In this week’s episode of Enterprise Software Podcast, Todd, Bob & Darcy discuss the latest industry news, and interview Jerry Norman, CEO of SmartBridge Partners and Jim Woodhead, Vice President of Professional Services at DSD Business Systems.
Jerry Norman co-founded SmartBridge Partners in 2003 as a merger of his Customer Relationship Management consultancy (Market Answers) with two “back office” systems (manufacturing, accounting, operations control and HR management) firms. SmartBridge offers full-service sales, design and implementation of both CRM and ERP systems for organizations with up to $100 million in revenue. SmartBridge uses products from Sage Software, Infor and related suppliers to fill these customer needs.
Also a certified Sage 100 ERP (formerly MAS 90) consultant, he applies his operations experience to the real-world control and financial reporting needs of these clients. He acts as Sr. Project Manager for back office projects at SmartBridge, ensuring that the considerable skills of SmartBridge’s technical consultants are best used in delivering value to clients.
Jim Woodhead is the manager of the professional services team at DSD Business systems. He oversees all the activities relating to the implementation and the technical support for customers for the SAGE 100 (MAS90/200) product line and related software packages that integrate with SAGE 100.
The topics covered in this episode include:
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Episode 57 Transcription
TODD Hello and welcome to Enterprise Software Podcast, the world’s first independent podcast dedicated to business applications. We provide news, views, reviews, and interviews for CEOs, CIOs, developers, users, and partners. My name is Todd McDaniel.
BOB I’m Bob McAdam. The views expressed by the hosts on this show are not those of Dynavistics, Dynamic Communities, or Website Pipeline.
DARCY And I’m Darcy Boerio. Links to some of the things we’re discussing today are readily available at enterprisesoftwarepodcast.com. Visit our homepage, click on any episode title, and you’ll find that episode’s specific page with all the links in the red “download audio” button.
BOB Welcome to another episode of Enterprise Software Podcast here in late January 2017. And we thought we’d spend some time before we get to our 90 Minds board members, Jerry and Jim, to talk about what’s goin’ on with the events calendar for 2017, which we’ve prepped and is readily available at enterprisesoftwarepodcast.com.
DARCY Not a moment too soon. We’re gettin’ this out hopefully before the first event of the year starts, so.
BOB That’s right. And that first event is in a wonderful place, San Diego, California and it’s the Acumatica Summit. Nice choice of spot there, nice destination.
TODD Yea, absolutely. Wouldn’t mind San Diego in January. Couldn’t beat that.
DARCY Not bad. I kinda wish it was in Orlando again. It was kinda nice to be able to pop over there, but we did get invited to attend the Acumatica Summit as Enterprise Software Podcast. They’re one of our sponsors now, so mutual partnership there, but we’re not gonna be able to make that trip.
TODD I see a trend in where they’re planning their events, though. Orlando, San Diego. Probably not headed to Chicago next would be my guess. So movin’ into February.
DARCY Well the big event, obviously, is the Website Pipeline Partner Huddle. And by the way, if you guys are having events, feel free to let us know and we’ll put them on the events calendar as well, so shameless plug, but you know. The Website Pipeline Team called and let us know about this event coming up in Greenville, South Carolina.
TODD Their PR department let out a release?
DARCY We’re having a few dozen of our partners coming into our office in Greenville, South Carolina. We’re bringing in, we have nine other ISVs participating, we have two expert speakers: Jon Rivers, Marketing Monarchs and Pat Falle with Avalara. And we also have a handful of Sage representatives coming in to support the event as well. So it’s gonna be pretty exciting.
BOB Wow, you’ve got Jon Rivers and Pat speaking at your event. Two past guests, that’s nice.
TODD Yup. In beautiful Greenville, which is also nice in February, I assume.
DARCY I don’t know. It’s all relative, right? I’m flying north to get there, so anyway
TODD That’s true.
DARCY And then later in February, of course, I’ll be coming home, repacking and heading out to the 90 Minds Meeting of the Minds, which we’re gonna hear a lot more about shortly in San Diego.
TODD Back to San Diego. So 90 Minds is in San Diego along with SLA, right?
DARCY That’s correct.
BOB Alright, jumping into March, our company Dynamic Communities is doing the first Dynamics 365 Tech Conference in Seattle. And it’s centered around Dynamics 365 Operations. i.e. AX7. And we’re managing that event for the first time instead of Microsoft. So we’re excited to jump into that, that’s for sure.
DARCY Wow, okay. So not to go totally off topic on this, but how do you emphasize that it’s more around the AX7 portion?
BOB Yea, we’ve talked about that. Should we include CRM? Should we not? Essentially, Microsoft wants to concentrate on Dynamics 365 operations piece of the Enterprise edition of Dynamics 365, so that’s where we’re focusing.
DARCY And is this event for partners and users? Or both?
BOB Yes. It’s just for partners. It’s just a training …? deal for partners up there near the mothership.
TODD I guess you’re pretty much gonna be out on the west coast for the month of March because the Altec Doc-Link Evolution Conference is in Newport Beach.
