutcheon: So Joachim, how would you like to see the partners that you work with in the future sort of engage in digital adoption?
[00:15:22] Partners commit resources toward user adoption
Joachim Schiermacher: I think that they’re doing the right thing. So I think we are seeing an increasing amount of partners that are building up the practices inside their business. And that means actually committing resources to and, finding out that it’s good business to have user adoption because effectively that is what pays the, bills because it’s about successful products.
And part of that journey and success be having successful customers that is actually educating and making sure that they’re continuously educated inside the platform. So I think that that journey is is already going.
[00:16:00] Partners should present a coherent vision of business transformation
I think out of the partners that we have today, I think half of them are committed to building up that practice and on, a very good movement in that. So I, don’t think I think that we have the same role from, my perspective that, I think Microsoft Partners have that you touch on Chris, which is we need to show the vision and the way forward.
It’s not about it’s not about taking out the Order book and saying how many pieces of this do you need? And how many pieces of this do you need? It’s really about coming up with a coherent vision on how can your business be transformed. And the same thing we need to do for our partners.
[00:16:30] Driving user adoption forward
We need to show them that there is a coherent plan around driving the user adoption forward. And I think we, are accomplishing that slowly with the partners, and the partners are committing to building up businesses around us. So we happy to share that.
Rick McCutcheon: All right, great. Chris, I wanna thank you for joining us today on this podcast.
And I’d ask you just for a couple of closing remarks.
[00:17:00] Supporting user’s learning through investments in the right tools is key
Christiano Gherardini: Yeah, the, emphasis on adoption is, as you said, it’s the key to success is to support the users in learning and actually using the tools in measuring that and continuing to invest in this. And it doesn’t stop. Again it’s, Instrumental in the business, that success of your user community and using the tools that you’ve selected will drive your business success.
Rick McCutcheon: Okay, thank you. Joachim, anything from your end?
Joachim Schiermacher: It’s been a real pleasure having you, Chris. Sometimes these discussions, they take us way beyond the topic of user adoption, this one of those days.
[00:17:30] The psychology of working in a mobile workforce
Where we are just we are starting out with user adoption in ai and talking about the psychology of working in a mobile workforce. Also working from home. So this has been really interesting.
Christiano Gherardini: Good stuff. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. Thanks Rick.
Rick McCutcheon: Thank you gentlemen.
And we’ll see you soon and talk to you more in the future, Chris, about the cloud, AI and digital adoption.