Business Transformation with Microsoft Business Apps with Lipi Sarkar

Business Transformation with Microsoft Business Apps with Lipi Sarkar

#101. DynamicsCon starts next week. Lipi Sarkar is presenting two sessions at DynamicsCon and joins me to share the highlights from her presentations as well as her book, Build a Digital Future.

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Neil Benson: Have you registered for DynamicsCon yet? This free community conference for aspiring Dynamics 365 and Power Platform superheroes kicks off in just a couple of days. It runs from Monday the 20th to Thursday the 23rd of September. And my guest today is another DynamicsCon speaker, Lipi Sarkar who shares with us a glimpse into two sessions she'll be presenting next week. Registered today at DynamicsCon.com.

 Welcome back to the last in this short series of Amazing Apps show where I've been highlighting some of the presenters at next week's DynamicsCon conference. 

You can find the show notes and a transcript for this episode [00:01:00] at AmazingApps.Show/101. 

Today I'm joined by Lipi Sarkar, a digital transformation consultant from London in the UK. Lipi is also the co-author of a book, 'Building a Digital Future', which we'll touch on in this episode. 

And just before we chat with Lipi, I wanted to say congratulations to James Wood at Incremental, Ewelina Bredzinska at Redspire, Brent O'Toole at Veritec and Graeme Crouch at ITK Consulting. They all work for Microsoft partners who have enrolled our team is in my Scrum for Microsoft Business Apps partners course. And they've recently completed the course. You can find out more at Customery.com/ScrumForPartners. 

Here's Lipi Sarkar.

Lipi, thank you so much for joining us on the Amazing Applications podcast. It's fantastic to have you on the show. 

Lipi Sarkar: Hi, Neil. It's been a long time. I have been waiting for this podcast, so amazing, amazing, amazing [00:02:00] for me to be invited into your podcast. 

Neil Benson: Oh, it's so good to speak to you finally. You and I have known each other for a while. I think our careers overlapped for a short time, a few years ago at KPMG, you were working in the UK or still are working in the UK. I was here in Australia. Tell us about your career in Microsoft business applications. We'd love to get to know you a little bit better. 

Lipi Sarkar: Thank you. I have been in Microsoft industry for a long time. I have started my career with consulting and looked into different kinds of technologies, but what stood out Microsoft CRM since the days of version one, but I have been working, but the different organization and, you know, trying to bring the business benefit to the organizations. And since Microsoft has made a lot of changes in the product itself in the CRM and I'm talking about those days where it was just the customer engagement space. Not customer services or the field services space. So since then I thought like it's a long way to go. And then I, moved to you know, different organization, obviously. We have overlapped in the career path while I [00:03:00] was at KPMG leading the practice in UK. And as part of KPMG as well, have been involved into number of roll-outs. And they, you know, leading the digital transformation in the Microsoft space with the CRM, with field services and customer services. 

Neil Benson: And where is it you're working today? 

Lipi Sarkar: Today? I'm freelancing. So, helping organization, to, you know, bring up that efficiency to drive their efficient digital transformation across you know, are different parts of Microsoft business applications. I have got experience of working with Finance and Operations, Retail, as well as the Customer Engagement. 

Neil Benson: Wow. Okay. I haven't touched much to do with Finance and Operations or Commerce or Retail, so yeah, you've got a few strings to your bow there, well done. 

Lipi Sarkar: Thank you. I've just wanted to explore more about the capabilities of Dynamics 365. I had been in the customer engagement space but I thought of, you know, look into the other side to where you can bring, and drive operational efficiency within the organization, through Finance and Operation, and also the [00:04:00] manufacturing, industry and retail. So yeah, it's quite a lot of, you know, the capabilities that is embedded within the product itself. 

Neil Benson: And how do you find it running your own business? Being an independent consultant? 

Lipi Sarkar: Oh, it's scary. I must say that, but I love the time I'm spending with my customers. I love the you know, the, the working directly with them. And bringing any kind of efficiency you're bringing any kind of benefit that is directly linked to the customers. So, a lot of heart is also involved into, you know, working with the clients.
So yeah, Definitely. enjoying that piece. 

Neil Benson: Do you find yourself working for just one client at a time or are you juggling multiple projects at the same time? How does it work for you?

Lipi Sarkar: I do have multiple clients at the same time. So yeah, so that keeps me, you know, talking to different community of people talking to different businesses. So, it's a different sectors, different industry. 