TODD Just south of LA there. And then Bob, you will be in beautiful Anaheim in March for GPUG Amplify, right?
BOB That’s right. GPUG Amplify is March 20-22 out in Anaheim at the Marriott, same place we had it last year. It’s kinda nice to be able to say that GPUG Amplify is the only Microsoft Dynamics end user event in the first quarter of this year, you know? The first quarter of each year was always dominated by Convergence and that’s no more. And Envision has also been sacked. So we’re looking forward to having a nice, intimate event there at the Marriott Anaheim March 20th for Dynamics GP end users and partners.
TODD I have a pro tip for anybody attending the GPUG Anaheim. The drinks are slightly cheaper at the Hilton across the street. So if you want a slightly cheaper bar tab, you can just walk across the street and they are slightly cheaper. And then staying out on the west coast in Bellevue in March, we have the Microsoft Data Insights Summit, which I guess is their equivalent to kind of the IBM Watson, Data Sciences, Big Data, whatever you wanna call it, whatever buzz word it is this week. That’ll be in Bellevue.
BOB Yea, that show has done well in the past, from what I’ve heard. And I agree, you’re right. Except for the Website Pipeline Partner Huddle, everything in the first quarter of 2017 is on the west coast. It’s amazing.
TODD Yes, so then we move into April, which is tax time. So for tax time, Bob will be escaping to the Dynamics Summit in Amsterdam. Is that true, Bob?
BOB Well, it’s not entirely true. Our company is hosting Summit EMEA But unfortunately, it’s not for GPUG It’s only AXUG, CRMUG, NAVUG, and PBIUG. But we are trying to do an event over there in Europe each year. We did a European Congress last year and we wanna work on opening that marketplace and people in Europe are looking for an event. Convergence hasn’t been in Europe in several years and there’s a need to have one there. So we’re hoping to work diligently on that side of the pond and grow this event for European customers and partners.
TODD So Amsterdam in April. Not bad. Then we have the ITA Spring Collaborative, which is in St Petersburg, Florida. Very key there to mention Florida, not Russia. St Petersburg, Florida.
DARCY Yea. And it’s kind of fun. This year we’re gonna have a speaker. Frank Abagnale is gonna be one of the keynote speakers. He’s the Catch Me If You Can guy.
TODD Oh, really? Oh cool. Oh that would be interesting.
BOB Yea, no kidding. Okay. And is that at the Vinoy or is that at Don Cesar?
DARCY I believe it’s the Vinoy.
TODD I think it’s the Vinoy.
BOB I think you’re right. I think Todd and I may have to sneak out there and make sure Darcy’s not the only Enterprise Software Podcast folk out there. That’ll be a cool. I wanna meet Stan and see this event for myself.
TODD And if you haven’t spent any time in downtown St Petersburg, it is a nice place to be.
DARCY Oh, man. It’s super nice. It’s very up and coming, trendy, lots of cool little restaurants and bars and stuff.
TODD Yup. And the Vinoy’s a very neat, historic hotel and right on the water, so it’s a nice place to be.
DARCY It’ll be nice weather, too. Alright, TPAC in Niagara Falls. That’s the third-party Advantage Conference. That is a Sage 300 Partner Event primarily. And so the Sage 300 companies that make the add-on products for Sage 300 come up there and show their goods to the Sage 300 partners. So they’re a predominantly Canada based group. So it’s a good spot for them to have that event.
BOB SuiteWorld in Las Vegas for the NetSuiters rounds out the April events calendar. That should be a pretty good show, I imagine. Good attendance.
TODD It’s interesting. If you go to their website now, it’s A SuiteWorld. And then underneath it, it says Oracle plus NetSuite.
BOB Oh, really?
TODD Oracle already getting their logo right on there, so.
BOB I hadn’t noticed that. Interesting.
TODD And early bird pricing has been extended, they say. But yea, SuiteWorld in Las Vegas. So that should be definitely interesting. I wonder if at some point they roll that into more of an Oracle show, but anyways. So that does it for April. Moving onto May, we have another Dynamics UG So in St Louis.
BOB We’re all over this calendar, aren’t we?
DARCY No wonder you wanted to talk about the calendar. This was your idea, wasn’t it?
TODD It’s almost like Bob made this calendar.
BOB Yes, yes it was. It’s Bob’s calendar. That’s right. My picture is on every month.
DARCY Well hey, Bob’s PR team wrote to the podcast and said you should put our events on there. You, too, listener can have you events on here.
BOB That’s exactly right. Okay, so we’re doing Focus events, which are like 90 minute sessions in St Louis in May. Once again, GPUG not participating, however if you’re running Dynamics AX, Dynamics CRM, Dynamics NAV, then Focus is for you and you can find that website ugfocus.com.
DARCY Alright then, in May, we’ve got a couple of Sage events. We have, well Timberline User Group is TUG National Conference in Minneapolis, which is a big conference for the Sage CRE division for many years. From what I heard, I believe they scheduled it and then Sage Summit announced the same week.
BOB Yea, that’s not good.
TODD There’s a conflict.
DARCY I don’t know if TUG has changed their dates. I know when I used to sell Timberline, a lot of people calling me, saying hey, should I go to TUG or should I go to Summit? You know, they’re different events so now I guess they’re really must choose. But Sage Summit, speaking of which, is officially in Atlanta in May at the Georgia World Congress Center. So that’s definitely going down.
TODD Back out on the west coast, we got Microsoft Build for all you developers or wannabe developers. You can head out
BOB What’s the over under on how long it’ll take for that show to sell out?
TODD Oh man, that thing goes in a hurry.
BOB It’s amazing.
TODD Although last year they made a change where they’re not giving away as much free software to attendees, but they made it kinda after the show was sold out. So this year, maybe it won’t sell out quite as fast. But man, get in early if you wanna get to that show. And then in Austin we have Avalara Crush.
DARCY Well their conference must have been a success from last year. They’re doing it again this year, moving into the heart of Texas.
TODD Yup. And they use a verb, crush. So they’re right there with the Microsoft terminology. I’m telling you.
DARCY Well, crush is a noun.
TODD No, crush is. Oh, I guess it is, yea. It’s a middle school noun or a adult verb. So anyways.
BOB Grammarians here on Enterprise Software Podcast.
TODD You’re gonna have to change the summits, the UG summits. You’re gonna have to go with climb or ascend or some sort of verb.
DARCY I like crush. It’s very.
TODD Yea, crush sounds very. Yea. …? Sales tax.
TODD Alright, and then also in May in Orlando, we have the SAP show. SAP Sapphire. Not a verb, which will be in May in Orlando.
DARCY But a mineral.
TODD It is if you’re doing charades. Then in June, Salesforce Connections in Chicago. So that’s Chicago in June for anybody who’s missing going to Chicago. And then also XeroCon in San Francisco in June.
DARCY Now is Con, I guess it stands for conference, probably right? That’s a noun.
TODD Yea, well it could also be a verb.
DARCY Oh yea, it could be a verb. Alright.
BOB And Xero holds conferences all over the world. We only listed the US one here.
TODD Right, yea. They usually do one in London and in Australia also, I believe. So that could be interesting. Moving onto July, heart of the summer. Microsoft Inspire.
DARCY Well, I don’t know what that is.
BOB Is that a new event?
TODD Oh geez.
DARCY It’s a verb.
TODD It’s a verb. So Inspire, which includes the remnants of Envision, which was the remnants of Convergence.
BOB No. Inspire is the formally known as Worldwide Partner Conference.
TODD Oh, sorry. Sorry sorry. I got confused.
DARCY Ooooh. Jon Rivers would be so mad at us right now for getting that wrong.
TODD I know, I know. I got confused.
BOB Right, I didn’t get it wrong.
DARCY Okay, I’m gonna edit that out.
TODD So this is the old Worldwide Partner Conference. Okay, I’m with you now.
DARCY Washington DC. Alright. Inforum New York City. There’s not verb or noun or anything on that one.
TODD No, no no no.
BOB And I think Infor held it at New York City last year, too.
TODD Yup. So if you own one of the many, many, many Infor products, you can attend their show in New York City. And then Sage Summit continues their road trip throughout North America with a Canadian show in Toronto. So I wonder what the actual distance is between Atlanta and Toronto.
BOB You want that in miles or kilometers?
TODD I don’t know, but it’s not a massively long distance to have two separate shows like that.
BOB I would agree with that. Yea, I would say why not Vancouver instead of Toronto?
DARCY I totally agree.
TODD Yea. Yea, so. But then again, nobody asked us. So August.
BOB So in August, we have the US Dynamics kickoff.
TODD Are you sure?
BOB I have that list, but I don’t know if they’re gonna do one, you know? And it usually doesn’t come on the calendar until last minute, so
DARCY There wasn’t even one this year, was there? In 2016, they didn’t even have one.
TODD There was not one in 2016.
DARCY Bob, you can’t just copy and paste the calendar.
TODD But, no. I don’t blame him. For that show, you never know.
BOB You never know.
TODD That show, suddenly, like three weeks before the date, a website will pop up and there’ll be, you know, sign up now.
BOB That’s right. Just like the first time it came up there.
TODD It’s the only show where early bird and normal registration end on the same day.
BOB Right. They’re merged.
TODD Yup. So maybe in August.
BOB Our Dynamics GP Tech Conference, formally known as Reimagine, is being moved up to Fargo in August as opposed to September.
TODD You had a verb and you got rid of it.
BOB Yea, I know. We decided to go a little bit more generic. Dynamics 365 Tech Conference, Dynamics GP Tech Conference. So we’ve sliced off the
TODD I will say, Fargo in August is a lot better than Fargo in November/December, so that was a strong move.
BOB Yea, and holding it in September was too close to Summit and too close to NAV directions for some ISVs, so August was a good time. So that’s where we placed it.
TODD I completely agree.
BOB Website coming very soon.
TODD Alright. September, Accountex in Boston.
BOB That’s the old SleeterCon, right?