Neil Benson: Yeah. I find that the hardest challenge I've got two or three projects at the moment. And it's okay when they're all balanced and everybody knows which days of the week I'm [00:05:00] available for them. But when they want some of my time for workshops outside of those scheduled days, it gets pretty tricky trying to schedule, everything. I'm sure you must find the same. 

Lipi Sarkar: Absolutely. Sometimes it can be crazy depending on which area or where you are in the project. which phase of the project you're working on for a particular client. 

Neil Benson: You've got a couple of presentations coming up at DynamicsCon, which is one of the reasons I wanted to drag you into our podcast to share with us some details about those sessions.

You've got two coming up. One is at 10:30 on Monday, the 20th of September, and that's 'Learn How to Empower Yourself to Solve Business Challenges'. And you've got Samit as a co- presenter there. And then the next day on Tuesday, the 21st of September at 9:00 AM, you've got 'How to Start with Power Platform and move to Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement and Field Service'.

So lots going on at DynamicsCon. 

Lipi Sarkar: It's amazing that I've got that you know, two sessions. I really grateful to DynamicsCon for that. And the way it happened is the first session, as you [00:06:00] mentioned I will be doing with Samit. He is a solution specialist in London Heathrow, and the are going to talk about, you know, that today's business challenges. So start with what are today's best, the challenges and where you are. And I would like to talk about, you know, the different roles and responsibilities, within the organization and how can you pick up one business challenge and try to resolve it, with Power Platform. And Samit will be there. We will be talking about how you can create Power Apps in five minutes. And then talk about that the different life cycle that you have to manage around to their Power Platform and starting from the ideation to creating a Power App. What are the key things that you need to think about? And that's, that's what we are covering in the first session.

And the other session that I have got to answer guest speaker will be having Eric McKinney, Director at G & J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers. And there we are going to talk about learn how to start with Power Platform and move to Dynamics 365 CE and Field Services. Now this is a different track because I've seen clients starting with Dynamics 365, maybe [00:07:00] Customer Engagement as a first one, but here we are going to talk about again, starting with the business challenges and what are the data that an organization might be having at the current point in time, and how you can bring your own workforce to talk about your data, to understand the data a little bit more. And then use that data once they have got that understanding and then surface it to the customer engagement and field services and what kind of advantages and benefits, with the transparency of data from your organization that, that are coming through.

So, hence we would like to touch upon the business, the current business challenges and go into the area with the demo of Power Platform, whatever application has been done and the demo of the Dynamics CE and Field Services that has been covered in G & J as well. 

Neil Benson: I've got a client who started with Power Apps and wanted to move to Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. So they started building really it's a customer portal where customers can come in and register their projects. Now, they want to turn that [00:08:00] into a membership database. They discovered that you can't install Dynamics 365 Sales or Marketing or Customer Service on top of a Dataverse environment. You have to have installed it right back at the start when you first provisioned your Dataverse environment. And I don't want this to be a, you know, a technical how-to, but interested to, to see if you've had other organizations who have adopted Power Apps and then wanted to adopt Dynamics 365 as well. 

And what's that transition been like for them? Do they have to step up their game? And is that the point in which they hire a partner where maybe they were building Power Apps themselves? What does that transition look like? 

Lipi Sarkar: It's, it's amazing. I mean, in terms of creating a vision. I think it's really useful to know what are the limitations and what you can bring in on day one.
But with the current customers I've had, it's not been, you know, the journey of Power Apps to Dynamics 365 using the Dataverse. It's mostly about using the Power Apps, mainly. Using the data with the Power Apps and then trying to bring that [00:09:00] data. Because by that time, they have been using in the app so they have done a lot of cleansing already. And they know what kind of what part of data that will be useful. Yes, a good point about bringing, you know, the partner who knows about the limitations and what can be dealt with or bringing in specialists who would be absolutely clear about to what base foundations you need to bring in. 

Neil Benson: And how did you line up some of these guest speakers? You talked about the co-presenting that you're doing with Samit. You've got a guest speaker from G & J Pepsi coming in to your Power Platform and Dynamics 365 session. You seem pretty well connected in the industry.

Lipi Sarkar: I think the journey started much earlier because while I was writing a book, 'Building a Digital Future', and this is about the capabilities of Dynamics 365, but at the same time, we wanted to bring about, talk about what are the challenges that the businesses have overcome. So in the book that I've written, coauthored with Vinny. 