TODD Okay. And then SalesPad has their conference in Grand Rapids. SalesPad Panels, which is a 2 date event up there. Then, boy September’s busy. Orlando is NAV Directions in September. So we could scoot over I-4 to go to that one this year. And then our favorite show in Dallas, Excelapalooza. I’m really surprised they haven’t gotten sued for that yet.
BOB You know, Business Software does that.
DARCY Excel is just a verb.
BOB Business Software hosts that. It’s a good show. It’s pretty good.
TODD Yup. Great name. And then, here in beautiful Tampa in September, DSLUG? Is that how we’re saying that now?
BOB Yes. Yes. They go by DSLUG, not S-L-U-G and they will be having their annual conference here in Tampa. And the Dynamics SL user group folks, we will work with them at Dynamic communities, helping them expand their events. So they’ll be in our backyard this coming year. It’s kinda nice.
DARCY It’s a noun.
TODD Well, slug is a verb.
DARCY And a, oh you’re right. Oh my gosh, okay.
TODD See? They’re on the right track. Alright, then Orlando, the big show maybe.
BOB Yes, the big show.
TODD In September, Microsoft Ignite. So this is the remnants of all the other shows that we talked about before.
BOB Yes. And how much Microsoft Envision, a show that only managed to do one iteration, is really gonna be folded into that. I mean, I just don’t see the connection.
TODD I still don’t really know what this show is for. I don’t get it, but anyways. So with that rousing endorsement, make your plans early. Orlando, September, Microsoft Ignite. I don’t even know if I can be bothered to go across I-4 for that one. Anyways.
BOB They will still have a good turnout, you watch.
TODD October. This is the one I wanna go to. Directions EMEA in my old stomping ground Madrid. I have no real business to be there, but I’d still love to go.
DARCY Get ramping up your NAV practice.
BOB Right. Good thinking, Darcy.
TODD So that’s October. And then also in October, Bob is there anything else in October?
BOB Drumroll, please.
DARCY Alright, look at your watch.
TODD Dynamics UG Ascend. I’m just gonna start calling it that.
BOB We will be invading Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, which is by the way a fabulous place if you’ve never been there. All the Dynamics user groups will be there and we are expecting one heck of a show. It’s gonna be, by the way, 10th anniversary CRMUG Summit and 10th anniversary NAVUG Summit. So we’re quite excited to be taking the city of Nashville over for about a week. It’s gonna be tons of fun, to say the least.
TODD And my pro tip there is: get your hotel reservation early. You want to stay at the Opryland, Gaylord Opryland if you possibly can.
BOB Yes, yes. It is quite the place and it is quite big, but I agree, sooner or later it will be full.
TODD Okay, moving on to November, Dreamforce takes over the city of San Francisco in November.
TODD Also on the west coast, San Jose is QuickBooks Connect. That’s primarily, well I think that is QuickBooks online only, right?
BOB I believe so. I believe so.
TODD Yup. And then in Las Vegas, there’s Intacct Advantage. So that will be in Las Vegas this year in November. And then we have another summit, the US Industry Summit, which is the I don’t want to be in Fargo in November Conference, I believe is what that would be.
BOB Yea, that’s a Microsoft show.
DARCY Dynamics, right?
TODD Yup. Yea, primarily AX and CRM. They are always at a very nice resort and usually some place warm that has a beautiful golf course from what I can tell from the pictures, so.
DARCY And in case you wanna ask like I did last time, it is not necessarily a particular industry.
BOB That’s right.
TODD Alrighty, and then last but not least in December, we have the ITA Fall Collaborative. And that is going to be in Salt Lake City, Utah.
BOB I don’t know about you two, but that’s a city I’ve never been to.
TODD No, I haven’t either. I’ve landed in the airport and taken off again, but that’s been about it.
DARCY I’ve been there once and it was beautiful, the people were super nice and excited to go back.
TODD Yea, it’s beautiful scenery flying in and out of there, but. So anyways, that is the events calendar for 2017. If you have other events, please feel free to email them to us and we will have Bob put them on the calendar and get that updated right away. Anything else?
BOB Looking forward to another exciting event year in 2017. Last year was spectacular and the year before that as well, so always looking forward to what’s cooking across the industry with events.
BOB Time now for an interview segment. Today we’ve got not one, but two board members from 90 Minds, the consulting group of independent ERP folks across North America. I’m pleased to welcome both Jerry Norman and Jim Woodhead to the program today. Gentlemen, thanks for joining us today on Enterprise Software Podcast.
JERRY Hi, Bob. Pleased to be here.
JIM Thank you very much.
BOB Alright. Since we’ve got two of you on instead of just a single guest, let’s go with Jerry doing a little introduction about himself, followed by Jim introducing himself.
JERRY Hi, it’s Jerry Norman. I’m CEO of SmartBridge Partners. We operate out of central Texas through southern Louisiana, focusing primarily on Sage 100 sorts of work with CRM as a secondary and expanding beyond that.
JIM Hi, this is Jim Woodhead. I’m the vice president of professional services here at DSD in San Diego. I’ve been with DSD for about 28 years. Started with the old version of MAS90 way back when, and been working with Sage 100 and some of our other products such as Acumatica here in San Diego.
BOB So for people who didn’t know, the old MAS90 product is where 90 Minds got its name.
JIM It is. It’s a little homage to that. We have over 200 members and people say, well now that Sage is Sage 100 and not MAS90, why don’t you change your name? and I said, it’s fun. I mean, everybody has a beginning and 90 Minds is where we started. We were actually originally called Sage Resellers and we wanted to get Sage out of the name to keep from having any legal ramefications. So we all voted and came up with this great name 90 Minds. That’s how we all started.
JERRY And now the group is actually expanding and diversifying beyond just the Sage products, so leaving it at 90 Minds with that view in the past makes even more sense.
TODD Since we talked about Sage a little bit, exactly what is the relationship between 90 Minds and Sage now?
JERRY Well there’s nothing official. There never has been. We’re not any sort of subsidiary or group or whatever piece of Sage. It’s just that the roots of the group came out of the MAS90. It’s expanded some from there. The group right now is still, most of the members still have part if not most of their business around Sage and Sage 100 is generally the focal point on that. But other than that, Sage itself is let’s say an affiliate, the same as a couple of other software publishers. They pay for that privilege. So there’s nothing really official in that at all except that most of our businesses are in that area.
DARCY Tell us a little bit, then. You know, obviously the reasons have probably changed over the years since when the group first started, but why do people join 90 Minds?
JERRY Actually kinda gets back to the way that this thing formed. Back after the 2005 Vision Show, a couple months after that, Jeff Schwenk sent an email out to about 16 other, Wayne Schulz and 16 other members, saying hey, I want to figure out how to get to the president’s circle, you know, …? and maybe we should talk and figure out what the secret is. And from that, Wayne Schulz kinda started this little group here and they did a Yahoo group and did some collaborations starting on there. Geez, that was 2005/2006 and about 2012 they had their first physical meeting, Meeting of the Minds, small thing out in San Diego in a conference room. So it’s kinda gone on from there, but that route is really the central part of why people join 90 Minds. You join for the collaboration, primarily the technical collaboration basically is a backstop to support issues, which are increasingly complex in the diversified Sage environment. And then once you get involved with that, you begin to see some of the other collaboration that happens through our Socialcast and other avenues relating to business and practice enhancements. So it’s all about trying to get better service and value to the customers that starts with the technical piece. That’s the hook that brings them in, but then they see that there’s others beyond it and that’s why they stay. And we get these great groups like, we’ve got these great meetings. Like we’ve got Meeting of the Minds coming up in a couple weeks.
DARCY Are you gonna talk a little more about Socialcast?
JIM Yea, I can talk a little about that. So originally, as Jerry mentioned, we were on, we first started emailing and emailing got really tired really quick because you’d have 100 emails in there, you didn’t know. So we ended up, we went to Yahoo groups and that worked for a while. And then we started trying out some new avenues and we were testing out Socialcast and there was another one that we looked at also very closely. But we started testing it out, Robert, Wayne, and I got into Socialcast and we started working on it, doing test messages back and forth. And we rolled it up a little bit more and rolled it out to the group. Originally, we were around 50 people, 35-50 people. And as we started growing, Social Cast grew around. We started with a free account with Social Cast and it’s a, you know, it’s just like Facebook, you know how it works. You post messages, you can post files. And then it just started growing from there and we bought our own Socialcast account and it has seemed to work pretty well. We always evaluate, is it the best tool out there? You know, there are some free ones now. We looked at going to Google groups and different ones, but we’ve really built our communication around Socialcast and kind of parlaying off of something Jerry said, one of our main parts of our group is collaboration. That’s what our goal is, to collaborate and help one another so when you run into a problem, you post it up to Socialcast. And we have around 20 channels on there on different subjects. And as we get these messages, they’ll email out to the group or certain urgent groups, if you will, and people respond back. So you can post a message and two or three minutes later, you can get answers and it starts rolling out that way. And that’s kinda how Meeting of the Minds started. We said hey you know what? Why don’t we all get together instead of, have some social avenue. And we decided to have it and our first Meeting of the Minds we had 17 people come out to our office. I said hey, we can have it out here in San Diego. It’s February. It’s beautiful. And the people back east said, heck yea.
DARCY That’s right.
BOB Of course they did.
JERRY February in San Diego. Who can say no?
BOB Right, exactly.
JIM That’s how it all kinda parlayed together, you know? We started on Socialcast and just started communicating more and more. And my premise of Meeting of the Minds has always been to have lots of time for people to get to know one another because you’re gonna more likely help somebody you know and a friend. You know, we all become friends in this business and acquaintances. You’re gonna help them more. And somebody’s emailing on Saturday night at 11:00, you know, I know that answer. And you plug it in there and you help. So that’s something that you don’t get in most organizations. You know, we all wanna help one another, we share information, we have documents, we have a big database that we compile. And a lot of times, for example the Sage database would be down and luckily we’ll fall back onto that. Or someone says, hey do you have the TTU? And yea, here it is, so we’ll post it up. So it’s an easy group, it’s a great group. That’s why I loved it so much and why I continue to participate.