And this talks about number of case studies, where we have discussed about what are the challenges the businesses are going through. What are the key guiding [00:10:00] principles they have taken to overcome those challenges and the end of it, what are the advantages? What are the benefits they have delivered to the business? 
I think the connection came through that and I'm pretty much here while during the COVID to everything was like very much going down very slow. So I took the opportunity to talk to a number of people from the industry and to understanding their challenges, understanding what they have come through.

And I was connected with Samit from that point in time, I was connected with Eric. And when this opportunity came around about DynamicsCon, I thought of, you know, it would be really great to combine and talk about the real practical examples that we have seen in the industry. 

Neil Benson: So congratulations on the book. It's 'Building a Digital Future'.

Lipi Sarkar: Thank you, Neil. Yeah. 

Neil Benson: And how long has that been available now? 

Lipi Sarkar: It was published around May this year. First started in U.S. And then I think came a month later, UK and everywhere. Now it is available worldwide. Whichever country you are, you can order the book. Yes, we have written about Dynamics 365,[00:11:00] but you can apply that book across any kind of technology or any kind of industry. So I would like to reach out to as many number of people as we can and t alk about this book. Talk about what else we can do And what are the different kinds of areas they're having business problems or business pain points that we can resolve. 

Neil Benson: And tell me about the process of speaking at DynamicsCon. What was that like? Were you one of the applicants in the public voting system this year? 

Lipi Sarkar: Well, that was an interesting process. We submitted our onto to talk about. And then the way I have done is I have recorded a small video of myself just so that people can see me and what I'm going to talk about. But it was really an amazing experience. With DynamicsCon, it was the first time. So there are some guidance on principles, and so you've, you have been guided throughout our tar recording session. So very grateful. 

Neil Benson: I did two sessions with them. I'm not going to do one this year, but it's a really fantastic experience, I think, they do a great job, especially for first time speakers. If you've [00:12:00] never done a video recording before they've got audio visual specialists who handhold you through the entire process. So I hope you find it as easy and as much fun as I did. 

Lipi Sarkar: Yeah, it was definitely great fun.

But you immediately knew where to stop. And there was totally a briefing about what we should be doing and how we would be doing so. Yeah. it was a great process.

Neil Benson: Have you done a lot of other conference presentations or your a regular at the UK user groups or anything? 

Lipi Sarkar: I did a long time back in the UK user group while I was at KPMG. I did some and then I think in my career took it in a different direction. So have been trying out to bit, obviously didn't present much. But after the book came out I think I have been talking in different communities and also with the Dynamics communities.

So, we have been doing that quite a lot this year. 

Neil Benson: I really missed the chance to meet in person and present at conferences, especially if you've got a book, you know, it's something really tangible that people can go and buy at a conference bookstore . I know there's a couple of conferences coming up in the UK. You've got one on the south [00:13:00] coast, South Coast Summit, coming up and Scottish Summit coming up in February next year. So I hope you get a chance to go along to those. Any plans to attend? 

Lipi Sarkar: Absolutely. I'm looking forward to you at least to make one. I definitely looking forward for the Scottish Summit in February. 

Neil Benson: Just to go back to the sessions you're doing at DynamicsCon, what type of audience should be attending your sessions? 

Lipi Sarkar: I think anybody thinking about digital transformation and they have got a fair idea of Dynamics but are still thinking about where to start and how to start. Okay. It will give a flavor of, you know, what you can do with the Dynamics 365. What you can do with a Power Platform. And anybody interested you can definitely come along and to ask questions. 

Neil Benson: It sounds like it's really a great one for our business audience who are maybe starting out on the journey of deploying Dynamics 365, or considering it.

Lipi Sarkar: Absolutely. Yeah. 

Neil Benson: Any plans to do any more conference speaking later on in the year? 

Lipi Sarkar: I'm looking forward to reach out to different countries as well. So currently we have been doing quite a lot with the US and have done in [00:14:00] UK and Canada. Also I have done one for the Pakistan user group. So looking forward to do something and the India user group as well.

So now it is easier because you can reach out through podcasts. You can reach out to any countries. They just have to match where the time zone. But yeah, looking forward to talk to as many as possible. 

Neil Benson: So Lipi, if people want to catch up with you and follow you and find out more about the book, where's the best place to find you? 

Lipi Sarkar: In LinkedIn, you can connect me through LinkedIn And also we have got a site for the book, BuildADigitalFuture.com, and to the book is available through Amazon. 

Neil Benson: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us on the Amazing Applications podcast.
Is there anything else you'd like to add before we let you go?

Lipi Sarkar: No, the pleasure is mine, Neil, to talk to you after such a long period of time and to yeah, really grateful. Thank you.

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