BOB Outside of a preshading weather in southern California in February, which I do as well, what’s the profile of the typical 90 Minds member? Jerry, let’s start with you.
JERRY Well, they’re small shops and consultants are really kinda the typical side, although we do have some larger groups as well. And there’s only consultants and resellers. There’s no end users. And so that’s really the typical profile, is the smaller operations, although there’s quite a few that are the medium size, they go 10 consulting to 20 and such. So it goes all over, but it’s really aimed at those smaller shops or pieces of larger organizations that specialize in. Does that fit well with you, Jim?
JIM Yea, I would agree. We have about 78 partner firms and about 195 members. So we have a couple people that have two or three members and a lot of small people that, you know. Again, the original idea behind this was to kind of have the one man shop be able to share, to plug into the 90 Minds group and to allow you to have that. And we’ve started that a couple times in the past where somebody would go on vacation and say, hey can I post my calls up here? And a couple of us will get together and help somebody else win that. But you know, it’s just small to medium, but it’s turned into such a great knowledge space and a great avenue of getting help. You know, you get one or two answers, you’ve paid for your membership, right? I mean, it’s the way it is.
JERRY Now the focus of the members, as we said, started off with Sage 100 and that’s still the focal point of it. But at the same time, they’re all diversifying. We’ve got significant interest in Acumatica throughout the group. In fact, for this upcoming Meeting of the Minds, we’ve got a pre-meeting event that’s a half a day, whole afternoon, with kind of a deep dive introduction into Acumatica. And we’ve got a couple dozen people that are signed up for it.
JIM Actually, 30.
JERRY 30 people now?
BOB Wow, yea.
JERRY So that kind of gives you a sense of it’s a technical base and it came out of Sage, but it’s expanding beyond that and we fully expect there to be over the next few years an increased participation by, say, on the Microsoft side and perhaps a couple of other vendors as well.
DARCY Wow. That’s good to know because I think my concurrent session, Website Pipeline session, is up against Acumatica. So hopefully everyone will get that out of their system before at the pre-conference and they’ll come to our session.
TODD Plug. Plug. Plug.
JIM Darcy. Darcy, Acumatica is worried about being up against you, so don’t worry.
DARCY I love them. So speaking to the sessions, though. So we’ve kind of touched a little bit on Meeting of the Minds. So the 90 Minds isn’t just Meeting of the Minds, obviously as we’ve discussed, but let’s talk about Meeting of the Minds. For this coming Meeting of the Minds, what are some of the sessions and presentations, content that’s particularly exciting for this year?
JERRY We’ve got several ERP publishers and they’re all presenting their road ahead for 2017, including Sage. Sage is also presenting for the first time publicly a presentation about their new Payroll 2.0, which is being released around that time. That’s a big deal to a lot of Sage 100 resellers and customers. It’s a major overhaul on the Payroll piece that is integral to Sage, so for those people. So that’s kind of a big deal. We’ve also got a session on Salesforce Development and interfacing to it. And that’s really a big deal. We’ve never done anything like that before. We’ve got one of our members is a consulting firm dealing with that sort of services and they’re doing a fairly long session, I think, a deep dive into what’s involved with that. That’s to kind of introduce our partners into that area. We’ve got the Sequel Tips and Tricks. We’ve got a Future of Software, New Directions for not only ERPs but also for some third parties. We’ve got some business development stuff going on. I’m doing a round table on the Future of Automation involving with ERP. How do you go about using ERP without actually entering any code. I mean, that’s kind of where that’s going. So that’s some of the sessions in there. Affiliates are giving some good sessions around their product areas. Website Pipeline is more than just ecommerce. We’ve got some on the scanning, on other areas as well. What am I missing, Jim?
DARCY There’s a Dynamics 365 presentation, I think, isn’t there?
TODD Thank goodness.
JERRY Yes, there is.
DARCY And Eric with our friends at Quanta CRM, I think.
JERRY This year, I don’t think we have anything on Sage CRM, I don’t think.
JIM We actually have our groups that are done, our sessions that are done by our members. And then we have our affiliates, partners, help with sessions. So we have a lot of talent in our group. And that’s one of the things we go on when we’re putting together this schedule. Thinking these different topics, who can help us with that? And we have such a diverse group of people that we have a lot of experts. And we don’t have to get a lot of people to come in there, do things. So it’s one of the great things. You know, we have one of our members is doing SalesForce, somebody else is doing Sequel, somebody else is doing the different thing. So it’s great to be able to help ourselves with that group and be able to have our own people do it.
JERRY Well, really big reasons that that’s a big deal is that now we get real ground truth as to how this thing works with customers, what the problems are, what the things to look at, what’s the real advantages to customers, you know. What’s the phony parts, what’s the real parts? And it’s really tough to drag that out of a vendor presentation. Not impossible, but tough.
JIM Our first year we did it, we were afraid to have our vendors. So we were very strict on what the vendors could say. We said, you can come, but you cannot talk or sell anything about your product. You just give us something around it. So we did that for a year and then everybody says, hold it one second. We wanna see demos and stuff. So now we can make suggestions to our affiliate members and they can do what they want and it’s seemed to work out pretty well that way.
JERRY The comparison here, it’s interesting to me to see how all this is, trying to get this information, this complex information in this world across is changing. And this kinda goes beyond what you generally see from a vendor webinar, for example. So with the Meeting of the Minds, we get this session now with a vendor in the room. And the most successful presentations aren’t the ones that focus on that vendor’s products, but on the range of problems that they run into, and even the competition and the alternatives in there. You don’t see that sort of stuff in a webinar.
JIM One of the other things about Meeting of the Minds is the way that we have it set up. Again, we’ve designed it around people being able to get together and collaborate. We have our open lunches, and we have a couple events in the evenings, and everybody has a lot of time to talk to one another. And it’s always exciting to, maybe exciting’s not the right word, but it’s great to have, to be able to
JIM to talk to, we had a vice president of sales from Sage come down last year and people were able to talk directly to that person. Were they able to talk to, I don’t know if it was you Darcy, or somebody else said, you know it’s great to be able to come to this because I have all my customers are here, from the affiliates that come in. I said, I can meet with a lot of different people and not have to go to offices. So I think that’s one of the benefits of being an affiliate of 90 Minds and coming to the Meeting of the Minds, is being able to have that time to get to know one another.
JERRY For the vendors whose presentations’ messages really connect, you end up seeing that echoing then over the next several months on their Socialcast posts. When stuff comes up, people remind them about I’ll just use Website Pipeline since you’re here. But there’s other vendors that come up and they remind them about why it might be relevant on this and call such and such. So it’s not just at the event. It goes beyond that. If the vendor knows how to talk to partners, and a lot don’t.
DARCY Well, I can echo that and I did not give our presentation last year so I’m not taking credit for this. Eric Alexander gave our presentation. But the month immediately following Meeting of the Minds last year, we had a record number of partner leads at Website Pipeline.
JERRY Well, in my opinion, Eric is particularly good at doing the pitch, the presentation that works. He was one of the first to give presentations, I think, out there. I still think one of the first that I saw on this. And he just did a tremendous job of being able to lay out the groundwork of where Website Pipeline fits in the competition and the overall space and the questions that we oughta be asking. They fit here, Website Pipeline doesn’t fit here. Here’s the issues. And that’s what we want to know as partners. And that’s really hard to get, you know. No vendor wants to say well no, we could do that. None of them will say, you probably gotta go somewhere else for that. So that’s what he did really well. And just talking about that here, not so much because it’s Website Pipeline or talking him up, but that’s the nature of the presentations that our members expect. And that’s part of what makes this an unusual group and attractive.
DARCY And to your point, or I guess it was Jim’s point. The face time, it’s hard for us to as ISVs, to get around and meet with all of our partners. And not so much ‘cause I don’t have the bandwidth. It’s because the partners are busy, or as Ed Kless would say, productive. So we don’t always get their face time. And we go to Meeting of the Minds and you have lunch with everyone, you have the evening events with everyone. You really get that face time that you wouldn’t ordinarily get. So I’ve been a huge fan. I do have one follow up question that wasn’t really, did Jeff Schwenk make president’s circle?
JERRY I don’t think he did.
TODD No comment.
JIM Actually, you know what? I think he did. I think he did it for selling the most Sage Payment Solutions. One year, I think two years ago, he went. And he was very proud. He sold the most of anybody in the country, and he’s a one man shop, so.
DARCY Yea, good for him.
JIM He did, he was pushing it. He loved the credit card processing.
DARCY Oh who doesn’t? come on.
JERRY And along that same line, we’ve had other sessions, we’ve had pre-conference sessions on, for example, Firm of the Future, with some real life, practical work here for our members of how to go about changing the way that they do their business in order to be able to make it more profitable and more effective for their customers. That’s an Ed Kless sort of production, the Firm of the Future business.
TODD Okay, so big question then is how do you become a member of 90 Minds?
JERRY Go to the 90minds.com, there’s a tab on there for becoming a new member, fill out an application, and we’ll see whether it fits. And it’s got the rules on there. It’s not all that complicated.
JIM We’ve always had a rule, though, that it is really made around consultants and businesses. Our goal is not to replace, we’d like to have certifications for somebody in your office to be certified. We’re not trying to compete with Sage Support or Acumatica Support or any of the other ERPs, but I think that if you end up going into a customer, becoming a customer, then you’re not allowed to be a member anymore. So you need to be a certified consultant to become part of the group. That’s our goal, to help our group, to help our people.
BOB We always pester our guests with three nontechnical questions to wrap things up. So let’s start with Jerry and then we’ll go with Jim. I get the first question. So Jerry, you said you were in Austin, Texas. And Jim, you said you were in San Diego, as we mentioned earlier. If the three of us were gonna come out to Austin or San Diego, where would you recommend we go to eat?
JERRY In Austin, I’ve got two. One of the unique things about Austin is the southwest cuisine that we have out here. And there’s a restaurant called Z’Tejas, which has two locations. Definitely a good place to go. But if you want just Tex Mex, there’s a place called Matt’s El Rancho that’s been here forever down south of Austin that’s also very good. So I’d put those two at the top.
JIM Well, since Jerry got two, I’m giving two. So if we’re downtown, we’re gonna probably be going to a place called Island Prime. It’s a great restaurant on the water. You can get great steaks there and fish. It’s a fantastic steakhouse right on the San Diego Bay. Now if you’re interested in some Mexican food, we have a family favorite. It’s called Fidel’s Little Mexico up in Solana Beach. I remember when I was ten years old, burning my lips on the salsa, these chips and salsa. So we’ve been going there, I had my rehearsal dinner there, and matter of fact, the second year of Meeting of the Minds, we took 30 people there and we all got to eat some great Mexican food. So those are my two favorites.
DARCY Nice. Both places with certainly a lot of choices. I actually used to live a couple blocks from Z’Tejas on West 6th St, I used to go there back in the day as well in the 90s. Awesome place.
JERRY Now they have a Z’Tejas north on 360.
DARCY Nice. Alright. So if you guys weren’t doing what you’re currently doing, Jerry CEO of SmartBridge Partners and Jim vice president of professional services, what would you be doing? Jim, you’re gonna have to reach back ‘cause you’ve been doing that for quite a long time. So what else would you be doing with yourselves?
JERRY This is really a hard question. I had a very checkered past for a while there. I was actually a meteorologist, but
JERRY Yea, no kidding. Actually for a couple of years, I was the weekend meteorologist for the CBS affiliate in San Francisco.
Jim We definitely ask Jerry for a weather report for Meeting of the Minds to make sure it works.
JERRY Right. And I go on the web, look it up, and give to you. But what I really like doing is explaining complicated things to people who want to understand. And so if I wasn’t doing this, I’d be something in technical marketing, possibly something in a public policy think tank. But I’ve been doing this now for 20 years so I’m not sure that’ll change.
JIM For me, it would be easy. I love to cook. I would love to have my own restaurant. Every year we have Christmas dinner at my house, we have 20 people over. We used to tailgate, I say used to tailgate ‘cause I’m a big, I was a San Diego Charger fan and they’ve been ripped away, but we’d tailgate every game and have a huge barbecue or different things. So I would definitely be a chef, no question about it.
TODD Okay so last question. If you’re a new member of 90 Minds and you’re at your first Meeting of the Minds, who’s the best person to have a drink with and why? And you can’t pick yourselves.
JERRY Now the obvious ones here are Wayne Schulz and Peter Wolf, who you guys have regularly, I think, on here. But the guy that I think is really an interesting guy to have a drink or two with is John Hoyt. He’s out of southern California. He’s got a significant practice. And he’s been at this for a while and has a perspective on management and strategy that I think is very interesting and useful to the whole group.
JIM I’m gonna have to go with Wayne Schulz. I mean, I know of nobody who knows more about the channel than he does. I communicate with him on a daily basis. Robert Wood and I, we have a chat. We probably communicate ten times a day back and forth. He knows everything about everything. It’s great.
JERRY Yes, he does.
JIM And then if you need to be corrected, Robert will correct you very quickly because he’s very knowledgable, too. So those guys are my two go-to guys for any information and they can, they know everything. It’s impressive.
JERRY The interesting thing is, there are a number of members in 90 Minds that are very close seconds to this. There are some really sharp cookies who have been around the block many times. So it’s very easy to have really interesting conversations here.
BOB I follow Wayne on LinkedIn and he posts several times a day. And I feel like I’m corresponding with him every day ‘cause there’s so much stuff that he is putting up there to digest.
JIM It is crazy and what you don’t know is he’s out, he loves to walk. He’s a walkin’ fool. Matter of fact, he has an electric car and he parks his car about five miles away in downtown to get it charged. And he parks it there, charges it, walks home, walks back to the car. So he’s always using all the resources available. If you ever need to know how to get somewhere in town, Wayne is gonna know the bus schedule, he’s gonna know everything about everything for that, no question about it. he’s a great guy, though. He really is.
JERRY Yea, he is.
DARCY Alright, well all good people. Robert, John, Peter, Wayne. All good suggestions. We’ll look forward to having some drinks with all of them in a few weeks at the 90 Minds Meeting of the Minds in San Diego. Thanks for coming by.
JERRY Oh our pleasure. Thank you for having us.
BOB Thanks Jerry, thanks Jim. We appreciate your time and perspective from the board room at 90 Minds. So thanks again for joining us.
JIM Thank you.
JERRY Thank you.
BOB That’s it for this episode of Enterprise Software Podcast. So thanks for joining us today. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to this program via iTunes or RSS right from our homepage at enterprisesoftwarepodcast.com. Better yet, find the podcast app on your phone and search for Enterprise Software Podcast so that our latest episode always finds your mobile device each time we publish. Follow us on Twitter at EPSWpodcast and thanks for listening.